Homeschooling my way, Part 2 (Sept 2010)

I wrote in detail my homeschool philosophy as well as a listing of what I use almost exactly one year ago, and have since changed much of what I do.The things I’ve changed were either because I’ve run across amazing things I wanted to add or because a few of the things I was using simply weren’t working any longer.This particular letter is meant to be an addendum to the original one I wrote with the disclaimers in all their glory.To be found at Homeschooling My Way #1.

2010-2011 School Schedule

0700 – Wake up, eat breakfast

0730 – Chores

– H – boys’ bathroom

– C – sweep kitchen and dining room

– B – put toys in white basket and/or empty basket

0800– Handwriting


– H – Writing

– C – Writing

– B – Jonathan Park


– H – Read and take test

– C – Jonathan Park, Math homework, Reading Tests

– B – Math

0945 – Science

1015– Story of the World


– H – Rosetta Stone

– C – Read 30 minutes

– B – Read to mommy


– H – Math

– C – Math

– B – Preschool work (This is handwriting practice from a notebook.)


– H –Jonathan Park

– C – Rosetta Stone

– B – Done

1215 – Lunch

1245– Nap

During nap H:Read 30 minutes, Veritas Press suggested book, Adventures in Odyssey

I’ll go through my day here and explain what we do now, and, where necessary, explain why I’ve switched some of my curriculum.

I’ve never before had a very strict schedule but found that if I don’t do this, Bailey ends up spending a lot of time wandering around the house waiting for me to get to a good stopping point to give him more direction.(Being the youngest he needs 1-on-1 interaction as well as a definite schedule.) This schedule has been changed 4 times in 4 weeks, but I have finally found a variation that works great!(The only major difference in this one and the original is that now the older two do writing first instead of later in the day.)

I need the boys to be up and moving around 0700.Any earlier than that and I haven’t had my coffee.Not good.Any later than that and we’re just being lazy.

They do not need more than 30 minutes to eat regardless of what they may tell you.(They could eat all day, I promise!)At 0730 I have them do chores.They don’t work a solid 30 minutes.In fact, each child’s chore should take between 5-10 minutes.If it takes them longer then I know they’re piddling and not staying on task.I just selected 3 tasks, one for each kid, that require them to clean something that they were not entirely responsible for getting dirty but definitely had a hand in.I used to make them switch jobs on Mondays.That got too tedious for me to remember so now they keep the job the entire month… from the first day of the month to the last.They get paid a quarter for this job.Done 7 times a week will get them $1.75.They also get quarters for other jobs around the house, including running miscellaneous errands for me, like getting Parker’s clean burp clothes, etc.They can make a killing if they try.

Handwriting – I still use Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) for Bailey and would highly recommend it for anyone trying to teach print. For Cursive I use Classically Cursive and really like it.– Regarding the schedule:I had this in latter part of the morning at first, but found that I needed a few minutes to get “things” set up for school.Since all 3 do handwriting I decided to get them all seated and focused with 15 minutes of handwriting, allowing me to get organized.This also allows me to get Parker settled into whatever contraption he’s in the mood for.

Writing – OH MY GOSH, am I excited about what I’ve discovered!!!!!I want to sing it from the rooftops but since we’re just now starting I figured I’d wait until I have some serious, documented proof that it works.As it is, I’m seriously optimistic and hopeful that what I’ve found will revolutionize our writing.I love to write.Between photography and writing I could not decide if asked which one I prefer.Both document memories in such eloquent ways and I pray I’m always able to do both.Until now I’ve hated teaching writing.I taught it in the elementary school classroom and would hate to find out the results my teaching had on the students I instructed.I’ve mostly ignored it up until this point.Since I have a 4th grader I felt that it was time to get really serious about it.I have deleted (very happily) Shurley English from our curriculum.(While we were using it it was great. Once we stopped for our move I could barely make myself open the book. We were done with it.)I decided to give “Writing Strands” a try.I did.I quit.I started over.I quit.Basically, we all hated it.After the 2nd week of school I got online and spent hours and hours looking for a better way.I found something that seemed too good to be true. I watched an hour of online interviews with the creator of the program.They had an offer, “First 5 Lessons FREE.”I couldn’t resist.I signed up and had them emailed immediately.We did a lesson a day and on the 5th day the following words found their way out of Hayden’s mouth: “I don’t even have to think about what to write, I just write!”

This mamma just about fell out of her chair!I wrote what he said in purple ink (I use purple pens because red just seems to harsh and I like purple pens) on his paper for that day. I wanted to document when writing went from a chore to something he could do without much thought.5 lessons.I could not wait to get the next ones, and as soon as I could, I purchased the entire set.Everything was emailed to me, and I printed everything out, 2 sets:One for Hayden, one for Carson.Speaking of Carson, he has come along well!The first 3 weeks he “couldn’t think of anything to write,” but has since learned that I don’t expect a perfect paper, just for him to write what he can and I’ll be pleased.Today he wrote 5 sentences without ANY suggestions or help from me.No complaining!I am so pleased!So, what is this magic curriculum?See this link for more info:

While the older two are doing writing Bailey is listening to Jonathan Park.I refer to that in the original note, and we are still very excited about JP. I add a new episode to their iPods every Sunday afternoon and they listen to that new one every day for the following week.For the link to see what this is all about, click here:

Reading – Bailey FINALLY finished 100 Easy Lessons.He just took longer than the other two and still has a harder time reading than either of the others every did.He is just now being able to read Dr. Seuss.He’s a Level 1 reader with assistance.He has a hard time remembering some of the hints, but he’s getting there.The other two are amazingly advanced as far as their reading.Carson, specifically.I allow them to check out many books from the library and they read them at their leisure.I don’t require more than an hour of reading a day but they often read 2-3 hours on their own.I sometimes have to add in extra rows in their records to add in the books they read that were over and above their required reading.As far as tests, I still use moms should check it out!I make my own incentives and they work toward cash prizes or kids’ meals at Burger King.

Math – Still using Saxon Math for Bailey and Carson, though I have just ordered Teaching Textbooks for C. ( last time I wrote I had not seen TT in action.Hayden LOVES it and I believe it will benefit Carson as soon as it arrives (I’m actually going to start Carson on it sooner than expected because it overlaps a lot of what he’s learning in Saxon Math 2.)Can I shout it from the rooftops even though Hayden’s only on Lesson 22?IT’S FANTASTIC!!!

Science – Again, LOVING what we have going on!Iused KONOS as my foundation years ago.Allow me to use words from their own site to sum up their philosophy:

They wanted to use the kitchen, flowerbeds, garage, and the world around them as part of their classroom and laboratory. They also wanted to train their children in Godly character so they would grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. Each volume is really a teacher’s manual which always includes activities for K-8th grade, so a mother can teach her 8th grader, her 5th grader and her kindergartner at the same time using one curriculum.

I loved these ideas.I wanted to teach multiple ages simultaneously, when possible, and use as much from our home as possible to teach and as little “textbook” teaching as possible.I also wanted to use the library as fully as we could.I started out doing KONOS quite seriously, by the book, so to speak.Now I don’t even use their curriculum at all, but have adapted their philosophy to fit what I want to do with my children.I bought a science “textbook” (I know… I just said I wanted to use as little as possible) but I use it for all 3 boys. I just require less of Bailey than I do of the older two.He will absorb what he can.So, now to tell you what I use.I found “Systems Science Level Four” by Purposeful Design to be the best fit.

(I bought the teacher book, 1 student text, and 3 workbooks, all from Amazon/eBay and got better deals. Next time, however, I’ll probably just order from this site, as I’m missing the CD and that’s annoying.)

Social Studies – Again, let me sing this from the rooftops!I LOVE what I’m using!You know, I feel a little weird because so much has changed in the last year in our homeschool. We just started our 5th year of this and I would have expected that by now we’d have it down pat and wouldn’t need to adjust so much.But when I think about it, as the kids age, they need more and more, and this, in itself, justifies all the changes.Add to that I noticed when there was something lacking and found even greater things to fill the gaps and I’m ending up with a great curriculum.I am sure there are box sets out there that will sell you every subject ready to go.But I don’t want to just “do school at home.”The KONOS creators discuss this in their philosophy.We are a HOME school.That’s different from doing school at home.What I have found, for my family, is that these things work great for us!I guess I should tell you what I use for Social Studies.“The Story of the World.” Oh, PLEASE look this up!! you decide to use this, be sure to buy the Curriculum Guide.BOTH are amazing and my kids LOVE it!We get cozy in the living room to do this subject.We all find a place to sit while I read to them.It is WONDERFUL!!!We usually only do a few pages a day as the chapters are very short.The activities are perfectly suited to the ages I have and the boys are always look forward to the coloring sheets. I will buy Volume 2 when we finish this one!

Foreign Language– Rosetta Stone Spanish for the older two.The student needs to be a fairly good reader to excel at that, so I’ll wait until Bailey’s more proficient before starting him.They will also have a German come to the house once a week for German lessons, staring this Thursday.(SO excited about this.)

Adventures in Odyssey – Just a note, mine still listen to this every day.

If you read this without reading the original version, there are many explanations I have left off in this note, for lack of time (I had that baby in March and he’s back in his bed begging me to come get him).I also felt like, since I had written it once, it’s still there to read.Check out the link and see if it will take you to the original one, if you’re interested in what is there.

I love homeschooling my kids.We enjoyed our summer vacation but started our school year 3 weeks before the other kids here because we were ready.That, and we are going to take time off during the year.My boys look at the hours other kids are in school and are glad they are playing.They get quite a bit done in a short amount of time and they are appreciative of that fact.It works for us, for now.

Feel free to comment or ask questions. So far, this has been my favorite year of homeschooling, but I have to say, I prefer older students to younger ones, so the fact that my “students” are getting older has a lot to do with that.I taught 4th grade and loved that age… I now have a 4th grader!

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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6 Responses to Homeschooling my way, Part 2 (Sept 2010)

  1. Amie Fisher says:

    Thank you Jennifer! We have pulled the kids out of school for this move to South Carolina and are going to home school them. We were going to do the K12 online, public school program but it’s not working out in time so we are ‘winging it’. I really appreciate you breaking down what you do. It just gives me some helpful places to start looking.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m excited for you as you are exploring new challenges! You GOT THIS!

      I really need to go update my Homeschool page to include some of the new things I’ve researched!

  2. Amie Fisher says:

    Quick question…Veritas Press? What do you use this for?

    • Jennifer says:

      I think I answered you via FB message, but in case someone else wants to know…

      I use their list to help the boys pick out quality literature to read. Other than that, I don’t use it… at least formally.

  3. Pingback: Homeschooling My Way #1 | thehamricks

  4. Pingback: Jackson Academy | thehamricks

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