Our literal first day of school this year was at Disneyland! We spent the morning working hard on our books and then as we finished up lunch I told the kids that we had one thing left to do. It was time for family P.E. and that they had to wear a special hat for the sports we were going to do.
The kids faces were so confused! hahaha
I opened up a box with their Disney hats that they hadn’t seen in years (we had passes 5 years ago and Aunt Mindy bought the hats for the kids then, but we’ve not had passes since because oh my word they are expensive!)
I think our neighbors likely thought we’d gone crazy! We were ALL screaming! I told the kids that this year would be different. We would work hard, but we would also play hard too.
If you read my last homeschool post I left off with wanting to come back to share a bit more about how we changed things up this year. Honestly, I struggled again throughout the summer with whether or not I wanted to teach them again. It’s hard. I’m not going to lie. But I saw a bit of hope toward the end of last semester and thought there’d be regret if I didn’t try it one more time.
I did far more planning and research this time around. We switched charters and we are loving the new one. I’ve heard others say that your ES (Education Specialist: each charter has a different name for what they call this role, but it’s basically whoever is assigned to your family to keep everything in check) and I couldn’t agree more. This year we have someone who listened to all that I having going on in life. She helped me put together plan that worked not only for the kids, but for me and the other things that I need time to do.
This charter has some classes the kids can take for one morning of the week for 3 hours. I love being with my kids and crafting our days and weeks to be able to spend so much time together, but having those 3 hours without them is also amazing. I knew from last year that having just a couple of hours to myself was something I desperately needed.
This charter also takes Pre-TK. Crew is still 4 and has a late bday so the fact that this school lets him receive funds and go to the classes was such a draw. He loves getting to feel like he’s a part of everything too.
And yes, the charter had the connection with the Disney passes as well in one of their field trip options. The kids don’t know it yet but we are also taking them to the Great Wolf Lodge in October on school money as well.
So, aside from the perks with the charter we found…I also made some changes in how we set up actual learning time. Here’s just a short list:
- Chose my own books: I picked my curriculum this year. Last year my ES let me have some things that another family didn’t need anymore and I unknowingly just said ‘alright’ without even glancing at it. It felt like everything was a mess from the beginning….so this year I picked stuff myself.
- Used things given to me: We were given 6 large boxes worth of free curriculum from a fellow gym friend. He had planned to dump it at Goodwill and instead gave it to us! So much of is was Christian based curriculum for the grades we needed right now! Such a blessing!
- Planners: I gave the kids their own planners. I use these planners for the oldest 3 kids and this one for Canon. Crew, he doesn’t get one yet. I just help him out. I write their assignments in every couple of weeks and they now know exactly what they are responsible to get done, rather than me having to tell them.
- Wall Calendars: I have two large homemade wall calendars that we use to show 2 months at a time. The kids can see what’s coming, what day it is and who needs to be where. Last year I made the mistake of just winging it, but now having the visual up on the wall has been so helpful for them (and me).
- Schedule Motivators: Right now we use the Disney passes to help keep them motivated. The only day Kate does not have ballet is Tuesday so that’s our steady planned Disney day each week. If the kids can finish their assignments from the previous week then we will all go. So far we’ve had to miss one week because the kids didn’t finish and I had to keep my word and not go…but now I think they’re learning that we need to really focus on finishing the work first.
- I pad/Learning game time: Normally we don’t have any technology on in our home until the weekend. But this year I’m making the effort to research a few games they can do that will still teach them. At first I disliked “motivators” but now I see that I can use a few of them to help keep everyone on the same tempo (and honestly taking away game time during the week is much better than having to miss Disney!)
- Less Combined Classes: I originally thought I’d love getting everyone to study the same subject at the same time. But that proved to be far more difficult than I’d imagined last year. This year I separated everyone’s assignments so that the ones that need to move faster can, and the ones that need more time can slow down.
- Math U See: This has been amazing. One of the most challenging parts of last year was teaching every single new math concept to every single child. Math U See has a video lesson that the kids now watch in order to complete their assignments on their own. Overall I am trying to find as many ways as I can for them to need me less and ways for me to be more of an ‘overseer’ instead of teaching every single lesson to every single child. I’m still trying to find the balance there though…
Here’s what we chose for curriculum this year. Keep in mind this season of life feels like all our plates are spinning in the air above us…so much has been in waiting or in a holding pattern as we’ve tried to pray through and figure out where we will live and what Matt will do for work.
Not knowing how everything would shake out had a huge impact on what I ordered because I needed simple, functional, and consumable (meaning if we move out of state I don’t have to give back text books, the kids could just keep going no matter where we live.)
For those of you who have homeschooled for a long time, I’d love your feedback. And for those of you who are brand new and looking for tips, I’m not sure I’m the best yet….but here’s what we did this year…
Kate: 6th Grade
Bible: Growing in Wisdom
Math: Math U See Zeta
Grammar: Daily Grams (6), Fix It Grammar (Little Mermaid)
Writing: Core Skills Grade 6
Reading: Mountain Pathways (Abeka), The Bronze Bow plus workbook, Anne of Green Gables plus study guide
History: Old World History
Science: Choose Good Health (Abeka)
Kai: 4th Grade
Bible: Growing in Wisdom
Math: Math U See Delta
Grammar: Easy Grammar (4)
Writing: Core Skills Grade 4
Reading: Trails to Explore (Abeka), Farmer Boy plus study guide, The Great Horn Spoon plus study guide
Spelling: Core Skills grade 4
Science: Understanding God’s World
History: Houghton Mifflin United States Social Studies
Corban: 3rd Grade
Bible: Growing in Wisdom
Math: Math U See Gamma
Grammar: Growing with Grammar 3
Writing: Core Skills grade 3
Reading: Core Skills Reading 3, Because of Winn Dixie plus study guide, Charlottes Webb plus study guide
Spelling: Core Skills 3
History: Pages of History vol 1
Science: Core Skills 3
Phonics: Explode the code 6
Canon: 1st Grade
Bible: Jesus Storybook Bible
Math: Math U See Beta
Writing: Core Skills 1
Reading: Core Skills 1
Spelling: Core Skills 1
History: My World Social Studies gr.1
Science: Core Skills Science 1
Phonics: Explode the Code 1
Crew: Pre TK