Hello, My Friends! Have you started your new homeschool year for 2018-2019 yet?
We just finished our 6th week of school and are in a (glorious) one week break. Our homeschool looks a little different this year with my curriculum choices, and the schedule of our school days.
It’s been a long 6 weeks of working out kinks with our new way of doing things, but I think we’re finally sailing on smoother waters.
Here’s a quick peek into our school year and our new-to-us curriculum and schedule.
Browse through all of the homeschool curriculum posts here at Mama’s Learning Corner.
First Day of Homeschool
We started school this year right after the July 4th holiday, as we usually do. We normally have 6 or 7 weeks off to re-group, but this year we only had 2 weeks off between grades. Our move during the spring months greatly destroyed our typical school schedule and we had to make up for lost time.
Despite my hours and hours (and hours!) of preparation, I still didn’t feel prepared to start the school year. I just needed a bit more time.
Even though I wasn’t as prepared as I had hoped, it was the strongest start I believe we’ve ever had to a new school year.
My oldest son – 8th grade – is attending a University-model school this year. It’s considered a private school, however, he has satellite days 2 days per week where he’s home with us.
I’m homeschooling my girls in grades 6, 4, and 2.
And then there’s the 18-month old Sweet Boy who is … busy.
Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2018-2019
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This year we are trying something that is new for our family – a type of boxed curriculum.
In the past, I’ve pieced together most of our curriculum choices using The Well-Trained Mind as a guide. I adore The Well-Trained Mind, as it’s helped me understand the type of education I want to give to my children.
But this year? I just couldn’t piece it all together.
We have too many moving parts this year.
I have a child that leaves the house 3 days a week. I have a precious little toddler boy that wants nothing more than to spend his 10-12 waking hours outside each day. I have a child that wants to “be smart and learn everything I can.” I have a child that struggles to stay on task and needs my frequent reminders. I have a child that needs concentrated time in phonics and reading.
That’s all in addition to the normal household tasks of feeding a pile of people, washing massive loads of dishes and clothes, and keeping our house clean(ish).
This year, I just needed the curriculum choices to be easier. More simple.
In the past I’ve poo-pooed the idea of a box curriculum for my own children. I have no judgement towards other homeschoolers that use and thrive with a boxed curriculum, I just didn’t think it was a good choice for my own kiddos.
But as my circumstances have changed, I
asked pleaded with the Lord to show me the best choice for my children for this year. I always pray over my homeschool choices, but this year was a little different in that I felt desperate for Him to lead me in a very direct way.
And He did lead me. Because the Lord is faithful to hear me when I call.
This year, my girls will be using a majority of the Memoria Press core curriculum. I didn’t realize at the beginning of my planning time that we would be using the whole set of core curriculum, so I bought it in pieces.
This was a mistake financially, so don’t do as I did and purchase it piece meal!
Because we haven’t used Memoria Press core curriculum in the past, I’m using various pieces from various grade levels to “catch them up.” However, I’ve stuck with the main subjects of Classical Studies, American Studies, Literature, Latin, etc. I’ve only substituted so they will understand the big picture of the history subjects.
This year, my 4th and 6th graders are studying:
Famous Men of Rome
Latin (Latina Christiana with me and First Form Latin through MP’s Online Academy)
Rod and Staff Math (a BIG change for us!)
Christian Studies of Genesis through Entry into Canaan
Learning States and Capitals
Geography of The Middle East, North Africa, and Europe
Rod and Staff English
Classical Composition: Fable and then Narrative
Rod and Staff Spelling
Literature – deep dives in classic books for 4th and 6th grades
The History of Medicine (1st semester) and What’s that Bird? (2nd semester)
They are studying a few of these subjects together, and then a few of them are separate.
My 2nd grader still needs quite a bit of phonics instruction so she is blowing through the 1st grade core during the 1st semester and she will start the 2nd grade core after Christmas.
The success and improvement I’ve seen in my 2nd grader over the past 6 weeks literally brings tears to my eyes. MP’s First Start Reading, Traditional Spelling, and StoryTime Treasures have been a beautiful fit for her.
I’ll write another post on why I’ve seen such improvement in her reading skills, but suffice it to say I am grateful and just plain excited about her progress. It is such a joy to watch!
➡ Read more: Our Experience with Traditional Spelling I from Memoria Press
The Structure of Our School Day
Our school day is also fairly different this year, in that I have “class” with my girls. With my 4th and 6th graders, I still have one-on-one time in math, English, spelling, and Latin, but we also have a set class time for a few subjects.
In those set class times, I expect the girls to come prepared to class with the material read and the independent portion of the work completed. They also have to be there on time!
This is very different than when they were all young and I has loose routine to our days.
I miss those days a lot. Our school was a much more simple place then.
I know that many of you are cringing at the thought of having class, because it’s just so … school-y. Yes, I cringe at the thought of it a little bit, too. To be honest, though, it’s actually a lot of fun and my girls really enjoy it! We have great discussions and it’s pretty exciting to all study the same topic at such a deep level.
It’s been good for us.
Is this the way we will do school next year? I have no idea. But this is definitely the way the Lord lead me for this year, and I’m so glad He did.
Our homeschool is orderly, my kiddos know what to expect, and we are learning fascinating things each day. After a couple of years of chaos with a new baby and moving, we were all yearning for orderliness and clear expectations.
We couldn’t be more pleased with our homeschool year so far!
Tell me about your homeschool year.
Did you implement big changes also? Have you gotten off to a smooth start?
I’d love to chit chat with you about it in the comments! ♥
Your little man is adorable despite the wall writing 🙂 Like you, we totally changed up our curriculum this year. Didn’t go the same direction as you but that’s what I love about homeschooling. Each family is able to do what is right for their family. I ended up being led to use mostly Critical Thinking which I have used pieces of in the past but not exclusively. (Critical Thinking do not do a Bible curriculum so we are using something else for that. ) Unlike your family, set school times will not work for us this year as we have a new business which means that every day is different and one of our kids is gaining work experience outside the home so I never know which days he will be working each week. I am a person or routine so this has taken a little getting used to! All the best to you and thanks for sharing.
Hey Liz! Oh I love the products from Critical Thinking! They are a lot of fun and my kiddos have always loved it when I added in some of their material. I hope they are a great fit for your new school year as you figure out a different way of doing things.
Yes, that is part of the beauty of homeschooling – that you can cater curriculum and schedule to the current season of life. Actually, I think that’s a blessing and a curse in some ways because then you have to actually figure out the curriculum and the schedule! Lots of trial and error. 🙂
Best wishes in your new business venture! I pray it is wildly successful!
Hi Lauren! (i have no idea why this is in italics but there you go!)
I really appreciate you being honest about changing your curriculum and going with what works for you and your family. We have mostly used boxed curriculum in the past (6 kids, 6 age groups!) and it has worked well for us. We also have pieced together different curriculum in language studies because English is my kids 2nd language (although i wanted it to be their 1st, when you live in another country thats the way it is :)) I always felt that boxed curriculum was sniffed at by alot of homeschoolers, and most of the other homeschoolers we know are unschoolers so that means no curriculum 🙂 but i prayed about it and we felt it was the best choice for us. We have been homeschooling for 5 years now and we are still going the same direction! It also frees up alot of our time since my husband not only works full time but we run other businesses and i dont feel i can get the time to put together full curriculum for so many students from scratch. I need someone else to do that for me 😀 So thank you for your honesty. And the classroom idea sounds really fun, I think that we have certain ideas in our heads about what we think our homeschool should be like but its fun to try other things, and if the kids think its fun then we shouldnt worry about what others think! Best wishes for your homeschool year!
Julie, I appreciate you taking the time to comment today. It really is true that we have to pray over our own homeschools and then follow as the Lord leads. I agree that boxed curriculum IS often sniffed at by a crowd of homeschoolers, but they’ll just have to sniff at me. 🙂 I care less and less what other homeschoolers think of me in my old age (I turned 40 in May). Haha. 🙂
I don’t think many homeschoolers blog about using boxed curriculum since it’s not really en vogue any longer. When you’re educating a pile of children and doing your best to educate them well, I have found it is best to remember that no other mother is walking the same shoes as I am. So if that means I need to use what isn’t the going fad, well, I just need to do something different.
And you are so smart to realize your own time and energy limitations in putting together curriculum from scratch. There’s only so many hours in the day, you know? It took me waaaay too long to realize I can’t do it all. I’m proud of you for that!
Thank you for your sweet comments and may the Lord bless your efforts this new homeschool year!
I’ve been following your blog for several years – kids same ages and genders plus Well Trained Mind! (except your 18 mth Cutie Pie; we don’t have one of those 🙂 ) – and love watching your schedule & curriculum changes over the years!
The idea of “class” is perfect! We have Bible class at the beginning of the day, with all grades (8, 6, 3, & 2). Usually just reading thru the Word, discussing, and memory verse. We listen to history lessons in car. But no other work done “together.” I think our history follow up work (worksheets, quizes, research) would be great as independent assignments – with added expectation that we come back together and discuss. That discussion has been sorely missing and I haven’t figured out how to make it happen – until now!
Such a simple solution. Even better!
Hey CM! Isn’t it always neat to find another family that is similar to yours? I always think that’s so fun!
Oh I have a changed a LOT over the years, and those changes are for many different reasons. My oldest is a waaaay outside the box thinker (he’s really hard to find the right curriculum fit), we’ve added a few kiddos over the years, we’ve had some big life changes (and a few traumas here and there), I have totally failed in some homeschooling aspects and have had to make up for lost time, etc etc.
The bad thing about a public blog is that it’s public. 😉 So everyone else gets to see all of those changes also. Eek!
This is the first year in a long time that the curriculum choices feel peaceful and right. It’s such a relief.
Yes, we have Bible just as you do in the morning. I use the reading plan from Bible Study Guide for All Ages just as a skeleton, but we all read from the Bible and discuss. I love it! That has given me some precious memories through the years. I am sure the same is for you! That discussion is easy for me to work in since it is what starts our day.
But history and literature and science discussions? Those are so much harder to work in for some reason! I’ll be honest that the way Memoria Press curriculum is set up sort of forced me into it. Not that we didn’t discuss before…but their type of written output forced us into it. And that’s a good thing. Kids needs to discuss, hear ideas, explain their own way of thinking about the material. So this forced consistency has been good for us.
It has been very difficult to find weekly class time though. I’ve re-juggled our schedule many times over in an attempt to make it work!
But it’s worth it. My kiddos are learning and retaining so much, and the time spent together in this way is priceless. So I encourage you to re-work your schedule for that time especially with your 8yo.
Thank you so much for being a faithful reader and letting me write this too-long response! Ha! 🙂
Hannah Beth Reid
We’re trying some new curriculum, a little more boxed, but still real book based. Keeping math the same. We haven’t started yet because we know we’re going out of town next month and we did school into the summer, so I’m taking some time now to get organized and ready for next year.
The big thing we’re trying to implement are more independent routines for our older (8 yrs and 6 yrs) children before school every day, so they’re practicing that already. Things like getting personal and household chores done *before* they start reading or building Legos.
We’re expecting another baby in January, so that will add an interesting twist to school for the next calendar year. I’ve read of moms who keep school going with a brand new baby and I aspire to that goal. The other baby we’ve had since my oldest started official schooling was born in the month of April…and we never *quite* got back on track, so it just transitioned into summer break. This was the right choice for us at the time, but it won’t work for a January baby!
Thank you so much for sharing your curriculum choices and your heart to choose God’s best for your children! This encouraged me to pray more consistently about the direction we go for school this year, especially for our attitudes as we get serious about school again. I always enjoy your posts and videos!
Hey Hannah Beth! Oh I always love and appreciate your sweet comments! Thank you! 🙂
So this will be your 4th that’s due in January? That is so exciting! I was one of those that took about 2-3 weeks off after the last baby was born (a February baby), and then we got right back to school. I wasn’t doing much else in the house though. A mama DOES need time to rest and recuperate, after all.
That was an intentional decision on my part, though. I knew that it would be easier to juggle homeschool while the baby was still so little- before crawling, climbing, etc. Plus my kiddos thrive on routine and tend to climb the walls without it. It was a sanity-saver for me, but I know it’s different for each mother and for each baby! Some babies require more than others. 🙂
Yes, pray, pray, and then pray again. Pray over the curriculum, ask the Lord to show you how to use it, what you should add or drop, how to schedule it, everything. He will speak very clearly to you!
I hope your new year gets off to a great start next month! Thank you again for taking the time to leave a comment! 🙂
Oh – and about encouraging your kiddos to start personal/chore routines BEFORE school, LEGO, etc. You are going to think “this is the BEST thing I’ve ever done!” Especially when the baby arrives!!
So good to hear I’m not the only one changing it up this year! btw we love Memoria Press litature- we’ve used it the past couple years and I pieced the rest of the subjects together myself.
We began the international adoption process last school year, and it just became too much work to piece together our school materials, on top of house keeping, and mountains of paperwork. (the house was a disaster and we limped along in school).
This year I lightened my schedule by adding a DVD English curriculum and Mystery of History v.1 with audio cds. We kept our Memoria Press Lit! 2 less subjects I’ve had to teach this year has created enough room for me to continue working on adoption paperwork and tidy the house. Praise God!!!
This past month of school has proved a blessing and much more easily accomplished!
Hey Jess! Well, to be very honest, we haven’t started the literature guides yet. My girls had some CLE Reading for 4th and 6th they were finishing up until our little break here. Plus, I didn’t quite understand how to use the lit guides. Now that I understand, I am so excited to get started with them! We will add them in (and drop the CLE) when we start back next week.
On a side note – do you discuss each day with your kiddos? Or do you discuss only every few chapters? I’m not sure I can work in daily discussion for 2 separate grades. Just wondering what other moms do.
Did you choose Essentials in Writing as the DVD English? I actually purchased it and then decided not to use it. Ack! I hope to sell it on Ebay. 😉 It looks absolutely MARVELOUS and I just hate that we can’t use it! I ended up using Fable and Narrative from MP since it was included in our packages and my 4th grader needs a lot of hand-holding. But too bad, because I personally loved it!
I am so thrilled that you were able to free yourself up a bit and your year has started off well! Isn’t that a great feeling?! Best wishes as you keep on keepin’ on with that paperwork.
I am just now seeing this again. haha life gets busy and forgetfulness ensues. I don’t do daily discussion as part of our MP lit guides, as I don’t have the energy to. I usually pick out the ones that I really want to cover- maybe 1 a week- and then add that to our schedule. The Enrichment activities I handle the same way possibly less often depending on time/energy/resources…
For English, we went super traditional/boxed and just got BJU English DVD/book package. I wanted to implement IEW but wasn’t sure how much work it would require on my part, and I wanted to be as removed from that school time as possible to free up time. So BJU was a safe bet. I’ve never heard of Essentials in Writing. I may have to look into them.
Thank you so much, Jess! I really appreciate you coming back to respond. I am like you – there is only so much energy for the day, and I am only getting to the lit guides every other day for my 4th grader, and 1-2 times a week to play catch up with my 6th grader. I’m surprised, but it’s actually working out okay like this.
I agree that BJU is definitely a safe bet! I’ve looked over their English/writing many times, and it is so thorough.
Hope your school year is going well! 🙂
I need some help with homeschooling. My girl is 6th grade, went to conventional elementary school and we decided to try this way. I need some help.
Hi Cynthia! I’m so sorry for the delayed reply. The first place I would start is with your state’s requirements for homeschooling. Find out what those are, and go from there. Each state is different, so that makes a huge difference where you’ll start.
After that, I’d seek out a mentor – someone in your church or social circles that is familiar with homeschooling and see if you can find a group of other local homeschoolers to come alongside and help you. There is nothing like in-person mentoring to get your started!
Best wishes! Warmly, Lauren
I first found your blog in my searches for more info, thoughts, etc. on Tapestry of Grace. (And I’ve loved reading what you have to say about other things motherhood, homeschooling, and more!) I just ran across this article and it looks like you’re no longer using TOG? Do you think you’ll return to it in the future, or did you find the prep just too time intensive? (I’m just starting this year with TOG, using Primer for my 5 year old, my oldest.) I’m just trying to wrap my head around what I’ll be getting myself into if I purchase the full program and use it with my 3 kids!!
Hey Danielle! I am so sorry that I didn’t reply sooner! This comment got lost in the queue.
I am not using TOG any longer, for various reasons. Let me start by saying that I love and adore TOG and I hate that we’re not using it. Their book choices, learning ideas, dialectic questions, and teacher’s notes just can’t be beat. It was perfect for me during the time I used it because I needed a lot of hand-holding with All Things History. I had quite a poor grasp of history, and TOG helped fill in a lot of gaps for me.
We entered a very hard season of life, and I couldn’t keep up with the planning of it. I’m the type that needs a written plan in place before the week starts so I don’t have to run it through in mind a million times. I need to open up the materials and go each morning. I couldn’t keep up with making TOG work for me in this way and it wasn’t getting done. Or either the planning WAS getting done, but it was taking me hours each weekend. And due to our family needs at the time, I couldn’t devote that type of planning.
Will I go back to in the future? Hmm. I’m not sure to be honest. While I love the 4-year history cycle, I see a lot of value in the Memoria Press history method (heavy Western Civ focused). The MP method also focuses on mastery and not just exposing children to various concepts. Mastery has proven to be much more beneficial in our homeschool. There were numerous times when we would get to the end of the week or unit and my kids couldn’t tell me much about what we’d studied.
Now for your son using Primer…I LOVE Primer. It’s a great exposure to a lot of fun civilizations and time periods in a K-2 friendly way. If I could do it all over again, I would either use something like TOG Primer, or MP’s Enrichment program, or Five in a Row beefed up quite a bit to include art/music. There are so many excellent options that are available now that were not on the market back when we started homeschooling.
And I also fully believe that you can just expose them to great books each week with no extra activities and lots of outside time and have a beautiful Kindergarten or First Grade year. 🙂
I used TOG Primer for a bit if you want to read through the post: https://www.mamaslearningcorner.com/using-tapestry-primer-with-my-kindergartner-first-grader/
If you have questions, please feel free to ask! We used TOG for 6+ years, and taught it through the Dialectic level, so I feel capable of answering questions you might have! 🙂
Again, I am truly sorry for my very late reply!