My mom asked Markus today if he misses getting into his school books, and he replied with a simple and sure, “No.”

We have schooled through the summer before, and at that time it worked well for us. In this season of life, a good break from school books is in order and we are definitely enjoying it! My kids aren’t the only ones who are relishing a break from school: lazy days of unashamedly late breakfasts, bike rides, dirty feet, berry picking, and popsicles have been enjoyed by all of us.

With that said, I do feel like I need to start thinking about what we’re going to do when fall comes and we have to get back to business. The options are endless when it comes to school curricula. It can be so overwhelming to find the right choices for your family, and I have learned through experience that at some point you just have to pick something and go with it: there is usually not a right or wrong answer. No program or method is perfect, you’ve just got to start trying stuff and see what works. Easier said than done when you’re footing the bill for experimental education!

As I look ahead to what I’ll try this fall, I thought I would take inventory of what we already use that’s working well, and take some time to think about what I still need. If you find this helpful, you’re welcome; if you don’t find this helpful, that’s okay, I wrote it more for myself anyway!

Math: From the beginning of our homeschooling adventure we have used Math-U-See. I really appreciate the hands-on approach, and the focus on mastery. It can get a little tedious at times when they are drilling facts, but I know my kids are gaining a solid foundation of how math works, and the sequential building of concepts has been very effective so far. The manipulative blocks help them to see how and why things work the way they do. Love it, sticking with it!

We’ve also been using Khan Academy recently. The kids love the challenges and earning points for new avatars. I can’t see how that’s motivating, but whatever works!

Reading: I started teaching my kids to read with this book. I had heard good things about it, and maybe it is effective, but I also found it incredibly boring. I was hesitant to let a computer program teach them to read, but we gave Reading Eggs a try and everyone was hooked. Markus and Wyatt both learned to read by playing Reading Eggs, and Bailey is well on her way. The tedious lessons of the book we were using have been replaced with games – they think they’re just playing, but they’re learning so much in the process!

The big boys are both reading chapter books. It is a constant challenge for me to find books that are not empty fluff, that are captivating, meaningful, encourage positive values, build their character, and encourage them to dream. I am amassing a collection of what I think are great books, but it’s tough to sell my guys on novels when there are graphic novels to be read: which I’m not against, but there’s much to be found outside the pages of Captain Underpants and Jedi Academy. I did start reading The Chronicles of Narnia to them at bedtime, and they were so intrigued that Markus has been reading ahead without me, so that’s a step in the right direction!

Reading is the main thing I want to do better next year. I know there are countless benefits to reading aloud, yet it is something I have such a hard time making time for. I’m going to find a way to read to all of them more often.

Writing: My big guys are getting to the point that they should be developing better writing skills. Their minds are brimming with stories, but they are not very good at getting those down on paper in a way that flows and makes sense. I really want to work on developing stories and characters. We also need to work on spelling and punctuation, and if I follow through with my goal to be reading more, these details should fall into place more quickly.

Science: This is by far my weakest area. Science was never my thing. Experiments make me uneasy because there’s too much to prepare and too much potential mess. We had a science kit subscription come to our house monthly, and we’ve only done a handful of them so we have a pile more waiting for us, if I would get my act together and do them with the kids! They are eager to explore and discover, it’s me that’s the weak link in the chain in this department and I really need to be more willing to try things with them.

History/Social Studies: We’ve done Canadian geography studies, which could use a refresher but I think I want to grow their knowledge of world history more this year. I’ve heard good things about The Story of the World, and The Mystery of History. I need to research them both and then just make a decision and use one!

For all these essential subject areas that we have to cover, I also supplement with these Complete Canadian Curriculum workbooks. It’s good to see what we should be aiming to learn in any given year, and these help fill in the gaps sometimes.

Another area we’re working on is typing and coding. Markus is interested in the possibility of making games so he can make money, and his computer programming daddy has told him he needs to get really good at typing before he’s ready to create his own games. seems to be good so far, so I’m going to have him stick with that for now. is a fun way to learn programming – we’ve tried it but need to stick with it.

We’re going to work on learning French using Duolingo. Our kids are dreaming that one day we will take a family trip to Paris if they learn the language well enough. If Markus writes games and sells them, perhaps we will!

Another thing I want to improve on is encouraging their artistic side. This is in the same vein as science: I don’t like mess. I am a tense ball of anxiety in the presence of children wielding scissors or paintbrushes. That’s my problem, not theirs, and I’d like to challenge my control-freak tendency and allow them to do more art and crafts. Another challenge is what to do with the things they create…

Finally, music. We’ll be back to Music for Young Children in the fall. This program is fantastic! I took piano lessons for nine years and I still learn things when I go to class with them! I gained so much from my years taking piano lessons, and I am so glad we are making music education a priority for our kids. It’s about way more than music as they grow in confidence, dedication, patience, and so much more.

There we have it: a long, potentially boring post about what school is going to look like here in a few months! I found this incredibly helpful, since I often feel like I’m not doing much. This shows me what’s working, what needs work, and that we are doing a lot more than I thought we were!

2 Responses to “A Homeschooling Roundup”

  1. I love the roundup, as you probably know, I’m nerdy for all things homeschooling. It feels so hypocritical to send Raeca to school in the fall.
    I have never heard of Reading Eggs before, definitely going to check that out.

  2. kim:

    I forgot to mention that you can get a free trial with Reading Eggs, I believe it’s 2 or 4 weeks. After that it’s a paid subscription that has been well worth the money for our kids!

Add Your Comment