Back to Homeschool 2016!

I love seeing what other homeschoolers are doing, and I am always gathering ideas, strategies, and tools from other moms, dads, teachers, and friends. So, since we are changing up our homeschool strategy a bit this year (thanks to entering middle school curriculum, starting to think about college prep, and mom’s return to full-time employment), I thought we’d share what we’re using. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, so reach out if you’d like the details. 🙂

IMG_20160730_165133Notebooks!! This summer we tried out something we call “Stay Sharp this Summer” to see how our boys would take to having everything in one centralized location – a big, fat notebook with different sections – and it was a hit. So, we’re going to try it out for at least the first semester of school. Every day, they’ll go to different sections of their very own big, fat notebook for different subject assignments, and hopefully at the end of the year we’ll have everything a little bit more organized when we look back and say, “Now what did we learn in writing this year? What did we do in Math? How did that thing go in History go? etc.”


IMG_20160730_164851Bible: Sometimes we try to do studies, and sometimes we try devotionals. This year we’re going to keep reading a Bible chapter or so a day on our journey to read the Bible through. We’re loving The Message version by Eugene Peterson right now, but we also still love the Action Bible (comic book versions of most Bible stories and content – not everything is there though).

IMG_20160730_165338Literature: This year we’re launching out on our own for Literature, breaking from a curriculum we’ve done for the past 7 years. We’ve researched and compiled a list of great reads for 6th and 3rd graders, and over the summer Mama has been reading the books on that list and preparing Book Chat Questions. So, now we’re going to read them together (sometimes alone silently and sometimes aloud), as well as any other books the boys have interest in. Every day we’ll have book chats about them, every 2 weeks we’ll write an extensive book report about the one we’ve just finished, and a few times a month we’ll hop on video chat with some homeschool friends and talk about them. By the end of the school year each boy should have read at least 15 classics (chapter books), as well as many other books they love and want to share with the family, and we should have spent hours talking about books, writing reviews of them, and we should have plenty of notes and reports to share with our friends if they’re interested. Where did this idea come from? Well, it came one day when my now 6th grader said, “Mama, I really want you to read this book,” and we spent several hours this summer casually talking about books he loves. I think that’s where all the best ideas come from.

IMG_20160730_165002Math: In the past, we’ve always done workbooks for math, but since our oldest is headed into middle school math this year, we are going ahead and switching both boys to good ol’ Saxon Math. I loved it growing up, and I hope we all love it for years to come! One lesson per day – 25 problems per lesson, and extra problem sets when we need them. Structure + clarity + practice ~ What could be better?

IMG_20160730_164940Writing/Language Arts:  Don’t Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades! This is the highlight of the year for me – the newest resource we’re using~ and something that promises to be especially great for boys who don’t love to write yet. Lessons upon lessons designed, written and compiled by the folks at 826 National, a nonprofit tutoring, writing and publishing organization, and acclaimed by some of today’s popular children’s book authors. Just a few examples of the lessons in store for us are “Brains! or, Writing with Zombies,” “Harry Potter Spiderman VS. The Evil Zombie Ninjas,”I Wrote a Guidebook and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt,” and “Tragic Love Tales by 6 Year Olds.” Should be fun! (and hopefully will spark a love for writing in the hearts and minds of my 2 little guys) If all goes to plan, we’ll be digging into Don’t Forget to Write for Middle School next year.

IMG_20160730_165011Science: ABeka & plenty of online research

Social Studies/History: ABeka & plenty of online research

Spelling/Vocabulary/Dictionary: Another independent subject for us – we’re going to do this our way this year with lists and weekly studying and quizzes together, as well as working our weekly words into our book reports and writing assignments as much as we can.IMG_20160730_165019

Computer Science/Typing: This is Daddy’s area, and we’ve got some cool things planned…keeping them under wraps for now though 😉 (mainly because I won’t know the details until after it’s done)

IMG_20160730_165245Art/Music/PE/Outside: We consider these things part of life, so we lump them all together and plan to make them a part of every single day in a very organic, natural way, as well as with art education prompts, guitar lessons from dad, hiking, and running around outside with friends.

Field Trips: We take these as they come to us ~ a luxury we are blessed to have as full-time travelers.

IMG_20160730_164945Other/Test Prep: We’re planning on sticking with Spectrum workbooks for test prep and hoping that just a little practice each day will get both boys ready for their standardized test this year. If it doesn’t then we’ll just have to see how to adjust for next year.

So that’s how we’re planning to make homeschooling and roadschooling work this year, but only God knows what truly is in store. We’ve committed to taking it one year at a time with as many adjustments as needed throughout, and we are so blessed to be able to homeschool and travel again this year.


  1. Celeste

    Hey, Jess! We’re actually just using the notebooks in a pretty regular/traditional way, but it’s kind of revolutionary for us since it signifies a switch from workbooks and random worksheets to text books and work on notebook paper. The notebooks are regular old 5-subject ones, and we’re using the 5 sections to keep track of all of our on-paper stuff rather than having scattered papers and workbooks (Book Reports, Spelling, Social Studies & Science, Writing & Language Arts, and Math). The reason for this switch? A supreme hope to reduce the amount of homeschool storage we need at the end of each school year by just hanging onto the notebooks and selling the textbooks. However, I still seem to be attached to lots of random art paper and some tiny little readers, so we’ll see!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *