Category Archives: Homeschooling

Our Curriculum for 10th grade

2013 curriculum

Freshman year is behind us and sophomore year is looming directly ahead.

You’ve been researching, planning, and revising options for months. It’s the weekend of the homeschooling convention and you’re ready to start buying books.  So it’s only natural to freak out when you realize one of the main programs you picked simply for your child this year.  Right?

Yep, that’s how I spent my weekend.  The American Literature curriculum I had so diligently researched and selected turned out to be entirely writing based, and there was just no way I could have reduced it enough to fit my still struggling writer and felt comfortable calling it enough for a full high school credit. So I freaked out trying to find something to replace it with.

Can I just say that a convention expo hall is NOT the best place to do that?  There were too many options and not enough time.  I was even dazzled by the pretty colors and maps in a US History textbook even though I know from past experience that particular curriculum isn’t a good fit for our family. I decided that the 4th trip back to a particular vendor – one I hadn’t even seriously considered previously – should maybe be taken as a bit of divine decision making and talked with the vendors before buying a copy.  Some days I just need extra time to remind myself that it’s okay to change things up.

I’m homeschooling two this year; Ashley decided she wants to finish high school and get her diploma instead of a GED.  Here’s what we’ll be using for both kids this year.


We’ll be using Power Basics Geometry for math.  It teaches core concepts without all the bells and whistles. I hope that focusing on the specifics help rebuild self-confidence in their math skills.

US History

I chose Notgrass’ Exploring America for our US History curriculum. I liked it’s more independent learning style and the conversational tone it has.  The daily lessons will make it easier for me to keep track of to ensure we’re staying on schedule.

American Literature

This was my problem child. First I was going to follow the Notgrass recommendations for English, but felt it wasn’t strong enough because it was pretty much ‘read book a and answer these questions’ for each novel.  Then I found Excellence in Literature, which included almost all the novels we wanted to cover. All I’d have to do is supplement for poetry, short stories, and plays.  Easy, peazy, right?  Not once I realized EIL is almost entirely writing based and won’t work for us this year.  I’m still not sure how I missed that, but I guess I thought there was some sort of non-essay-based lit analysis in the book that wasn’t visible in the samples.

True to my nature at dealing with unexpected change, I freaked out a bit. Manny kept telling me that it’s okay; it doesn’t have to be decided *today* because school starts when we want it to.  I think he must have missed that part of the time management workshop that talked about setting calendar goals. LOL   I (once again) realized just how difficult it is to find an all-in-one “American literature” curriculum in the homeschool world and found myself wandering between BJU and CLE.  Neither were what I wanted though.  I had already planned on using some singular study guides, but not everything we wanted to study was available in a guide.

I finally went with Total Language Plus and their American Literature Short Stories book. I’ll pair it with TLP’s Am Lit Poetry book and several Progeny Press study guides for the lit analysis component. The rest of our books will be mostly for discussion, with a few short writing assignments for some of them. We’ll also continue using Writing With Skill Level 1 with Andy along with daily grammar reinforcement.

Integrated Chemistry and Physics

I went with DIVE for science this year since I’ve heard good things about it. It’s video-based, and is set up so students read on day 1, watch a lecture/take notes/complete worksheet on days 2-3, then do a video lab with a written lab report on day 4.   We’ll probably add in home labs here and there as we find ones we can do without a lot of science equipment. We’ll be using an internet textbook with the CD.

DIVE Integrated Physics and Chemistry Digital Download

Introduction to Logic

I think it’s important the kids understand the importance of identifying logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, especially in today’s world.  We’ll be using The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox for this.  With short, fun lessons, this is one course I’m looking forward to teaching myself.

The Fallacy Detective

Bible Study

Both kids will also be doing some sort of Bible study throughout the year.  Manny is in charge of whatever it is Andy will be doing. My only caveat was that he reads at least one book and has some writing assignments as part of the course.  Ashley will be working independently on various Bible studies I’ve collected over the years.

American Sign Language

Andy will also be continuing his work with ASL.  The third session of this year’s classes starts in September, which will be combined with the free self-study lessons and quizzes from ASL University.  As part of his course, he’ll be required to write a research paper on a topic of his choice relating to Deaf culture or history, and I’m looking for someone that can provide some type of final exam for him in the spring.

There you have it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my lesson plans!

This post is part of the iHomeschool Network Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Homeschooling


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Figuring it out

curriculum_000This has been a rough school year for us as far as homeschooling goes.

We started off rocky, using curriculum that I didn’t feel was a good match for Andy and with little oversight for Ashley.  We changed up some things 4-6 weeks in to our school year.   I thought things were going better.  Then I found out they weren’t. I did some more research and changed things up again.  Shortly before the holidays, I found out that Andy still wasn’t where he should have been in his schooling for multiple reasons.  So we changed things up yet again.

{Have you figured out yet why my one word for this year is WAIT?  LOL}

Sometimes I wonder if I’d left the curriculum alone and just given it more time it would have worked out.  Sometimes I tell myself that this is a foolish thought and I need to trust my instincts when it comes to my kids.  Sometimes, in the darkest of my frustrated times, I think that it would be simpler just to put them in school and be done with it.  But I know with all my heart and soul that public school and GEDs aren’t the answer for either of them.  They wouldn’t get what we can offer through homeschooling, and I’d only be trading in one type of frustration for another.  I know all my frustrations will bear fruit in time; I just have to wait until that time arrives.

Where did all those changes lead us?  To something that I think is actually workable, amazingly enough.

Andy’s schedule is in Outlook.  As much as I prefer paper, Outlook gives us greater flexibility to rearrange assignments, edit assigned reading based on what comes in at the library, and include all the related information and instructions in each daily assignment.  Right now we’re focusing on science, and will start world history/geography in a couple of months.

Outlook screenshot

He has binders or workbooks for each subject, and uses a variety of physical and online textbooks.  We are using a 4-colored file folder system for assignments that need grading.  Time will tell how well it’s going to work for us.

  • Yellow – loose-leaf assignments and tests
  • Red – assignments ready for grading
  • Purple – graded assignments to be logged in my grade book
  • Green – assignments to be filed in binders

Our final curriculum list for 9th grade:

  • Algebra 1 – Life of Fred Beginning Algebra & Companion book
  • Earth Science – using an online text
  • World History – we’ll be using BJU’s World History 10
  • World Geography – Rand McNally Answer Atlas and a daily skills workbook
  • Spanish 1 – online through LiveMocha
  • Music Theory – online with Breezin’ Thru Theory
  • English – BJU’s Writing & Grammar 8, Writing With Skill – Lvl 1, and assigned reading w/ discussion
  • total credits 6.5

His reading assignments vary based on what he wants to read and what I think he needs to read.  I’m trying to break him out of his comfort zone and will have him choosing works from different genres starting later this spring.

Ashley’s schedule is very much built for her.  Since she has a part-time job, I’ve asked her to set weekly goals for how much schoolwork she’s going to get completed and then we’ll discuss her work over the weekend. Due to the circumstances beyond much of her control, she didn’t have as many credits as she should have and is having to do a lot of extra work to catch up. We’ve talked it over though, and this is what she wants to do. Having her high school diploma, and not a general GED, is very important to her, even if takes her a couple of years.

After reviewing her transcripts from her earlier schools, we decided to call this her junior year knowing she has to make up the couple extra credits from what should have been sophomore year. If she completes everything, she’ll be on track as a full senior later this year.

Our final curriculum list for 11th grade:

  • Algebra 1 – Life of Fred Beginning Algebra & Companion book
  • Biology – online text
  • World History – BJU’s World History 10
  • English – British literature: Beowolf, Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Macbeth, The Time Machine, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein
  • Government – Exploring Government by Notgrass
  • Economics – using a homegrown living book/video approach
  • Child Development
  • total credits 6

Both kids will move on to Algebra 2 using the Life of Fred Advanced Algebra books as soon as they finish their current texts.  We also school year round with short breaks for the holidays, in the summer, and between textbooks.

The calendar says we have officially been homeschooling for 51 weeks, and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting better at figuring this monster out.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Homeschooling


Back to School

Back to School

Please excuse my blogging absence these past few months.

I’ve spent my summer immersed in curriculum options and self-designed teacher and student planners, and even more time in second-guessing my decisions.

Then I attended the THSC Homeschool Convention and while it was it was helpful, I left feeling even more uncertain of my choices. It took some good friends to help me see my choices from an outside perspective and look at the curriculum framework to realize that they weren’t bad and should work out just fine.  If they don’t, then we’ll tweak them as we go along. That’s the beauty of homeschooling.

While we homeschooled the spring semester of 8th grade, I didn’t really do any serious planning. I winged it to finish out what I felt Andy needed to know.  Knowing that his high school years were coming up and it was up to me to make sure classes were correctly and that he is ready for college put more self-pressure on me than I could easily handle.

It took me a while to realize that it’s okay for me to have an average student. It’s okay if we decide he needs a gap year, and maybe a year or two of community college first. Not every kid will be an AP math/science/history genius and that’s just the way the world is.  It helped to admit that to myself and it’ll mean I can focus on pushing Andy on some subjects and backing off on others.

We officially start on August 27, but he’s been working on finishing up Beginning Algebra over the summer.  I think we still have a way to go though. He’s had a friend visiting most week days and that means not much school work is actually getting done.

My planners are printed and ready to be bound next weekend, although I did think about changing them up again just yesterday.  I found this great form…  They’re always great forms, aren’t they?  LOL

My grading system is figured out, the grade book is set up, and the transcript template is mapped out with our 4-year plan.  I think I’m about as ready as I’m going to get for our first year of homeschooling high school.

Here’s what we’ll be doing in 9th grade:


Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Homeschooling



Lions, tigers, and bears… oh my!

This week, my lions, tigers, and bears have been in the form of high school curriculums, course credits, and transcripts.   Three days ago, I thought they were going to drive me insane before we even get to the bulk of the learning/teaching later this summer.  I’m still not entirely convinced that my first thought was correct, and I’m only 2 worksheets closer to figuring out what I want to do than I was at the beginning of the week.

For many home school parents – myself included, Texas is a great state to home school in. There is no governmental oversight or restrictions put up on us.  We don’t track attendance hours, we don’t have to deal with standardized testing, and we are only accountable to ourselves and our children for the most part.  The only thing we have to do is be able to show, if asked, that our schooling is “conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship.”  No other requirements apply.

However, when you factor in the need for an ADD parent to teach an ADD child, the lack of requirements only bring potential dilemmas.

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Homeschooling


Choices, or the lack thereof

It’s been months since I’ve posted.  I know, I’m a slacker.  Although I had many great posts run through my head from time to time, this blog was not high on my priority list as far as actually taking the time to sit down and type out those thoughts.

There are so many things going on in our life right now that I’ve allowed myself to become distracted and off-track.  I’ve used them as excuses why I couldn’t do this or needed to do that, even when they weren’t really excuses.

But something I heard at church Wednesday night changed my perspective completely.

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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Faith, Food & Fitness, Homeschooling