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Friend, how are you doing? Are your Christmas decorations packed away? (Mine aren’t!) Have your kids started back to school? Are your resolutions written? It seems like after New Year’s Day, everything starts to get back to “normal,” whether we’re ready or not!
On that note, our daughter started back at homeschool yesterday. She had a really good Christmas break, full of extra activities at church, and with friends and family. I think we’re all ready to get back into our regular routine!
I’d like to take a few minutes to write an update on our homeschooling experience so far. You see, our daughter is in eighth grade and this is our very first year homeschooling. (We started in August 2017.) Over the years, we’d had a great experience at our neighborhood public elementary school, and then two private Christian schools (we moved!) for her middle school. My husband and I have always said that we’ll continue re-evaluating our daughter’s education each year (with her input, of course!) and our family’s policy is to make a change if there seems to be a better fit.
At this point in our lives, all three of us were sold on homeschooling! I didn’t have to convince either my husband or my daughter! I think we were all ready for a change of pace!
In our previous town, I’d gotten some great advice from a friend who had homeschooled her children. I was interested in it back then, but the timing wasn’t right. Then when we moved to our current town about a year and a half ago, I continued to seek out other homeschool moms to learn how they conducted their homeschool. We visited an educational cooperative and learned about local tutorials. Our church youth group has about 1/3 of the kids in public school, 1/3 of the kids in private school, and 1/3 of the kids in homeschool.
It’s great to have options!
After weighing all our options, we determined that at least for this first year, we’d sit out from any formal co-ops or tutorials, and just focus on getting used to the new routine and curriculum and activity schedule. One of the reasons we chose to homeschool is to have more flexibility in our daily routine, as well as our calendar year. We wanted to be sure not to overcommit to a specific schedule or homework program.
I researched a number of great curriculum options and we settled on a FANTASTIC curriculum called, “Easy Peasy.” It is a curriculum that you implement in your own homeschool, but it’s not an accredited school itself. It’s free (but you can donate to help keep it up and running and I highly recommend this, it’s so worth it!) and compiled by a Christian mother who has homeschooled her own children while living overseas and here in the US. Friends, this is quality material! Our daughter has always been in challenging classes in the traditional classroom and I can tell you from experience, Easy Peasy has continued to challenge her, but without busy work or stressful homework.
I’ll pause right here to mention that I have no affiliation with Easy Peasy, but I am beyond grateful for it! There are many wonderful curriculums and programs out there, but this is what we’re loving right now!
One great thing about Easy Peasy is that it is online (although you can purchase accompanying workbooks, especially for the younger grades) and everything you need is right there to print out or to save on your computer. For her classes this year, our daughter watches and listens to lectures, watches and listens to powerpoint presentations and demonstrations, reads literature on the screen and in traditional book form, takes quizzes and tests, writes papers, anything she’d be during in the traditional classroom, and more!
The state of Tennessee gives you the option to enroll under an umbrella school, or set up an independent homeschool. Before we began last August, I educated myself about the pros and cons of each type. We ultimately decided to set up an independent homeschool, at least for this year. Therefore, I keep track of our daughter’s attendance and grades. We only have one child, so we felt like it wouldn’t be too complicated and so far, it’s been just fine!
Another task I did before we started homeschooling was to download the eighth grade standards for Tennessee. I wanted to be sure that we cover everything that would be taught in a traditional classroom, even though we add to the curriculum. Our daughter will still have one more mandatory state test, at the end of ninth grade, as well as the SAT and ACT before college to look forward to! We want to be sure that she’s well-prepared for these important tests!
Easy Peasy allows the parent to place the child in his or her classes. For example, our daughter is in Easy Peasy’s eighth grade Language Arts (Writing, Grammar, Reading and Vocabulary), Science, and History. She’s taking ninth grade Spanish and Algebra. We have the option of counting her Language Arts class on her high school transcript, too. In addition, my husband coordinates her Bible class, using materials from Truth for Today and other resources. This year, we are focusing on what Christians believe and how we got the Bible. As far as electives, she takes private voice lessons once a week and acts in a local community theatre.
Easy Peasy is particularly awesome for kids who are very self-disciplined and comfortable working on the computer (at least for grades 8 and above), in our experience.
It also fits in with our goal of keeping life as simple and streamlined as possible. Much of our daughter’s work is done digitally. She does keep one big binder with notes and some work that is printed out. She works on her laptop on a big desk in the bonus room, where she has everything she needs. But we don’t have a whole school room, or even a bookcase packed with curriculum. We can take her homeschool on the road if necessary!
Our daughter gets “real world” experience by doing childcare for our church’s Tuesday ladies Bible study and earns a paycheck for that. She’s learning how to budget her money and save for unexpected expenses. She was thrilled to be able to purchase Christmas presents for her extended family this year!
Last fall, we went on a mission trip to Guatemala, and this spring, Lord willing, we’ll travel to Nicaragua with a group from our church to serve a congregation there. These types of trips are paramount to the world view we are trying to instill in our daughter. We want to to see how people live in other countries, to be immersed in the Spanish language, to be tolerant and appreciative of different cultural customs, and to observe Christians living out the Bible in diverse ways! We believe these experiences speak louder than any curriculum could!
In a nutshell, we LOVE homeschooling! It’s a good fit for our family at this time in our lives!
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Gracia y paz,