Looking into the Distance: Curriculum 2012

To all the Simple Homeschool readers stopping by, Welcome!  I hope you enjoy looking through some of my ideas, and would be glad if you left me a comment.  You can follow this blog by clicking on the link at the left.

As I thought about writing this post, I realized how long I have been homeschooling.  It has been 12 years since I taught my oldest to read!  As parents, we are always looking into the distance, trying to decide what will be best in the long run for our kids.  During the time I have been teaching, I have tried lots of different  curriculum, and changed my ideas many times.   One of the formative influences on my early homeschool was a speech at a homeschool convention by Oliver and Rachel DeMille about Thomas Jefferson Education.   However, to those of you just starting out, I want to share a few recommendations about teaching littles even though I don’t have little ones any more.

  • Explode the Code (wonderful phonics workbooks)
  • Pathway readers (sweet stories about a happy family for young readers)
  • Bob books (great beginning readers)

Each of my kids read by age 4 using these methods for just about half an hour every day, and lots and lots of exposure to adults reading aloud.  One of my treasured possessions are our Pathway Readers with the dates each child completed reading it aloud to me.  Once your kids are reading well, you can begin introducing other curriculum, but for our family reading has always been the key.

And now on to today’s subject:  our curriculum for 2012-13.  Our family tried a different approach to schooling last year, enrolling all of the kids in an online charter school at the beginning of the year.  After only 2 weeks, I withdrew the younger two and homeschooled them through the year.  Our family has never been much for multiple choice type tests, since I believe you could pass them without ever studying the material.  Also, we believe more in delving in depth rather than skimming the surface of lots of things (reading “selections” from classical literature makes me irritated.)  So the big kids stayed in (their choice,) and the littles came back out to mommy school.  This year, my tenth grader is coming back out to homeschool again with me as her main teacher.  This is mostly for the same reasons:  we have a great biology curriculum with a microscope and dissections that she doesn’t want to miss for “virtual” dissections, also, she has been disappointed with the on-line geography and history because they don’t allow her to study deeply, they just hurry her onward.

My oldest will be finishing his high school credits through the online charter school.  He doesn’t feel like he could get the “best” education from me or from them, and he’s working on his own studies while he waits to attend college the following year.  He took the ACT this year as sort of a marker to find out if he is doing well in his studies, and scored 28 on his first ever attempt at standardized testing!  I was very happy!

My tenth grader’s curriculum begins with this:

As always, she will continue with her music.  She practices about two hours a day.  We consider music one of the the “Three Rs” in our house.  Along with music, she will be studying history with Susan Wise Bauer’s wonderful book and a study guide made by me.  I wish I could find study guides made for this series, it is a LOT of work to make your own history curriculum.  Luckily, I already worked through this book with her older brother.  We really like Apologia Science, especially for the older grades, and she will be studying Biology this year.  We purchased the DIVE cds to help with Algebra 2, and hopefully this will be enough extra help.  If not, she may enroll in an online Algebra class, along with online French.  For English, we have a scheduled series of classics to read including Dickens, Edith Wharton, and some American classics.  She will also be participating in NaNoWriMo again in November, this time with a 50,000 word goal.

As a teenager, she directs almost all of her studies herself, with “mentoring” from me, her music teachers, and an especially widely read grandfather.  She is able to follow her interests, and many time I follow her interests as well (they’re interesting!)

I took a picture of the  curriculum for my younger ones for next year, and thought “No one is going to believe that we verge on an unschooling family!!”  I never claimed to unschool, but we do take a very eclectic approach to our schooling.  That means we do what works for us.  So the picture here:

These show some of the things we will use — but we will probably only use parts of each item.  For example, I have used Saxon Math with each of my kids, but we condense and hurry through lessons so that some of the repetition is left out.  Lulu will be using Math 87 this year, I think, because she complained all year last year that Math 65 was all review.  We’ll try out the 87 book.  If it doesn’t work, we can drop back to 76.  Max will be starting in Math 54.  There is a leap between Math 3 and Math 54 — instead of worksheets, the child must write down each problem.  I find this especially challenging for my boys, arriving at the book at age 7.  We’ll work around this by homemade worksheets some of the days to relieve some pressure.

We love the Story of the World history books, and we’re actually in the middle of the Early Modern Times book.  We don’t do all the activities by any means, but I do use the activity book for literature ideas, and the kids beg to do the coloring pages.  We like to do lots of fiction and non-fiction reading about history, so it takes us more than a year to study one book.

For science, our basis is again lots of reading.  We have studied both of these  Apologia books before with Lulu and Eden, but Lulu could use a review as a “big kid,” and Max will enjoy these books this time.  We may use all or parts of both of these books this year.  Our science curriculum also revolves around hiking, and the things we see on our hikes drive much of our research.

I purchased the Saxon Grammar books for Eden a few years ago.  She enjoys things that are very methodical and orderly.  I am not sure how Lulu will fare with this curriculum.  It’s more of a maybe for her.

Lulu will continue studying piano and violin this year, and Max is becoming an excellent little pianist.  He enjoys his practice time and makes us very proud of the way he can “pick out” a tune.

Another thing that is an essential part of our school which is not in the picture is tickets to the Symphony, local plays, museums and all sorts of other activities.  These definitely qualify as school in our house.

Whooo…. if you stuck with me this long you are really great!  Do you stick with one curriculum, or do you jump around like I do?  Please leave me a comment, and come back soon!

Leave a comment


  1. I hopped over here from the Simple Homeschool curriculum fair 🙂 I jump around a lot, too, and have even been known to dump a curriculum mid-year and start over. A new homeschool mom asked me today what my budget was for homeschooling, and I told her, “I don’t have one.” (blushing) Anyway, this is the first year that I have actually stuck with the same thing. It just took awhile to find what worked for my girls (and me)!

  2. I’ve been poking around your site since finding your interview about hiking on FIMBY. It’s so great to find other people with similar philosophies! My oldest turns 10 next week, and in the last 3 years of our hybrid homeschool alternative school program, I don’t think I’ve used the same curriculum each year! I lean toward unschooling, but do need some structure for our sanity and to make sure the basics are covered. It does seem to change year to year, as kids mature and moms learn what works and doesn’t. We hike a lot, too, and I agree, it leads to many science discoveries. We do seem to jump around to fill whatever needs are most pressing at the time. Sometimes I worry that my kids are missing things, but I think we are doing just fine so far.


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