Read about our homeschool adventures…
YEAR 1: This is my first year of homeschooling our two youngest sons, and we just finished our first semester, which went surprisingly well!
I have learned many things, tried many curriculums, and have had many lessons along the way!
I think the most difficult thing for me is my expectations! I try hard to exceed in everything….but I have come to the realization that this is just what it is…”MY EXPECTATIONS.” Sure juggling three sons, a husband, family, friends, God, schooling (preparing and making the curriculum for 2 different grades, and explaining and correcting the assignments), my Thrive business, my household (shopping, cleaning, cooking…), appointments, activities and sports, my Christian personal, and business blogs and pages, and so on…is challenging, but very rewarding and worth it! And although some days are easier than others, meeting or exceeding “my high expectations” is no longer my goal!
I am a big researcher and am always searching for and evaluating new curriculum….I thrive on this!
The start of this semester I have added online curriculum and computer work, because up until now, we are only using worksheets & books. I feel this will give our boys the skills they need in this overly technology-based world.
I also just signed up for an online school tracker where I can set up their lesson plans, chores, assignments, and grades, and they can log in to see their grades, tasks, and assignments for the day, and mark them off when completed. Being a very organized person, this helps me tremendously!
Although we are still in the learning stages, we are finding many different ways to make our homeschooling days more productive and enjoyable!
I feel extremely blessed to be able to homeschool our youngest sons and love the adventure, happiness, and closeness it brings! We love homeschooling!!!!
Year 2: We are in our second year of homeschooling, and, although we are still learning, we have figured out what is not working for us! We did not like the online resources and got rid of them after a couple months! It was less interactive between teacher & students, and when they had questions, it was difficult to help them without reviewing the videos and lessons, which took up too much time…more than we liked! We started all subjects with Christian Light Education in May. I read many reviews and joined many groups before considering CLP for our curriculum choice. I started off testing both of our boys to see which level they needed to be in for Math & Language Arts. Our “3rd grader” tested at his level, but our middle schooler tested a level behind. I have read many reviews & talked with many homeschoolers and already knew that there was a strong possibility that our boys would not test at their level because CLP is considered more advanced than the public schools. I also signed up for their Homeschool Plus program so I would be ready when our middle son was at the high school level, and I would have an advisor to help me when I needed it. I received many helpful printables, and a homeschooling training kit. The training was wonderful and thorough and helped me become more prepared for homeschooling. I made up grading sheets specific for CLP and added them to my Teachers Planner and shared them in the CLP groups so others could use them.
After a full month of working with the CLP curriculum, we went to once a month for summer break…just to stay refreshed.
After enjoying summer with friends and family and spending much of summer at our camper, we we’re blessed to find a beautiful house in a nearby city where we spend most of our time for homeschooling activities, sports, and shopping. We moved into our new house and prepared to start our second year of homeschooling 2 weeks later. After a month of working on our curriculum, with mostly 100%s, “This is getting boring” complaints, and the lack of attention, I started to test our boys in each lesson above where they were, and found out they needed to be at higher levels for Math & Language Arts ALREADY! I reordered the Light Units for the level they tested at and we continued on.
Absolutely loving the advantages of living in a city with so much for our boys, we started finding more things they would like to be involved in, and started adding a new activity every couple weeks to ease into everything, and readjusted our homeschool schedule to accommodate all of our classes and activities.
We have our boys in Kyuki-do, which is conveniently just down the street. They go to the Kyuki-do Homeschool classes during the day and enjoy it tremendously. We also signed them up for Trail Life, which is a Christian “scouting” program. I can not brag enough about this program..the Christian brothership, the lessons and activities..it is an honor to have our boys part of this! They also continued in their Gym and Swim program that they have been part of since we started homeschooling. We were also blessed to have found our church not too far from us, and our youngest son enjoys going to Awana and Sunday school and our middle son enjoys the church service and the youth program.
Year 2-February: We had a very hard time getting back into the groove of school after the holidays…blah! Our sons were “getting bored” & were heavily distracted doing book work everyday! Our middle school son is wonderful at self-discipline and independent learning, but our youngest son is more active and easily distracted and takes a much longer time to get through his school day even with many breaks & cues from this mama! But over the past year and a half we have noticed that our youngest loves electronics, computers, tablets, video games, pictures, hands-on lessons, and his iPod, and electronics actually keep his attention, unlike boring textbooks.
So, when they finished up their current LightUnits, we had a family discussion with our boys about what THEY wanted to do to make homeschooling more fun and gave them many options. Since we started homeschooling, we have tried many different curriculum styles from online, unit studies, worksheets & packets, many different workbook curriculums etc, so they have had experience with all the different styles. After our family discussion, I was back to my homeschool curriculum research! Meanwhile, they continued to use SchoolHouse Teachers, Khan Academy, and Prodigy Math, while I used Homeschool Planet’s free trial for our daily planning to help keep track of the different links to the assignments since we were using multiple sites and lessons.
We compared prices, the layouts, the reviews, and tried demos for only Christian curriculum options. I gave our sons placement tests to see which areas they needed help with, which areas they successfully mastered, and which levels/grades to start them in to help fill in their education gaps. It was amazing to me how hard they worked all year and how high they scored (several grades ahead) on the online site’s placement tests, yet when they took the placement tests for their new (book) curriculums, they had many educational gaps in many subjects…..hhmmm! How did they have so many educational gaps when we followed the scope & sequences for all of their school subjects & did exceptionally well in all of the lessons & tests?
After much research and consideration, we decided to give Monarch’s free trial a try! Initially, we loved Monarch & continued on with our paid membership, but the closer it got to summer break, the more we were realizing that Monarch was not for us! I honestly did NOT like that our sons were glued to their laptops most of the day. It was not easy to help them when they had questions because most of the time I had to review all of the videos and lessons they learned for that particular area to figure out how to help them when they were stuck. And the closeness and personal interactions were becoming very few and far between, sigh. Even our boys complained that they missed our book curriculum and spending more time together!
It was also very difficult to keep up or get caught up since we needed an internet/WiFi connection when we were gone or when we went to our camper for the weekend. We missed the flexibility! We were pretty much forced to stay home and be in the house if we had school to do! It definitely wasn’t like when we could grab the books we needed to work on to bring them with us when we had somewhere to be for the weekend, or wanted to head outside or to the park to study in the beautiful, fresh air. I FELT I WAS ALWAYS BEHIND & FELT TRAPPED IN THE HOUSE! This just made me realize even more that I was making the right decision for our family to steer clear from the online curriculum!
And believe it or not….I MISSED MY PAPER PLANNERS AND GRADING SHEETS!
Needless to say, we gave it a fair shot, but didn’t like the online programs or planners! It just wasn’t what we wanted or needed in our little Blessed Academy homeschool.
So, back to the drawing board for me! I felt blessed to have the summer to research and find a new curriculum we thought might “suit our needs and wants better!” I immediately started joining more Christian Homeschool Facebook groups, getting on homeschool curriculum review sites, and searching for curriculum that would cover all of the subjects we needed, and would be reasonably priced. I knew what I needed & wanted from a curriculum company…so the search began!
YEAR 3: After many months of researching advice, reviews, downloading & ordering many curriculum samples, and talking with other homeschooling parents, we FINALLY narrowed down our curriculum search…WOOP WOOP! We were super excited to give AOP’s The Weaver a try! I scoured the internet for deals on The Weaver Curriculum & found a reasonable price on the main set of Volume 1 on eBay. The rest of the binders I needed I found online on different sites.
I also now realized that during the first 2 years of homeschooling, how alone and unsupported in our homeschooling journey we felt! So this year, I reluctantly signed our boys up for several local homeschooling co-ops. Boy, what a blessing that has been! Our boys finally found several homeschooling friends, as well as I found many homeschooling parents that I “clicked” with! We FINALLY felt supported and encouraged, and have learned about many other resources, groups, and activities in the community!
I do HIGHLY recommend joining online Homeschool groups, they are not only helpful with advice, but also wonderful in supporting and encouraging other homeschooling families!
I am working on adding homeschooling websites, article links & printables/worksheets as I find the time….please bear with me & check back! And stay tuned for more homeschooling adventures and information.
Meanwhile, you might want to check out my School Pinterest board, my Pinterest Homeschool group board, and my Homeschooling Facebook page (Blessed Academy) 🙂