Now that this school year is over and I have a good idea of what worked/didn’t work for my boys, I have made final decisions for next year.
I was planning to have the boys do math through the summer to “catch up” since I started them at a lower level to fill in gaps (they couldn’t add/subtract multi-digit numbers even though they were in third and fourth grade). But I realized quickly that it wouldn’t work super well because it’s summer at camp! They are all out of the house most of the day, especially Ethan. I can’t keep Ethan home! He loves to be around people 24/7. Haha.
This is a glimpse of the curriculum. I will go into detail below!
So mostly everything will stay the same as what we have been doing. We didn’t get super far in many of the things this year for various reasons, but I’m good with that. I think almost everything will last the full year next year with the exception of a few things. I will mention those below.
The things are are staying the same…
We will continue using The Good and the Beautiful. We will finish level 3 and move on to level 4 (probably mid-spring). These levels don’t reflect grade levels. They are pretty advanced, especially in the area of grammar. I love that the boys are on the same level (Levi is just a bit ahead in his course book). TGATB LA teaches grammar, phonics, reading, spelling, art appreciation, artist study, poetry, and geography. It teaches writing, but I’m not a huge fan of how they teach it for my boys (I’ll share what we’re doing for writing below). It’s a little too open ended and there’s not much writing at all in the lower levels. I feel like they need more practice.
They will continue reading books of choice and using reading response questions to share a bit about what they read. This is for comprehension, not writing skills. Sometimes I will have them narrate orally and I will write for them. They get frustrated easily when it comes to writing.
For writing we will be using the Ancient History-Themed Writing by IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing). I learned about this curriculum when I watched all 9 DVD’s when I taught at a classical private school. I actually wasn’t a huge fan because I felt like there wasn’t enough writing their own words and creative writing. The thing that I didn’t take into consideration is that I didn’t get past unit 3. I didn’t teach it well because I was struggling with severe anxiety and panic attacks. I ended up leaving in November that year.
Since that I have tried many other curricula for writing (almost everything out there), and while I don’t think any of them are perfect, I think this one will be the best fit out of all the ones out there. I spent a lot of time researching and remembering things that I loved and didn’t love about the ones that we have tried in the past. This is what I landed on. I decided to use a themed book because I think the student intensives go too fast for my boys. I plan to take two years to complete the themed book including adding in some extra sources from the Writing Source Packet to expand and get more practice. I am making this work for my boys. Curriculum is a tool that we use.
I got the themed books for $10 used (mostly on Amazon believe it or not!), and they are usually $30. I got the Teaching Writing: Stucture and Style DVD’s and notebook for $40 and new they are like $150. The ones I got were an older addition, but I’m okay with that (this is the version that I have seen before). I just needed it to get a good review of what I’ve watched in the past. I probably would have been okay without the DVD’s but I feel it’ll be super helpful.
They will be using TGATB for handwriting (cursive). I’m thinking we will not do handwriting after this book.
We will continue doing read alouds everyday. The books shown are possibilities. The Hotel Between is the book we have been reading and we aren’t finished. We also read The Story for Kids. There are a few Charlotte Mason type living books from Living Books Press that I have in this pile that I’m excited about. I may also use those books for nature studies and for writing.
I typically do their history as a read aloud during this time as well. The boys are allowed to do hands-on activities during this such as play dough, playing with cars (usually IN the play dough), Legos, etc. It helps them retain SO much more!
We use Math U See and while the boys aren’t thrilled with it every day, it has been so amazing in teaching things to mastery. They were pulled out of school in 3rd and 4rd grade and didn’t know how to add and subtract multi-digits numbers consistently. So we worked on that from February till last week. They got through an entire year’s worth of curriculum.
Next year we plan to get through Gamma and Delta. We’ll see what happens. They actually already started Gamma because I thought that’s where they were, but I realized quickly that I needed to move backwards to fill in those gaps. I’m thinking we will stick with MUS from now on. It’s just so thorough.
We will continue Story of the World Ancient Times. I got it used for $4. It’s short lessons every day with a lot or as little extras as we can handle. Sometimes we do a lot of the activities and sometimes they just narrate. They are learning so much and truly really love it.
Science and Nature Studies
We are doing nature studies twice a week, all around the Nature Anatomy book plus living books to expand when we have time/want to. I found this awesome schedule that I plan to follow. I will also try to utilize the library when I can (it’s far away).
These are just a few of the nature books that I have.
We will also be using TGATB’s Marine Biology. We started it but only got through a few lessons. I’m going to take it slow because it is a LOT. Lots of living books, research, hands-on activities, etc. I think we will take the full year to do this, but we will see. If we finish early, we can pick up another science unit. They have some amazing ones! And there is a website where you can buy the experiment/project kits with lots of supplies!
I’m so so excited about this coming year because it will be our first FULL year of homeschooling. I have a history of putting the kids back in school but that won’t be happening this coming year! Ethan wants to homeschool from now through high school. Levi has shown some interest in maybe wanting to go back to school, but he is back and forth so much that I told him he needs to give it a full year and we’ll see how he feels. Ultimately he says he likes homeschooling better. We’ll just see. Karis pretty much refuses to homeschool. I’m just going to go with it! She’s going into 8th grade and wants to be with her friends.
I can’t believe that I have fourth, fifth, and eighth graders!