My five kids are now teens/young adults. When I look at the photo above - I have such good memories of all the fun things we did with our time homeschooling. Granted not everyday was a picnic - but we all do have good memories - that is what I want for you too!
We all have a vision of what we want our homeschooling days and overall experience to look like for us and our kids. That is going to look different for every family. Here I will share some of the best experiences we have had, some of the best curriculum choices we have made and some of the things I look forward to each year as a homeschooling mom.
- Read Alouds - My kids still enjoy when we read together and they are in jr and sr high. My kids, (and I), would get so much out of reading books outloud together. We all really enjoy the discusssions that take place afterwards too.
- Doing history, science and literature together, as a group, for as long as we could.
- Unit Studies - There is no better way, in my opinion, to dig down into a subject than by doing a unit study. For example - Doing a unit study on Pompeii opens up opportunities to study Ancient Rome, Volcanoes, art, Roman Numerals, aqueducts, geography and more.
- Education Vacations - Whether it is a day trip, long weekend or a long getaway - an education vacation makes your history and science studies come alive. We have been to Wallowa Lake to study the Nez Perce Indians, gone fishing for the day, visited the space center in Huntsville, Pompeii exhbit in Seattle, old train stations in Cincinnati, Williamsburg, VA, Jamestown archaeological dig site, Abe Lincoln's and George Washington's boyhood homes, real homes of the Underground Railroad and so much more. We have truly loved all the places our homeschooling has taken us.
- Giving Back - When preparing to adopt two children from Ethiopia, our family dug into the history and culture of Ethiopia. While doing this, our family and community came together to gather 12, 25 gallon bins of donations and my kids helped organize it all for the flight.
- What I love most, in this season, is watching our kids and talking with our kids as they begin to discover and navigate for themselves what their future might look like.
When my kids were younger, our favorite curriculum would have been anything that was unit study style. These are the things that were the most hands on and took us on our many education vacations.
- Most of our historical studies came from Girls of American History. These studies are written to go along with the ever popular American Girl books. We enjoyed doing these units with other families and would travel to some of our field trips together.
- We also enjoyed Homeschool in the Woods. Another unit study company with fantastic lapbooks. We really enjoyed these and did them alongside our Girls of American History.
- Historical Stories of Survival includes history, survival skills, language arts, geography, custom made lapbooks and file folder games, most units also include science. These units are written to go along with the best selling series - I Survived. This is another great options for a six week unit study.
Now that my kids are older, we look for things of interest and things that meet graduation requirements. Additionally, although I have five kids between 8th and 11th grade, they are all at different places in different subjects, so we really look for curriculum that works for each child.
- 7 Sisters is an excellent company started by several homeschooling mamas. Since they have "been there and done that", they are really able to provide quality curriculum that is engaging and doesn't waste your or the student's time. Choose from Philosophy, Literature, Writing, Career Development, Financial Literacy, Human Development, Psychology and much more.
- Ellen McHenry is an amazing artist with the most clever ideas for teaching older elementary through high school. She has several things that cover Chemistry, Biology and Botany. She also has Mapping the World with Art - a very unique, but hands on way of learning geography. I love that her curriculum is very hands on.
Things I look forward to each year
As the school year comes to an end - I am always so very ready, as are my children, for a well deserved break. However, it does not take me long to start planning and getting ready and excited for the next year. I enjoy the planning, curriculum and class research and including my children in some of their class choices. I also enjoy meeting with them one on one and hearing from them what it is that they want to get out of their homeschool experience. Sometimes they surprise me and come up with a new activity like - aerial acrobatics, for PE. Things that help me get through the planning and buying season -
- Hip Homeschool Moms - They have a great giveaway every spring - I never miss it.
- Used books sales in my local area - I try to participate in as many as I can.