Monday, January 23, 2017

Snapshot by Child - A Journal Post

One of the homeschool forums I am a regular on had a check in thread this week. Many of us on the forum have been there for years. We like to follow up with each other and see how plans from the beginning of the school year go at the midpoint and end of the year. Once I had it all typed out I realized I wanted to edit it a bit and put it here on the blog as part of my homeschool journal. Posts like these are always fun for me to look back on and see growth and changes in my children.

Makayla, 10th grade – She’s been pretty independent this year except in math. That is Math U See Geometry and we’re working on it together. It’s definitely better than Algebra 1. She’s doing the Power in Your Hands for nonfiction writing this year and it’s a solid program that is teaching her academic writing forms like various types of essays. She took a break in November to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and has a couple novels in progress that she works on outside of school. Science has been reptiles (raising a ball python this year in addition to her two bearded dragons of last year), finishing up Apologia Biology, and doing a Veterinary Medicine course too. (She’s planning on being a vet…). History has been Beautiful Feet Medieval Senior High and she’s enjoyed most of the books so far.  She does art on her own mostly, she’s entered a few pieces in the local teen art show the last several years. She wants to learn to use watercolors so she is currently reading books about that. She’s picked piano lessons back up. Her current interests include sleeping (she is a teen after all), reptiles, and preparing for the spring track season (she runs with the local public school team).

Joseph, 6th grade – He’s my ‘plow through school so I can get back to my own interests’ child. He’s really enjoyed some of his literature books this year, with the Ranger’s Apprentice series being his favorite. History, BF Medieval Intermediate, done with all the younger siblings during 1st semester. He’s loving science this semester, we’re doing Apologia’s Exploring Chemistry and Physics as a group with 6th grade and under kids. Writing has never been a favorite subject but he’s improving. Math is MUS Zeta (Decimals and Percents) and it is going pretty well. We’re doing a mix of writing projects and notebooking with written narrations. Art is done every other week with another family, I teach a class for all the kids. He’s also enjoying Boy Scouts, is working on swimming skills, and has started piano lessons. Current interests include Legos and Star Wars.

Emma, 5th grade – Emma has always just done school with Joseph. They are only 13 months apart and they are in the same math level. She’s a very opinionated reader. She would be happy to stick with one main genre all the time. I’ve nudged her into other books part of the time this year and part of the time let her run with her own picks. She loves to read. She didn’t mind history and is really enjoying all the experiments in science this semester. Art is one of her favorite things, she’s always doodling, drawing, coloring, and creating. So she does more art than just our every other week class. She has also enjoyed the notebooking portion of our writing plan this year a lot. She’s not a big fan of writing topics I want her to write about (ahem) but she does enjoy writing some of her own projects. She has started piano lessons as well and is thrilled, she’s wanted lessons for a while now. She is also working on swimming skills. Current interests include Star Trek and fairy tale retellings like the Land of Stories series.

Daniel, 3rd grade – This year has been a struggle for Daniel, not academically, but emotionally. He would just rather not do some of our formal school work. He’s right in between the older kids and little kids who don’t have to do ‘school’ or aren’t reading independently. He does well in his school work once we get past the complaints. He loves science and reading. His favorite books have been The Mouse and the Motorcycle series and Half Magic. He would rather skip all writing, narrating, and math. He’s good at them, just doesn’t like doing them. He does the art class and enjoys some projects and not others. This year he’s in MUS Delta, which is division. He’s done a few writing projects and does notebooking pages as well. We partner on the writing part, some he writes and some he narrates and I scribe. He is also doing piano lessons now and seems to like it and enjoys Cub Scouts. He likes Legos and interested in neuroscience topics (think Brain Games).

Oliver, 2nd grade – Oliver has been enthusiastic for learning this year. He’s worked diligently in Math U See Beta (larger addition and subtraction problems). He’s been working hard on learning to read and is making great progress toward independence. He is using All About Reading level 2 and is reading aloud to me daily. He liked listening to our history stories but loves science more. He narrates his writing projects to me. For notebooking pages he narrates to me and I write his words on the board, which he then copies down onto his notebooking page. He likes art class and is looking forward to starting Cub Scouts next month when he turns 8. His current interests include Legos, specifically Mixels, and dinosaurs.

Caleb, Kindergarten – I’m pretty low-key in Kindergarten. Caleb has done math (MUS Alpha) and worked with letters consistently all year. He’s shown me in the last few weeks that he can blend and read CVC words so he just started All About Reading level 1. I love this because it has so many games to make the reading hands on. He’s listened to the history reading and really likes science this semester. He does notebooking pages by drawing a picture like the other kids and then he chooses a word or couple of words to label his picture as his copywork. In writing if he wants to participate he narrates to me and I write down his words. Some days he still just plays the day away and I’m just fine with that! His current interests are animals, dinosaurs, and Legos.

Mason, Preschool – I’m even more low-key for preschool than for Kindergarten. Mason was 4 years old until this month. There are no formal lessons. We read books, play with puzzles and playdough, use magnifying glasses and make messes. He’s started to do math out loud so I think he’s ready for some hands on math games soon. He is starting to recognize letters and will sometimes ask what a letter says. He’s also starting to write letters here and there for fun on his papers when he’s coloring or drawing. With Mason’s medical needs he also has physical therapy, lots of appointments, and a few learning needs are on our radar for the future. About 75% of kids with Spina Bifida and Chiari II Brain Malformation have specific learning issues in math, memory, and executive function areas. So I’m learning about what to watch, how to help, and just keeping an eye on things as we go. Mason’s current interests are Legos and Paw Patrol.

Samuel, Preschool – Again, super low-key. He is only 3. He likes when I read books to him, he loves playing and is a pretty self-contained boy who is just as happy playing on his own as with his siblings. He recognizes all letters and their sounds. He’s also got a speech delay and we did speech therapy for a while but it didn’t help really (the therapist was asking me for ideas as she didn’t know what else to try) and after tolerating it for a while he has totally refused to participate now for weeks. We’re taking an extended break and I’m still doing what I’ve done since birth – reading to and with him a lot, talking with him, encouraging him to use his words, try new sounds, repeat after me, sing, and play. We’re seeing some progress. His current interests are dinosaurs, Lego minifigures, Ninjago, and Paw Patrol.

Tobias, toddler – This little man turned 1 in November and he’s pretty much a climbing, into everything, happy little boy. He’s right in the middle of the action all the time. He loves books and has a couple favorites he brings to you to read over and over. As for current interests, Tobias is an equal opportunity player, he likes anything he can get his hands on. The most recent fascination is a battery powered train that he follows around.

General Updates:

1. We are getting ready to begin a grammar curriculum for a few of the older kids, and middle kids may tag along. I chose Fix-It Grammar because it will do double duty. The premise is that they correct one piece (sentence in the early levels) from a story each day (with the first of every 5 lessons being done as a group with the teacher instructing). Then they copywork this one thing into a notebook correctly. There is a vocab word you can define each day in the sentence too. By the end of the level the child has read, corrected, and written in their best handwriting an entire story they can read and enjoy.

2. I’m deep in college exploration and planning the last two years of high school with Makayla. We’re trying to be sure she has the courses they expect for incoming freshmen to be competitive at the colleges she is interested in, while also fitting in electives for topics she is enthusiastic about. It is interesting to be at this point. She’ll be taking the ACT this spring for the first time (end of her 10th grade year). We decided to do it cold, meaning no real preparation, just to see where she falls in each section. Then we’ll be able to use those scores and her experience with the test to know what areas she needs to study and prepare in to improve her scores and she’ll take the test again twice in 11th and possible in 12th if she still wants to improve her score. (We do know the scores her colleges of choice like to see for incoming freshmen, so she has a goal to aim at.)

3. I am working on planning next year’s curriculum! It will be an interesting year because I may divide the kids up into 3 groups (Makayla is one, Joseph and Emma will be 7th/6th and group two, and then the rest of the younger boys in 4th grade and under would be group three). We will still have the same history time period and some books will cross over ages but they’ll also have individual books. Science is where we will possibly split up more than we have before. We’ll see. Also, for next year I am planning our own history books instead of just using one curriculum guide. I’m working on those book lists right now too.


  1. Did Makayla decide to try to do the Dual Enrollment option for 11th and 12th grade at OSU Newark? I go back and forth about it for Alexis but I figure we'll pray about it when the time gets closer and if we feel it would be a good thing, we'll give it a try. (Although we probably won't do any English classes because of stories I have heard from cousins who participate and the stuff they are required to read.) Also, you had mentioned an lds preschool curriculum you bought and were going to try for the younger boys. Did you decide you didn't like it? I was thinking if purchasing it next autumn for Adam and was curious what you thought. Sounds like everyone is learning and having fun! :)

    1. Right now I think she'll be trying to get funding for it for 12th. There is not much in the way of funding for homeschoolers (boo!). For the Dual Enrollment you have to submit everything, including an ACT score, by early April. I'm not sure when we have to have things done at OSU N (their dates may be different, but for funding we have to have things in early in April. The next ACT test date is April 8th. She has until the beginning of March to decide if she wants to sign up for the April ACT or the June one.

      For the LDS Preschool - the jury is still out on this one. I will be sharing an update in the near future. :)

  2. Loved this :-) Great midyear update. Everyone is doing so well. Looks like you have found a great rhythm for the year. Blessings :-)

  3. College prep and planning is an interesting stage. It's far less involved abd complicated here and my oldest three all had no difficulties. So you think I'd be relaxed with my youngest. But no she wants to go to a different university to her siblings (they all attended the same one and it is the most homeschool friendly in the country) so I'm back to worrying if what we've done will get here where she wants to go.

    1. Just when you think you have it all figured out they go and change things on you! LOL

  4. What Science are you considering for 6th and 7th? What history time period are you doing next year?

    1. With Makayla we did Apologia's General Science for 7th and their Physical Science for 8th. I don't think they necessarily need to do both, but I do think one or the other is a really good introduction to a full on textbook course before they reach biology. So I may wait one more year until they are 7th and 8th graders and do one of those with them, using one of the elementary Apologia with everyone again this fall instead. If not, I will have Makayla doing Chemistry this fall, Joseph and Emma doing General Science, and the rest of the kids doing one of the Apologia Elementary science books (we are currently doing the Chemistry and Physics one and enjoying it).
      Our next history time period is from colonies to just before the Civil War. It will include some Government as well, spread out over the next 2 years I think for Makayla. The other possibility for Makayla is doing a survey of American History (colonies to the present in 1 year, hitting on topics she hasn't dove into before or on topics she wants to dive into more). As we decide what she wants to do in these last 2 years of high school that will get figured out!

  5. Mostly I love the pictures of the kids--they're clearly all individuals, but there's a family unity . . . a peacefulness of spirit in all of them (yes, even your spirited Emma) that is beautifully appealing.

    I surely wish your Makayla joy in her journey to college. My girls are going to be taking the community college path to a 4 year school, so we're not busy with tests and the like, but I did spend a long time comparing BYU Provo to BYU Idaho for my Pixie. They are such completely different entities that preparation for one school is the opposite of preparation for another--even getting there via transfer. Crazy!


Please remember to speak kindly. Unkind or inappropriate comments will be quietly deleted.