Tag Archives: homeschooling

7th Grade Homeschooling Curriculum

Updated February 22. 2014

Don’t you feel great when you finally decide on the homeschooling curriculum plan and schedule for the next year?  I know that I struggle with each subject and the multitude of choices.  I always ask the question…Is this the best for my student?  Does the curriculum cover the subject fully with clarity?  Do I need to supplement the curriculum?  Will she be bored or excited with the curriculum?  Did I choose one too challenging or too easy?

From February until May, I spend countless hours reviewing each curriculum option, including the scope and sequences for my student.  I compare these to the typical subjects expected at her age or grade.  Then, I pray for guidance, clarity, and yes, the funds to buy the curriculum.

When looking at our curriculum choices, it is important to remember that we homeschool year round with our year starting in June.  We take breaks throughout the year, rather than taking the summer off.  Following this year-round schedule, we find that her math, grammar, and writing tend to remain at a constant growth and achievement.

In addition, I believe in having a primary curriculum combined with a less intensive supplemental curriculum.  Granted this may seem like a lot of material to cover in one year, however I do believe that it is important to learn subjects from two viewpoints or presentations.  For example, we use Saxon Math along with Life of Fred.  While Saxon Math is thorough, my daughter simply enjoys math with Life of Fred and thinks that Fred is the most adorable math whiz! The result is that she enjoys math.  I have listed our main homeschooling curriculum or resources as ‘Primary’, with the supplementary curriculum as ‘Supplementary.’

***Update: We have made some changes to the curriculum for 7th grade.  Deleted changes are in Red and additions are in Green.

Bible:

  • Bible – Primary
  • Heaven for Kids – Primary

Math:

  • Saxon 8/7 – Primary
  • Life of Fred – Supplementary – Deleted – We are continuing with Saxon 8/7 
  • Added: Saxon Algebra 1/2.

Science:

  • BJU Life Science Grade 7 – Primary
  • Apologia General Science – Supplementary – Selected chapters only

Logic/Critical Thinking:

  • The Fallacy Detective – Primary – Deleted.  I think this would be a little better when my daughter is older. 
  • Red Herring Mysteries – These do not always fall in the school day.  We like these as puzzlers when driving somewhere or waiting for an appointment.

Language:

  • BJU Grammar and Writing – the Grammar section only – Primary
  • Holt Elements of Language – the Grammar section only – Supplementary

Writing:

  • Writing with Skill Level 1 – Primary – Deleted
  • Replaced WWS with IEW Medieval History Based Writing Lessons
  • Assorted research papers, writing projects, presentations, and models throughout the year

Spelling/Vocabulary:

  • Spelling Power – Primary
  • Vocabulary Cartoons – Primary
  • Word Power – Duke TIPS

Health:

  • BJU Health – Postponed 

Reading:

  • Sonlight H – Primary
  • Reading lists – Supplementary
  • Added – BJU Literature 7th grade
  • Added – C.S. Lewis Narnia Series

Latin:

  • First Form Latin

History/Social Studies:

  • Sonlight H including Story of the World – Primary
  • Chester Comix – Supplementary
  • Classical Conversations Timeline Cards

Music:

  • Piano Lessons
  • Composers and Orchestra

Art:

  • Thomas Kincaid Drawing Basics
  • Architecture Camp

Sports:

  • Swimming

Classes:

  • Classical Conversations
  • Summer Camps

*The subject bolded are the core subjects covered each day.  The remaining are scheduled throughout the week or year depending on the length of the course or curriculum. 

Ultimately, I do not schedule all the subjects at the same time.  Some of the subjects and curriculum are not a year-round curriculum.  Therefore, we may do one to two lessons a week thus spreading it out over the year.  My daughter, while challenged, is not overwhelmed.  That would be counter-productive.  I carefully schedule things and adjust as necessary.  Although we have an active academic schedule, my daughter has friends, activities, church, family, and sports to keep her busy and happy as well.  Finding the perfect curriculum does not guarantee a successful school year.  Nuturing the love of learning, does!

Have a wonderful day!

Updated February 22, 2014

 

Christian Non-Traditional Packages: Classical and Literature Curriculum

 

Are you having a hard time choosing a Christian curriculum?  It is that time of year, when homeschoolers are actively looking for curriculum.  Many will review the various curriculum packages and choose one for all their subjects.  However, many others will choose a more customized approach, selecting Reading with Publisher A, Math with Publisher B, and Science with Publisher C.  There are curriculum providers to meet those needs that specialize in assembling homeschool curriculum packages.  This can save hours of researching, planning, budgeting, and lesson building.

Homeschoolers are as busy as the next person, raising and educating their children.  In general, homeschoolers dedicate their time to providing an excellent education, well-managed home, and active community life including church.  There are many of us, who turn to package curriculum, in order to help assemble well-planned curriculum for our children.  Early in our homeschool, we started out purchasing a single publisher traditional packaged curriculum for three reasons.

  1. New to Homeschooling – Homeschooling for the first time can be overwhelming especially when this was not your original plan for educating your child.  Starting with a Grade level package is a great way to make sure that all the subjects are covered and to assist the parent in lesson planning.
  2. Gain Confidence – Although I have multiple college degrees and many years of experience, I was nervous about homeschooling.  I was breaking away from the conventional education to educate my own child.  That first year of using a traditional grade level package helped me gain confidence in my own abilities to teach my child.
  3. Private School material – I chose the same curriculum that private schools in our area provided for their students.  In the back of my mind, I thought.  If this did not work out, my child would not behind. It was my Plan B.

Throughout the years, we have moved toward an eclectic program with Classical, Literature, and some Traditional curriculum. Although our homeschool curriculum worked well for us this past year, I always re-evaluate each subject during the springtime.  It provides a closure the end of the year and a bridge to the next year.

This year, I spent time reviewing Veritas Press, Memoria Press, My Father’s World, and Sonlight.  I wanted to highlight a few of the Christian package curriculum providers that do not produce all their own material thus supplementing with additional curriculum producers.

  • Veritas Press
  • Memoria Press
  • My Father’s World
  • Sonlight

Author’s note: When purchasing any of these homeschool packages, please review the material.  The curriculum complexity and student’s depth of understanding does differ between vendors.

Is Traditional Homeschool Curriculum Right for Your Homeschool?

Does a traditional package homeschool curriculum solve your teaching challenges?  When choosing a curriculum there are a few questions that you need to honestly ask yourself:

  1. How comfortable do you feel about this subject, level, or type?
  2. How involved do you want to be?
  3. Is the curriculum within your homeschool budget?

Answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices of packaged curriculum.

3 Popular Traditional Package Homeschooling Curriculums:

Listed below are quick reviews of three popular homeschooling curriculums in textbook format.  While each curriculum has its strengths, there are meaningful differences.

The parent involvement is nearly equal between the 3 curriculum providers, ranging from 15 minutes – 30 minutes per subject.

Abeka

www.abeka.com Abeka is a complete packaged curriculum that is a traditional method.  The package includes student and teacher books for each subject.  The lessons outlined exactly what the parent will teach each day.  The complete grade package includes math, language, spelling, reading, science, history/social studies, and health. This curriculum is a great place to start especially when coming out of the public school system.  Abeka provides the parent a quality curriculum that helps with the transition.

Our Abeka Experience:

We used Abeka from Grades 1-3.  It is a good solid curriculum especially for the new homeschooler. Their phonics program is one of the best.  I attribute my daughter’s strong reading ability to the Abeka Phonics Program. While we changed our math, science, reading, and health after 3rd grade, we continued to use the language workbook until 5th grade.

Cost of Abeka curriculum

Approximately $370 to $600 depending on the grade plus $100 or more for manipulatives and charts, which can be creatively made at home.

 

Bob Jones University Press (BJU)

www.bjupresshomeschool.com Bob Jones University Press is a complete package curriculum that uses the traditional method.  The package includes a student and teacher books for each subject.  It is good for the parent who is comfortable with more traditional teacher textbooks rather than homeschooling teacher textbooks.

Our BJU Experience

We used the Grade 6 Spelling, English, and Science.  We dropped the Spelling after 12 weeks and moved to Spelling Power.  We continued with the English Writing and Grammar and the Science until the end of the year.  It was okay, but the teacher books are written to be used in a school.

Cost of Bob Jones University Press

Example Grade 6  $737.00


Alpha Omega Publications (AOP)

Note: AOP Horizons is not a complete curriculum but worth reviewing.

www.aophomeschooling.com AOP Horizons product line is geared toward the traditional method.  There is a student and teacher book for each subject.  The student workbooks are colorful and a bit more advanced than others with the exception of Abeka.  One challenge with Horizons product line is that many subjects only go up to 3rd grade.  In addition, a parent would need to add a language arts (grammar), science, history, geography, art and music to the 3rd grade curriculum.  Horizons Math does continue to Algebra.

Our AOP Horizons Experience

We really liked the Horizons math for Grade 5.  The student workbook is colorful and fun while learning the basics.  The math is broken into two workbooks, which is actually a really nice feature.  The workbooks do not become cumbersome to the student.

Cost of  AOP Horizons

Example: Grade 3 $310.00 with current prices.  Please note: For Grade 3, one would need to add Language Arts (Grammar), Science, History/Social Studies, Geography, Art and Music to have a comprehensive program.


Is Traditional Method for You?

The Traditional method of homeschooling is great for the parent who wants to stay close to the traditional schoolroom teaching.  It can be a more comfortable entry into homeschooling for the new homeschooler.  However, the traditional workbook method can be frustrating to some students due to the emphasis of worksheets and fill in the blanks.

Some parents stay with the traditional method throughout their entire homeschooling experience.  However, many homeschooling parents will explore other curriculum, as they feel comfortable with their abilities to homeschool.  If you are new to homeschooling, visit a curriculum fair to see if Traditional method is for you and your student.

Note: All the curriculum providers listed below have online schools or Distance Learning.  Those programs will be mentioned in the article regarding Online Schools.

Have a wonderful day!

Homeschooling : What Are You Doing Next Year?

 

I do not like this time of year. I do not like it here or there.  I do not like it anywhere! There I said it! 

It is the time of year, when many homeschoolers are trying to decide what they are going to do in the next school year.  They are deciding a curriculum, programs, classes, or coops.  In the beginning of homeschooling, there was little choice.  Today, there are so many programs, classes, curriculum, and coops.  The choices are overwhelming.

Homeschooling one child does present an additional challenge.  As a parent, I know that my student needs to have social interaction, but which one.  After exploring many different opportunities and curriculum, I can say without a doubt, that no curriculum or program is perfect.  The challenge is finding one that meets your and your student’s needs.

I will explore the basic types of opportunities found in homeschooling:

  • Homeschooling Curriculum – Packaged Complete and Individual
  • Online classes
  • Online schools
  • Coops
  • Schools
  • Umbrella Groups
  • Church
  • Family and Friends
  • Home based solutions

There are many choices.  Here is the real deal.  You do not have to make up your mind right away.  Do not feel pressured to find a solution in January or February for next September.

There is pressure to sign up for classes because these organizations want to have a good idea of who is attending.  This helps them hire or obtain teachers and helpers. It is a legitimate concern.  It is one of those chicken and egg quandaries.

A homeschooling parent truly wants the best for their student.  A homeschooling one parent many times feels pressured from inside to find the perfect program with the right amount of socialization balanced with the academic excellence.

Come explore a new series of Homeschooling Choices in future articles.

Have a wonderful day!

Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7

“Do we have to do math, today!” sighed my daughter.

My daughter actually really likes math.  She wants to grow up to be an architect, engineer, or scientist however not the biology, dissection kind.  We used Saxon Math for the past few years, 5/4, 6/5, and then 7/6.  However, I decided to shake things up a bit this year.

Instead of doing one math curriculum, we actually did two.  Yes, we did two math curriculum in one year!  The two math curriculum we chose for this year were Saxon Math Homechool 7/6 and Teaching Textbooks 7.  Here is my assessment of the two math homeschool curriculums: Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7:

Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 by Saxon Publishers

Saxon Math is the gold standard.  It is the math program, which so many homeschoolers use. They are confident that Saxon will do a good job at covering math.

While I agree that Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6  is thorough in math coverage, there is a lot to be desire for making math interesting for the student.  The pages are plain text with few graphics. However, Saxon Math is a thorough program and prepares the student in mathematics for upper level mathematics.

Pros

  1. Complete system covers the expected material for testing and standards.
  2. There is a written lesson for the student to read before attempting problems.
  3. There is a substantial amount of practice problems.
  4. The lessons are spiral in nature; therefore, they increase the knowledge of each math concept.

Cons

  1. The lesson material does not explain the concept in easy to understand language.
  2. There are few graphics, which would hinder a visual learner.
  3. There are little supplemental teaching materials for the parent.  There are CDs available for the Saxon Math 7/6.  We used them for the Saxon Math 6/5, but my daughter thought they were more confusing than I am. (Side note:  That made me feel good! )
  4. There is no use of color in the text.  This is a missed opportunity for additional understanding.  It is extremely disappointing since Saxon Math is part of Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, a textbook producer.

 

Teaching Textbooks 7 by Greg Sabouri and Shawn Sabouri

Teaching Textbooks is really a different type of math system.  It is great for the visual and independent learner.  The Teaching Textbooks 7 math curriculum is setup around video CD-ROMs with an instructor who speaks to the student as a coach.  There is a textbook with lesson material and problems. My daughter uses the CDs and solves the problems on the computer.

Simple explanations and examples introduce the lesson material.  The explanations tend to use real world examples at the student’s age level.  Although the language and expressions are kid friendly, the coverage of mathematics is thorough.

Pros:

  1. Thorough mathematics coverage in a conversational approach.
  2. Provides a second chance option.
  3. Lesson material is presented in a kid-friendly manner.
  4. Good for a visual learner.
  5. Textbook has lesson material and problems that can be used without the CDs, if desired.
  6. The grade book is available for parents to review each lesson, individual problems, and tests

Cons:

  1. No customizing the problem set for the student to enhance mastery.
  2. This is not really a con but a suggestion: Teaching Textbooks 7 digital media is computer only.  In today’s world, it would be nice to have it accessible by tablet as well.

 

Assessment of Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 versus Teaching Textbooks 7:

My daughter feels she learns more with Saxon Math 7/6, but enjoys math more with Teaching Textbooks 7.  I believe that both math curriculum are good. Find the one that meets your teaching style, available time, and your student’s learning style.

  • Visual learnerTeaching Textbooks 7 would be the preferred math curriculum.
  • Traditional Textbook or Workbook learner (does not need color stimulation to learn) – Saxon Math Homeschool 7/6 curriculum would be the preferred math curriculum.

Practice Tests for Standardized Testing

Good Morning! It is early in the morning and I just finished reviewing my daughter’s practice test for her standardized test in March. We like to use practice tests, to help us make minor tweaks in academic subjects that she may need more emphasis. One piece of advice is to review the practice tests, question by question.

photo-020After reviewing my daughter’s practice test, my assessment is that she did pretty well. Certainly, she has areas for improvement. However, I noticed something. Her strongest academic subject was her weakest overall score on the test. I was confused, so I went through the test, evaluating each question.

When I looked at the test, I felt my daughter did extremely well considering the quality of questions in the practice test book. For example, one problem in the practice test showed a picture of a gray shaded arena with seating sections. The student is to pick out which seating section are the best seats. My daughter got the question right. However, I do not know how she could easily read the numbers to figure out the seating sections. I think she made a good educated guess.

I feel that using practice tests are a sensible idea, especially if your child gets nervous for standardized testing. However, I would review the right and wrong questions to look for trends. In the end, my daughter needs additional review on poetry, punctuation, and government/civics. The information was helpful, but only because I reviewed the entire practice test. If I had taken the scores at face value, she would need to review; reading comprehension, word analysis, language mechanics, and government/civics.

I recommend that parents use practice tests to prepare their children for standardized testing, however be sure to review the details not just the overall scores.

Have a wonderful day!

Reprint with permission Copyright © 2013 123ParentHelper.com

Curriculum Review : Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon

Humbly I admit it, this is the third spelling program that we have tried this year.  We started with BJU Press Spelling 6, finally decided on the Spelling Power program by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon.  Spelling Power is expensive around $60 for the basic program and the student notebook. When it arrived, I excitedly opened the package.  I started with the Quick Start DVD right away.

The DVD got us started quickly, for which I am thankful.  We took the spelling placement exams and she placed higher than I thought.  Then after following all the placement exams, we found her niche in the ‘G’ section and started with the first spelling test.  After the first week, she was cruising along.  The true test of a successful program is an improvement with her spelling while completing writing assignments.  Her spelling started to improve. By focusing on words that she misspelled, she made a better effort to learn those troublesome words.

Spelling Power is different from the other systems that we have tried.  The others give you a list and a rule to learn.  BJU did have activities to perform with the lessons. These activities while fun, proved to keep her busy, but did not help her learn.  Spelling Power is different.  The student is given a list of words to spell.  The list is graded and the student is asked to continue on only those words that give them problems.  The student will write the word, spell the word and say it, spelling the word and look at it and write the word.  Finally, to insure understanding, the student is asked to write a sentence with the word using it properly in the sentence.  There are activity cards to use to take the system further, however I found that the basics were good.

In summary, I like Spelling Power for the following reasons:

  1.  Complete system for all grades.  As a homeschooler who has a budget, this is nice.
  2. A student is encouraged to approach spelling through written, verbal, and visual means.
  3. Most of all, it seems to be working.

In fairness, I do want to say there are a couple things I do not like.

  1. I do not like spending around $60 at one time for spelling, even if it is for all grades.
  2. I do not like add-ons, which increases the price. Ordering Spelling Power will give you the Spelling Power book, Teacher’s Resource CD and Quick Start DVD.  However, they have additional products you can buy such as the Activity Cards and the Student notebooks. I recommend the student notebooks.
  3. It is a complicated system that takes time for the parent to apply, even with the Quick Start DVD.  You do not just jump into this one.

All that said, what a difference a spelling system could make. My daughter is getting better at spelling.  I am not suggesting that this system is good for your child, but it is working for mine.  I will write a follow up at the end of the year to let you know if she is going to survive with spelling skills or we will continue our spelling quest.

Happy Spelling!

 

How to Homeschooling Books: 7 of My Favorites Books

Homeschooling is a wonderful experience, but it is a lot of work.  Some people who decide to homeschool enjoy reading books to get ideas, learn from others, and assess the new task.  There are many resources for 1st time homeschoolers as well as many of us who have been homeschooling for a while.

I learned a lesson many years ago when my husband asked me to marry him. We sat down and started planning everything right away.  There was a problem. We really did not know where to start!  We had good ideas, but did not have a solid plan.  After trying for about a day, we both looked at each other.  Frustrated, we decided that other people have gotten married before, so there must be a book.  We went to a local bookstore and bought a couple books on wedding planning.  We ended up using these books throughout the entire wedding planning process.

The same lesson applies to homeschooling.  Many people have gone before you.  There are plenty of written resources available written by former and current homeschooling parents.  While I have enjoyed many homeschooling books, there are some that standout as books that either I used heavily or I simply enjoyed. Some of these books are:

  1. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy – This is a good all round comprehensive resource book that addresses the different types of learners as well as the homeschool educator.  I think every new homeschool parent should read this book before buying curriculum.  Personally, I did not follow all of her advice on curriculum, but I was able to make a more educated choice.  I appreciated her in-depth coverage of the curriculum reviews.  Also, check out her website.
  2. A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackelford and Susan White – The book is enjoyable with a lot of helpful advice.  More geared toward families with many children rather than a family with one.
  3. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – I really liked this book.  It is important that while we are planning the homeschooling year, to remember the homeschooling child. I have to admit that there were some moments that I felt that Tedd Tripp was talking about me!  I learned about myself and my daughter while reading this book.
  4. The Well-Trained Mind A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise – Classical Education is a type of homeschooling involving three stages of learning.  This book is full of ideas regarding classical education.  If you are thinking about classical education, this book is necessary have or must read.
  5. The Core by Leigh Bortins – Mrs. Bortins is the founder of Classical Conversations, a nationwide organization offering classical approach curriculum for elementary, middle school, and high school students.  I enjoyed the book very much and received many great ideas.
  6. Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling by Mary Pride – This book is comprehensive.  I found it great as a resource, but it can be overwhelming especially when you are new to homeschooling.
  7. So, You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, 2nd Edition: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It by Lisa Whelchel – I really liked this book.  By the time I got around to reading this book, I was so overwhelmed with information.  Ms. Whelchel shows that homeschooling is about educating your child.  Each child and family is different.  The book is an easy read and enjoyable.

Each book has its Pros and Cons. Collectively; these books provide well-rounded information about homeschooling. Many of these books are available at public libraries, garage sales, eBay, homeschoolers, and at book distributors.  In general, I liked the books that actually gave me information that I could use in my homeschooling planning.  There are plenty of books, which address the differences between homeschooling and traditional public school.  I was not interested in those books, because I already made my decision.  I was past comparing homeschooling to public school or private school.  What I needed were books that addressed concrete concepts and ideas.  I hope this list will help you in your search for comprehensive resource materials.

So grab a book and a cup of coffee or tea and read!  Have a wonderful day!

Laura

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The Secret is Out! Homeschoolers Take Field Trips!

Civil War bridge in Antietam National Battlefield
Civil war bridge in Antietam National Battlefield

The secret that most homeschooling families know, is that homeschoolers do not just stay at home.  What? How can that be homeschooling?  The truth is that in homeschooling, we can go and see much easier than a school.  Where a school has to arrange for a field trip with buses, permission slips, and tour times, we can just hop into the car and go.  For the most part homeschooling one child makes taking a field trip and the ability to travel a little easier.

We live near many of the battlefields of the Civil War.  One day when my daughter was studying the Civil War, I looked at her and said, “Come on, let’s go!”  Instead of reading about the battles of the Civil War, we actually walked around the battlefields.

We are truly blessed to live in an area that has so many historical parks and museums.  However, you may not be able to pick up and go to the historical park that you are studying.  There are other places to go and learn.  For instance, in the fall, we like to go to a pumpkin patch.  The pumpkin patch that we go to has a learning center.  At the learning center, the children and adults listen to the life cycle of a pumpkin or apple depending on the event.  My daughter gets a bit of education on the life cycle of a fruit and we get some yummy healthy pumpkins and apples to take home.

We try to take advantage of the local events and facilities. I use several methods to find out about learning opportunities including:

  • Check the newspaper or local circular.
  • Libraries are great resources of events in your community.
  • National Parks events – Get an America the Beautiful National Park Pass.  The pass is great if you live in an area that you can take advantage of touring National Parks as part of social studies or history.
  • Local vendors and stores can often provide a great resource of events
  • Homeschool Co-op or Homeschool groups – Parents in homeschool co-ops often share information of events and tours for homeschoolers.
  • Museums and science centers often have homeschool days throughout the year.
  • Government open houses or talks – Recently, a government agency had a lecture on insects.  We attempted to go to the lecture, however so did many other people.  In the end, there was not enough room for us and we opted to get the DVD.  However, as we walked back though the government buildings, we enjoyed the wonderful educational displays.
  • Word of mouth – Friends are one of the greatest sources for information regarding to events or showings.
  • Everyday Opportunities – I do not know how many times, I try to make the most of an opportunity.  Sometimes through the normal everyday events, we find great opportunities: getting tires changed, shopping at the grocery store, watching a tortilla-making machine at a Mexican restaurant, the doctor’s office, farmer’s markets, etc. Make the most of just everyday things.  Most people are willing to show you what they do if you ask nicely.  Sometimes, you will find that they will tell you about events such as homeschooling days or open houses that may not be announced to the public, yet.

As you go about your planning, look for opportunities to learn in everyday and some not so everyday places.  Try some of these ideas for your homeschool.

Have a wonderful and adventurous day!

Laura