Friday, August 24, 2018

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Ready, Set, Go!

I'm considering this "Journal" entry another in a series of back-to-school articles I un-officially kicked off with 7 Homeschooling Through High School Encouragements and Tips.   God used the writing and sharing of that article to open my eyes to the need for more active participation in the Homeschooling through High School blogging community!  So last week I posted about the curriculum we are using this year.  Today I want to continue by sharing how we get the back-to-school ball rolling in our home!

There are so many ways to get the school year in motion.  I always laughed at how public schoolers often start on Wednesday or Thursday just to turn around and take a weekend off.  I never understood, 'why not start on Monday and get the ball in full motion right out of the gate?... Why waste time?'!!  Well, after a few years of botched 1st days in our homeschool, I finally caught on!!  A partial week is sort of a warm-up... a positioning at the starting line as the master of ceremonies bellows, "Ready?"

I don't start on Wednesday/Thursday, though I do feel that is a bit extreme.  However, we do make use of the Friday before our official first full day of school.  It is a sort of extended "class meeting" to go over particulars and get ready for the week and school year head...


We begin the meeting with prayer; lifting up our new school year and that day in particular.  Then we begin to get gears moving.  I hand out school year calendars they can keep in their binders or pin on their wall.  We discuss these as well as the more detailed weekly schedule as an overview of how we hope the school days will go on a regular week.

At this point I hand out general school supplies for them to tuck into their receptacles (we use baskets).  When I was teaching more than one, I would begin to shift the conversation at this point to the plans for any "joint" 'classes' they had or things which affected everyone so I only have to say it once and, if anyone has questions, everyone could hear and participate.

Whenever we have had subjects which would require specific supplies, I usually hand those out as we go over those individual topics.  With more than one kiddo, I would transition from the joint matters by handing out some sort of back-to-school activity to keep busy for a short bit with because I was about to break them up.... I take them one-by-one aside and we move on to the next phase of set-up...

(you can click on image to enlarge)

I like to draw up a "class" list for each student, detailing out the various subjects they are working on for the year, any specifics about the schedule for that class (like, do they only work once a week on it, every day, only in the morning, etc.), and the approximate time I expect each class to take.  Admittedly, some days will be longer/shorter but this gives us a ballpark.

Over the years, no matter their grade, I have learned that setting good goals and objectives is key to a productive school year.  So, as I do all of their back-to-school prep mid-summer, I pull out my end-of-year notes on their report cards and use them as a spring-board for my prayers and writing of  a "goals and objectives" section.  This also helps me focus as I plan their school year, making sure we are gearing towards opportunities to reach those goals.  On our soft-set Friday I also encourage them to pray over personal goals and objectives beyond what I have listed.

In these goals and objectives I try to be encouraging, not condemning.  For example, if staying on task is an issue, I don't say, "I want to see you stay on task this year and if you don't.... trouble."  Instead I might say, "I know we have struggled with staying on task in the past.  This is a new school year and it is so important to keep on top of your work.  Bosses expect it of you and so will colleges.  So, lets make this a goal for this year."  Then we might discuss some ideas for reaching that goal, with their input, and set-up a system to keep tabs on their progress.

The last few years I have had their books already set-up in their school baskets.  After reading through the "Goals and Objectives" we grab the basket and briefly go over the materials for each class listed on the remainder of the page.  If there are additional syllabuses or materials for these specific classes, I produce them at this time.  We talk about how I expect them to use the material in a general fashion with the assurance that, as we start full classes the next week, they will pick up the rhythm.

Once we are done, I pray over them personally and then issue a quick writing assignment: Write a letter to yourself for the end of the school year.  I encourage them to share what they are looking forward to most, what they are unsure of or nervous about, list some of their goals and then, if they want, any advice or tips for the following summer break!  They always enjoy this part.  I stash their finished letter in my homeschool binder to be shared again at the end of the school year.

With three students, our Friday soft-set usually took around a few hours.  I would start with younger, antsy students first and move up the chain from there.  Once done, they are free to their own devices for the rest of the day, squeezing out that very last little bit of summer vacation! 

This year I am down to ONE.. have I mentioned that on the blog at all?!?  I still plan to do our set-up in much the same fashion only we won't need a back-to-school busy project to buy time while others are having their one-on-one!

With all of these details out of the way, we enjoy our weekend and prep for the big to-do of Back-to-School the following Monday!  I always expect that first week to be slow-going even with our Friday prep day under our belt.  Learning how to use new curriculum and apply new routines (and flush away the bummy summer pace!!) takes time and patience.  I'll plan a good 1st Day breakfast and lunch with loads of encouragement in-between!

We're off to a good start...
Today is our prep-day.  We are ready and set and super excited to go!  I wasn't sure how it would feel having only ONE left to teach but I think it is going to actually be marvelously fun!  It helps that she loves to learn... and she is a lot like her mama!  We are able to "get" each other and work tough spots out accordingly.

How do you get your homeschool year in motion?

I hope and pray you have a blessed school year... that you keep your chin up in the challenging times and remember to celebrate the good times... all for His Glory!



By the way.....

*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Plans are in the works for some GREAT bonus material to be included starting soon!  Not to mention the articles on Faith, Home, and Homeschooling you won't even find on the blog!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter"?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!).  Entering your email will do 2 awesome things:

#1 - You are automatically signed up for my newsletter (expect to see your issues around the last Thursday of each month).  Yay!
#2 - It enters you into a drawing where you get to pick from one of 4 GREAT prize bundles I will be giving away at the end of the summer.

Don't worry, if you are already subscribed hop on over to the link in text above and leave a comment sharing what you enjoy about the monthly newsletter.  Be sure to mention you are an existing newsletter subscriber and I will pop your name in my drawing jar!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Unpacking: Control

I've been thumbing through journal entries from earlier this year.  After reading a stack of positively encouraging and informational books since January, I felt God tugging at my heart to pause and reflect, 2 Timothy 3:7 bouncing around my brain as a caution;

always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

This year-long journey has been so powerful and impactful, I knew God wanted me to take stock and be sure Truth is secured before I continue walking on.

Earlier this summer in "Unpacking:Imperfection" I reflected on some of the growth and revelation I have enjoyed since my Sabbatical leave this past year.  Old journal thumbing in all of this reflective time was just what the Good Doctor ordered.  The particular entry I feel called to share today is one of those, just HAD to shares, especially as summer seeps to an end and the business of fall and winter holidays begins to take over.

I pray this reflection is medicine for your soul, as it has been for mine:

Friday 6-1-18
Wow - June.  Here we are!  Lots and lots of rain.  Trying to be mindful of the need to, as my goals I listed in my planner say: breathe in-between and put one foot in front of the other.

It isn't easy though... my list has multiple "random" things and as I look ahead to summer I don't feel much peace... mostly trepidation.  I told [my husband] that the amount of work needing to be done around here is overwhelming and he was good to remind me: there will always be work.  Something I've been coming to understanding... and now I need to find a way to measure out in digestible portions.  The garage and attic in particular.  

In all honesty, what I want to do is write and lesson plan!  That would make a great summer (+ a few adventures!)

Lord - please help me find peace and renewal in the midst of all there is to do.

[Then I read Psalm 46 for my devo]

.... I did not journal in light of this devo but I praise God for this devo in light of my journaling!

There are 3 stanzas in Psalm 46 and after each one is "Selah".


Be ensconced by God.

HE does the work so I don't have to.  Me - just put one-foot-in-front-of-the-other.  Do each next thing and trust God's direction and strength.  Rest and trust God's direction and strength.  Go when He leads and follow where He goes.  

I can't go wrong in that!

This also speaks to the message of "control" I'm learning to hash out.  Last night I learned something new...

I've always loved storms - powerful, beautiful, unpredictable.  Life giving to the earth.  But... whether [my husband's tendency to panic has] influenced or...?  I dunno, but as the storm raged, I churned... what if the garden floods out, what if the basement floods... what if, what if.... I CAN'T STOP IT so what can/will I do?

Then I thought of Mark Hall [The Well] - we are pulling from the well (aka "hole") of control when we stop praying and start trying to do things ourselves - isn't that what worry is?  Trying to control or frustrated with the lack of?

It was eye-opening for me to realize this far reaching area of control in my life.

I'm grateful God is opening my eyes to all this.... that I might learn to walk in peacefulness, trusting Him... counter-culture reflecting Him into a dark and rushed world.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth. 
 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire. 
 “Be still, and know that I am God.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Psalm 46:8-10a, 11 

(The first part of this Psalm refers to Mighty God, the second part to us and Be Still!!)

"God of Jacob", the same Jacob who worked 2x harder to marry the woman he loved... Jacob, who wrestled God.

Be still and know

God is God and I am not!!   

If that's not a control check, I don't know what is!! 


So that was my beginning of summer lesson and as a result, most of summer has gone rather smoothly.  The garage got done, one-step-at-a-time.  The attic will wait till cooler months.  All things needing to be done were completed in their own time and all the rest... well, I didn't sweat it (too much anyway!!)

I pray to apply this surrender of control and holding on of Selah type rest to the school months as well... and all days in life to come.  I pray you find your surrendering and Selah moments in-between the business of life.  After all, following God's lead and Selah are probably the most important parts which energize us and guide us to be the Vessels He has called us to be; His light reflecting so all might see ♥️


I read, "The Well; Why are so many still thirsty" by Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns.  It is such a powerful book, I thought I would share the link here.
It is also in one of the drawing packages I have going right now, more info below...


By the way.....

*Are you subscribed to my newsletter?  You might want to be.  Plans are in the works for some GREAT bonus material to be included starting soon!  Not to mention the articles on Faith, Home, and Homeschooling you won't even find on the blog!  It's Ok, hop over real quick, right there to your right, see it on my sidebar where it says, "Subscribe to my Newsletter"?  Ok, now enter your email in the box labeled "email address" then click "Subscribe"....(don't worry, it doesn't hurt and I promise not to spam you!).  Entering your email will do 2 awesome things:

#1 - You are automatically signed up for my newsletter (expect to see your issues around the last Thursday of each month).  Yay!
#2 - It enters you into a drawing where you get to pick from one of 4 GREAT prize bundles I will be giving away at the end of the summer.

Don't worry, if you are already subscribed hop on over to the link in text above and leave a comment sharing what you enjoy about the monthly newsletter.  Be sure to mention you are an existing newsletter subscriber and I will pop your name in my drawing jar!

Monday, August 20, 2018

In the Void of Cancer

A dear friend called today.  At first she sounded like her usual sweet self, always thinking of others first.  "What are you doing?" she opened with.  I nonchalantly braced for a quirky reply when I stated, "Oh, I'm just listening to some Jazz while I organize a recipe binder."

But the quirky reply didn't come.

We may not talk every day or every week... since I moved 5 years ago we don't even talk every month.  But I know my friend.  I've known her since our boys were in kindergarten and AWANAS together. These same boys who collected high school graduation certificates in June.  We've celebrated and cried through many of life's ups and downs together.  Ours is the kind of friendship which simply stands, no matter time or distance.  I turned the music off, bracing for what I had secretly suspected since seeing her recently.

Just 2 weekends ago we had the wonderful opportunity to spend time together, her family and part of mine.  We made the three hour drive west in order to watch them taking part in living history.  I almost cancelled the trip due to my own health issues.  However, I have been eternally grateful I let the Lord lead and help me push through the drive.  Yet, what has resonated more than their amazing costumes and the unique experience of stepping back in time was when she told me of her weakening state, this woman with so much life.  I've never known anyone who goes as far and gives as much as she. 
Everyone was gone, juggling pre-open details among kids catching up.  It was just us, filling in the gaps of life since we last had a recap.  She was busy fastening the many layers of her costume, which she did somewhat deftly after a summer full of weekends blasting 150 years into the past.  But this weekend, she fumbled with the pin at her waist-line as she detailed the events of recent weeks which were prompting an expected surgery the next morning. I knew the surgery well, having gone through the same procedure myself some years ago.  However, I sensed something about hers as being slightly different.  The doctor's cautions, the urgency, the size of masses... still, I could see the heightened worry in her pleading eyes and I knew my roll: the calmer.

I stepped forward to help with the pin, attempting encouragement, suggesting these things are common and she would be fine.  I offered tidbits of seasoned advice and quips to try and catch a smile and loosen the tone.  Yet, in all my personal experiences, I felt as concerned as she looked.  But we both hoped and we both prayed.

Surgery that Monday went well, recovery, on the other hand, has been rough.  The recap, once she was well enough to communicate, almost clinched my suspicions, but all we could do was wait.  My part was to offer hope, encouragement, prayer.

Then the phone ring.

The music stop.

I tried to be calm and make light. Something in my Spirit was bracing me for what came next. I waited for what felt like minutes but I know was only seconds.  I gave her space and I listened.

Sometimes all you can do is listen.

"The doctor... his office.... it's cancer."

I could hear her voice shake and trail off.  One of the strongest women I know was trying to stay strong, hold it together... but I knew better, "It's OK to cry," was all I could manage to offer in that moment...and then silence.

The silence gradually gave way to discussions of fears, worries, test schedules, family responses, homeschooling plans and more concerns.  We walked over the often un-talked about side-effects of her next surgery, which I had personal experience with.  I tried to keep her focused on the up-beat and I encouraged her to laugh at it all.

This sweet friend of mine is so strong, but in all that I know of the path lying before her, it is going to be a bumpy road.  With 3 boys and a loving husband needing her... a very bumpy road.

My heart hurts to the point of breaking.

I cry when it is quiet because all I know is, as the days and weeks push ahead, if I am anything, I want to be strong for her.  When her strength fails and her heart breaks I don't want to break too.  So I will break in the silence if it makes me strong when words must be said.  I may not be able to stand physically close and hold her hand or wrap my arms around her tight so I can whisper "Jesus loves you, you've got this."  But I can pray here.  I can wrap my hand around the phone and hold it tight to whisper, "Jesus loves you, you've got this."

Others very close to me have had to fight this battle in recent years.  Some have lost... some have won.   Advancements are happening at break-neck speed right now and chances are rapidly improving.  But that doesn't remove the sting.

As I ponder all of this, as I roll over the hurt and the heartache and the memories, a message plays heavy in my mind...

In the Void of Cancer
... you are not alone
It may feel a lonely place, a solitary battle and, at times, I am certain it can seem that way.
... but you are not alone.
Your God is with you.
He is your Comforter, rest in the folds of his robe, curl up in his loving arms.
He is your Healer, surrender to His touch.
And in these quiet moments of tender life, of mortality's questioning embrace, don't loose hope
don't loose love
don't give up.
Take moments, even if only breaths, hold tight the ones who love you and whom you love.
Speak into their hearts
forgive what needs forgiving
speak Light and Life and hope and love
hold tight
Life isn't about lists and soccer games and PTA
It is about God's goodness in the good times, and in the dark times.
Even at our weakest points, He is our strength, our grace
allow this grace to pour through to family and friends who are dear
poured into with words
poured into with embrace
poured into with time, even if only quietly sitting and listening to crickets play or snow fall or babies laugh or the heavy breathing of a sleeping some-body.
Right now, simply be.
Heal and rest and love and let love and know that no matter the outcome, love is what is eternal.
Don't perform, don't even try.  Just be.
And let.
Let people love you, encourage you, hold you, pray for you, cry with you, be silent with you.  
They are the manifestation of God's grace and Holy hand reaching out and touching you, making His face to shine upon you.
The void of cancer is not a void at all when we pause to look around at the familiar company.  To see islands of souls longing for connection, praying to make it through the space in-between.  You don't need to do anything to fill that void trust.... hope.
In the Void of Cancer

To the one who must stand what seems like idly by, give
You are not idle.
You are needed, even when you feel pushed away.
Give grace
Give time and love and patience.
Give listening ears and willing hearts.
You will not always understand.  But you can keep standing
Give strength
Give believing in the Hope of tomorrow, endlessly, tirelessly
Give space, comfort and peace
and whatever you give.. don't give up.
You.are.needed.  Now, more than ever.
Hope.  Hope in the Redeemer and know, no matter the outcome in this battle
God is still God and His ways are always best.  
This place, right now, is not home... we are all just sojourners, passing through.
Thank Him for now and believe in Him for the future... wherever and whenever that is.

To all those out there with loved ones, or themselves, just finding out or in the trenches of the cancer battle... may you witness the hand of God on your hearts and His Peace in your lives, in the void of cancer.

Silently, heartbreakingly yours,

Friday, August 17, 2018

Homeschool Mother's Journal: What Curriculum We are Using This Year

Is it approaching the end of August already?!?!  Seems like just last week we were standing at the beginning of June, looking out to August's Fair week and discussing how school would start shortly after!  As I write this my kiddos are serving their last few days at the fair; one is directing Lego Derby Races and build competitions with the company he works for and the other is painting faces with Christian Youth in Action and sharing about Jesus!

Me?  I was stacking curriculum this morning to make sure I had everything in it's place (snapping a few pictures while I was at it to share here!) and looking over my notes to prep for next Friday's soft-set (more on that next week)

I'm always inspired by articles where parents share what they are using for the school year.  Yet, I'm not consistent with sharing mine.  After a favorable response to my 7 Homeschooling Through High School Encouragements and Tips article last week and some impromptu discussions with local homeschooling parents, I realized talking about our curriculum is especially important in the mysterious and seemingly daunting realm of high school!  So here goes!

Once my kids hit high school, I usually have them take a more active role in choosing classes and, on some occasions, curriculum.  Many years ago, when we were first homeschooling, a family at church had just graduated their youngest on ABeka and offered up their full stash for our taking!  We readily accepted!

Over the years, I have learned not all of the curriculum works well for my kiddos' individual learning needs.  Still, it gets filtered in here and there and as they choose classes for the various negotiables (i.e. Language Arts, Math, Science and Electives) I have learned to say "It's OK" to not use what I have on hand if what I have won't work!  With that said, I shall elaborate...

Brooke has opted to complete ALL possible high school math options before she graduates.  It's a good thing she is my only student left because I don't know if I would have it in me to meet her request otherwise!  This year she will be taking Consumer Math, Geometry and Pre-Calculus. She has already completed Algebra 1 and 2 in Freshman and Sophomore years.  I debated doing Algebra 2 before Geometry and, depending on the website you visit, there are a variety of views and opinions on the matter.  I kind of wish we had done Geometry in 10th grade, I feel it would have laid better ground-work before moving on to Algebra 2.  However, here we are....

I and the state require one semester of some form of Consumer Math for graduation.  If Brooke wasn't taking TWO other high level maths, I would just use the Abeka Consumer Math pictured at right.  However, Abeka is pretty intense so, instead, we are using it supplementally.  I want to start the year with a short unit on time budgeting and see if we are able to filter in some of the other valuable lessons from Abeka later in the year.

For our full 'curriculum' we are using "Buying with Sense", an older book published in the 90s and picked up at a resale early in my homeschooling days.  I actually love this book because it teaches Consumer Math through a story:  Boy has just gotten out of military service and needs a job because he has fallen in love with Girl and they are to be married.  Girl needs job because one income isn't enough to get on their feet and she wants to contribute to setting up house.  It walks through the job hunt process, getting a place to live and  transportation.  After the wedding and move-in they learn how to manage all the other expenses which go into setting up house and daily living.

We will be doing Consumer Math only on Mondays and I believe the story approach to the subject will be a welcome ease in the first day of each school week!

Abeka Geometry is pictured at right.  I bought this one a few years ago for Brenden to use and the text is just so convoluted, we both struggled with it.  I believe Abeka's high school math is best for  families where mom or dad have a good grasp of these higher math concepts because the teacher's guide does not offer any teacher helps what so ever and the text is often vague on instruction. (Abeka DOES offer video teaching options for their curriculum which I hear is really good).  We did find some videos on YouTube to help when Brooke and I did the Abeka Algebras the last two years.  But I wanted something more comprehensive as we plugged forward in meeting her math requests.

Enter LifePac (on left).  We have used their history curriculum after being exposed to it through an awesome score at a book sale.  We loved the packet approach and how well drawn out the directions are.  I also like how, if you can't afford the steep rate of book and teacher key right out of the gate, which many programs require, Lifepac allows you to buy unit-by-unit.  Teacher's key was $18 and each unit, which I estimate to last approximately 3 weeks, is $6.

I am reallllly looking forward to both our LifePac maths.  The layout of the books is beautiful and very easy to follow.  Each unit begins with vocabulary terms to help in comprehension of the subject matter and the Geometry teacher key even has bonus activities to make the course more hands-on.

I am keeping our Abeka book close in case we need some reference material or extension activities.

This is her Pre-calculus.  I searched high and low for a program that wouldn't break the bank.  I was nervous about using LifePac for Pre-Calc since the reviews weren't great.  However, as I prayed through the process and the weeks passed, AlphaOmega released an updated version of the material.  As I virtually browsed the sample pages of the new edition I knew it was the answer to my prayers.

The updated curriculum is much easier to read and use.  Instructions are clear and, I believe, attainable.  If you have seen or used the older edition and hated it, I encourage you to check this one out, it may be much better.  One caution:  DO NOT ORDER FROM Christian Book Distributors for this product's Pre-Calc, they are still stocking the antiquated version.  The website shows the updated cover but that is not what they shipped me.  When I requested a replacement, they still shipped the wrong one!  I ordered direct from AlphaOmega.  Their pricing was the same and came on the exact same day as my CBD order for other materials placed at the same time!

With Earth Science and Biology/Health requirements (per state) out of the way we have cast our gaze towards elective sciences.  We will probably do Chemistry senior year to prepare her for college but this year, she asked for Astronomy!

I pray over all our curriculum, but especially over the sciences if they are not produced by reputable Christian companies.  I don't want to waste time and money on "evolution" and other pseudo-secular science points of view (I make sure my kids know these views, but I don't want curriculum saturated with them and denying Creationism).

Through my prayer process God led me to "The Stargazers Guide to the Night Sky" by Dr. Jason Lisle and published by Answers in Genesis.  This can be a full-year course with the other supplemental material they provide, but Brooke requested we focus more beyond our own celestial neighborhood so I didn't order any additional material (except the videos).

The Stargazer's Guide is full of beutifully vibrant pictures and is set up for all ages from late elementary through high school depending on how you choose to use it.  The back of the book also contains a Stargazers Planisphere! The teacher's guide included detailed lesson plans, worksheets and tests.  I ordered the supplementary DVDs and will filter them in accordingly.

Since we only ordered the main book, and not the full curriculum set, it will not be enough to constitute a full year of study so I drew up an outline with research projects filtered in between units.  I felt it would be insightful to understand some of the grandfathers of modern astronomy as well as the development of the telescope, which we studied some when she was in elementary/middle school but I don't believe she remembers very much.

I have also scheduled in "lab" days for experiments which can help to better grasp some of the concepts the book discusses, hence the "Astronomy Lab" and "Astronomy for Every Kid" books.  I know these materials are written with younger kids in mind, but lets face it; even high school and college science classes make use of elementary experiments to study basic concepts!

My step-dad gifted us his old telescope while we were in Chicago this past spring.  When we approach the chapter on telescopes I will be tasking Brooke with learning how to get ours in working condition and then using it to complete various labs!

I really feel in uncharted waters with this class but we are both looking forward to all the possibilities it holds!

By the way, if you order the Stargazer's Guide through Amazon, you can download the eBook copy for pennies.  We usually do textbook reading together and this is a cost effective way for both of us to have a copy as we plow through!

Grammar Composition 
By high school I allow the kids to choose how they want to fulfill their English requirements each year (our state requires 4 years of it).  Of all the choices Brooke had, this was the one she picked!  She likes the book work and predictability of basic grammar!  I had to write the lesson plans for this Abeka 11th Grade Grammar Composition, since, like Abeka math, none are included.  I combined and cut certain units to make room for an end of year research writing project featured in the Handbook.

Brooke requested NO Abeka spelling/vocabulary, which I did have (as per our gifted curriculum) and I was absolutely ok with that.  It is intense.  However, when I was going through paperwork I saw this:
... and felt a study on "Commonly Confused Words" would be a good edition to her writing curriculum.  One of our goals is to graduate our students with good writing skills. Knowing the words on this list, I felt, would be an asset to that end.  The plan is to cover one set of words each day with a review quiz every Monday.  We will be taking a week off about every 6 weeks and for the few days prior to our mini vacation she will do a full review and have a test on the words learned so far.

Every year I incorporate literature into our regular curriculum.  It could be it's own class with intensive study, but this year it is supplemental and, as with most years I teach, it ties History and Language Arts together.  (I think it is the Living Books Charlotte Mason-y side of me!)

The stack above is not All the books we will be using, just the ones on my shelf (Tolstoy is checked out from the library).  We are doing Geography this year and I wanted literature which covered the regions we will be studying, when we are studying them.

Once each book is complete she will have a few days to put together a reaction paper, a skill I know will be helpful for college.  I have scheduled floating writing days into our Language Arts class so she won't be overwhelmed by too much work.

I know this class is typically taken Freshman/Sophomore year.  She spent those years studying American History and Modern History with her brother at the 11th/12th grade levels!  So this should be a nice step back for her!!

The Base of our studies is an older BJU set.  We are using the full curriculum, however, because of our 4 day school weeks and somewhat nontraditional school year, we won't have time for it all unless we cram.  I don't like cramming, I prefer to have the 'work' be fun and laced with interactive activities.  To complete this curriculum in one school year, we would never leave the book and I knew Brooke would grow weary of that (so would I!!).  So, we will focus on the Eastern Hemisphere this year and then move to the Western Hemisphere for the first few months of next school year, which should tie in well to American Government (state required) and Civics.

I'm really excited about our supplemental material.  I heard about "Operation World" in an article somewhere this summer.  It is a sort of Almanac of world and country statistics with focused prayer points for each area discussed.  I plan to start each unit with a browse through and then we can pick people groups and missionaries to be praying over as we study through each region in our textbook.

We used "Geography Through Art" and "Trail Guide to World Geography" when Ashley was in high school.  We probably won't use the Trail Guide very much since BJU covers quite a bit, however, if you are looking for a curriculum to teach across grades, I highly recommend this one.  It is split up to teach 3 levels at once; elementary, middle school, high school.  It has a research based, living books approach.  Brooke was elementary/middle when we last used it.  We never did get to all the projects in the Art book and, since Brooke loves art, I thought it would be fun to try some of the activities we didn't get to before.

Brooke also loves cooking so "Eat Your Way Around the World" was a necessary add-in to our curriculum!  It is another element of the "Trail Guide" series.  I just finally ordered it this summer and I think it will quickly become our favorite part of Geography studies.  My plan is to have a day in each unit where we do project work and plan a geographically specific meal.  On test day, at the end of each unit, we will have a special country/region wrap-up dinner.  When applicable, I am hoping some of the art activities can be used as decorations at our dinner!  I will also encourage her to invite friends to share the experience.

World History from Abeka is thrown on the stack.  We covered most of this book last year in Modern History, however, we skipped the first few chapters which discuss ancient history and the post-diluvian movement of man.  We will spend a few days going over this material as we transition from world overview to specific cultures in Geograph.  This is also where we will jump into Beowulf as a way to explore ancient literature.  The copy of Beowulf we have by Seamus Heaney is the most comprehensive version I have found.  It has the traditional Old English on one page mirrored by modern English on the facing page with footnotes to provide understanding and insight.  (If you have seen the movie, which I couldnt' stomach, the book is NOTHING like the movie)

Brooke has been taking French all through high school.  The first two years she focused on using Duolingo and trying her knowledge out on French story books and listening to French dubbed in familiar movies.  This year we are going to begin learning how to write French using the Abeka curriculum I have on hand.  The teachers manual for this subject is actually quite helpful, unlike their Math curriculum.

Just for the record... my French vocabulary is VERY limited.  I just started Duolingo myself this summer!  However, I have always wanted to learn French and have taken Spanish in college so I am familiar with the dynamics of learning to write another language (Don't be detoured if you don't... it is still possible to teach a foreign language to your high schooler!!  Brenden took Mandarin and I know ZERO Chinese!  He was total self-taught). I told Brooke we would be taking French together this year and she was very happy with that!

Yes, that bottom book is a Usborne "My First Dictionary" book.  I figure, learning a new language is just like being a child again and trying to understand your own.  Rosetta Stone has proven that picture association with foreign languages actually speeds up and solidifies the learning process.  So, "My First Dictionary...", absolutely!

We will continue using Duolingo supplementally.

I don't know why my pictures turned out so blurry!  Sorry.  This one is a print out of a class I require for all my high school students called "Foundations" .  The state requires a "Life Skills" class... this is similar.  It is found at Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool and is absolutely FREE.  I print off the daily plans so I can make adjustments since I don't require them to do EVERY lesson.  She will keep this print-out pack in her binder.

Again, our odd schedule won't allow for the full curriculum this year so we will break off about 2/3 of the way through and finish it up next fall.  If I had one thing to do different/better with this class: Foundations is best taken Freshman/Sophomore year... hindsight is always 20/20, right?  The reason I would have done it sooner?....

Foundations covers character traits, memory building, study skills, some consumer math, speech/research papers, and a unit on propaganda/advertising.  Some of the concepts covered would be helpful in equipping for all of high school (and, obviously, into Life!).  However, any time it can be fit in is rewarding.  I really like this program for a few reasons:  it is self-paced and it fills in some gaps I might not think to make time to teach on my own.

I require all my kids to do a Bible read-through before I will write their graduation diploma.  They have the 4 years of high school to complete the task.  Reason: if you know what is in God's Good Book you will be less likely fooled!  This doesn't mean they do an in-depth study of the entire Bible or that they become Biblical experts... that takes a lifetime.  But I would like to see them familiar with the material by graduation and confident in self-study.

Full disclosure: both Brenden and Ashley got stuck in Leviticus!!!  I gave leniency because of their learning challenges and because I knew they were dedicated in daily Bible studies (Ashley led one her senior year and Brenden was always actively sharing his!)  So, instead, I had them go through a Bible Overview Class with me (I have a goal to eventually get the 'class' down on paper and share it here!). 

Brooke, however, is determined to meet this requirement.  She wants to start working on it this year in order to have plenty of time to finish before her 2020 graduation.  I had a copy of Abeka's "Genesis, First Things" on hand and really liked the format and information.  I feel it lays a good groundwork for the Bible read-through.  We will be starting this together as a manner of devotional time each morning this fall.  If my estimations are correct, she should be sailing through the Old Testament on her own by late winter.

Driver's Ed
Last but not least, this one-semester doosey.  Brooke is DETERMINED to get her permit ON her 16th birthday in January (In Montana you can do so without driver's ed). It has been almost 10 years since I last full-on taught a kiddo how to drive!  (Man does that statement make me feel old!!)  Since then, I started teaching Ashley how to drive a few years ago but her temporal seizures made us all decide it wasn't in anyone's best interest that she get behind a wheel.  Brenden just turned 18 and JUST got his driver's permit.  Our first hair-raising venture out a few weeks ago made me realize I don't feel equipped to teach my kids driving anymore!!!

I have identified our pitfalls... first one being that he needed more parking lot time before heading out on the open road.  Secondly, we needed "Student Driver" magnets so other drivers on the road can (hopefully) be more patient with us as we try to gauge traffic light stops and merging cars.  I also felt it would be helpful to have a sort of outline to follow for all those taken-for-granted skills I now need to articulate at the appropriate junctures.  Nearly getting t-boned by an anxious driver because I didn't think to point out to my son the appropriate ratio of turn-signal and breaking distance timing was a real eye-opener!!

As I was throwing the magnets in my Amazon cart I decided to look up other affordable videos or material available and stumbled onto, "Teach Your Teenager How to Drive a Car" by Hank Wysocki, a veteran Driver's Ed teacher .  It is set up with consecutive lessons to help parents and kiddos step-by-step through learning to drive.  Upon skimming, the lay-out seems pretty easy to follow with short, concise chapters and review questions at the end of each.

I feel much better and less inclined to panic!  We have also found some instructional videos on YouTube.  The most potentially helpful ones are hosted by a man with a VERY annoying voice ("Hi everybodeeeeee")... we may need to choke that back because his instruction does seem spot-on.

Next Friday we do our "Soft-set" day where I will hand out syllabuses, schedules and touch base on school year expectations.  We will also situate school supplies and thumb through new books.  This will help us to be good and ready for our first full day of school the following Monday!  I plan to throw an article up of this process as well!

What curriculum are you using this year?  I love browsing other homeschool set ups from pre-k through graduation!  I hope and pray you have a most blessed school year ahead!


Follow this in-text link to see some of the great websites I am linking up with today!

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