Homeschool School Year 2020-2021

It is so strange to think that this is already our 8th year homeschooling, and yet it is! This year Miranda is in 5th grade, MeiMei is in 4th grade, FangFang is in 1st grade, and Atticus is in kindergarten.

We actually started our school year back in June for a couple reasons. We are continuing to stay home almost all the time, including skipping our pool membership for the summer – it didn’t feel safe for us. But Missouri in the summer is hot and humid and miserable. The kids and I all agreed that we would rather do full time school in the summer and have a more flexible school schedule in the fall when the weather is nicer. Additionally, with me starting grad school this fall, it would be nice to have some of the kids’ schooling already under our belts to give me more room to adjust their school schedule as needed in order to allow me to do my own school work.

Tomorrow we will finish week 8 (out of 36 weeks) of our curriculum, so we’re already into a solid routine as we head into the fall. That was my goal, and I’m feeling so good about accomplishing it!

We’re continuing to use Sonlight for the main pieces of our curriculum, and, as usual, box day was an exciting day at our house. That is, of course, partly because of the boxes themselves!

The little kids are doing Core A this year, learning about world cultures. They’re using Language Arts 1, including the first grade readers, and both are doing Singapore Math 1. We’re also using Handwriting Without Tears, and I’ve just recently started All About Spelling with them. I think they’ll have a good, solid year. They love the stories – Atticus strongly identifies with Benny from the Boxcar Children, and we ordered the sequels to My Father’s Dragon so we could read through all of the books, as everyone wanted to know what happened to Elmer and the dragon next. They are also getting exposure to a wide variety of topics through one of our favorite books, The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia, and we’re just all generally having a good time learning together.

I’m doing a bit of supplementing for all 4 kids. We’ve done a little bit of Telling God’s Story (which I’m on the fence about). And I’m trying to make sure they are all exposed to history beyond what is mostly centered around white people, so a book we’ve all been reading together is The Fierce 44: Black Americans Who Shook Up the World.

The older two girls, of course, have their own curriculum. We are working our way through one of the Sonlight cores about which I was most excited – Core F, Eastern Hemisphere. We started off learning about China and then moved on to learning about North Korea and South Korea, and now we are studying Japan. I love that they are getting so deeply exposed to cultures other than our own at such an early age, and we’re finding so much of the material fascinating. We’ve talked about our visits to China, and we Facetimed with some of our friends who live in Japan and got to hear firsthand about their experiences last week. We’ve already ordered sequels to some of the books to read even more than what Sonlight assigns. I’m also super excited about their Science curriculum this year, which is about Health, Medicine, and Human Anatomy (though I am going to replace some of the materials about sexuality and gender, as we are more progressive than Sonlight is in this area).

MeiMei just started Singapore Math 3A, and Miranda will finish Singapore Math 5A tomorrow and start on 5B next week. Both are continuing to work through All About Spelling – we’re in the middle of level 2, because I slacked off on spelling last year, but I’m hoping we can finish 2 and get through 3 this year. Both girls would be better able to keep up with the flow of their thoughts in writing if spelling came more naturally to them. Both are also continuing to work on learning cursive and on typing. For Language Arts, we’re doing some of the Sonlight Language Arts F program, but I’m supplementing with other materials. I’m finding that since they are on the very young end of the recommended age for Sonlight’s materials, I sometimes need to modify assignments for them, and they could still use more work on the basics (sentence and paragraph structure) than what Sonlight sometimes offers. I talked with them about some options, and we decided together to use these Editor in Chief books, so we are working through those right now.

It is interesting – and so cool – to me that as the kids are getting older, they are expressing more of their own preferences about how they want to learn. This year the older two girls asked if we could do something different for Bible – they didn’t like just reading a passage on their own and reading a passage with me, they wanted to have more of a discussion about it. We decided – at Miranda’s suggestion – that the three of us would all read one chapter a day on our own and write down what stood out to us from that chapter and then discuss it together. That has been one of my favorite parts of our year so far. I love hearing their thoughts and getting to have those discussions with them.

With this being an election year, the older two girls are also going to be working through the US Elections Lapbook.

I’ve been loving our school year so far, and I can’t wait to continue to learn with my crew!

Homeschool Year in Review – 2015-2016

I didn’t post updates about our homeschooling progress this past year as frequently as I would have liked, largely due to all of the other craziness going on in our lives during the year 🙂 We finished the school year later than I thought we would, but we finished! And I think we finished reasonably well 🙂

Last week we wrapped up our final days of Kindergarten/Pre-K – or at least that’s what we called it based on the girls’ ages, since that’s what it would have been if they’d been in public school here in Missouri, though we don’t really base our curriculum purchases on their stated grades. You can read more about the curriculum we used this year in this post.

Overall, this was honestly a really good school year. I’ve actually found that in the midst of good times or bad, home-schooling gives us the structure we need as a family to function well. We do best when we have some structure, and not only is this structure, but it’s structure that connects us relationally. We read together, we play together, we do science experiments together, and we talk through our drama together. One of the parts we actually most appreciate about home-schooling is that it allows us to consistently work on character issues together. This year we’ve focused on kindness, self-control, and appropriate actions when we feel angry.

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And of course we’ve also spent a lot of time on academics, with much growth evident! One of the most fun areas of growth has been in the girls’ reading ability. Miranda started the year reading pretty simple sections of just a couple pages at a time, and Madeleine CaiQun started the year reading only consonant-vowel-consonant words, and now they’re both ready to tackle (at least) 2nd grade readers! I often hear both of them, Madeleine CaiQun in particular, sitting on the couch reading out loud to themselves, which so warms my heart 🙂 Their love of reading has even rubbed off onto Atticus!

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Both girls have also grown in their math abilities, and we’ve studied and enjoyed learning about different areas of science. Their favorite has probably been studying space – that’s the last topic we covered, and the house has recently been littered with innumerable diagrams of the solar system!

The only area of our curriculum that didn’t really work well for us was the Language Arts package. Because Sonlight’s Language Arts curriculum goes with its readers, you select its level based on your child’s reading level, and my kids’ reading levels and maturity levels don’t necessarily entirely line up! We ended up modifying a lot of its assignments and, toward the end of the year, just ditching it entirely. But for kindergarten and pre-k, I didn’t necessarily think a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum was an absolute necessity, so that wasn’t a huge loss!

It wasn’t all fun and games – one kiddo in particular sometimes tells me she hates school, but in reality, she mostly dislikes the reality that she is not in charge of all things at all times, and that is, well, reality 🙂 And learning about that is also part of home-schooling! And there are times when home-schooling with a toddler feels crazy – that boy is a monkey!

But overall I’ve so appreciated this past year, the chance to read with my kids, to have good discussions with them, and to be part of all that they’re learning. I’m grateful to have another year of home-schooling with these great kiddos under our belts!

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