2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Middle School & High School

Our Middle School & High School Homeschool Curriculum (2014-15) from RaisingArrows.net

This year, I have one child in high school and one in middle school.  My high schooler, Blake – age 16, will be finishing his “formal” schooling in December.  My daughter, Megan, is an 8th grader by traditional standards – something that doesn’t really fit her well at all.

Later this month, I’ll be writing about what Blake will be doing after he “graduates”, but for now, take a moment to read my post entitled, “True Education is Not About Making a Living“.  It will give you a little bit of a taste of the approach we are taking.

Our Middle School & High School Homeschool Curriculum 2014 | RaisingArrows.net

It has been quite a privilege to watch these two grow up.  Blake is a natural-born leader and Megan is creative and artsy.  The two of them together make a great team!  We have tried to give them plenty of opportunities to work together on projects and hone their own individual skills.  You will see in our curriculum choices that same individuality.

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High School Homeschool Curriculum

Last year, I would have wholeheartedly endorsed Khan Academy as a standalone curriculum.  Changes that were made mid-year last year have me hesitant to recommend it the way I once did.  However, we are using it as a standalone for both our high schooler and middle schooler.  The changes that were made are not ones that compromise the education, but rather tend to frustrate the user.  That said, this FREE program has been very successful in teaching my children math concepts they were not understanding via any other curriculum.  Blake is finishing up Geometry this year, and he has a very good grasp of what he is learning, thus the reason we have stuck with it despite some frustrations with how the system is set up.

Blake is finishing up his Apologia Biology with Lab.

Biology

He has been dissecting all sorts of things!  This is something I never did in high school, so it has been fascinating to watch!  (Glad I’m past the morning sickness, though!)

Something new we added mid-year last year was Current Events.  Most of the time, Blake uses a Fox News app on the iPad, but we also have him check the stories via other news sources as well.  This teaches several things:  discernment, an understanding of the world and culture around him, and Biblical thinking skills.  He is our researcher, so it only made sense to have him “research” current events and keep the rest of the family abreast of what is going on in the world.

I do want to caution you on this topic – having your child read/watch Current Events from mainstream media sources requires your child be very mature and very discerning.  There is no way my 13 year old could handle a daily dose of current events.  It would be too overwhelming to her.

For our history, church history, geography, and literature, we are doing Tapestry of Grace – Year 3.

Tapestry of Grace Year 3 - part of our middle school and high school curriculum 2014 | RaisingArrows.netWe do not do Tapestry in the traditional sense, but use it as a backbone of our studies.  The curriculum is full of wisdom and information, and even though we don’t use 100% of it, the price was still well worth the information and guides contained within.

I use the Teacher’s Guides and the Weekly Assignments to create my own list of things the children need to do based on TOG’s suggestions.  Once a week, we use the discussions to dig deep into the era we are studying.  They children read selections from that week’s work, look up some of the geography to familiarize themselves with the area being studied, and do some of the projects listed, including their younger siblings in the fun.  Blake has all the history credits he needs, but he enjoys TOG so much, he doesn’t mind sitting in on another year.

For his composition credit, I am requiring him to write a research paper.  I give him a generalized idea of the time period to write on, and he chooses his topic and builds his paper.  Last year, was some aspect of the Revolutionary War (he chose to concentrate on George Washington’s command).  This year, will be some aspect of the Civil War.  He writes his paper in Google Docs so the two of us can work together on editing it.

As I’ve mentioned before, Blake runs a blog of his own – Airsoft Warrior.  Doing so has taught him many lessons!  His writing skills have improved, his videos are wonderfully edited, and he has honed his public speaking skills (although, public speaking has never been difficult for him).

He is also learning the ins and outs of money management as he works part-time as a Trapper (the person who throws the clays at a shooting sports lodge).  We have helped him walk through making wise purchases, saving, and tithing.  He is proving to be a great money manager – for that, I am very thankful!

He also works out nearly every day.  Last year, he dropped 60 pounds by tracking his food and exercising!

Middle School Homeschool Curriculum

Again, keep in mind this curriculum is highly tailored to my creative 13 year old.  If you need help learning how to tailor a curriculum to your child’s particular talents, the wonderful people at 10KtoTalent.com can help!

Megan is doing Khan Academy 8th Grade.  We took a break from it for a while, but it was very obvious to me that she learns very well using Khan.  When she is stumped and the hints on Khan aren’t helping, she will use MathIsFun.com to help her get through a particular issue.  (Note:  We have her computer set up with a School folder in the navigation bar to keep all of the websites she uses readily available so she isn’t randomly surfing the web.)

After taking a year off from Science, she is doing Apologia’s General Science this year.

Apologia General Science - part of our middle school homeschool curriculum 2014 | RaisingArrows.netThere have been a few rocky spots (the first two chapters are rather dry and she learned a valuable lesson in perseverance and diligence as she pushed through), but now she says she is enjoying it.

She is also doing Tapestry of Grace – Year 3 for her history, church history, geography, and literature.

As I mentioned in my Elementary Curriculum post, she and her younger sister go to Keepers of the Faith once a month.  I’ll be writing more about that in a later post.

Megan continues to take French via iTalki.com.  If you have a child who has a natural bent toward languages or who wants to pursue a career that would benefit from fluency in another language, I HIGHLY recommend iTalki.  Lessons are taught by live teachers via Skype on a schedule of your choosing.  We have been very pleased with the results.  (You can read my review of iTalki and explore the site for yourself!)

Additionally, Megan is taking American Sign Language.  A Deaf woman at a local church does free lessons a couple of times a year; however, we are planning on doing private lessons with her because Megan hopes to pursue her certification as an ASL Interpreter. For school, she reviews using ASLPro.com. (This site was recommended by her teacher as being legitimately ASL. You do have to be aware that not all sign language is ASL, so if you have a child interested in interpreting, it is better to avoid filling their memory banks with wrong information.)

One last thing I want to mention concerning Megan’s homeschooling is her photography.  Most of the photos you see on Raising Arrows are her work.  She has had a photography blog for many years as a hobby, but this year – thanks to 10ktoTalent, she’ll be getting more serious about building her portfolio and working toward her 10,000 hours.  She wants to start doing portraits and family photography and build from there.  We will be seeking out professional photographers to help mentor her through this process, as well as using online resources.  (One of her favorites is Digital Photography School.)

Phew!  These curriculum posts are harder to put together than I like to admit, but I hope you’ve enjoyed them!

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Elementary

Our Elementary Homeschool Curriculum (2014-15) from RaisingArrows.netThis year, I have 2 in the elementary grades – age 8 and just-turned 10 (yesterday, as a matter of fact!).  They are only 16 months apart, but my 8 year old was non-verbal until he was 3, and struggled with speech issues until age 6.  We did not start formal schooling with him until he was 7 to give him time to mature verbally.  That said, he is doing really well with his work!

Keian

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Keian is finishing up Horizons Math 1 and will be moving into Horizons 2 very soon.  (Remember, we homeschool year round, so finishing books have very little to do with a calendar date.)

Horizons 2He is doing A Reason for Handwriting B.  He’s a lefty and his handwriting is absolutely beautiful!

2014-15 Elementary Homeschool Curriculum - A Reason for Handwriting B | RaisingArrows.net

He is near the end of the 1st grade level of Phonics Museum and doing amazing!  It does a mama’s heart good to hear a once non-verbal child actually read something! (Note:  there are 2 years to this program.  This will be our second time to go completely through the set.  You can read my review of Phonics Museum HERE).

phonics

We are once again doing Five in a Row with the 10 and under crowd.  I don’t do this full force, but more as a special supplement just for them.

FIAR

Feel free to visit my FIAR Pinterest Board for more ideas and resources to supplement Five in a Row!

Five in a Row Pinterest Board from Amy @ Raising ArrowsMelia, our barely 10 year old is also doing FIAR as well as a few other things…

Melia outside

She is finishing up Horizons Math 3 and will soon be leveling up like her brother.

Horizons 3She has struggled with getting her multiplication tables down, so we are using a free app on the iPad to help her.  It is a very simple program, but has done very well in “drilling” her facts.  The name of the app is Math Flash Cards, and she has to go through 2 rounds getting all of them right (10 problems) before starting her workbook lesson for the day.

I decided last year to go back to my traditional method of doing elementary science, which is to wait until each child is a fluent reader, then hand them an Apologia Elementary Science book and let them run with it!  Melia is doing Flying Creatures and having a wonderful time!  She loves to do all the experiments, and is constantly telling me what she has learned.  I doubt I’ll try any other method of elementary science from here on out!

Zoology

Melia just started her Cursive handwriting curriculum.  I couldn’t find a link and photo, but let me tell you something about cursive, and handwriting in general…

Choosing a handwriting curriculum is difficult.

You should have seen all of us mamas standing around the handwriting section of the Rainbow Resource booth at Teach Them Diligently discussing which curriculum to buy!  The name of the game really ends up being PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.  Give your children plenty of opportunities to write and practice the letters and concepts they are learning.

One way to do this is by notebooking.  I am using notebooking pages from the collection at NotebookingPages.com as well as creating my own using their software.  I have a Lifetime Membership there and LOVE it!  You can read more about how we do notebooking as a large family HERE).

Free & Affordable Notebooking Pages

We had to abandon our old spelling program with Melia because it just wasn’t working.  Her spelling is not very good and the old curriculum was frustrating her terribly.  We tried several apps with equal results, but when I ended up with a coupon code to try All About Spelling, I decided to snag it for her and my 8 year old to see what would happen.

What has impressed me the most is how important the multi-sensory approach is to her learning.  This is definitely a parent-led program, but the time spent has been well worth it.  I have also seen where our Mother-Daughter Journals have helped her spelling as well.  There again, is that PRACTICE factor!

We will also be continuing our See the Light Art lessons.  We do not take a rigorous approach to art, but rather a slow and steady approach.  I want my children to enjoy art, and have found using these DVDs as a “treat” rather than a to-do on a checklist has accomplished that nicely.  (You can read my review of See the Light Art Curriculum to learn more!)

See the Light

For corporate Bible/Devotions in the mornings, we read a section of Scripture and discuss and then read from Apologia’s Worldview curriculum – Who is God?

Who is God?  Apologia Worldview Curriculum, part of our Elementary Homeschool Curriculum | RaisingArrows.net

 

Everyone from littles to bigs listens in, but honestly, this curriculum is best for the elementary and middle school years.  My older kids need something a little deeper and a lot of what we read goes over the heads of my little ones, but I think everyone is getting something from the teaching in the book, so I’ve chosen to have everyone stay together during this time.  In addition to our corporate Bible time, everyone who can read is required to spend time reading the Bible on their own following Morning Chores.

Melia and Megan are also doing Keepers of the Faith once a month.  I’m hoping to post more about this soon.  Keian is currently a Cub Scout and scouting as a Lone Scout (which means he does everything from home, rather than as part of a Pack).  Note:  Remaining with the Boy Scouts of America was not a decision we took lightly, and I do not wish to get into a debate here on the blog over Scouts.  Thank you!

For more homeschooling info,
be sure to check out my
Homeschooling Page
here on Raising Arrows!

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Preschool & Kindergarten

Our Homeschool Preschool & Kindergarten Curriculum choices for 2014-15 | RaisingArrows.netCurrently, I have one preschooler and one kindergartner in our homeschool.  Garin will turn 4 at the end of the month and Micah is 5.  We are not doing a lot with the preschooler, other than having him sit in on cooperative subjects and letting him listen in on lessons, but I’ll include what we will be doing with him because I suspect we’ll add him sometime mid-year.

Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

As with all my younguns, we will start out with Rod & Staff’s ABC Series:

Rod & Staff ABC Series

We are still working through these with our Kindergartner as well.  They are simply a fun way to learn school-type skills, and not something we stress over “getting done.”

Don’t forget to give your preschoolers plenty of time to play and explore!  This is the best preschool curriculum!

2014-15 Preschool Curriculum from Amy @ RaisingArrows.net

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

All of my younger crowd will be doing Five in a Row.

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 1.01.26 AM

We will be starting the year out with How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  I am beyond excited about sharing this book with my children, and this is the perfect time of year to do so!  (Check out my FIAR Pinterest board for links and resources to supplement Five in a Row.)

Five in a Row Pinterest Board from Amy @ Raising Arrows

About mid-year last year, I noticed Micah was ready to learn to read, so we pulled out Phonics Museum (we have been using this curriculum for several years – you can read my review of it HERE).
phonics

If you are wondering how I knew he was ready to learn to read, here are the things I noticed:

1.  He was mimicking his big brother’s phonics lessons.
2.  He was asking me to tell him what certain words said.
3.  He was “pretending” to sound out words.
4.  He was sitting down to “read” books more and more.

As I mentioned above, Micah is still working through the Rod & Staff ABC workbooks, with particular emphasis on his numbers.  He’s a great little reader, but numbers are more difficult for him to retain.  We work a lot on the side counting and helping him recognize numbers in every day life.

Micah

As you’ll notice, the early years of homeschooling in our home are pared down and simple.  As I mention in my ebook, Large Family Homeschooling, we believe the Trickle-Down Effect of the one-room schoolhouses of yesteryear really do work, creating less of a need for academic rigor when children are very young.

To learn more about how we homeschool the early years
and what a typical homeschool day looks like,
be sure to check out my
Homeschooling page
here on Raising Arrows!

It’s Time to Settle the Homeschool Socialization Question

It's time to Settle the Homeschool Socialization Question - Why this question needs to stop being asked! | RaisingArrows.netShe looked me in the eye and said, “But what about Prom?

That was her best shot at trying to make me question our choice to homeschool our children.  It took me a little bit to even comprehend her thought process.

Prom?  Really?

But, the heart of her question was not really Prom in and of itself.  It was that big, bad “S” word every homeschool parent will hear at some point in their homeschooling career:

SOCIALIZATION

However, it isn’t just outsiders who can’t understand how a child who is schooled at home could ever be socially adept.  Even homeschool parents themselves, especially those deeply entrenched in a public school mentality, will find themselves petrified of raising a child who isn’t socialized according to the cultural paradigm.  They will run themselves ragged taking their children to sports practices and games, classes they don’t need, and group field trips where no one learns anything – all in the name of socialization.  (Some parents take their children to these events without the “S” word being their motivation.  They are NOT the ones I’m speaking of here – just to be clear.  More on that in a moment…)

Parenting out of Fear or Guilt?

Many parents these days are parenting out of fear and/or guilt.  They fear doing something wrong, they fear not doing everything, they fear not being “good enough”, they fear raising children who aren’t “good enough.”  And homeschool parents are the worst!  We have taken Deuteronomy 6 seriously, but rather than believing the Lord will bless our efforts to disciple our children, we run around fearful of missing opportunities and warping our children forever.

And then there’s the guilt.  Every missed opportunity, every crazy day, every whiny child, every off-schedule moment makes us feel so guilty, we are almost paralyzed.  Despite the fact we know there is no such thing as a “perfect mom“, we still cling to our guilt, hoping it will somehow make us better parents/teachers.

If your desire to socialize your child is based on fear or guilt, it’s time to rethink things.

So, back to the Prom question…

When Others Question Your Child’s Socialization…

More often than not, the reason a non-homeschooler brings up the socialization question is because:

1.  They misunderstand the nature of homeschooling.

2.  They think your child might be missing out on all the fun they had.

There are other reasons, of course, but most of the people I hear this question from are reliving memories and wonder how a child could ever be happy without those memories.

What they don’t know is that my children are making fun, happy memories all their own!

Think of it this way…
A child in another country is not going to have the same happy childhood memories a child in the U.S. has, yet, many children across the world each and every day are making wonderful childhood memories to cherish the rest of their lives.  They are having their own brand of fun.  Their memories do not have to look like yours to be good ones.

And just because my children don’t go to a government school does not mean they are never around people.  I’m not even sure how I would manage to keep my children away from people.  In fact, I would almost venture to guess my children are around a more varied group of people than most public-schooled children.  They have met and interacted with all ages of people from all walks of life.

As for those people who are genuinely concerned your child is being warped from a lack of socialization, it might be a good time to educate them on the true nature of homeschooling.  It is completely possible they simply do not understand that homeschooling does not mean your child never leaves the house.

Should You Find Socialization Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Child?

Again, if you are wanting to socialize your child because you are fearful or feeling guilty, stop right now and do something else for a while.  You will not make a good decision about what kinds of opportunities are good for your child and your family if you are working from those emotions.

Ok, good…let’s move on…

I am not against purposely being social.  Children need to learn manners and how to behave in particular situations.  They also need their parents to guide them through how socialization works.  The epidemic of rude, ill-behaved children in public has a lot to do with parents who aren’t guiding their children through proper socialization.  So, by all means, please socialize your children to the point where they know how to behave in public situations!

When assessing extracurricular activities for socialization merits, consider using our family’s list of guidelines for participating in outside activities.  This will help to keep you from running around like a homeschool mom with her head cut off.  Socialization is not about doing everything and being everywhere, but about choosing those things that truly have lasting merit and will guide your child into adulthood.

True Education is Not About Making a Living

There is so much more to education than "employment preparation".  Give your children a LIFE!  Homeschooling is a perfect opportunity for this - do not squander it! | RaisingArrows.netYears ago, I picked up a used copy of Clay & Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child.  I was fascinated by the content and implemented as much as I could in our little homeschool.  Since that day, I have recommended this book to homeschoolers everywhere, and even given it special mention on my Homeschooling page here on Raising Arrows.

About a year ago, I picked up a copy of the new edition.  I could readily see there was more content and I knew I needed a refresher course.  Finally, during vacation this year, I was able to begin reading.

Boy, did I need the words contained within those pages!  Ty and I spent hours discussing what I had read.  The kids and I spent hours discussing what I had read!  There was so much to chew on.  I am continuing to chew even today!

One discussion that came from my reading was concerning a sidebar comment on page 98 entitled The Education Nation:

“Secular public education in America has evolved into what is essentially an elaborate employment preparation and social indoctrination mechanism.”

And I realized even I was getting caught up in the mindset of “employment preparation.”

You see, I have a 16 year old who is very close to finishing up all of his required high school credits in our state.  The natural conveyer belt of our society says the next step is college, but Blake isn’t sure he wants to go to college.  He’s a very intelligent, very driven young man and although I wanted to respect his decision, I felt myself lurching inside.

Blake

Would he be able to get a good job without a college education?

Isn’t every smart child supposed to go to college?

How would people react to him not going to college?

(notice how that last one is all about MY pride?)

Government education has truly become a system of institutionalized thinking.  There aren’t many “outside-the-box-ers” these days.  The goal does seem to be to get a child through high school so they can get through college, so they can get a better job than their parents, but if you look around you will see a lot of college graduates struggling to do just that.  And often, their answer is to go BACK to college for another round.  Piles of information, good test taking skills, and very little to show for it in the way of real world experience.  In the words of Kevin Swanson,

“It’s like taking 12 years of bike and never getting on one.”

Common Core is supposed to help change some of this, but all I see there is more of the same…fill heads with information they won’t retain and teach a test so hopefully they’ll get a good enough grade to get into college and…then what?

As I continued to read in the Clarkson’s book, I found myself deeply convicted to stop secretly wanting my son to be like everyone else (I say secretly because I would NEVER have admitted that I even remotely wanted any of my children to be INSIDE the box) and use these young adult years to give my son even more opportunities to become who God has created him to be because “true education is not about making a living but about making a life.” (<— this is a topic explored even more within the pages of Educating the Wholehearted Child.)

How we educate is important.  It runs much deeper than filling heads with information.  It runs much deeper than college prep or employment skills.  It starts when you child is very young and you allow them to be children full of wonder and curiosity for God’s great grandeur.  It continues as you cultivate a home environment that is full of love and respect for the individual image-of-God child, as well as plenty of free space and time to explore personal interests and and God-gifted leanings.  And as your child nears the end of childhood and adulthood is in sight, it becomes a time in which you guide your child toward using those interests and leanings where making a living becomes a reality because they’ve made a life.

Might I gently suggest you look into not only Educating the Wholehearted Child, but also a website I have mentioned before that goes hand-in-hand with what I am saying here:

10KToTalent.com

10K to Talent free ebook and courses to help you give your child the opportunity to not just make a living, but live their dream! | RaisingArrows.net

This website is full of information and guidance to take your child’s leanings and help them build a “real” life from those talents.  Using the principles we have learned from Jonathan Harris, our son has taken his interest in airsoft guns and built a website.  He’s learned to work on airsoft guns, produce and edit quality videos, and write with passion and clarity.  Our daughter is also working on her videography and photography, as she moves toward her own 10,000 hours of talent.

10KtoTalent.com offers courses to guide you and your student into using your homeschool time wisely by building a curriculum around their uniqueness in Christ.  This isn’t cookie-cutter homeschooling, and it will revolutionize how your entire homeschool paradigm!

I encourage you to really pray through all of this and catch a vision for how amazing the homeschool experience can be in the middle school and high school years!

Homeschooling Omnibus Sale – Tons of Resources for $25!

2014 Omnibus Homeschooling Sale - 105 Resources + FREEBIES & COUPONS for only $25! | RaisingArrows.net

THIS SALE IS NOW OVER

The 3rd annual Homeschooling Omnibus Sale is this week – AUGUST 18 – AUGUST 24!  You get a ton of resources for only $25, plus, there are a few special things about this year’s sale…

1.  You get the pdf AND the Kindle formats with your purchase.

2.  There are some really great bonus discounts & freebies from companies like:  Jim Hodges Audio Books, Harmony Fine Arts, Notebooking Pages, Scripture Lullabies, and Your Story Hour, to name a few!

3.  You have the option to purchase the entire set of resources on DVD for an additional $8.  (this offer ends September 20, 2014)

2014 Omnibus DVD

I don’t want to clutter up this post with ALL of the resources available in this sale, but I do want to highlight a few I think will be of particular interest to Raising Arrows readers:

*My ebook, Large Family Homeschooling – I’m sure ALL of you already own a copy of this 170 page practical homeschooling tome, but just in case… ;)

Large Family Homeschooling - releases April 1!

*Raising Rock Stars FULL Preschool Curriculum – This is a fun curriculum for your little people, and gives you some much needed one-on-one time with those precious preschoolers in your home.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 11.09.39 PM

*Circle Time – I’ve raved about this book and concept for quite a while, so you’ve probably heard it, but I’ll say it again…this book gives you the practical advice you need to bring ALL your children together corporately during the homeschool day, and get in those subjects you miss, as well as combine subjects you don’t need to be teaching separately.

Circle Time by Kendra Fletcher

*A Seasonal Start in Fall Chalk Pastels from my friend, Tricia Hodges.  The art in this book is beautiful and totally doable for a wide range of ages.  But what I love the most is that it features my favorite time of year – AUTUMN!  (Tricia’s Beach Pastels book is also in this package!)

Pastels by Tricia Hodges

*Essential Chefs – This ebook is absolutely fascinating!  Learn how to use essential oils in your cooking for health and taste!  50 Recipes included!

Essential Chefs - Using Essential Oils in Your Cooking

*Gloria:  A Christmas Hymn Study – This ebook, from my friend Kim, will be a wonderful addition to your holiday season with studies of favorites like O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Away in the Manger, Silent Night, and many more!  I can’t wait to share it with my children this year!

Gloria:  A Christmas Hymn Study

*Notebooking Success – One of the books that gave me the confidence I needed to start notebooking with my children.  (If interested, you can read more about how we use notebooking with a large family.)

Notebooking Success

*The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance – This is from my dear friend, Heidi St. John.  Her wit and wisdom have endeared her to me for years, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same reading this ebook (and your husband will thank you as well!).

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance by Heidi St. John

*PLANNERS GALORE! – This year’s Omnibus includes 2 Blog Planners, 3 Homeschool Planners, 1 Life & Home Organizer, and 1 Meal Planner!

2014 Omnibus Sale August 18 - 24

 IMPORTANT DETAILS:  All resources must be downloaded by September 25th because after that time, they will no longer be available for download.  The deadline for refunds is September 5; however, if you have downloaded any of the materials, you will not be able to receive a refund.  Have more questions?  Visit the FAQ page HERE or contact iHomeschool Network HERE.