We are halfway through our year-round homeschool year and are so excited about all of the curriculum changes we’ve made. They have been the perfect fit for our family and have really helped us find balance in our days.
We started off the year with My Father’s World: Creation to the Greeks. We have used My Father’s World for years and have always loved it very much. We started this particular curriculum last March, after completing a year and a half of Exploring Countries and Cultures. We enjoyed the Biblical feasts and the activities that went along with the curriculum through November of this year.
We didn’t get to finish it all the way through though. Things have shifted a bit here in our home, and we found that it was no longer working for us in the way I had hoped.
For one, our 12 year-old son was struggling to keep focused with the group readings and wanted to spend more time working independently. He wanted more control of his homeschool responsibilities and didn’t want to wait around for his sisters.
I considered continuing Creation to the Greeks with my 9 year-old and 5 year-old daughters but didn’t think that the content moving forward was as age appropriate. So after much prayer and pondering, I finally decided to let it go and go back to the drawing board.
Here’s what we decided on and how it has been working for us.
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6th Grade: ACE PACES
My husband has been raving about ACE PACES since the very beginning. He personally used this curriculum in private school in elementary and had such fond memories of it all.
I was reluctant though. I fell in love with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education early on and wanted more for our homeschool than workbooks and sit-down work. The CM method worked extremely well for us in the early years, but as our son got older, I found that he needed something more structured and concrete.
For him, it has been the perfect fit, and he has really enjoyed every bit of it. We are currently using ACE PACES for Social Studies, Science, Literature & Creative Writing, Word Building, and English. For math, he is continuing with Math-U-See, and for Bible, he reads through his Action Bible or BibleMan Devotionals with my husband in the evenings. He also gets plenty of Bible scripture memorization and character development in ACE PACES.
I also have him join me and the girls for about 30-45 minutes each day for Morning Time. This is when we read through the books from my daughter’s curriculum, along with others I want to do with all three of them. As he has grown, this time has become more fruitful as we have had deeper and more meaningful discussions.
*I also want to note that our son does have special needs, so it was so helpful for him to be able to take the online ACE Diagnostic Test in order to find his proper placement in each of the subjects. I also discussed any questions I had with their customer service department. Selecting the appropriate-level material has allowed him to find success in his work and to advance rather quickly.
ACE PACES also has a reward system built into it all with weekly checklists and sticker charts, and I have found that this has really motivated him to work hard and take pride in his work. He now has a bulletin board full of his A+ tests and completed checklists. I am so excited about this decision to change things up and am so happy to see him enjoying school once again.
My 9 year-old daughter LOVES books. She loves reading and writing and creating. For her, the Charlotte Mason approach to education is absolutely perfect, and when I came across Heart of Dakota again, I knew I had to call and find out more.
I spoke with Julie, and she was so very helpful. Their customer service has been amazing! I shared with her my daughter’s strengths, and she suggested bumping her up to what would normally be the 4th grade guide. She advised me to take it at half-speed for the remainder of the year in order to get used to the curriculum and pick up with it as she went into 4th grade next year.
We have been doing this so far, and it has been so very good! What I like about Heart of Dakota --especially in this season--is that it is not set up for the group. It is set up for the individual. My daughter’s curriculum challenges her but also sets her up for success.
It also moves the children to independence as they advance through the curriculum, year after year. For example, some subjects are teacher-led, while others are semi-independent and independent. As she advances through the different guides, more and more of the subjects will be independent. For now, there is a good balance of all three.
HOD: Preparing Hearts for His Glory rotates through the following subjects: History Readings, Storytime, Research Skills, Vocabulary, Geography, Timeline, Art Projects, Independent History Study, Handwriting/Copywork, Dictation, Poetry, Music, Creating Writing Activities, Scripture Memory, and Bible throughout it all. It also suggests Rod and Staff for English and Drawn Into the Heart of Reading for reading, which we are currently using, but this is optional for the user.
For math, Heart of Dakota recommends and includes lessons for Singapore, but we are continuing with Math-U-See since it has been working so well for her. So far, we have absolutely loved everything about Heart of Dakota and are looking forward to using it next year as well.
Kindergarten: My Father’s World God's Creation from A to Z
For our youngest, we are using My Father’s World: God’s Creation from A to Z for Bible, science, literature, art, and music. The curriculum also includes math, reading, and language arts, but we have opted to use other resources for these subjects.
e are also continuing the ABC series from Rod and Staff. We started these last year, and we’re just working through a couple of pages every other day. They provide practice in cutting, pasting, sorting, numbers, letters, shapes, habitats, etc, and my daughter still enjoys them very much.
For reading and handwriting, we are using Nurturing Connections in Reading, which is a curriculum I am writing. It is a systematic phonics curriculum that connects visual, auditory, and kinesthetic activities to help children learn their letters, letter sounds or phonograms, and beginning reading practices. It also provides handwriting practice and beginning spelling, so it covers everything she needs.
Kindergarten with Mom takes us about one hour a day and begins with a read aloud and song. We then do a Bible reading and a science or art activity from My Father’s World, along with a couple of pages from her ABC series, math, and reading.
After the hour is up, she works on a hands-on activity for another 15-20 minutes, such as blocks, letter puzzles, or one of these math puzzles or games or sensory bins. She then does about 15 minutes of Church Mouse or ABC Mouse.
Our Homeschool Schedule
Our entire homeschool schedule looks something like this right now:
8:00 Morning routines/breakfast
9:00 Morning Time/outdoor break
10:150 Kindergarten with Mom/older kids working independently
11:30 3rd Grade with Mom/ other kids work independently
12:30 Lunch Hour
1:30 6th Grade with Mom/ other kids finish school and/or play
Although no two days look alike, this routine helps provide rhythm in our days, and it helps keep us on track. You can find more information on scheduling here.
I am finding that homeschooling can change so very much from one year to the next, and even the best of curricula may not always work in every season.
But that's okay. The beauty of it all is that we can make the changes we need to make it all work for our families.
What’s currently working for your family? Please share in the comments below!
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