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  1. #1

    Default for better or worse, I've chosen my curricula...

    Hi all -

    Thanks to everyone who responded to me earlier when I was looking for curriculum suggestions. I'm still working out some kinks (Spanish! Art! ARGH!), but I have purchased some curricula for my rising 5th grader for the fall.

    We'll be focusing mostly on unit studies cherry-picked from a few levels of Moving Beyond the Page for Language Arts, Social Studies, Science. Math will be via Math Mammoth, which I caught on sale a week or so ago. I also added the prehistory unit study from Build Your Library, and I'm in the middle of developing an astronomy unit for the start of the school year, at my son's request. (The hard sciences are SO not my wheelhouse, but I'm learning a lot I never absorbed when I was a kid, and I'm making it work!)

    We're doing the mix-and-match thing to more or less line my son up with what his grade will be learning in our local public school, to ease his transition back in the future. (That's the goal, for now.) But I'm leaving wiggle room for rabbit holes of my son's choosing, and he's excited to have a say in the topics he learns this coming year. He's been poking through the books I've bought so far - everything is literature-based, so I'm amassing quite a pile - and is asking lots of questions about those and the lessons I've been writing up. I hope his enthusiasm will survive the summer months and he'll be this excited once we get started!

    (I might even have him begin in August, which is way early for us - our school district always begins after Labor Day. But I also have to teach him the math they didn't get to in distance learning this spring, and I worry that getting him into a learning groove again after such a weird spring + extended summer break is going to be a challenge...)

    I'd appreciate any tips anyone has - specific to these curricula choices, or in general, about getting homeschooling up and running. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our homeschooling experiment will be a success!

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  3. #2


    It looks like you have done a ton of planning!

    Is there any reason you can't start when you want? Or just start with math now, if you are concerned about catching up? Many homeschoolers school year-round. This allows you to take breaks when needed (I used to call them mental-health days), or take longer breaks near the holidays.

    If your son is excited to get started, you might want to take advantage of that enthusiasm.

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3


    We school year round because it gives us something to do when it is too hot and humid outside to do anything in mid summer. By getting those school days in in the summer, it gives us the opportunity to take time off in fall and spring when the weather is gorgeous outside. No reason you have to follow the local school schedule unless you just want to. An excited child is easy to teach, I would go ahead and start now and follow that rabbit trail if your kids are excited and interested in something. Like Carol said, take advantage of that enthusiasm and have a fun start to your year!

  5. #4


    Ease into it gently.... and yah, there is no reason not to start now, with something he likes. “Lets try out this prehistory unit, at our own pace, and see how we like it” as part of your morning routine. “Can we try out Math Mammoth for a little while, to make sure it will work for us?”
    Work the curriculum gently into a routine, and be relaxed about not forcing it to be done to a schedule, either an arbitrary one supplied to you by the curriculum, or one that you estimate will work for you.
    We also do schooling through the summer, because I need my kids to be doing something worthwhile for at least a part of each day. My favorite vacation times are March and November, when public school kids are not crowding up the national parks. Working “light” through the summer helps me mentally justify taking the time off, and for having some fridays where I goof off instead of doing the responsible adult routine.

    Try things out over the summer, and let yourself be flexible and easy going about the schoolwork.
    We have the materials for BYL prehistory, and we hope to get to it this summer, but I have yet to ever follow the BYL schedules. (My boys are going into 9th, and going into 3rd.... some parts I will likely skip with my baby, some parts will go into more depth with the older one.)
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    Okay, so you raised a good question, inmom - I was thinking along the lines of public school calendars, but of course I'm not limited to that if I'm taking my son's education into my own hands for the time being. Hmm. Right now, my son has a series of online camps that he's doing each week through the start of August. I want him to feel like he's had a "summer" and had an abundance of relaxation time before I start pushing him back into learning mode. But there's really no reason, once those camps are done, that we can't get started. Thanks to you and MapleHillAcademy for the (gentle) kick to adjust my thinking.

    It's really interesting to see some responses saying that year-round schooling is what works for your families. I hadn't really considered it (again, thinking along the lines of public school calendars), but for my kiddo, who struggles mightily with transitions, that might be a solution that works well for us, too.

    Alexsmom, I really like the materials for BYL's prehistory, and I'm excited to teach it. I hope you and your boys enjoy it - and that my son finds it as exciting as I do! I appreciate the reminder to remain flexible. I am, by nature, a disorganized person. And a procrastinator. And an overthinker! I have to fight myself to bring order instead of letting things devolve into chaos around me. I'm worried that if I don't find/make a schedule, and force myself to stick with it, that I'll quickly become a complete agent of chaos, totally letting my kiddo down. As a kid with ADHD, he's definitely an agent of chaos, as is my ADD husband. Someone (me) needs to push through and bring at least a little order to our lives! I don't want him to look back at his time homeschooling with me with disappointment or resentment. I'll try to remain relaxed about it on a day-to-day level, but if I don't have an overarching schedule to follow, well, I'm afraid I'll screw this up royally.

  7. #6


    There's an Astronomy curriculum (levels 1 and 2) from Pandia Press. They usually have large samples that you can print out to try for free. If you don't feel like working up an astronomy curriculum all on your own, you could use that to get some ideas.

    I don't think AlexsMom means an overarching schedule with BYL, I think she means the day-to-day schedule of it. From our use of it, and what I have heard of many others using it, it is kind of overwhelmingly specific about what sections of what books to read and what activities to do. So many people use it for the materials and the overall schedule but bypass the specifics of the day-to-day and pick and choose their own things. Like for my DD, she resented reading only a limited number of chapters of multiple books at a time. She would rather take one book at a time and read more and stop at a natural point for her. So you will just have to see how it works out for what your child likes for the day to day. They might resent you more for trying to fit them in a schedule box when they would like more freedom (particularly if you intend to get them back in public school and this is their opportunity to experience freedom in learning). Which comes back to AM's advice, be flexible Don't set yourself up for thinking you are "failing" if you expect it to be done in a particular way. Look at your resources as an opportunity to experiment and see what works and how you can use them in a way that suits your child, rather than something you have to follow to the letter.

    Good luck!
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

  8. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by heatheremme View Post
    I'm afraid I'll screw this up royally.
    You are worried about screwing this up because you care so much about your son. And ironically it is because you care so much that you are unlikely to screw this up. ;-)

    The first year of homeschooling is always the hardest. It gets easier when you aren't questioning everything because you have some experience and confidence after you finish that first year. Just don't let your anxiety keep you from enjoying this time with your son. He is still a kid right now and still has some child-like wonder about the world. He only has a few years left of that wide eyed wonder and they grow up so fast! Nothing you do in 5th grade will screw him up! I promise! Just help him keep exploring the world around him and help him learn how to express himself in words and in numbers and he will be fine.

  9. #8


    I think you would do better with a routine, rather than a schedule. Remember back to when you were in school, and you had an hour or so of each subject each day, or certain classes 2 or 3 times per week. You had to be on a schedule then, because so many people had to be coordinated to meet at certain times, and if you missed out, you never got those lessons. Homeschooling isnt like that. Your son will learn the whole thing, and pretty much at his pace. Youre not going to force him to go on to the cretatious period while he is still enthusiastically making a dioramma of Jurassic life. If someone gets the flu, or he is stuck with concepts while youre working on long division, you probably shouldnt plow ahead to the next chapter.
    If he is consistently learning, you are not falling behind, even if you thought youd be at chapter 8 on November 12, and here you are in mid December still midway though chapter 7. Having a schedule, or, for example, following the provided schedule in BYL wont give you the flexibility you need. (Ive used BYL for years, and always tweak.)
    (Here is a Bravewriter podcast on the differences between routines and schedules.
    Make yourself a routine, plan for the week ahead, and always stay flexible for the unexpected. If you plan for a lesson of each subject each day, you will get through everything, really, even if you dont get to all of it in that week! If your super engrossing social studies activity takes up the rest of the morning so math doesnt get done, math will wait! If the local Natural History museum has a special exhibit relevant to what youre studying, spend the day there, spelling, math, and US history will still be there the next day.
    If you feel you have to “catch up” to your schedule, you will feel miserable.

    If you feel youre a disorganized person, work on that during the summer! Find routines that work for you. Monitor your energy levels, and work with that. If youre pooped at 2pm, dont try to rigidly schedule activities then that will test your willpower. You really cant force yourself to be organized, you can only just make it easier for yourself. What do you need to do, how can you sustainably get it done? When is a good time for you to work with DS on schoolwork? What will you do on days where something else needs to be done at that time? (My answer to that one is almost always “schoolwork can wait until tomorrow”.)
    Routines, or habits, take away a lot of disorganization and procrastination. Routines make life easy and productive, schedules make it hard because they dont give you flexibility.

    I love the BYL products, but have found that to do everything in the “schedule” would take more time than Im willing to devote to it. I pick and choose. Like NZMama, I dont like how they often (I dont think its in Prehistory) have you reading two novels or books at once. (I do one at a time, usually at double speed.) The curriculum gives the scope and sequence, with a lot of resources and activities to enjoy the learning. I use her (BYL) schedule to see whats coming up, then go do it my style. I think she allocates 8 weeks to Prehistory - I dont remember if thats one lesson per day rate, or assuming you will give it a few hours each day in a more “unit” fashion. She even says dont use her schedule as a schedule.... thats homeschooling pro advice!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  10. #9


    I'm late replying here, sorry.

    NZmom, yes, I looked at the Pandia Press Astronomy curriculum, but thanks for recommending it. It looks really good overall. I downloaded the sample and I gave it serious thought. But it's a semester-long program, which didn't leave me with enough time to cover the other topics my son requested/his school will be teaching. Since my goal (for now) is to return him to public school when it's safe (the US is obviously NOT on the same trajectory as NZ!), it didn't quite fit our needs. For the 5-week astronomy unit I created for my son, I started by looking over the BYL and MBTP booklists and the lessons they made to go with them. Then I ordered several books (a DK/Smithsonian space book to use as a spine and a few other titles) and cobbled together a list of lessons based on the books when they arrived. I think I did a pretty good job, although my teaching experience was in all things EXCEPT science!

    Thanks for the kind words, MapleHillAcademy - you're right, I'm worried because I love my kid to pieces. I'm sure that a year of experience under my belt would make me feel a bit calmer/less anxious. But I've got to survive this year first! I definitely want to help encourage his wide-eyed wonder, so I'll try to keep that in the forefront of my mind as I get into the meat of this process. Thanks.

    And alexsmom, thank you for the suggestion to think in terms of routine instead of schedule. And picking and choosing the activities, definitely yes to that, too. Because yes, of course, flexibility matters. I don't intend to have my son do every single activity throughout the lesson plans. I want to say it's 6 weeks for BYL's prehistory, and from what I saw, it would definitely take longer than 6 weeks if we did every single piece. I like that she suggests so many things, though, so I can find something each day that will show my son is learning and appeal to his interests. Really pleased with it so far.

    You've all been very helpful, thank you all!

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