Our Homeschool: What I’ve Learned and Landed On

It has only been a few months since I started homeschooling again, and I already feel like I’ve learned a lot.

Most of what’s in this post is from the “Our Homeschool” (link above). I just thought I’d make it into a post as well! I have already shared some of this; I just wanted to put it all in one place. I will say that I am pretty proud that for the most part, I haven’t made a ton of changes. I feel pretty content with what we are doing! I usually change things non-stop!

One of the things that I’m learning is that I pulled my boys out of school because they cannot handle the traditional classroom (especially one of them), so I have to do things differently at home. It’s going to take some practice because I have the brain of a classroom teacher, but it is slowly morphing into a homeschool that works for us. This doesn’t necessarily make changes to the curriculum, but it matters HOW I implement what I’m teaching. This isn’t public school at home, and I don’t want it to be.

What is my Homeschooling Method/Philosophy?

Charlotte Mason says that “children are born persons.” We must educate the whole person. They each have different needs, desires, strengths, weaknesses, emotions, mental health needs, and they matter. What they need matters. Along those same lines, every single child (and teen) develops in their own way and own time. They cannot be rushed, and there is no standard for them to keep up with. School is set up by standards, and there are so many children (and teens) who struggle so much because of that. Most of the state standards are not developmentally appropriate, and it definitely affects the children who feel “behind” mentally and emotionally. I have seen it first-hand with my own children and with many, many students that I have taught over the years.

I am now homeschooling teenagers, but I have found that it’s not much different than when my kids were in elementary when I was homeschooling before.

Both of my boys have ADHD (one of them has it pretty severely). They need simple, fun, lots of breaks, and to not take hours and hours. There is no need to take hours and hours to do “school” each day as we can fit things in a lot quicker at home. We don’t have a lot of wasted time. We have a 1:2 ratio, so I can help them through things. Then, they can be out and about the rest of the day. One of my boys is outside for hours as soon as we are finished. It has been so good for him.

I also allow the boys to do things with their hands while I teach/read aloud! They actually pay attention WAY better.

I LOVE the Charlotte Mason philosophy and methods, but I don’t follow it 100% because no methods fit every family 100%. I use her methods of narration, copywork, dictation, picture study, poetry, nature study (we will be getting back to this in the fall), and use some living books (to an extent- I allow the boys to choose what they read since they don’t love reading, and I choose the books that I read aloud and use for dictation, copywork, etc). I love using literature for every subject.

Charlotte Mason focuses a lot on developing habits of attention and best effort. I am going to be working with the boys on other good habits such as keeping their room clean, doing chores without complaining, etc. This has fallen by the wayside as we have had a crazy few years.

Shakespeare, handicrafts, Bible, memorization and recitation, etc are things that I will be implementing slowly again.

One of the biggest things will be focusing on short, simple lessons.

Since the boys have been in public school, implementing Charlotte Mason methods will be a slow process since it is VERY different from what they are used to. And they are teen boys, so some of this they will not be interested in. Again, I don’t think it’s necessary to focus on these methods 100% as we aren’t wired this way.

Some other things that I incorporate are hands-on activities, using lots of books (picture books, non-fiction books, chapter books/novels, etc) to teach, reading aloud every day, Poetry Teatime, utilizing the library, games, art, and trying to use what I have instead of constantly buying new “curriculum.”

Speaking of Curriculum…

One of the biggest things that I have learned from Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie is that “curriculum isn’t something you buy, it’s something you teach.” I have so many resources that I kept from when I homeschooled before, plus I have acquired many resources from thrift stores and buying used online. I haven’t had to spend very much this time to make homeschooling work for us. AND, I don’t use the “curriculum” as it is laid out most of the time. Again, I use it as a resource.


I happened to have general science textbooks for grades 7-12 in my attic. It is made by Masterbooks. The 4 different books in this series focus on Astronomy, Ocean, Minerals, and Weather. A few weeks ago, I bought the Apologia high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics textbooks for $0.50 each as part of a huge Thrift Store haul (spent $11 total for books that filled my backseat)! I bought the tests and solutions books used from Thriftbooks. I like to utilize the discipline of narration with these, but also use the questions, vocab work, activities, etc that are part of the curriculum. I definitely make all of this work for us. I use all of these as a starting point (spine), and I add all kinds of things to it to go deeper/have fun with it. Also, I don’t agree with the young earth philosophy which both of these curricula teach, so I just talk with the boys about that as we go.

Nature Studies

I will use Exploring Nature with Children as a guide as it is broken down by month and even weeks, but I will also use all kinds of books (ones that I have and from the library) for this as well as go on nature walks. I have been thinking that maybe they are too old for this, but I have decided that they aren’t!

The spine for this guide is The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.

There are many other books listed, and I have so many as well. The guide also includes poems, activities, nature journaling ideas, and more! It’s set up for children, but I can modify/add to it to make it more applicable for teenagers. They are just bigger kids anyway.


For history, I am using the Chronos Curriculum Guide in addition to lots of books including Story of the World. I LOVE this guide. It was recently published by The Homeschool Historian. You can buy it on her website (a pdf), or you can buy a hardcopy on Amazon. She has amazing customer service, and there is a group where everyone shares how they implement it (she also shares more in the group!). This is NOT a curriculum but a guide. She shares a brief description of each era, shares tons of books, websites, videos, and hands-on activities. I love it so much! It’s exactly what I have been looking for since I don’t tend to follow curriculum exactly as it was written, and I love books and hands-on activities. And she goes in order from the Stone Age to American History, and things happening today.

Loop Scheduling

The content subjects will be in a “content loop” starting in the fall. Basically, we will just do one of these per day, and we will go in order. They will not be based on days of the week since things tend to be a little crazy sometimes, and I don’t want them to miss anything. I have found that trying to fill all-the-things into the day has made it stressful for the boys.

We will do skills-based lessons daily, such as math and all language arts/reading.


Math has always been hard for us. I have tried so many different programs, and I have found that there is no perfect one. So, we are using Math U See, and I hope to stick with it moving forward. The hard thing is, the boys don’t love the teaching videos. They say they have a hard time paying attention. For now, I am just teaching them using the textbook and the video as a resource. We will see if that will continue as the math gets harder. Math is not my strong subject. They also have their dad to help with math. He went all the way up to calculus in college. I’m thinking that in a year or so, they will be able to pay better attention to the video. We will see!

We do a lesson and a worksheet, the next day they do a second worksheet on the lesson, then we move to the next lesson the third day if they mastered the previous lesson. And on and on. Right now they are doing pre-algebra. It is review for Ethan, but he needs it. It is new for Levi. I’m hoping to get through this level by Christmas next year and begin Algebra 1. BUT, I’m going to move forward as they are ready and not rush them! I want them to master each concept/skill.

We don’t actually have all of the manipulatives and things that are in the picture above, but my neighbor has said we can borrow hers if we need to. I might try to buy them used eventually.

Ethan has asked to use Teaching Textbooks, but I’m just not sure that I like it. They have used it before, and I didn’t feel like they actually learned anything. I really think they need me to teach it to them. We will see.

Language Arts and Reading

This encompasses so many things such as reading comprehension, writing, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, etc.

I use many resources for this.

We have been using Brave Writer novel studies which has reading aloud, copywork, dictation, reverse dictation (editing), some grammar, figurative language, literary analysis, etc baked into it.

Here’s an example of what is covered in an issue of one of the novel studies:

The boys are currently going through The Good and Beautiful coursebook level 6 (they are not grade level but based on the skills that they know before they begin it) which includes: reading, spelling dictation, vocabulary, grammar, geography, art study, and art lessons. It also has writing, but I don’t like how that is taught, so I don’t use it. I also don’t use every part of this. I’m not making them use the reader, so they can skip those questions, etc. Part of the curriculum also includes grammar and geography cards. We do some every day.

For writing, we will do writing projects through Brave Writer, but I am also going to utilize narration and lead that into composition.

I am reading a book titled Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass, and she explains exactly how to start with oral narration, then written narration, then move into composition. It’s so simple, yet will lead to great writing over time.

Adjusting As Needed

As always things change often, but we will just go with the flow. I’m going to try not to buy much more, except for things like the higher levels of math, adding foreign language, in-depth geography and culture, etc. I’m going to be flexible and just see where things take us!

Allll the Books

I have organized all of my shelves recently. My office is mostly “curriculum” and books to teach with. The novels and books in my living room are books to read aloud and/or have the kids read. Some of them are my books that I want to read or have read and want to keep. I have so many books. Most of them, I have gathered for years, and some of them I have bought used at thrift stores, ThriftBooks, used curriculum groups, etc. I rarely buy anything new!

Let me know if you have any questions!

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