A peak inside my Homeschool Lesson Plans

a peak inside my homeschool lesson plans

Over the years, I’ve taken the whole idea of customizing our homeschool to a new extreme. Our homeschool style is largely classical with a Charlotte Mason twist, and my homeschool lesson plans tend to be just as “custom.” I plan some subjects in the most traditional sense; I loop-plan other subjects; and I just record what we accomplished for still other subjects. Because my homeschool lesson plans are so unique, finding the right homeschool planner can be a little tricky. Which is why this year, I’ve ditched the traditional planner and just picked up a cute graph-paper notebook from Plum Paper Planner

Take a peak inside my homeschool lesson plans.

Planning by Terms

I love the Charlotte Mason method of planning the year by three 12-week terms. We have one term in the fall, a one-month break for Christmas, followed by a winter term and a spring term. Each term, I change things up. We finish certain books or subjects and add in others. We finish certain topics in our classical-style history cycle and begin others. It also gives me the freedom to tweak our schedule every 12 weeks and re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t.

Planning the “Discipline” Subjects

My “discipline” subjects like math and grammar and spelling are easy to plan in the traditional sense. I figure out how much we need to get accomplished each term, dividing the number of pages or lessons by the number of days. I usually also assign how much time I expect the assignment to take, just to help us set goals and manage time well. From here, I type out a printable weekly assignment sheet that my kids use to actually check off their work.

homeschool lesson plans | term 1 schedule | dialectic stage

Planning the “Inspiration” Subjects

Our “inspiration” subjects include history, science, literature, and some writing. Although I assign certain books for my kids to read and plan for when I think we will get to those books within the term, I tend to loop-plan these subjects. As in, we move on when the topic has been covered. When we finish our projects and books on the Vikings, we move on to knights and castles. When we wrap up one writing project, I introduce the next. My younger two (K and 4th grades) will be continuing with science in this same fashion, looping through different biology topics. My 6th grader, on the other hand, likes to take his science more seriously, with weekly assignments.

In my homeschool lesson plans, this loop-planning looks almost like bullet journaling. I write in the projects, books, and audiobooks I expect us to get to in the next few weeks. As those assignments are completed, I’ll check them off. If they don’t get completed, it’s no big deal. I’ll write an arrow through the box and move the assignment to the following week.

homeschool lesson plans | weekly plans
For privacy, I’ve deleted my kids’ names from these plans, but you get the idea.

Planning “Meeting Times”

The time I spend one-on-one with each child is what we call “meeting time.” And I plan this time pretty loosely, mostly just recording what we’ve done. For my 6th grader, we plan to meet once a week, similar to last year. I’ll check over his work, hand back graded assignments, and answer questions on the upcoming assignments. New to this year, we’ll also be adding a discussion time with some questions about his reading and history topics, in a very classical model.

The “meeting times” with my younger kids are much different. For my kindergartener, all of his assignments require one-on-one with me. We’ll cover reading and phonics as well as math, and his time with me should take about 45 minutes or so each day. As those assignments are completed, I will circle the letter for the day of the week we worked together. At this stage, I usually work through subjects for an allotted amount of time, doing a little extra if he’s in the mood or a little less if he needs more playtime, rather than forcing him to complete an entire lesson on a particular day. I’ve never had any trouble completing subjects this way, and it gives my littles the flexibility they need early on.

My “meeting time” with my fourth grader is done very similarly. Because of her dyslexia and other learning challenges, she needs a lot more of my attention to get her harder assignments completed. Our subjects together include math, grammar, spelling, and some writing, but I adhere to the Charlotte Mason “short lessons” principle. All together, we’ll spend about an hour, and I’ll circle the letter for the day of the week that we got to each subject, alternating some of the subjects each day. 

Planning for flexibility

As you might have noticed, I don’t have daily homeschool lesson plans. I like to see my week and customize each day to get done what needs to be done. This allows us some flexibility and margin when we have busy weeks or bad days or sickness or whatever else life throws our way. On their good days, my kids will knock out quite a bit of the week’s work. On our bad days, we may only get to math. But by the end of the week, it works out—and I don’t stress about being “behind.”

We also have a unique schedule for easing into Mondays, which includes projects, game-schooling, art, and other casual learning opportunities. I don’t necessarily have a lesson plan for Mondays.

Though our system may not work for everyone, it’s perfect for us. Just like your system should be one that works for you, regardless of whether or not someone else could do it your way. That’s the nature and beauty of homeschooling—finding a learning lifestyle that fits your family, your personality, and your planning style.

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Using literature-rich curriculum with dyslexic and ADHD kids

literature-rich curriculum with dyslexia ADHD | Tapestry of Grace with special needs | classical homeschooling with learning struggles

I’ve made a lot of curriculum adjustments over the years, but one constant for us has been Tapestry of Grace, a classical, literature-rich curriculum. I love using a literature-rich curriculum in our homeschool—with busy, loud, active ADHD kids, one of which is also dyslexic! In our classically-inclined, charlotte-mason inspired homeschool, we use tons of books, lots and lots of them. Living books, classics, historical fiction, and engaging nonfiction books line my shelves, spill onto the floor, cover our dining room table, and sit by the door (in hopes that we’ll remember to return them to our library.) 

Using a literature-rich curriculum immerses my kids in a culture of reading. Reading is not a school subject. It’s not a checkbox on their assignment sheet. It’s our lifestyle. We read books together and on our own. We listen to books. We talk about books. We buy books. We borrow books. We make room for more books. Why choose a literature-rich curriculum like Tapestry of Grace for kids who are active and have language-struggles?

Three reasons to choose a literature-rich curriculum:

Exposure

We currently don’t use a “textbook” for any subject. Instead, we learn history, science, literature, etc. from library books, lots of library books. Last year, each of my kids read about 50 books each. We are on par for at least that this year, and that’s just for school; that doesn’t include the “just for fun” books. Using a literature-rich curriculum allows my kids to be constantly exposed to books. They are surrounded by them, and reading is a normal part of life—not just school but life itself.

This constant exposure to language through stories (whether audio books, read-alouds, or books they read themselves) has tremendously helped my daughter especially. She’s a strong, confident reader in spite of her challenges. She knows she doesn’t read as quickly or as easily as others, but she loves stories. And the exposure through so many senses and with so much variety, strengthens her understanding and skill in an otherwise challenging area for her.

So what does this exposure look like practically? I select several books for each kid on our topic that we will be covering for 2-4 weeks. For my oldest, I’ll suggest a couple of titles that I’d like him to read each week, chapter books often taking 2-3 weeks. Then, I’ll “strew” the other books around the house to tempt him to read more on the subject. Because my daughter requires a different approach, I’ve recently just assigned all the books for the term and allowed her to work through them at her own pace. She’s using (and loving) this funschooling journal along with her reading. She gets to creatively draw a picture, write a sentence, or choose some copywork from her book of choice to record in her journal. 

Variety

Honestly, I don’t think my busy rambunctious kids would be readers if we had chosen a traditional curriculum with textbooks and readers. The key to engaging my ADHD kiddos is variety, and Tapestry of Grace provides such fantastic variety. My kids are exposed to classics, biographies, picture books, historical fiction, encyclopedias, and more. Although my kids love books in general, they don’t love every book and are sometimes skeptical of a book I’ve assigned. So, I’ve instituted the “five chapter” rule. For all fiction, they must read at least read five chapters before they can decide whether or not to finish the book. In nearly every case, by the time they got to chapter 5 they were totally engaged. In some cases, the book even turned out to be a favorite. For nonfiction books, I don’t require them to read every word. They read for information, to learn certain facts, or to discover facts that interest them. In both instances, the variety of books means that there are books that appeal to all of my children for one reason or another. It also means that my kids have often discovered they were interested in a book or subject that they didn’t think they’d like.

The variety also allows my kids to connect with the subject matter in their own way, to make their own connections based on what interests them. My daughter connects with art, beauty, nature, and animals of a culture. My son connects with wars and weapons and inventions. They remember different things about the different time periods we are studying together. This has been awesome because as we share as a family what they’ve been reading and learning, we get such a wide spectrum of information.

Shared Experience

Books create memories. My kids have favorites they love to re-read. They have favorites that Daddy alone can read to them. (Babaji is a favorite from when they were very little that they still love to have him read—in character.) They have books that we share together as read-alouds. Books makes those moments special for us. Books bond us together, all snuggled on the couch listening to a story, or side by side each with our own book as we wind down for bedtime. Tapestry of Grace allows for tons of great book selections to always be available at every reading level. I don’t insist that every book be “read.” We have fond memories of listening to Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Railway Children as audio books. And I don’t insist on reading every read-aloud myself. My kids read-aloud, too. This year, we’ve read selected chapters from the Story of the World and Grandpa’s Box to go along with our ancient history studies. It allows me to give the input and emphasis of our study, to draw out the major themes we are studying, but it also allows them the opportunity to contribute as well.

I have very fond memories of reading aloud with my mom, chapter by chapter through multiple books all the way through college. Even now when we visit each other, we select a book to read aloud together. I love those memories with my mom, and I love those memories with my kids.

There are so many reasons for choosing a literature-rich curriculum, even with a household of ADHD and dyslexia. My kids read upside down on the couch, under tables, outside, in giant refrigerator cardboard boxes with flashlights, or in the most cock-eyed positions. And we still stay very active, with lots of hands-on projects to supplement all that reading. But the constant exposure, variety, and shared experiences from using a literature-rich curriculum have been treasures to my family and to my kids.

How do you know if a literature-rich curriculum is a good fit for you?

  • Don’t let reading or attention struggles rule this out for you.
  • Do consider how committed you are to reading as a lifestyle. If you look at a literature-rich curriculum as simply school assignments to get done in a week, you will probably both hate it.
  • Do consider access to a good library. Honestly, a good one is worth paying for if you aren’t local. A good library allows that maximum exposure and variety without breaking your budget. I could never afford to keep my kids in books without our local library (and that’s where we find our great audiobooks).
  • Don’t assume that a particular learning style will prevent a child from enjoying literature. Instead, use that learning style as a means to enjoy literature.

It would be easy to see all that energy and assume my kids would never sit down long enough to read. But that just hasn’t been true of our family at all. Books are a calming constant. It wouldn’t be home without them.

Want to know more about how we use Tapestry of Grace with ADHD/dyslexia? Check out these posts:

Tapestry of Grace Writing Aids

Celebrating progress with unit parties

Embracing our Homeschool Differences: the value in variety

Embracing and supporting homeschool differences | homeschool methods & approaches

I’ve been in the homeschooling world a long time, nearly all my life. And one thing that really saddens me is when I discover that some of our biggest critics are those who homeschool right alongside us. We are all so different. Some of us homeschool online, some of us use charter schools, some of us adhere to classical methods, some of us embrace an unschooling and delight-directed approach to learning. And we all obviously believe in what we are doing. But just because someone homeschools differently doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it well. Our homeschool differences are our strengths, not our downfall.

This is not an easy journey, and anyone who has homeschooled for any length of time will readily admit there is a lot of fear and self-doubt, a lot of insecurity. Taking on your child’s education is a huge responsibility. We need all the support and camaraderie we can get. Variety in homeschooling is a good thing! And we can all learn so much from each other as we embrace those homeschool differences.

Each of us has something unique and special to offer, and each of us has much to learn. I can learn from Charlotte Mason how to add beauty and variety to my homeschool, how to give a short lesson with a lot of punch and effectiveness. I can learn to lay a foundation and nurture discernment and debate through classical methods. I can gather ideas for bringing in the wonder and inspiration of nature through Waldorf. I can learn how to tie lessons and learning into everyday activities, how to use life as my curriculum from the unschooler, and how to appeal to my child’s strengths and interests from the delight-directed homeschooler. I can improve my child’s education by recognizing the value of the variety in homeschool.

Personally, we choose a strong classical approach, but as I see and appreciate the strengths in so many different ways to learn and to teach, those strengths find their way into how we homeschool. My kids are better off because you’ve chosen to do things differently. I’m a better teacher because we don’t all do this the same way.

I read lots of great advice reminding us to not compare ourselves to others, but I think an equally valuable lesson to remember is to not validate ourselves at someone else’s expense. We are all on the same team. We equally care about our children and their educational experience. So let’s embrace the variety and learn from each other.

3 Simple Ways to Support our Homeschool Differences

  1. Follow blogs of those who homeschool differently than you do. Read and research about more than just your chosen method.
  2. Ask advice from those who do it differently. Ask your unschooling friend for advice on how to add real-life lessons to your curriculum. Ask your classical friend how to add logic and worldview discussion to your day. Ask your traditionally schooling friend about scheduling and planning routines.
  3. Encourage someone who takes a different approach. Let them know you admire them and that you can see value in what they are doing.

We hear so much discouragement and criticism from so many different sources. Our community of homeschool support should not be a place for more critique. Let’s be a community that embraces homeschool differences—different styles and methods of learning. Let’s be a community who sees the value in variety.

A Positive Atmosphere: changing the mood of your home

changing the mood at home | a peaceful home | creating a positive atmosphere

Sometimes I can sense it before I even roll out of bed. The kids are awake & already screaming at each other, and I cringe in frustration. I can feel it—the very atmosphere of our home is chaos and anger and impatience. Before we’ve even started the day, we already need an attitude adjustment. And it’s going to be an uphill battle. How do I change the mood in my home? How do I combat all the negativity to create a positive atmosphere?

Creating a Positive Atmosphere

My Heart. Atmosphere, I’m learning, is not about the contrived elements of my home necessarily. It’s not necessarily how I decorate or how I clean. It’s not simply the kind of music I play in the background. All of those elements can help, for sure, but atmosphere begins with the ideas that rule my life and the affections that rule my heart.

When my children disturb my peace and upset my expectations for the day, my reactions reveal my heart. Are my affections set on things around me—my peace, my comfort, my pleasure, my agenda? Or are my affections set on something HIGHER? God is much more concerned with my character and heart than my lesson plans or intentions to have a quiet cup of coffee before tackling the day. If I want the atmosphere of my home to change, than I must allow God to change my heart and affections.

My Actions. As much as a positive atmosphere is determined by my heart and affections, the mood of my home is also affected by my character and my actions during the day. It’s the difference between “do what I say” and “do what I do”; between saying “be ye kind” when my children are in strife and actually being kind to them when they are in strife; between saying that my children are a blessing and actually having joy in their presence and acting like I believe that I am blessed by them. Do these ideas rule MY life and determine my actions?

Too many times I assume the atmosphere or mood of my home is someone else’s responsibility. I blame the kids or the mess or the space or the circumstances or a thousand other things. But it comes down to my heart and my actions. I can’t confuse aesthetics with atmosphere. I influence the atmosphere of my home, my homeschool, and my life with my heart and actions.

And in turn, that atmosphere educates my children. It’s the first element of discipleship; I’m not merely parenting my children or controlling their behavior, I’m discipling by creating an atmosphere that shapes and informs their beliefs, their affections, what they value in life. The ideas that rule my life will be the same ideas that shape theirs.

If I want a loving home, I must model steadfast love. If I want an atmosphere of joy and peace, than I must be joyful and peaceful. That doesn’t mean I have to be perfect. But it means I can’t expect those character traits to rule my home if they don’t rule my life. I can’t expect in others what I can’t live out myself. And I can’t live it out without Christ.

Practical Tips for Creating a Positive Atmosphere

  • Have a battle plan. I can’t let bad moods and negative attitudes catch me off guard. If I know ahead of time how I intend to handle “those” days, if I have a “bad day” protocol, it’s very literally half the battle.  An activity or game, a high-protein/high-fat snack, a family P.E. break, a worship-music dance party—I need to have something in mind to change the direction of our day to keep me from reacting. 
  • Make a playlist of music. I actually have a playlist entitled “Battle Songs.” Over the years, this playlist has helped me so much to battle fear and discouragement. These songs help me process my emotions and direct my attention to the One who is worth it all. Here’s my playlist:

Rise (Josh Garrels)

Even If (Kutless)

Sovereign Over Us (Aaron Keyes)

Praise You in this Storm (Casting Crowns)

10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)

Your Great Name (Natalie Grant)

  • Create a battle station. Perhaps you’ve turned your closet into a “war room,” or maybe you stow an inspiring devotional in the bathroom. Wherever it is, setting up a battle station (or escape room), a place to escape for just a few minutes, can refocus my heart and mind when everything starts to get to me. And it gives me a chance to pray and formulate a battle plan.
  • Don’t rush in. I love the stories in the Bible where everyone expects Jesus to rush in and save the day or jump to their conclusion, and instead He takes his time. He draws in the sand or takes four days to arrive or stops in the middle of going to heal someone to ask who touched Him. I think it’s a good lesson for us. I often feel the urgency of rushing into a chaotic situation; I want to make it stop. And yet, sometimes I need to delay. I need to take my time to enter the situation and pray first. I need to settle my own heart before I attempt to correct theirs.

Ultimately, God is the source of all those things I long for in my home—love, joy, peace, stability. I can’t find those things in an atmosphere, but I can bring love and joy and peace to the atmosphere of my home if they are the fruit of my life as I’m abiding in Christ. 

First Language Lessons Review

homeschool grammar curriculum review | Well Trained Mind | First Language Lessons

There are a lot of grammar and language arts curriculums for homeschoolers to choose from. Even so, I have found the hardest time finding one I loved. I will admit, I am a hard-sell for grammar curriculum. As a grammar-nerd, I’m extremely picky. But I love First Language Lessons from Well-Trained Mind.

I began using First Language Lessons last year with my then second grader, beginning with the Level 2 book. She was struggling tremendously with writing and several dyslexia-typical issues. I really loved that, at her level, most of the grammar work was oral. We read or recited together. And it was fast. The lessons took us about 5 minutes, never more than 10.

This year, I continued with the program both with her, in the Level 3 book, and my oldest, in the Level 4 book. And while the Level 3 book begins requiring more writing as part of the lesson, there is still enough oral work that my daughter has continued to do extremely well with it this year. I’m thrilled with the program for both of them. It is remarkable.

  1. It makes sense. The order, the pace, the presentation, the exercises—it’s logical, easy to use, and the perfect amount of material at a time. And the fact that my analytical son, who learns language subjects instinctively and intuitively, and my right-brained creative daughter, who struggles with every language subject, both do well with the same program really blows my mind.
  2. It emphasizes memory work while keeping it fun. My kids love the chants and movement suggestions. Even my four year old is learning his helping verbs by listening to his older siblings chant and clap.
  3. It keeps lessons short and sweet. The lessons take about 10 minutes and are intended to be scheduled 2-3 times a week. There are usually 4-5 sentences on the topic we are working on, then the lesson moves on to a new concept, 4-5 more sentences, and then we are done. The repetition is well spaced, so my kids are learning a ton without it becoming burdensome. The lessons are sometimes several pages, 3-5 usually, but much of it is done orally (read these sentences; read this list; say these verbs and do the actions) and goes quickly.homeschool grammar curriculum | diagramming | Well Trained mind | First Language Lessons | Level 4
  4. It includes diagramming! I love diagramming for teaching grammar. I’m not sure if it is the grammar-nerd in me or the fact that I am a visual learner. For me, diagramming is a visual of what is going on in the sentence. I love it! Levels 3 and 4 both contain lessons on diagramming throughout, and I have been so impressed with how the diagramming is included. In Level 3, the diagrams are already drawn and progress slowly as each part of speech is learned. It is taught as a means of showing how the word is working in the sentence. In level 4, diagrams are provided at first, progress to traceable diagrams, and then the student draws one or two of his own. Again, the student is not diagramming more than a few sentences per lesson; or if there are several diagrams, he is only adding a word or two to each one.
  5. It includes poetry! There are poems for memory work spaced throughout the book. The poem selections are wonderful: “The Land of Nod” by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Ozymandias,” and “Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. My kids have loved this part of the curriculum.

There are dictation exercises included throughout and a few narration activities, but we skip nearly all of these for a couple of reasons. For one, I am also doing the accompanying Writing with Ease books with my kids, which includes plenty of narration/dictation/copywork. Also, as I mentioned earlier, writing and copying is extremely challenging for my daughter, so I’m very intentional about what I choose to have her do.

First Language Lessons is a scripted curriculum. You can literally read the entire lesson off the page, word for word. I wasn’t sure how I’d like a scripted curriculum and hesitated trying the program for awhile because of this; I’m usually an unscripted homeschooler. But it really hasn’t bothered me at all. Sometimes I read it word for word, and sometimes I take the idea and run with it. On the other hand, the scripted lessons mean that you can teach a great lesson even if grammar is not your strength. It’s clear and easy to understand.

While Level 2 simply had a teacher book we worked through together, there is both a student workbook and a teacher book for Levels 3 and 4.

Well Trained Mind | First Language Lessons | curriculum review

Cons:

  1. This is not a colorful, flashy, gimmicky curriculum. It has enough elements to present the information in a way a variety of learning styles can relate and is written in a fun, interactive manner encouraging a conversational lesson between teacher and child. But this is the economy car of grammar, not the flashy red convertible.
  2. This curriculum currently only goes through four levels. We are using the Level 4 book for fifth grade and find it to be quite adequate and sufficiently challenging. I used Level 2 for Middlest last year in second grade, and Level 3 with her this year for the third grade. While there are rumors that more books will be produced, there is nothing yet.
  3. This is just a grammar curriculum, with a few add-on sections on usage, mechanics, letter writing, and alphabetizing. For me, this was more of an advantage than disadvantage; all I wanted was a grammar curriculum. But if you are look for a program that incorporates writing and reading, that is not included in First Language Lessons. There is a book that teaches some writing skills from a classical methodology of narrating passages (Writing with Ease).

Summary:

  • Works for a variety of learning and teaching styles.
  • Would appeal to Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschoolers best.
  • Provides short, scripted lessons in the teacher book with an accompanying student workbook.
  • Suitable for both grammar-nerds and grammar-rookies.
  • Requires no prep.
  • Functional, not flashy.
  • Secular program, no religious affiliation.
  • Currently only available in Levels 1-4.
  • Grammar curriculum only.
  • Reasonably priced at around $20 a book.

First Language Lessons is available through the Well Trained Mind website as well as through Amazon and other homeschool curriculum suppliers. If you want a more in-depth look at the curriculum, the Well Trained Mind website provides some pdf previews of some of the individual books.

This review is my own honest opinion about a product that I’ve loved in our homeschool. I received nothing in return for this review and the opinions are my own.

Preparing Tapestry: our Fourth Year

We are headed into our fourth year of our Tapestry of Grace curriculum, which means we will have completed the cycle at the end of this year. (It also means this is my last year of all grammar level.) Last year, I felt like we really made Tapestry our own and found our rhythm, our stride. It felt good, like a fitted glove. Of course, when you end a year like that, it makes planning the next year exciting. I love the aspect of homeschooling where I trouble-shoot and research and find our answers, but the Lord knew I would be doing that in several other areas of our life; so homeschooling was off the hook. No massive revamping this year. With that said, preparing Tapestry for this year went really smoothly.

In summary, I love manilla folders. I keep 36 folders for our weekly “must-do” assignments like language and math and Latin. Then I keep a second set of folders for Tapestry that are labeled by Term (we do three 12 week terms) and by topic (I don’t cover everything; instead, I select the events and topics that will best suit my learners). All of our reading lists, media lists, and project papers are printed off and filed in these topic folders.

So here’s what it looks like. At the beginning of a week, I pull out two folders: the week we are in and the topic we are studying. Within the weekly folder, I pull out assignment pages and file into the kids’ daily pockets inside their binders (we use case-it binders with the accordion file inside). Within the topic folder, I look at my list all of the books and projects assigned for that topic and the number of weeks that I’ve guessed it will take us to complete (i.e. Titanic, 2 weeks). I then allocate those assignments that will fit with our week’s schedule. Last year, this method cut my weekly prep to about 30 to 45 minutes total! Both kids filed and ready to go in around a half hour. It was beautiful.

Reading Lists

Tapestry’s reading lists are copyrighted, so I can’t share the specific book titles that we are using. However, I will list a couple of other resources I use to compare and substitute book titles. SimplyCharlotteMason.com has a book finder feature that I love. Just type in the event or person you are studying, the reading level of your students, and a great list of engaging living books is listed for you. My second resource is my local library online catalogue search feature. Again, I type in the event or person, narrow it to children’s resources, and voila! I love my local library. It has an enormous selection.

I also use SimplyCharlotteMason’s Story of America and Story of the Nations ebooks as my core. These are not Tapestry titles, but the table of contents make it very easy to assign chapters that fit what we are covering. And the books are very engaging. We love them.

I select my favorites. Depending on how long we intend to study a topic, for each week I will select one to two read-aloud titles, one to two independent reading titles per child (depending on the length of the book), and the rest will be assigned merely as reference, as in “let’s look at more pictures.”

Media List

I love audios. Awhile back I scored Diana Waring’s history audio from Answers in Genesis‘ history program. We love listening to these on the way back and forth to karate and co-op. So, on the days we don’t get to our reading, we are still getting to our history. And this is another very engaging resource.

Netflix is also a resource where I search for related films to what we are studying. We don’t always get to this, but it is great for those off-days or sick days to already have this list compiled.

Projects

Homeschool in the Woods is not a Tapestry resource either, but we LOVE these projects. I use the Time Traveler activities. We make notebooking pages using both the notebooking and lapbooking project ideas. Especially since my kids are finally old enough to do their own cutting and pasting, these have been really fun activities to assign. They work on these while I read-aloud. It keeps their fingers busy but doesn’t distract them from the reading.

I generally choose the projects that fit what we are studying, our time-frame, and my kids’ interests. I spend one long afternoon printing all of my chosen activities and filing into my topic folders. This saves me so much time during the school year.

I also have the Draw Through History titles. My son loves to draw; my daughter loves to trace. And it gives them some ideas for drawing and enhancing their notebook with images of what we are studying.

Our Rhythm

I mentioned that I note about how many weeks I think a topic will take us. Last year, this was very fluid. We moved on when our books were read and our projects were done. And I found that in the end, things balanced out. Some topics took longer than I estimated, and some topics didn’t take as long. If we read everything in a week, we moved on. If it took us five weeks, because of interest or illness, we took our time and enjoyed it all. Sometimes, it was just a dud, and rather than struggle through 3 more weeks of something we were not enjoying, we covered the basics and moved on.

I’m also sensitive to my kids’ reading interests. There were some books that my son just hated, and while I realize that not all learning can be interest-driven, I think at the younger levels, reading should be. Occasionally, I’d make a call that he just needed to get through a book. But if I made that call, I ensured that I had a very tantalizing book as a reward when he finished. There were books we didn’t read cover-to-cover. (Pause for you to gasp in horror.) We survived, and were no worse for that decision.

In spite of all that flexibility, I was amazed by how much my kids retained and learned. A little went a really long way.

What about discipline and teaching kids to push through the difficult stuff? I split my subjects into two categories: our discipline subjects like math, grammar, spelling; and our inspiration subjects like history, science, and reading. This helped me define my objectives. My discipline subjects were challenging but in short spurts (no more than 15-20 min. per lesson/subject). My inspiration subjects were kept inspiring and interesting and often took closer to an hour or hour and a half (hands-on projects take awhile). But again, I watched my kiddos. If they were engaged, we took our time. If their eyes were glossing over, it was time for lunch.

Want to know more specifics? I’ve listed our specific curriculum choices here. Feel free to browse those links. Not sure what your homeschool style is? Be encouraged with my post about losing the labels.

I’m looking forward to another really great homeschool adventure, and I hope you tag along on our journey.