Saturday, August 3, 2019

The One with the Aftermath

It's been three weeks, y'all.

Three glorious weeks.

Three amazing, inspiring, freeing, enlightening, joy-filled weeks.

Three weeks ago, our family made the decision to leave Classical Conversations and take on our homeschooling journey solo this year.

{ Just as a reminder: We LOVED the people in our co-op. We just didn't agree with the business behind the co-op. Or the cost. Or the time commitment. Or... well, you probably get the idea. }

I honestly cannot even put into words the freedom that followed making this decision. Y'all, we had been fully committed 110% to homeschooling our children through high school with CC. Once we found the program, we jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Unfortunately, we didn't adequately look ahead, either.

I'm not going to take up an entire post to share the 101 reasons why CC is no longer the right fit for my family. Rather, I'd just like to joyfully share what we've been up to these past three weeks, and what we've put together for our school year!

Once we made our decision to leave CC, I immediately went into purge mode. This is the period of time, about a week, during which I sold off all CC-related program materials. For a company that touts "stick in the sand" as its principal educational methodology, y'all, I brought in almost $1,500 by selling all of my CC materials during purge mode. It would likely hurt my feelings to go back and determine how much I actually spent when I originally purchased all of those materials, so suffice it to say CC requires a whole heck of a lot more than a stick and some sand! 💰💰💰😂

Immediately following purge mode, I blissfully entered a season of peaceful rest. This was the point at which I had all.the.freedom.in.the.world. to decide what and how our homeschool would work.

I began by having beautiful conversations with each of my children.

We discussed what THEY were interested in.

What THEY wanted to learn about.

What THEY found exciting and thrilling.

What THEY thought would be fun.

What THEY felt would bring them joy.

And then I started building our plans from there! No more shackles! Instead, we had uninhibited freedom to return to a love of learning! Together--as a family. The way we had intended to do this from the beginning. So much joy there, y'all!

I initially looked into the possibility of joining a local Scholé group that meets in our area. I met with their director, who was amazing, and learned about their program. It was so wonderful! The costs were unbelievably reasonable, all of the parents worked together in a true co-op environment, the children had a restful pace of learning, and the curricula was simple and beautiful. They met once per week, with field trips scheduled every month, and it overall appeared to be a wonderful solution for my family.

However, after talking with my kids, we all agreed we were so unbelievably grateful for our newfound freedom that we didn't want to be tethered by a weekly community day. We wanted to embrace a relaxed schedule of doing whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it. Hubs and I discussed and prayed over the decision, and felt confirmation to continue on our own this year. 💜

Thus began the process of selecting curricula for my kiddos! It's been a joyful and exciting process for me! I've loved being able to choose materials that my children and I will love. Here's how it's shaping up (for those who are interested in the details):

// HISTORY

LO is excited about preparing to take the US History I CLEP exam in the spring, and we both felt it would be perfect to study American History as a family this year. I'm super stoked about this because we would have been studying Medieval History with our previous co-op, and none of my kids were very thrilled about that. I found this incredible program called America the Beautiful from Notgrass History.
What I love about America the Beautiful is that it combines American history, geography, and literature into one course! It combines the flexibility and richness of a unit study with the simplicity of a textbook-based approach to history. There are daily lessons to guide students chronologically through American history, highlighting key events, people, and places. And I love the corresponding literature book selections! And did I mention there is a cookbook that has recipes from all of the states to create and enjoy? This one is going to be great! Even though the course is designed for 5th - 8th grade, I plan to have Chase complete this course with LO, and will have E listen along to the readings and work on related coloring pages, activity sheets, etc. So ALL of us will be learning from ONE course TOGETHER. YAY!

// SCIENCE

When I asked LO what she wanted to study for science, she eagerly listed a plethora of interests! This didn't surprise me as my girl loves her some science! When gently forced to limit her choices to her top 3 or 4, she went with Astronomy, Minerals, Weather, and Oceans. That seemed super specific to me, but I was intent to find what she wanted. Imagine my surprise when I discovered General Science 1 from Master Books! It perfectly fit the bill!


One of the things that sold me on this program (besides the extremely reasonable price tag!) was the fact that the Teacher Guide included a weekly lesson schedule, the student worksheets, the quizzes and tests, and the answer key--all on ONE book. No separate workbooks or answer keys or added costs. EASY, y'all.

My kiddos and I will explore oceans, astronomy, weather, and minerals and discover fascinating facts, incredible wonders, captivating creatures, and God’s glory on display throughout creation! This course is designed for 7th - 12th grades, but we plan to use it with the whole family, adjusting as needed for Chase and E.

// SPANISH

Our family is thrilled to switch things up this year and move on from Latin to Spanish! I did a lot of research to find a program that wasn't workbook-driven, was designed for children, would work well for kids of various ages, and be fun and engaging at an easy pace. That's a lot to ask for! Thankfully, all signs pointed to La Clase Divertida!


I was concerned that the video samples look like they were filmed in 1987, but I looked past that and enjoyed how engaging it was for the room full of students. There are a lot of great activities that go along with the program, and I can't wait for us to go through this program together!

// ENGLISH

This is one area where my kiddos will receive individual instruction while working through resources I selected specifically for their reading and writing levels. I chose BJU Press materials for LO and Chase, so there will be some helpful similarities and continuity within the two programs.

Chase will be using English 4 Writing & Grammar. This will be his first year using an official writing program, and I'm super thrilled at what we will cover! Parts of speech and sentence structures are examined in detail to help him gain a mastery of grammar. The writing process is explained step-by-step to be implemented in a variety of writing assignments, including a personal narrative, a research report, and a business letter. I just love this! 💙

Choosing a level for LO was a bit more involved. Luckily, I was at the BJU Educators Marketplace down the street from the BJU campus, and could flip through the various grade levels. This was SUCH a blessing, because I'm not sure we would've ended up with what we did had I not had the opportunity to flip through the pages of the books.

I started with Writing & Grammar 7, looked through the table of contents, and started flipping through the pages. Everything I read, she already knew. So I grabbed Writing & Grammar 8. SAME. Then I went for Writing & Grammar 9.
Near the end of Chapter 1, after discussing the four kinds of sentences, subjects and predicates, basic sentence patterns, and fragments, they introduced and discussed comma splices and fused sentences. Eureka! These were concepts I was certain she was not familiar with. So I landed on 9th grade English for LO. She couldn't be more thrilled to finally learn something new after spending the past 3 years going over the same information she had pretty much mastered the first year.

For E, I'm going to use Language Smarts Level B from The Critical Thinking Co. It's a single workbook that is a full Language Arts curriculum. E still isn't reading independently, so we've been spending lots of time working on letters and sounds, as well as reading simple words. We'll use this comprehensive workbook to teach reading, writing, grammar, and punctuation skills and concepts that students are expected to know in first grade. E will also develop critical thinking, vocabulary, and several other skills and concepts normally taught in second grade. I'm excited to see how his reading and writing skills look at the end of the year after completing this workbook!


// MATH

This is another area where my kiddos will receive individual instruction. LO's curriculum is still a big question mark at this point. We've jumped around a bit over the past 5 years from Singapore to Saxon to Teaching Textbooks, back to Saxon, and back to Teaching Textbooks. I'm afraid our inability to find a suitable math program for her has left her with significant gaps. I'm currently looking for a mastery-based math program for her. I'll have her take a placement test when I find the right curriculum, but I wouldn't be surprised if we'll go back a level or two in order to ensure she has a solid understanding of the basics.

Chase is still killing it with Teaching Textbooks 5, so we're going to continue with it. I LOVE that it's all online and I don't have to do any grading! It's a very hands-off program, which is working wonderfully for him (and me!).

For E, I have decided to try Master Books' Math Lessons for a Living Education: Level 1. This story-based approach invites students to participate in the story, make mathematical connections, explore the world around them, and realize the value of math in their own lives. I'm excited to start our first real math program together! E really loves numbers and has done well with learning his skip counting, so this ought to be a fun adventure for us!

Of course there are several additional programs I'll be using this year for spelling, accounting, typing, coding, piano, etc. And I'm also thrilled to already have several field trips lined up for the fall semester. Everything is falling into place, and I couldn't be more grateful that God has led us here. All of us are incredibly excited to get into the full routine of our school year!

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