Welcome! I am using this blog to share our family's homeschooling thoughts and experiences.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2018-2019): Our oldest child, EL, finished her formal education in May 2017. She remains at home due to her special needs, and continues to learn with us when she is able. JJ is in 10th grade this year. We intend to homeschool him through High School, and are using a variety of different curriculum choices to complete this goal.

Please feel free to follow along....

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A [Hopefully Final] Change in Math Curriculum

Over the years, we have used several different Math programs for JJ. He is one of the "lucky" kiddos who has always struggled with Math, so we have had some difficulty finding which curriculum works best for him. Some of our choices have included:

All of these curriculum have pros and cons. They all worked well for awhile and helped JJ to learn, and to advance in his math skills. However, none of them really helped explain the math process to him in a way that he could understand. I have noticed I have been able to do most of his math problems on my own and get the correct answers, however, explaining HOW to do them in a way that HE will understand has been more difficult.

At the beginning of last school year (2016), we were using ACE paces for his Math. He was doing well with it for the most part but, eventually, hit a brick wall. So, we started using Math Antics to help explain different concepts, and found it to be very helpful at times. But, Math Antics isn't a full math curriculum. So, I once again, began the search for a different curriculum, one that is more visual like the Math Antics videos. I had heard about Teaching Textbooks from so many people and, I don't know why, but I never really wanted to go that route. I'm guessing the price was a bit of a deterrent. Plus, I just didn't have any experience with it and was used to using a workbook approach. But, I asked around in my homeschool circles to see if anyone was ready to sell the level 7 CD's, and I found a good deal on a used set. (One thing nice about Teaching Textbooks is that, even if you buy the curricula used, you can call the company and they will gladly give you an access code to be able to use it on your own computer.)

So, at the start of second semester last year, shortly after Christmas break, we started using TEACHING TEXTBOOKS. It still hasn't been without some difficulty. However, it has helped greatly to explain HOW to do the math problems. JJ went from making C's (and sometimes lower) with ACE paces, to making A's and B's with Teaching Textbooks. Plus, it is self-grading, which makes it a lot easier on me, too. Success!

So, hopefully, we will be able to continue with Teaching Textbooks throughout the rest of JJ's school years, although I am not opposed to supplementing with other curriculum if needed. I don't anticipate him getting into the higher levels of math before finishing High School (Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, etc.) but that's okay! He isn't interested in a career that will need those higher levels of math. So, we will have him continue to work at his level, and move on at his own pace. That is the beauty of individualized home education.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to School 2017: The Beginning of JJ's Freshman Year

Our first day of school this year was Monday, August 21st. We took a field trip with some friends of ours to Southern IL to see the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Totality only lasted a couple of minutes, but it was an incredible sight to see! The pictures do not even come close to showing what it was really like.

Then, on Tuesday, we started easing back into our book work. Since EL has graduated, we only have JJ to do official school with this year, although EL is still doing some light schoolwork to help keep her mind active.

JJ is now a High School Freshman!

We started our day on Tuesday with Toaster Strudels for breakfast, one of our favorite treats.

Then, I had the kids write "Thank you" notes for the gifts they received for graduation. I also had JJ write a short field trip report from Monday's trip to see the eclipse.

The next two days (Wednesday and Thursday), we added Spelling, Grammar, and Spanish. Then, next week, we will add a couple more subjects.

We are using an eclectic mix of different curriculum for JJ this year, which includes the following:

I will try to update as we progress and let you know how things are going with these options.

Keep us in your prayers, and have a great school year!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Update On Using Notgrass History

Last school year (2016-2017), we used NOTGRASS HISTORY:  UNCLE SAM & YOU for our History/Civics/Government curriculum. JJ was in 8th grade, and EL followed along with us for her final year of school as well. (It is geared towards middle school students, grades 5-8). We all enjoyed the curriculum. It is easy to use, and covers many different areas of interest. Each chapter covered 4 days worth of topic. Then, on the 5th day of the week, there is an optional lesson on a holiday of your choice (included at the back of the textbook), along with a recommended family activity.

On a typical day, I would read the day's text out loud to both of the kids, so we were all learning together at the same time. Then, at the end of each chapter, there were suggestions for activities to do such as Bible study questions, additional reading from The Citizen's Handbook, vocabulary and writing assignments, and a page or two in the corresponding workbooks.

The workbooks are optional, but we found them to be helpful for reviewing the material. There are two workbooks to use or choose from. The Lesson Review is for those who just want to answer review questions (written or oral), and The Student Workbook is for those who prefer fill in the blank types of activities, crossword puzzles, and drawing assignments. We used a little of both, but mostly used the Student Workbook.
A Literature Package is also available, and it includes 8 books that correspond with the time period/topic being studied. We did not read ALL of the books, but chose a few that best suited our needs and interests. I read these aloud also, and our favorites were "Basher Five-Two" and "Lost On A Mountain in Maine."

What is nice about this curriculum is that you can order just what you need/want, or order the entire curriculum package. If you use the entire package and included activities, you will be covering the subjects of Bible, Civics, Vocabulary, Creative Writing, and Literature. You can also buy most of the books used if you find someone who is selling them, and then re-sell them yourself, making it a more economical choice.

We are not continuing with Notgrass this school year (2017-2018), but not because we didn't like it. We have decided to go in a different direction for now, covering IL History and US Geography (We will begin our school year on August 21st!) However, when the time comes for us to jump into World History or US History at the High School level, I will definitely be looking into Notgrass again.

Thumbs up for Notgrass!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Our 2017 Graduates

At the end of May, we finished our 2016-2017 school year, and that means our daughter, EL, completed 4 years of High School and, therefore, "graduated" from SONset Academy. Her special learning needs kept her from being able to complete high school level work so, after consulting with HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), we felt it was best to give EL a Certificate of Completion rather than a Diploma. She will not be attending college, so a diploma is not really necessary for her anyway. But, regardless of what type of certification she has received, we are very proud of her accomplishments.

Our son, JJ, also graduated this year - from 8th grade. So, this past Sunday, we finally had a small graduation celebration for both of them. (It has been a busy Summer, so this was the best time to schedule the party, even though they technically graduated at the end of May.)

David/Dad/Principal - Signing the graduation certificates

We had a casual, simple ceremony in our garage. To start things off, Aunt Jackie played "Pomp and Circumstance" on her flute as the graduates walked out of the house and into the garage where family and friends were waiting.

David gave a short message/word of encouragement to the graduates, as well as to the rest of us in attendance.

JJ received his 8th grade diploma

EL received her Certificate of Completion.

After the ceremony, we had a simple reception:  A decorated cake, Veggies and Dip, Trail Mix, Goldfish Crackers, Cherry Candies, and drinks. The colors were red, white and blue. Decorations came from Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Walmart's clearance section.

Family photo with the graduates.

It was a nice day. 
Now, we begin High School with JJ!

Friday, August 4, 2017

May 2017 Field Trip: Horse Farm & Sheep Farm

Here it is, the end of Summer 2017, and I am just now getting around to posting about the field trip we took in May. I don't really have any excuses. Life has just been busy and blogging here hasn't been a priority. But, I'm hoping to get back into it as we finish up the Summer and get back into a new school year.

On May 23rd, we took a field trip to a farm where they train horses, then also to a 4-H sheep farm. Here are a few pictures, followed by a short report from each of the kids.

A horse in the ring

JJ riding a horse (EL did not want to ride)

JJ Petting a horse

Shearing a sheep

WHAT I LEARNED:   It takes a horse a long time to have a baby. For a human, it takes 9 months. A horse takes 11 months. It takes a sheep 5 months. A horse gets freaked out when he goes to a new horse farm. It is just like when a kid transfers to another school - they don't like it. I learned that sheep want to die every day but, if you care for them, they will live longer. A sheep gets shaved once every year.

WHAT I LIKED:  I loved riding on the horse!!! And, I liked watching the sheep get shaved. I liked playing with the dog and cat. I liked mostly the whole day.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: I did not like the dust. Other than that, nothing really. Like I said, I liked the whole day.

WHAT I LEARNED:  A horse has white legs. The horse is big and brown. The mule runs fast with 4 long legs. The mule has long ears. The mule has a tail like a horse. It's a mule tail. I saw a black horse and some white horses. And, I also saw a black and white horse. I pet the horse. Horses make sounds. I saw a girl riding a mule. I saw a saddle on the mule's back. I saw a black and brown cat. The cat meowed. I just watched the kids ride on the mule. I saw a gray and white cat. I pet the cat. The cat says hi.

WHAT I LIKED:  I like the black sheep, just like the song. I saw a little white lamb named Sunny. Don't forget the ram with horns. I saw 2 dogs, a gray and brown dog, and a black and white dog. The dog sniffed my hand. I pet the dog.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:  I didn't like the loud noise of the man shearing the sheep. The sheep makes a loud baaaing sound.