Our homeschooling journey so far this school year

Homeschooling: the ultimate experience in making sure a parent is humbled and made to feel completely bewildered and inadequate.

I’m not totally serious with the above definition but homeschooling my children has brought out some of my worst attributes – the biggest ones being insecurity and extreme self-doubt. This our second year of homeschooling and I have more of a grip on it all now than I did before but I still feel like I’m dooming my children to a life of sub-par education and a future of cleaning toilets. I feel this way until I speak with students who attend local public schools and then realize I’m doing okay and they’re going to make it. Take that last sentence however you want. I get myself in enough trouble these days when I try to explain myself.

This year we are using Notgrass’s America the Beautiful for history and so far we are enjoying it. I like the additional family activities at the end of each lesson, as well as the short lesson reviews that help reiterate for the students what they have already read. I think the curriculum may be a little young, in some ways, for my almost 13-year old, but I like the overall review of the lessons and will use it for at least the first part of our school year.

Last week we made Navajo flatbread (which I’ve only known as Navajo fry bread) as one of the family activities at the end of a lesson. The children helped me make the dough and spread it out and then I did the frying. They, of course, also helped with the eating. My almost 5-year old helped with making a huge mess but not so much with cleaning it up.



For English, we are using Saxon’s grammar and writing curriculum for seventh grade and also reading various novels. I like the Saxon curriculum because it incorporates actual writing and dictation lessons into the grammar.

We are still plowing through The Hobbit, even though the local homeschooling group already held a book discussion centered on it. My son is alternating listening to it being read aloud on YouTube and reading the actual book. For my part, I am very behind on the reading and need to catch up. I may need to listen to it being read out loud as well.

Science and math have our heads spinning a little. We are using Apologia’s Exploring Creation through Physical Science but honestly, I think it’s geared toward higher grade levels. I’m going to try to keep plowing through it, though, because I know my son is bright enough to catch on. I both like and hate that it features two or three experiments a lesson. I like it because it breaks up the large chunks of text in the textbook and I hate it because I have to find the supplies for the experiments ahead of time and I’m not always the best-prepared person. Hopefully, this curriculum will teach my son science and teach me organizational skills.

For Math, we are using Teaching Textbooks for now but they have had a lot of crashes on their online program this school year so we may look for another program when our subscription runs out in November. What I like about their program is I don’t have to teach math. I have some sort of math dyslexia and I was in remedial math in high school so math is not my strong point. Luckily my husband knows a little about math so I pass that duty off to him when I need to.

We are also attending a genealogy class with the local homeschool group once a week and that has been very interesting. The man teaching the class is a fellow homeschooling parent and he’s focusing not only on the biological information we can learn from our ancestors, but also their values and the importance of passing those values down to the next generation.

I will be adding art and, hopefully, music into our homeschooling routine, as well, as the year progresses.

How about all of you? If you’re a homeschooling parent, how is your homeschooling year going? If your children attend public/private school, how is school going for them? Let me know in the comments. And if you are a homeschool parent who has curriculum recommendations, let me know because I love to find new curriculum we can consider for the future.


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28 thoughts on “Our homeschooling journey so far this school year

  1. Learning and education is all around us. Provide the basics and interests, but ensuring these children are best prepared for the working world. With skills and responsibility comes opportunities.

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    • The skills part is something I really want my son to focus on, in addition to the academics. He’s building a shed with his grandpa today – they worked on it all summer and I counted those days as homeschooling days – life skills and shop class! 😉

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      • Fantastic. You’re a great example. In our youth, my friends and I would fix bicycles, dig through dumpsters for parts to make more bicycles, build tree forts, again dig through dumpsters and construction sites (Yes, we were wrong in this.) for nails and boards, and look for the next project. We didn’t understand staying indoors. Our life was the neighborhoods and beyond. Loved it. It’s like an education without realizing we were educated.

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  2. Good on you for doing all that! I love art and creativity, AND math. I worry so much that I wouldn’t remember to teach everything they need …and I have four children (one on the way) so I’d need a good way to keep them occupied with their age level curriculum.
    At least their charter school lets them move ahead in math and doesn’t seem very liberal in its lessons.

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  3. I began homeschooling my three youngest when they were in the 1st, 3rd and 5th grades, and continued through high school graduation. My curriculum was eclectic: I shopped for old school books at second-hand stores, supplemented with new workbooks purchased from local bookstores, used my own old college textbooks, and we read from the World Book Encyclopedia. Almost everything we studied, we read aloud (not just the “literature” stuff). I made sure they had a solid general math foundation, and studying algebra and geometry was a collaborative effort between the three of them. We watched documentaries and classic cinema, dabbled in Spanish and German, spent a lot of time on Home Economics (including cooking, sewing, cheese-making, bread baking, making vinegar and soap), workshop and home repair projects, and spent a few years on Animal Husbandry (raising chickens and milch goats). The oldest and the youngest of the three studied piano (I know just enough music theory to be dangerous!), and the youngest was recruited at age 17 by the local high school to play for the school’s Show Choir tour. Their high school exit requirement was met when they passed the GED exam.

    Two of my children decided to go to college: the middle one earned a Technical Certificate from the local community college and then a Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University, and the youngest one earned two Associate Degrees (simultaneously!) from the community college, then went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree, both from Purdue.

    When you homeschool, the sky is the limit, and it doesn’t matter how you get there. You’re doing great.

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    • Thank you! It sounds like you did it the right way for sure! And they are all doing well. So nice to hear (read) that it can be done and is being done by so many parents. It’s really an encouragement to me and makes me feel less worried about what I’m doing with mine. I think I just feel the pressure of what they “should know” at certain ages because it was somewhat drilled into me in school and when my son was in private school. I’ll get there and let that go eventually.

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      • When my kids were still in pubic school, my second eldest was always assessed as being “behind,” but all the teachers insisted there was “time to catch up.” Then the school administered a standardized exam that showed scores “far behind” for that age group. The teachers were all for continuing with “social promotion,” but I got the principal to examine my kid’s record and the test, and the principal agreed with me about the need to hold back, so we had the child repeat a year (the teachers were furious). The following year my kid still failed to “catch up,” and that was one of the reasons why I decided to yank the three youngest out of the system after the Christmas break, and do it myself, from there on out (the other reasons were that my third-grader was getting into fights, and my first-grader’s teacher, at a parent-teacher conference, only raved about the kid’s having “great self-esteem,” and couldn’t tell me anything about academic status). As a side note, when I took that decision, one of the teachers reported me to State Social Services, because she said she believed homeschooling was a form of child abuse!

        I administered proctored standardized tests twice during the homeschooling years, and both times they showed that while the eldest of the three had improved since the public school’s dismal results, the kid was still slightly “behind,” the youngest sibling stayed slightly “ahead,” and the middle one was smack dab in the middle of “should be” (further inquiry showed the eldest had mild dyslexia). I was satisfied that I was doing a good job: probably better, and certainly no worse than the public school had done. Everybody grew up to achieve their own goals.

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        • Wouldn’t that teacher have flipped if you had suggested instead that traditional education is more like child abuse? That’s crazy!!! We do standardized testing once a year to evaluate him but I think twice a year is a great idea.

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        • The problem with standardized tests is that homeschool parents may not have the background to be sure whether under their circumstances the “standards” the exams are measuring are appropriate, or that the tests are appropriately constructed to measure them. I learned about test construction during my university studies, so I was confident I could do adequate evaluations by myself. After I’d done two standardized tests and the results were consistent, we moved to a state that didn’t require them, and I was glad to abandon the trouble and expense.


        • The main thing is to ensure your children have the math basics to mastery, can read and understand, can write well in various forms (i.e. essay, letter, stories: with good grammar), and are well read with history (true history) and science, learning to think and reason for themselves. A practical experiences. If your children can do these things, while you provide the experiences that help them grow (i.e. looking through telescopes together, cooking together at home, going to museums, discussing history, and perhaps running a small business together….), also encouraging creativity with responsibility, you will never have to worry about their future. They’ll figure is out. Never let others’ view of outcome determine who they are.

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        • I’m so grateful for all the advice! Thank you!! It’s making me feel a little better and less anxious about it all. What a wealth of information that I’m going to come back to and read when I get stressed about it all!


  4. Pingback: Fry bread, Smoke Signals and cat mysteries. Or what I’m reading this week – Boondock Ramblings

  5. We signed our kids up for an online charter school here in Arizona called AZVA (Arizona virtual academy) and they supplied us with computers, workbooks, art supplies, musical instruments, text books and science kits. Everything was free and they paid for shipping for anything we needed to send back at the end of the year. It wasn’t easy though but we also worried about the curriculum.
    The online charter school had meet ups once in awhile for kids to socialize with one another. We had to do yearly testing at a building they would rent for a couple days, mostly they used church sites for that.
    We would also shop used bookstore, yard sales and thrift shops for educational toys and workbooks. Also our Autism group helped with lesson plans. It was a combination of everything.
    I am terrible at academics but my husband isn’t so where I was weak he would fill in and where I was strong I would work with the kids. Their best days were the days we went out and visited museums, festivals, and nature.
    They helped build a straw bale house once, designed music for my husband’s show he was editing at the time, bake/craft sales at a farmers market, and lots of State/ local fair events that they participated in. Everything was turned into opportunities to teach. Now they attend college and my daughter is getting a scholarship to a University. My son is also keeping his college grades up and is working for a scholarship to the same university his sister will be attending in December.
    From the looks of your photos you are doing a great job. Happy kids learn and retain all that knowledge. It will pay off in the long run. Now days it seems some schools are more about indoctrinating our children for political reasons. My daughter is going to Grand Canyon University which is Christian based. She had a choice to go to Arizona State University but a lot of her friends from High school said it is more like a social party school. That is the university my husband graduated from.

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    • It sounds like you did a ton with them! We can do charter school here but I like the flexibility of the schedule with choosing our own curriculum too. We will see how it goes next year. Having him go to college has been a concern with homeschooling but I’m sure we will get there
      Thank you for all the suggestions and tips too. And yes, I think colleges and schools are trying to indoctrinate our children and that’s one reason I’m not sending my children to them. 😊


  6. It sounds to me like you’re doing a wonderful job. I have to stop and remind myself that while I want to make sure my daughter knows what she needs to I’m sure she’s not going to be on Jeopardy. That way I don’t feel bad if she misses a day of science. 😉 I have the same fears, though, especially when her best friend comes over who still goes to public school. When she starts telling me all they’re doing I start wondering if I’m teaching enough and still getting those life skills in there. I can be so hard on myself.

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    • Me too. I try to remember that part of what we are teaching is even more important than the academic lessons. Also, a lot of what the students are being taught in public school is to make sure they can pass tests at a certain time. I don’t like the whole “he’s behind” “they’re behind” mentality but I definitely get it from my time in public school and his time in private school. We’re doing our best and learning at the pace he needs to do I’m just going to keep going forward and trust God will guide us where we need to go and how we need to get there.

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    • They learn life skills when they see you solving life’s problems according to the lessons they’re learning from the books with which you’re teaching them. Don’t sweat it: you’re on the right track.

      Interactions with public-schooled kids can be funny. My three homeschoolers took themselves (on their bicycles) to an early-morning seminary (four years of scripture study for high school-age kids) at our local church. When the morning’s class was over, the public-schooled kids climbed aboard the school bus that stopped nearby (or they drove themselves to school), while my three got on their bikes and pedaled home. The public-schooled kids were always livid: “It’s not fair! You get to go home, and we have to go to school!” What the public-schoolers didn’t understand was that my kids were “at school” all day, every day, whether we were having book lessons or doing practical studies.


  7. Sounds to me like you’re doing a great job. As one who taught for many years, I always knew I could do better, finding ways to educate and encourage the students to think for themselves.

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  8. Our kids attend a charter school. It is still in the public school system, but it is much more like a private school. Much more control over the curriculum. For example, they don’t teach the sick LGBTQ agenda. They leave sex education and morals to the parents at home. My wife teaches there and our kids love it. It is also a performing arts/music based school, so it is very unique and the first of its kind where we live. Sounds like you have a good curriculum for your kids. I’m sure that is not easy! If it hadn’t been for this new charter school, we might have had to homeschool. I don’t want our kids in normal government schools that are extremely liberal and teach sub par watered down education. I think it’s cool when families can homeschool and make it work. God bless you all!

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    • That school sounds like a dream! That would be awesome to have. The way the government tries to tell us what they will teach our children is one reason our children are currently homeschooled. That and we like the flexibility and ability to move forward in lessons or stay back if we need to.

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