Homeschool Posts

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Good-Bye? Or See You Later?

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds will be switched to “private” beginning Friday, May 25, 2018 for an indefinite period. Thank you for visiting. For updates on the site, please visit my Facebook page.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Celebrating 7 Years of Homeschool Support & Encouragement

After 7 Years of providing homeschool families with support and encouragement, the Virtual Homeschool (Curriculum) Fair is coming to an end.

homeschool high school-002It has been a good run, and I’m thankful for the dozens of homeschool bloggers who have participated in this event over the years. In celebration, I’ve decided to do a quick retrospective. Since our final week is on Enriching Our Learning, it seems fitting to share the treasure trove of wisdom that has been shared here.

Note: When you click through to each week, you will be taken to my anchor post, but will be able to click through to all the posts that bloggers shared for that general topic that week. Think of this as a homeschool time machine.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades

Welcome to Week 3 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair: Our Homeschool Curriculum!

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th GradesWe have 19 bloggers participating this week. Be sure to visit them to see how they homeschool their families---you’ll find their links near the end of this post.

Last week, I told you that we are using a 2-day a week classical tutorial for most of my kids’ studies this year.

Today, I’m going to share with you what each of my kids is studying this year. I hope it will give you some ideas for your future studies.

My children are in 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 12th grades. Let’s start with the youngest…

3rd Grade CurriculumEmma is in 3rd grade this year.

Last summer, she was reading, but not yet a strong reader. She could read most things, but she had little stamina for chapter books. Over the fall, she became a strong reader and is burning through books faster than I can keep up with her. Our co-op does not have classes for 3rd grade (it starts with 5th), but it does have a Classically Catholic Memory (CCM)  program for K-4 and one of the moms also does Story of the World with the children.

Language Arts: in the fall, this was primarily reading lots of good books and copywork. This spring, she is doing English Lessons Through Literature Level 2. I chose this level for her because of the book selections and because the writing expectations are light. Emma is a lefty and also tires  easily when it comes to physically writing. She could do oral narrations for hours, though. She continues to read just about everything she wants to independently.

Math: In the fall, she was using Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 3. She was doing just fine with that, but was getting bored, so I decided to change things up a bit. She is currently working in Beast Academy 3A, but we are also doing regular arithmetic practice. CCM also has a math component to it (skip counting and learning formulas, like the perimeter of a polygon).

History: She is doing Story of the World volume 2 with her friends at co-op.

The other subjects revolved around her CCM memory sentences. We do: Religion, History, Great Words (poetry and speeches), Latin, Timeline, Geography, and Science. Our co-op has also added in composer and artist studies.

Peter is in 6th grade this year. 6th Grade Curriculum

He is really doing well with his independent work and keeping up with his co-op assignments.

Math (at home): Math U See Zeta. Math U See continues to be a good fit for him and I’m very thankful for this program.

English (at home): He started with Shurley English 6 with co-op, but this proved to be a poor fit for a child who is already writing his own novels. He just started English Lessons Through Literature Level 4 a few weeks ago and it is going really well. I chose this level because I wanted to give him a solid introduction formal grammar and diagramming without overwhelming him (his grammar up until this point has been primarily through copywork, so he has a very good intuitive grasp of the rules and the mechanics, but doesn’t always know the names or how to explain why something is grammatical). We also like the assigned reading in this level. He’s enjoying it. And he still writes novels. And movies.

History and Literature: He is studying Ancient Egypt at co-op. His reading list is pretty long.

Religion: Baltimore Catechism 2 and the Bible with co-op.

Science: Apologia’s Zoology 2 (Swimming Creatures) with co-op.

8th Grade CurriculumMary is in 8th grade this year.

The transition to co-op went really well for her. She does well in a classroom setting and hasn’t had any difficulty keeping up with her coursework.

Math (at home): In the fall, she was working  on Math U See Pre-Algebra, but has now moved on to Math U See Algebra 1.

English: Voyages 8 and Medieval Literature with co-op.

History: Medieval History with co-op using a variety of sources.

Religion: Baltimore Catechism 2, the Bible, and Faith & Life 7 with co-op.

Science: Earth Science with co-op.

12th grade curriculum

David is in 12th grade this year and will be graduating in the spring.

One of my goals for him this year was for him to enjoy his senior year, so he chose his courses (for the most part).

Math (at home): Teaching Textbooks Pre-Calculus

German 2 (at home): Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

History and Literature: Ancient World with co-op using various sources.

Shakespeare: several of his plays with co-op.

Science: Apologia Chemistry (2nd edition) with co-op.

And that’s all for the planned academics.

2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers! 

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources - An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace

Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Choices, choices - how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

Our Curriculum Needs - grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time

The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Curriculum We Have Loved Using - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses

How We Homeschool Together (Our Curriculum Choices for Preschool, First, and Tenth Grade) by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool

Our homeschool journey has had many twists and turns. As the children have grown, not only has our reason for homeschooling been refined, but our ways of accomplishing our educational goals have evolved. What works for a bunch of littles just doesn’t work for teens and tweens. And what worked for the whole picture creative thinker may not be as effective for the sequential learner. Our children have grown and so has our world.

Welcome to week 2 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair: Our Homeschool Methods!

We have 23 bloggers sharing today how they get it all done and what methods they uses to do it. Be sure to check out their articles---they are near the bottom of this post.

Also, be sure to get Our Family’s Dream Homeschool, an easy to use workbook that will take you through the process of developing your own philosophy of education, creating your goals, and deciding on the methods to use to achieve those goals. The free printable packet is available to all Homeschooling Hearts & Minds subscribers, along with the Year to Sparkle Planner. Find out how to get both at the end of this post!

Today I want to talk about how I went from being a completely independent homeschooler to a member of an academic tutorial.

Why we use an academic co-op in our homeschoolYes. I went from creating our studies from scratch, mingling classical homeschooling with Charlotte Mason’s methods, unit studies, and delight-directed learning (all things I’ve talked about extensively on this blog)…

and joined an academic tutorial that teaches the core courses (plus some extras, but our family is doing math on our own)…two days a week, with the other 3 days each week being taken up mostly by homework.

I do not create my children’s courses. Nor do I teach them. Nor do I select the books. For the most part, anyway. I’ll talk about our curriculum next week.

Sounds like a complete about face from all that freedom that comes with homeschooling I was talking about last week, doesn’t it.

In a way, it is.

And in a way it isn’t.


There are several reasons our family decided to join the Tutorial:

Easier on Mom (creating courses from scratch and teaching 4 kids of widely different levels is hard work). Instead, I teach one course (Logic), teach my youngest her core courses, help out with the young elementary kids in the afternoon, and help my other kids where needed.

The tutorial is classical and uses high quality literature and materials. Not crazy about their science texts, but you can’t have everything.

It’s a strong Catholic community and we feel accepted by the other families.

It would give the children practice at being answerable to teachers other than mom and would help them learn to better manage their time, materials, and expectations.

So here’s the weird reason: a big factor in our decision was that the academic tutorial was where the other kids were and my kids needed to be with them.

They needed more peer relationships and relationships with other intelligent adults (beyond people related to them and friends of people related to them).

They needed more people to talk about their studies with.

They needed more friends.

They needed recess.

Not that we didn’t play outside before…but having a pick up stick ball game with the everyone at lunch is not the same as playing with just your sibs.

It seems absurd to say that I put my kids into what is essentially a two-day a week school so they could have recess, but it’s true.

Friendships happen fortuitously. They happen when you’re doing nothing special. Being together creates those opportunities in a way that planned activities do not. Simply by virtue of the fact that kids are in the same building together at the tutorial means that there are more opportunities for those relationships to blossom.

This was meant to be a one year experiment.

We knew that every homeschool has its good and bad years. We’ve been doing this long enough that we figured the worst that could happen would be that the co-op would be a poor fit for us and we just wouldn’t do it again next year.

Why we use an academic co-op in our homeschoolHere we are halfway through the year. What did we find out?

Academically, we were doing great before the co-op. My kids have not struggled at all with their tutors’ expectations.

They do have to be more organized and meet more deadlines, which is good for them.

And things like science experiments are easier with a class, no doubt about that.

But it hasn’t been a struggle for them. They are all A students.

My 14-year-old learned that she’s smart. I’m not altogether sure that this is a good thing. Yes, she is smart. But I think it’s probably more important that she has the drive to meet and overcome challenges and is a hard worker. I hope that she will stop comparing herself to her brothers.

My 17-year-old learned that he actually likes people. He used to think he was anti-social. But playing games at recess is fun and the people he is hanging out with are his kind of people. He seems to be enjoying his senior year overall.

The 8-year-old has always been a social butterfly. Nothing has changed there.

The 12-year-old is doing very well meeting classroom expectations, which is something I worried about.

All of them continue to grow in their independence.

There have been some negatives. We feel the lack of freedom.

And, intellectually, the tutorial is not as challenging as we expected it to be.  I’m learning, slowly, that my children are not really average. I keep thinking of us as all being completely average.

We’re not. We’re weirdos. Every one of us.

Perhaps the best thing about the tutorial is that the folks there have accepted our weirdness and befriended us (not sure if it’s because or in spite of the weirdness, but does it matter?).

It is more school-y than we like. But not as school-y as an actual school. Parents are still in charge of their kids’ educations.

We plan to continue with the tutorial next year.

There are some minuses. Yes. We, as a family, have decided that the pluses outweigh those.

Once upon a time I was an idealist. I wanted to do all the good things.

But as time has worn creases in my forehead and colored the hairs on my head more silver, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to let go of some good things in order to have the very best things.

This year, we took the tutorial as it came to us. Next year, we will have a better sense of what aspects are most important to us so we can capitalize on those.

I’ve come to realize that relationships are the most important thing.

One reason we chose to homeschool in the first place was to have strong relationships with our kids. Now we use the tutorial so they can build strong relationships with others.

virtual homeschool fair-003



What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 15th.

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time

A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace

Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy

So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory

Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset