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Monday, September 12, 2016

Our Homeschool School Room in the New House

We have never had a *proper* school room. Quite frankly, I never had the desire for one. We were homeschooling. Although I can see the benefit of organizing everything in one place, I've never wanted to even resemble the public school classroom. 

But then we designed and built a home, and some asked me if I was going to have a school room. 

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that school happens everywhere for us, and I don't want learning to be confined to a particular area. I don't want the children to think that learning happens only at a particular desk or table or space and when they leave that space they don't have to learn anymore. We love our flexibility, so our school is constantly flowing throughout the house.

I know what you're thinking. 

Homeschooling + flexible location X big family = MESS.

Yes, that is sometimes true. However, in our quest to declutter and downsize our possessions, I scanned all of our curriculum...everything except textbooks. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner! Now, all of our paper materials fit in one short bookcase. 

Okay, sometimes there's a mess.

We don't do a lot of crafts, but we do keep our tubs of crayons, colored pencils, and markers in a hall closet with our games and puzzles. We also keep rulers, scissors, glue sticks, etc. in a drawer.

So where DO we do school?

Anywhere. Everywhere.

At the dining room table.

On the floor. On the sofa.

School on the top bunk. {But only books, not electronic devices.}

We have two laptops for the children to access lesson plans, quizzes, and tests. They're set up fairly close to each other in high traffic areas in our house. {Yes, we have strong parental controls on the laptops, plus I can see them from where I typically sit.}

Sometimes, when necessary, we school in the van or in a common area at the college where the 16yo is taking her dual enrollment class.

We LOVE this aspect of homeschooling...roaming about, changing our scenery to change our perspective or perk up our mood.

Do you have a homeschool room? Where do you homeschool?

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2016-2017

{This post has a few affiliate links which don’t cost you any more should you purchase through the link. Thank you!}

This is the first year I'm homeschooling, in a more formal and prepared sense, all six children. It's not chaos, despite what people say about large families and homeschooling. And blessings abound! J I think that's due, in large part, to our curriculum choices.

Our curriculum has worked so well for us in past years that we haven't tweaked it much. But there are a couple of new things this year, so let's review it.

The high school junior ~

The 16yo continues with Abeka, but we don't do the DVD program. This year, she's tackling American Literature, Grammar & Composition, Plane Geometry, Chemistry, and U.S. History. She's also pecking away at Keyboarding. {He he! :)} Through all of this, she's studying 1 John and memorizing about 900 verses for the National Bible Bee Competition in November.

We've also added in dual enrollment at the local community college for one class that explores in-depth all the functionalities of Microsoft Office. It's required for an associate's degree and taught by an instructor we know and trust, so it's a nice foray into what non-homeschoolers call The Real World. In the spring semester, she'll take a couple more classes, at least one of them a foreign language. A blog post is coming soon about why we chose dual enrollment for our high school student. 

The high school freshman ~

The 14yo also continues with Abeka, also without the DVD program. This year, she's studying Themes in Literature (each unit has a different theme such as courage, hope, or Christmas), Grammar & Composition, Algebra I, Science: Matter and Energy, and World Geography. She is also working on her keyboarding.

In the spring semester, she will, most likely, begin dual enrollment with the 16yo and take the same foreign language class. Just like friends want to go to the same college and take the same classes so they can be together, the sisters would find the college class less intimidating if they attended together.

The 8th grader ~

It's been such a great curriculum for us that the 8th grader also uses Abeka. His literature is called Of Places (units center around different parts of the world). He's also studying Grammar & Composition, Pre-Algebra, Science: Earth & Space, and History: America, Land I Love. As boys will be, he is quite competitive with his sisters and so has undertaken keyboarding as well in an effort to become proficient before his big sisters. Through all of this, he's also studying 1 John thoroughly and memorizing 700+ verses for the National Bible Bee Competition in November. We're working on some different P.E. ideas, and I'll blog about that when we make some decisions.

The 5th grader ~

The fifth grader is tackling most of the standard fifth grade Abeka curriculum, including arithmetic, language, reading, spelling, penmanship. She is challenged by time, and so we're temporarily making history a read-through of the Sisters in Time collection.

It’s a great series of books that follow Christian girls through history from the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to WWII. I have found some supplemental material online, and I’ve also written a quiz for each book.

She's also learning to do more in the kitchen, and her love of reading is growing.

The 2nd grader ~

At this lower level, we begin with one of those thick, comprehensive workbooks sold at Sam's Club but also found on Amazon, Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills, Grade 2.
That’s only our starting point, though. We add Hooked on Math, and this particular child is already half-way through the multiplication level. He has simply absorbed the multiplication tables! For extra reading, he’ll read through all of the Abeka second-grade readers. We also encourage free reading with series like Cul-de-Sac Kids and Imagination Station books.

For penmanship, I chose a book from Amazon that teaches manuscript.

Mid-year, he'll transition to Abeka's beginning cursive book. Finally, I also found at used book stores the Abeka science and history books for second grade, so we'll sit together on the sofa and read and discuss our way through those.

The kindergartner ~

Kindergarten looks a lot like second grade, just at a beginner’s level. We use a similar comprehensive workbook, Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills, Grade K.
The kindergartner also shares Hooked on Math, but he’ll be at the beginning level of basic addition and we’ll take it s-l-o-w. He’ll also have a similar penmanship book, and we’ll do Hooked on Phonics every single day. The best part will be plenty of read-aloud time and snuggling.

What do your homeschool curriculum choices look like?

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