Homeschooling the Middle School Years

Homeschooling the middle school years have been a mixture of fun times and challenging moments. But that sums up any homeschooling year.

To be more specific, the challenging moments come because of the age of the child you are teaching. You are working hard to encourage them to be independent learners and, more importantly, to learn discipline and to stay on track with doing their school.

The fun times come when you see them enjoy learning new things, and the moment you don’t have to hold their hand through every assignment.

Homeschooling the Middle School Years

I’ll freely admit – I was nervous to approach the middle school and high school years; and I’m still a little nervous to homeschool high school, simply because of all the record keeping and transcripts. Outside of that, I think it will be great.

My oldest is 14 and in 8th grade this year. He has an October birthday and I decided to not start him early in Kindergarten and I still don’t regret that decision. He will be 18 when he graduates, and I think the extra time as an 18 year old to figure out what he wants to do after high school will be a blessing.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from homeschooling middle school years is that it’s a great time to work on your weaknesses without the demands of a more rigid high school schedule. 

If you need to get caught up on certain subjects, middle school is the time to do that. It’s also the time to not get really behind on subjects. I’ll explain in more detail….

My son is not a math wiz. He loves history and science and is right on track with that, but the last few years have been a struggle in math. He has been a year behind in math but I knew eventually we would catch up. This year the math tutor that works with him really encouraged me to have him skip the 7th grade year in Teaching Textbooks and go right into Pre-Alegra, which is a normal level for an 8th grader. So far it’s working out well, and I’m so hopeful that we will stay on track in math during high school now.

The middle school years are also a nice time to let your children spend extra time on their interests. During the more rigorous demands of high school they might not have quite as much time to focus on one subject that they really enjoy, but the middle school years are perfect for that.

Our oldest son and daughter playing at their orchestra concert.

My son loves to read and he loves history. Because of that I didn’t go with a more traditional history curriculum (something like Notgrass, which we have used and enjoyed), but instead put him in Heart of Dakota so he could have plenty of living books to read.

What are the hardest challenges of middle school?

For us it’s been all about attitudes more than academics. We stress so much over teaching a child to read and write, and we don’t want our children to be behind. Generally a child ends up figuring it out (of course their are exceptions where a child has learning challenges and needs help), but character issues can be more and more time consuming the older a child gets.

Letting my son drive the RTV at Nana’s house in the country. 

Lay the foundation when they are young and expect good character out of them. Use training tools like Character Badges to visually show them what good character is and why they are being corrected for poor behavior. But go beyond that and read to them from Bible story books (our favorite is The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos) and point out examples found in almost every story of the strengths and weaknesses of that person’s character. I’m still including our 14 and 12 year old in our morning Bible story time, and it’s a blessing to teach all my children together, from 14 down to 2.

Learning to figure out your child’s personality and what character weaknesses they have are crucial, and the younger you figure it out the better. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing through the middle school years, and other other times a child starts wanting their own opinions to be heard, and their sour attitudes show just as strong as that screaming 2 year old throwing a fit.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your child and push them in their weaknesses. They can bluster and fuss and say “I can’t do it” 20 times a day, but in the end it’s your job to push them through and encourage them to do hard things.

If you are not big on doing tests in elementary grade, sometime in the middle school years might be a good time to get them used to taking tests. You could do just one subject, but it’s a good training for the high school years and their grades don’t go on their transcript.

Overall try not to stress the middle school years. Enjoy them as much as you can and spend these years forming good bonds with your children that will prepare you for the high school years!

 

 

 

 

 

The Good and The Beautiful Kindergarten Curriculum

I don’t often find myself so in love with a curriculum that I call it perfect, but that’s the way I feel with The Good and The Beautiful Kindergarten Curriculum!

The Level K Primer course book is a brand new book that was recently released to help close the jump between the Preschool and Level K book. It is a much needed book in the Language Arts series and I’m so thankful that Jenny Phillips took the time to write it!

I have a child in the Pre-K book, and then a child quickly going through the level K book. My daughter that is in the Pre-K book would have a hard time jumping right into level K because it puts a student right into long and short vowels, and learning how to read them.

The Good and The Beautiful Level K Primer Book

The Level K Primer book gently brings a student along the journey of learning mastering letters, learning long and short vowels, and reading simple words. It does this in a gentle pace for the student, keeping them engaged through activities, verbal communication with the teacher, tracing letters, cute pictures, and more.

This book also teaches the difference between a lowercase b and d, which has always been a problem for my children. I love how clear they make it, giving the student easy ways to remember the difference between the two letters.

The good and the beautiful level k primer book

When should your child start this book? 

I appreciate how clear the guidelines are for starting this book.

The following criteria should be met:

He or She can sing most of the alphabet with or without the help of a parent.

He or She knows the majority of letters and their sounds but has not mastered all of them.

He or She can count to ten.

He or She knows basic shapes and colors.

It’s also made clear in this book that a child does not need to master this book. It’s an introduction to reading and principles such as long vowels.

Each lesson takes around 15-20 minutes to do with your child, and it tells you as the teacher exactly what to say! I am so thankful when curriculums write it out this way. With teaching multiple children and juggling toddlers, I don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to say. It helps relieve my mommy brain to just read it. 🙂

Included with this Level K Primer book is a little reading book that is so adorable and sweet!

Full of beautiful pictures that children will enjoy, the book contains simple words for a beginner reader. This gives a child such confidence to feel like they are reading from their own little book!

My First Reading Book

My First Reading Book

My First Reading Book

Overall I can’t recommend the Good and the Beautiful Kindergarten curriculum highly enough! The price is also excellent at just $33.97 for the set. You can purchase the PDF alone but I strongly suggest just getting the physical copy. By the time you print all these color pages out (and you really need it to be color!) you can easily end up spending more than if you had just purchased the printed books.

Find It Here

I’d love to know if you are using anything from The Good and The Beautiful in your school! 

*This post is sponsored by The Good and The Beautiful. All thoughts are strictly my own.

 

 

 

 

 

Gift Guide For The Homeschooling Mom

Inevitably the question always arises. “What do you want for____(Birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day…) and you struggle to find a good answer. So I decided to put together a gift guide for the homeschooling mom to give you ideas! You could even just email your husband this blog post to give him ideas and he could surprise you this Christmas!

Some women want all practical gifts, and others love a little splurge when it comes time for gifts. I’m a combination of both, so you will see that on this gift guide!

Gift Guide For the Homeschooling Mom! You might be difficult to buy for, but never fear, send this blog post to your husband for ideas!

 

  1. Comb Binding Machine– Let’s just jump in with a super practical gift! My friend recently gave me something she had printed off and bound, and I was surprised that I had never even thought of getting one of these. Now it’s high on my wish list! I can see how practical it would be for printing off workbooks for the children, and ebooks for myself.

2. Scotch Laminator – I received this two years ago and love it! I’ve laminated a lot of printables for school, or flashcards that come in a set that I want to keep nice. Every homeschooling mom should get one!

3. Pencil Sharpener – You know how frustrating it is to not find pencils, or not find any that are sharpened! I’ve been through several pencil sharpeners during our school years, and so far the one that has lasted the longest is the manual Carl-Angel Pencil Sharpener. My mother in law gave it to me a few years ago and it’s still going strong!

4. Instant Pot – these are all the rage and for good reasons! I love cooking frozen chicken breast from Zaycon in this, and baked potatoes are so moist and yummy. Brown rice also turns out nicely in here. I need to try more recipes, but for what I currently use it for I’m really happy. I have a 6 quart and it works ok, but would love to get an 8 quart one day. These are even better than crock pots for homeschooling moms in my opinion. How many times do you forget to set out the meat and it’s still frozen at 5:00, or you just don’t know what you are going to make? But if you want to use a crock pot, this will function as one!

5. Teaching From Rest Book – You have to stay encouraged as a homeschooling mom. The days can be so long and difficult! This book will bring you immense encouragement and it’s an easy, shorter read. A must have book!

6. Essential Oil Diffuser – I pulled my diffuser out from the box when we moved and it didn’t work anymore. I just purchased a new one from Amazon so we will see what I think. I’m thinking about joining Young Living again under one of my best friend’s to get their starter kit, as I’m out of some of my favorite oils (Thieves, Peppermint, Lavender, Peace and Calming) and that’s another great gift idea! Essential oils could help calm you down on a frustrating homeschooling day!

7. The Homeschool Planner – Do you need a new planner, or want to try something different for 2018? Grab this PDF homeschool planner that we created and then have it printed out and bound as a gift!

8. Lilla Rose Hair Products – It’s hard to get up in the morning and look put together. Some days homeschooling moms are tempted to stay in their pajamas, but I always encourage moms who read this blog to try and get up and get dressed! It can really help you be more productive. A Lilla Rose Flexi Clip is a super easy way to fix your hair in a minute or two and make it look nice! If you need Sizing or Styling ideas, watch this video.

9. Homeschool Mama Shirt – Why not go ahead and share at the grocery store that you are a homeschooling mom with this t-shirt? You know they are wondering when you come in at 10:00 AM with your five school age children with you! HA! I think this is a sweet shirt!

10. Diffuser Necklace – this is another gift high on my list this year. I love how this one looks and I’ve been really wanting to try it! Put a few drops of essential oil in the necklace and you can smell it for several hours. This would be great for soothing oils, or essential oils for headaches.

Reversable Tote Bag

11. Reversable Faux Leather Tote bag – Homeschooling mom’s need good bags. Whether you want a larger purse to hold the diaper and wipes for that toddler, or you want to stash a few books and a planner in your purse, I’ve found I prefer carrying a little bit larger purse. This reversible tote bag looks classic and super nice, and it should hold up well! Another item on my wish list (I’ve seen a blogger use this tote for a few years now!).

12. The Life Giving Table – This isn’t a homeschooling book, but I think Sally Clarkson is an amazing author, and mentor from afar. This is her latest book and I have it on my nightstand to read! Bring some life back into your mealtime and home through the inspiration and guidance found in this book.

13. Paper Cutter – Homeschooling moms have a lot of paper projects, and this paper cutter will be a big help! I recently had a friend help me with a project and she used this paper cutter. It made the job so much quicker!

Some other ideas I thought of are an Amazon Prime membership, or a Stitch Fix gift card! Homeschooling moms don’t spend a lot of time pampering themselves or going out shopping for clothes, so this is a fun way to have clothes delivered at home from a stylist.

I’d love to know what is on your wish list this year? I love hearing what others are wanting to get! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting Curriculum

With six children I’ve gone through a lot of different handwriting curriculum, but so far my favorite has been The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting curriculum! We discovered it for this school year and I purchased it almost on a whim. I love change, I love to try new things, and so it’s been working out really well!

So far all of my children have told me they love this new curriculum, and they all do it without grumbling. That’s a win to me!

There are six levels in this curriculum, and kindergarten or first grade starts in level 1.You can purchase these books in a PDF download so you can use them over and over again with your children, or you can purchase the books already printed with a nice cover.

I decided to do the printed books this year, but I kind of regret not purchasing the PDF downloads. These don’t take a lot of ink to print, so if you have a larger family the PDF download is a great option. If you purchase PDF’s and they just sit on your computer though, definitely get the printed version!

You can see a video I made of our children sharing what they like about this curriculum. You will hear Sophia screaming at the end of the video…I almost filmed it over again and just decided it’s real life and you will understand what it’s like to have a 2 year old in the house!

I started our kindergarten child in level 1 and it’s been the perfect fit this year. You learn all the letters, and towards the end of the book you start writing short words and sentences.

Our 2nd grade child is in level 3, which introduces some cursive. They are copying poetry, Bible verses, grammar rules, alphabetizing, and drawing.

I put our 4th and 6th grade children in level 4 together. Our 6th grade child is a boy who has never cared what his handwriting looks like. I wanted him to really get a good foundation in cursive, instead of rushing through it and to have something easier to enjoy this year. The handwriting books all have 100 pages in each one and I knew we could cover two books in one year.

At first glance the handwriting books may look simple and sweet – which they are. But these are actually different than a lot of other handwriting books out there as quite a few of the lessons include pictures to color or draw! There are beautiful pictures of children to color, and boxes below the handwriting lesson to draw assigned pictures.

Because my children all love art (thankfully they take after Sean in art, I can barely draw a stick figure!) they have really enjoyed this part of the handwriting curriculum. I’ve been thankful that it incorporates the art into handwriting. Consider this…if a child learns to slow down and draw a nice picture in handwriting, couldn’t that help him slow down in his writing assignments?

Do I expect perfection in my children in regards to handwriting? No I don’t. Partly because my mom had me work on handwriting from K-12th grade. I have a huge notebook of copywork assignments I did from Jane Austen, Shakespeare, the Bible, Poetry, etc from when I was in high school. I didn’t mind doing it, but I didn’t like feeling like I could never reach the desired goal. You can definitely read my handwriting but it’s not the most perfect, desired handwriting out there. I encourage my children to give their best, and at times I make them erase a page and do it over again. But I pick my battles and I’ve not chosen handwriting to be one of those battles.

If the handwriting curriculum you are using is not a good fit right now, try a new one! Don’t struggle through an entire school year with a handwriting book that your child hates, it’s an easy fix to switch to a different book! If your child is the artsy sort, chances are they will love this curriculum!

I also wanted to let you know that through November 11th, you can get the book list on the Good and the Beautiful website totally free! This has been a great resource, and will help you find wholesome, classic, moral books for your children to read! Go grab it here and print it off to keep your children busy reading!