Homeschool – One Month In

We’ve been “in school” for one month now and are about to take our first day off tomorrow for Labor Day.  All four of us are welcoming that tiny break!

Here’s an overview of what I love and what I don’t so far from our curriculum choices for third and fifth grades.

I feel like one month is enough time to gauge whether or not my curriculum picks are a fit for us this year.  So far, most things have been a hit.

We continue to love Grapevine Studies for Bible.  My children (and I ) retain so much from studying this way.  We are currently studying Ruth.

I do like the Veritas Press History curriculum. I feel like I’m not quite doing it justice because I didn’t subscribe to the online portion.  We go through the material but it is a little dry when you are just reading the cards and answering questions about the material. I’m sure I could look up some fun activities to liven it up a bit, but I’m not there yet.

We still feel that Math U See is a good fit for math.  I like the use of manipulatives and I like knowing that the girls have fully grasped the concept  before moving on.  Sometimes I think they might benefit from more of a spiral type review each day but I can’t seem to have it both ways.  So, for now we are good and learning.

I ended up using the Abeka readers for third grade science.  Thankfully, the girls love to read so that seems to be enough.  I’ve added a few videos here and there but they are learning the basics.

My fifth grader has continued the Apologia Anatomy that we started (half-heartedly) last year.  It seemed very in depth for third and fourth grade but seems better suited for fifth grade.  I’m glad we waited to fully dive in.

I’m using IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) for all three girls.  I’m taking the third graders through the American History books that coincide with Classical Conversations Cycle 1.  Even though we are not meeting weekly with a CC group, we have continued that portion here at home.  I love the IEW approach to writing.  The fifth grader will use the Ancient History book this year.  Up until now, she was finishing up a few papers that we didn’t get around to last year.

Fifth Grade Literature Selections

While I love the Veritas Press literature selections and comprehension guides, it has taken quite a bit to get the girls interested enough to read them in their free time.  That makes the process a little slower than I would like.  The third graders are reading Stuart Little and Pinocchio.  The fifth grader started with Swiss Family Robinson.   In order to meet our goals, we will have to take that up a notch.  We will be bringing books along for any errands and adding in some reading minutes during the school day so that I can choose the books.

If you’re interested in our daily schedule at all, you can watch for that in a future post.  I’m always tweaking and I have a goal to make going to bed and dragging  back out of bed both earlier!  I”m always a work in progress.

So, that’s it for now.  We are busy.  We love homeschooling.  We really enjoy our days and are looking forward to continuing on this journey as long as it is what fits us best!

If you homeschool, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about what you’re doing that you love, like, and loathe. 🙂






Our Homeschool Picks for 3rd and 5th grade

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The popsicles fill the freezer.  The A/C runs all day.  The mosquitoes are out in full force and the daily afternoon Louisiana rain makes it sticky outside.

It’s summertime!  Sweet summertime!

For most of my life this was the time when I recuperated from a year in the classroom and did not want to even THINK about August.

However, now that I’m homeschooling, this is the time of year when I just can’t help myself from starting to plan for the upcoming school year.

I’ve spent weeks, probably a month, researching curriculum choices and narrowing down our picks.

This will be our third year of homeschooling and I finally feel like I can own this as mine.  It feels like I might know what I’m doing.  (Silent prayers going up.)

So, during our four days at home we will be using these curriculum picks:

My 3rd graders 

Math – Math-U-See Gamma Student Pack (for an Additional Student)

with enrichment added if/as needed, xtra math daily practice

History – Veritas Press – Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

Grammar Shurley English Level 3 Kit

Writing – Classically Cursive Book 2: The Ten Commandments

Reading – Veritas Press book selections and comprehension guides

Handwriting – One will take cursive class at co-op and  Classically Cursive Book 2: The Ten Commandments

Music – Violin lessons for one with private instructor and symphony,  piano lessons with me for the other

Bible – We attend weekly BSF and will be doing Grapevine Studies of Ruth and Moses

Science –  Ironically, I don’t know yet.  I was a science teacher for 20 years and this is my hardest subject to decide on for my girls.  Crazy!

Geography – Continent review, continue States and Capitals, class at co-op

Extras:  Frontier Girls (co-op), Art and Science Museum art 1 x a month

My 5th grader 

Math –  Math-U-See Epsilon Universal Set

and selections of Saxon that correspond if needed, xtra math daily practice

History – Veritas Press – Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

Grammar  – Shurley English Level 5 Kit    /Essentials

Writing –  IEW Student Writing Intensive Level A (5 DVDs & Student Materials)

Reading – Veritas Press book selections and comprehension guides

Handwriting – Classically Cursive Book 2: The Ten Commandments

Music – Piano lessons with me using the Alfred Series

Bible – We attend weekly BSF and will be doing Grapevine Studies of Ruth and Moses

ScienceApologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology

Foreign Language – Basic Spanish at co-op

Extras:  Cake decorating  at co-op,  Visual Art at co-op, Art at Science Museum 1 X a month

This past school year, we were members of a classical conversations community on Mondays.  We have decided not to continue with a weekly meeting for Classical Conversations. While I do believe that there is value in the program, I plan to do a similar thing at home. We found that we weren’t home much and wanted to change that since we are HOME schoolers.

We will continue to drive to a nearby town for “co-op” classes.  In our co-op, moms teach a class in something that is their specialty.  It is SO much fun and God really blesses our family through the gifts of these other mamas.  My girls and I both find so much value in this community and it would be hard to give it up.

Thanks for letting me put all of this down onto “paper.” 😉

I would love to hear what you are using this year!  I’ll be sure to post updates once we get started.







Because I am a teacher, I struggle as a mom

6:45 a.m.  “Good morning. Good morning. How are you today?”  These things are said in a kind voice as I make my way down the hallway.  While I feel that it is too early to even be out of bed, we are beginning our day together…these students and I.

I check in, make my way to my room and start to put my things away before the bell rings.  Several students enter to drop off projects.  I compliment them on their creativity and show them where to put them.  It is not quite 7:00.

I glance to the cabinet front and see the bird and nest that my seven year old so lovingly made for me this summer.  I promised that I would keep it up to remind me of her during the day.  The sad truth is that I really don’t have time to think of her during the day.  I think back to the morning conversations with my girls and my son.  “Get up.  You’re going to be late.  You need to wear a jacket.  It is cold outside. Make sure that you don’t forget your backpack. Your 100 day bottle is in your backpack.  Turn in the mission trip money.  Do your best on your test.”  All of this said while frantically rummaging for lunch, grabbing my bag, putting on my coat.  It is always ended with “Gotta go. I’m late.  Love you.”  Then that’s it.  I’m off.

Eight and a half hours later I pick the girls up in carpool.  I’m totally checked out.  I’ve used all my words.  I’ve listened intently to stories, excuses, and explanations. I’ve kept a smile and my teacher voice on all day.  I’ve asked questions, encouraged, mentored, and loved on at least 75 other kids.  I feel all used up, empty of any energy that is required to be what I need to be.  The hard truth is that  I really want to drive in the quiet and have no noise.  The delay of traffic is brutal and each traffic jam causes tension because it takes time away from all that needs to be done at home.  My mind wonders to the things that are ahead of me.  What is for supper?  Did I shift the load of laundry to the dryer?  I wonder how much homework needs to be done.

We arrive and go our separate ways.  Although I really don’t encourage technology, I do nothing to stop the girls from sitting mindlessly in front of “something” for at least an hour.  I begin the work that needs to be done.  Unpack lunchboxes.  Find clothes for the next day.  Start preparing food.

I round everyone up for homework.  We eat together.  Like little robots, they rush off to bath.

“Brush teeth. It’s bedtime, Fred.”   I call out.   Prayers are said.  Lights are out.

Every.single.night.  I go to bed feeling like I haven’t been a good momma.  I suppose this is not a healthy way to look at the day.  This rushed life exhausts me.  I’m sure someone somewhere has all of this figured out.  But it isn’t me today.

I keep telling myself that I was made to thrive, not merely survive.

I got a suggestion from a friend tonight to post scripture throughout my house.  I am going to begin putting that up that tomorrow. I seem to need a constant stream of reminders that God loves me.  He chose me for this.  He has equipped me.  Trust in his strength, not mine.  He has ordained all of my days and I will seek to live them out according to his purpose.  Sometimes that looks messy for me.  Often I complain.  I am working on that.  Tomorrow.

I am a work in progress.