2014 Back to {Home} School – The Curriculum

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Year Number Eight! 8! Holy Moly, how the time flies.

We still like the year-round school calendar.  So, technically, our year started on July 1st.  For the most part we still follow a schedule of roughly three weeks on, one week off, with larger breaks for summer camp and the Christmas holidays.  It helps to alleviate the summer “brain drain”, and in our house, routine helps to ward off behavior issues.

Our curriculum for 2014/2015:

Woody – Age 12 (7th grade)
Tigger – Age 10 (5th grade)

I made big changes this year with some curriculum choices. The past couple of years felt like we were doing things just to “keep up with the Jones.” This year I threw all that out. I prayed over our selections and simplified our school dramatically. Two months in, and we are still loving it. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

Wanna know what we’re doing?

Sonlight. Yeah, we added a couple of other things, but for the most part, it’s just Sonlight. I love it. The kids love it. Most importantly, school is fun again! So here goes…

Sonlight, Core F, and Jonathan Park Adventures.

History/Geography/Read-Alouds/Reading/Creative Expression 
Sonlight, Core F. This is the Eastern Hemisphere Core, and oh my, is it awesome! I have anticipated doing this Core since we started with Sonlight years ago. As I type this, we are on Week 8. So far, the boys have enjoyed learning about China, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. It has been absolutely fascinating.

I also discovered a Japanese news station on our cable lineup last week called NHK World, We saw boys the same age as Woody and Tigger practicing sumo wrestling. (You can imagine the giggles!) We’ve seen cooking segments, nature studies, martial arts evaluations, and tsunami recovery stories.

Both: Occasional speed drills and free time on Khan Academy
Woody: Math-U-See Pre-Algebra. * Note: This was a curriculum that caused great concern this year. I had read that many folks switch from MUS to Teaching Textbooks during the Pre-Algebra level.  However, after researching and looking at the scope of the books, I can’t figure out why. It looks like MUS Zeta covered most, if not all, of the topics in the TT Pre-Algebra book. We opted to do MUS Pre-Algebra because the TT version seemed like a step backwards.
Tigger:  Math-U-See Epsilon.

Sonlight, Core F. Health, Medicine, & Human Anatomy. A big change for us this year. Previously we’d done Apologia, but the boys hated the notebooking journals. This year, I opted for Sonlight. I am once again kicking myself for waiting so long. The boys love the books that they get to read. They are learning and enjoying it – what more could I ask for?

The Phonetic Zoo by IEW. Still a great fit.

I’m still struggling with the need for this. On the one hand, I want them to be able to read & write in cursive. On the other, I can see that it is highly unlikely they will need it in the future (other than to read notes from me or things that previous generations have handwritten.)  For now, when their handwriting on History or Science assignments gets so bad that I can’t read it, I make them do a handwriting sheet or two to help polish some of those skills. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Is cursive handwriting necessary?

Sonlight, Core F, Language Arts. Again, a big change for this year. We’re doing what is included in the Sonlight Language Arts. This week covered First, Second, and Third-person pronouns, as well as, conjunctions. Boys are learning, so Mom is not complaining.

Grade level Wordly Wise.

Art – Art museum field trips & occasional workshops.
Music – Symphony field trips & occasional composer studies.
Keyboarding – Typing Web.
Cooking, Gardening, and Life Skills – with Mom, and Scouts.
Gardening, Lawn Care, and Shooting Sports – with Dad, and Scouts.
Boy Time  (aka. time to be dirty and grubby exploring the woods, capturing bugs, avoiding snakes, and scaring fish) – visits to Grandpa’s place, and Scouts.

Other Activities: 

  • Boys Book Club.
  • Classes at the local gym.
  • Weekly trips to the library.
  • Recess for video games, playing in the back yard or bike riding.
  • Volunteering with Meals On Wheels.
  • Visiting the Perot Museum in Dallas and using our reciprocal membership to Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
  • Various field trips, away-from-home activities, and Home School Days at local facilities.
  • Scouts. Webelos II for Tigger. Boy Scouts for Woody. Afternoons are often spent working on activity badges and merit badges.

Even though we’ve lightened up, I still think we have a full year planned. I’m excited and I am confident that this will be our best year yet!

What about you – have you made any big changes in your school plan? How has that impacted your homeschool?



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3 thoughts on “2014 Back to {Home} School – The Curriculum”

  1. This sounds comprehensive, fun, and well-thought-out, as I would expect from you. My input regarding cursive: I’m glad you are including it. I realize times are changing and it no longer plays the role it once did, but I believe it activates and exercises the brain differently than does typing letters or speaking into a voice-activated machine. I once had a writing instructor, a published writer herself, who felt that her thoughts traveled down her arm and out her fingers onto the page, and she didn’t get the same results with typing.
    Happy learning to you all 🙂

  2. “I love it. The kids love it. Most importantly, school is fun again!”

    That’s fantastic. [smile].


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