Curriculum delays

Ugh. After waiting 6 weeks for our homeschool order to arrive, I finally was able to get in touch with our district’s homeschool coordinator and find out what was going on. Apparently they had some confusion about what items they could and could not order so they didn’t order anything, nor did they notify me about the problem ūüė¶

Anyway, we decided it would be best if I would place the Sonlight order myself then sort¬† out reimbursement with the district after items arrived so our school year won’t be delayed any longer (we actually started last Monday, planning for these items to be here by now). So I¬† submitted the order today. Unfortunately, that meant paying $150 for 2-day Fed Ex shipping since we’re in Alaska. Oh well, at least I know we’ll have all the items soon.

The Rainbow Resource order did finally go through this morning. I recently found out that the chemistry textbook is available as an e-book, but only for I-pads. I’m hoping to find someone to lend me one until the regular textbook arrives so he can begin science sooner.

EDIT: After searching more, I found a pdf of the entire chemistry book. My son needs to download it and make sure it will run on his computer. If it does, that will save hauling around another heavy textbook this year.

Saxon geometry initial impressions

As I wrote in an earlier post, we have decided to switch to Saxon geometry for our son. This was done for several reasons. First, he struggled a lot last year with Christian Light Education’s Algebra 1. The explanations were confusing and often included unnecessary steps for him. Second, they did not have the updated Sonrise editions for the math curriculum beyond Algebra 1, which was a preliminary Sonrise edition anyway. We used non-Sonrise editions for some of their other subjects and it didn’t go well. So after several happy years, we went searching for something else.

After viewing several math programs this last spring at the local curriculum fair, he decided to try Saxon geometry. It’s a traditional math textbook without a lot of distracting diagrams, cartoons, etc. Just straightforward explanations, lesson practice sprinkled with enough review so he won’t forget what he learned 2 days ago like some curriculum we have tried.

This was our first week with the Saxon geometry. It started out a bit rough as he got used to the new format as well as the daily school schedule. However, by the end of the week he was getting decent scores on the assignments. Best thing is no more arguing about doing math.

2016-17 curriculum plans

Sorry, it’s been too long since I last wrote. Already it’s July and we hope to start our new school year next month. Last week was rainy so I took the time to do much over due organizing of old school work and finalize our curriculum¬†plans for the upcoming school year.


  • MATH: Saxon geometry
  • SCIENCE: Holt Modern Chemistry (AP?)
  • HISTORY/BIBLE: Sonlight 320-20th Century World history
  • LITERATURE/ENGLISH: Sonlight 230-Classical Literature
  • PE: FXC Prep running & ski team


  • MATH: CLE math 700
  • READING: CLE reading 700
  • SPANISH: Speedy Spanish (CLE)
  • HISTORY: CLE Social Studies 700 (world history)
  • PE: FXC Jr. Devo running & ski team

Richard will officially be in high school. I say officially because he has been working a year ahead so already did one year of high school level work. The good thing is that we have an extra year to play with so we can explore more things he is interested in before college.

Richard’s science homework, tests, and quizzes are online this year. We found a great deal on a used computer. It’s a 2013 Alienware laptop that he’s been wanting. Our friend picked it up for us and set it up for him. Then we surprised him with it Thursday as a welcome to high school present. Needless to say, he loves it.

We decided to move away from Christian Light Education for Richard this year. While we’ve had good success with most of Christian Light Education’s courses, many of the high school ones are not the updated Sonrise editions yet and so do not fit his learning style very well. He will switch to Sonlight for history, bible, literature, and English this year after he struggled last year.¬† Plus, he now knows his facts well so more drill won’t be useful. Instead, I’m hoping Sonlight’s literature based programs will give him more of a chance to apply what he’s already learned. Plus, Sonlight uses real novels rather than an anthology textbook for literature study. Sonlight is a LOT more expensive but I’m hoping it will spark his love of learning again. He’s also using Saxon math instead.

If Sonlight works out, I hope to also do Literature 400-American Literature next year then Literature 600-British Literature the next along with their economics course. He probably will skip Literature 500-World Literature. This is mostly ancient classics and tragedies that don’t interest him. He’s really excited about the other 2 courses though.

One of the standards he needs to complete is reading a book and watching the movie version then comparing them. I would like to use Great Gatsby and do this over Christmas break as a family or perhaps Weeks 6-7 of history since that covers the 1920’s. I’d substitute it instead of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Karen is continuing with Christian Light Education again. However, considering how much Richard struggled with Bible 700 & 800, she’s not doing them. For us, the focus on using a concordance and other Bible reference books isn’t as important to know. Not sure what, if anything, she will do for Bible instead. She will be learning Spanish this year. When Richard was in 7th grade, we did a combined study with her that covered astronomy and geology so this was a empty year of science for her.

Both of them will continue with the FXC running & cross country skiing program. Richard moved up to the Prep level. Most of the others his age did Prep last year and will do Comp this year, but since he started skiing later and had a lower overall fitness level it was decided he should do Jr Devo last year then Prep this year and finally Comp next year. Karen will remain in the Jr Devo level for another year.

Monday I ordered everything, so we are now eagerly awaiting Box Day when the orders arrive.


Why is homeschooling allowed?

There’s been a lot of negative reports and stereotyping of homeschool students lately, leaving some to wonder why homeschooling is even allowed in the US. All forms of schooling have kids that fall through the cracks. However, homeschooling can have many advantages when done properly. Let me explain a few.

1. It gives families a chance to be in charge of their child’s education. Not everyone learns the same way. Homeschooling allows you to pick curriculum that fits your child’s needs, interests, and learning style instead of being stuck with the all-for-one curriculum provided by schools. That can help students who struggle while in school excel at homeschooling.

1b. Curriculum choice is important not just to learning styles. Public schools often have a hidden agenda of the current political correctness in their curriculum choices. This comes out in not just the reading books but also story problems in other subject areas as well. Not all parents appreciate or want that. Homeschooling gives parents more direct control over what will influence their children’s learning through curriculum. Is it religious or secular? Is it conservative or liberal in regards to morals and lifestyles portrayed? Parents can choose what to include, but also what NOT to include.

2. Students can go at their own pace. If they need more or less time on something, they can. Again, that can help struggling students. It can also help gifted students because they aren’t held back if they want to move faster.

2b. Not only can students go at their own pace through the curriculum, they can go at their own pace regarding time management. You aren’t tied to a clock. If you finish sooner than expected, you can move on. Similarly, if you need more time than expected, you can easily do so without worry about being late or losing your train of though by having to finish at another time like after school for homework. Wiggle breaks can be as needed instead of a certain time or waiting until the entire class is ready. Sometimes just a 5 minute wiggle break can be enough to get focused again. (You’d probably get sent to the principal for disrupting class if a student did that in school.)

3. (This is related to both of the above) You can easily explore related topics that interest you. Schools are limited by approved curriculum guidelines in what they can cover. So if there is interesting topics, students must learn on their own about them. Homeschooling allows you to take time to explore those issues without worry about approved curriculum or wasted time. Being able to cater better to the student’s interests helps keep them engaged with their learning.

4. Socialization is a natural concern for people unfamiliar with homeschooling. You don’t have to be surrounded daily with people your age to be properly socialized. That is actually unnatural socialization. No other place outside a school has everyone exactly the same age but 1 or 2 much older people. Even nursing homes and college classes have a wider age range than the average school classroom.

Homeschool students usually get involved in group activities, church, private lesson, sports, and volunteering. That way they are around others who share their interests instead of just the same age.

5. Some families like/need to travel a lot. For us, we are gone at least 6-8 weeks of “school days” every 2 years for long vacations. We’d miss out on a lot of great opportunities if we had to wait to travel only on school holidays. Instead, we just take what we will need to study with us. There’s no worry about how to teach it or getting behind the class. The world is our classroom. We’ve seen a lot of places and things most students only read about in their textbooks. For example, we went to Nagasaki and saw where the atomic bomb was dropped in WW2. While in a museum in Lima Peru, our family was invited into the room where ancient Inca and Aztec gold artifacts were stored, which is usually off limits to visitors. We’ve seen penguins on the Falkland Islands and komodo dragons on Komodo Island. Most recently, traditional Middle Eastern clothing was explained and demonstrated by a shop keeper in an Oman bazaar. None of these trips would we have probably done if we didn’t homeschool.

6. You don’t need to be a teacher to teach homeschool. Parents of school students do this naturally when helping explain a tough homework problem. Homeschool is like that. You don’t give your child a lecture then issue assignments. Instead, you help your child understand what is covered. Plus, you can get teacher guides and answer keys for most curriculum to help when you don’t understand it well enough to help your child.

No state required parents to have a college degree or teaching certificate to homeschool. A few states require parents to have completed high school or gotten a GED. Otherwise, those families must be supervised by a certified teacher, but they can still homeschool.

Homeschool order savings

I finally found the purchase order forms I need to order school materials thorough my homeschool program. Originally I planned to order from 4 companies. However, when I got to comparing prices, it turned out I could get many of the items I needed 10 to 30 percent¬†cheaper on Rainbow Resource. That meant I didn’t have an order with Sonlight this year and the Veritas Press and Winter Promise orders were much smaller than originally planned. I didn’t figure it exactly, but I think I saved about $20. Even though I’m not directly paying for these items, it’s always nice to save money so I can buy other things later. So here’s how it turned out. Mostly this is so I can re-do the orders if they get lost. The abbreviation in parenthesis is the content standards the item will be used for.

Winter Promise Publishing ($15 & $12 shipping)

QMA-604 Medieval Activity Pack $15 (SS 7.7, 7.8)

Veritas Press ($81.71 & $8.23 shipping)

490750 Pompeii Buried Alive $3.99 (RE 4.16, SC 5.20)

190090 Great Physicists $6.73 (RE 6)

280630 Michael Faraday $10.99 (RE 6)

000751 Call of the Wild/White Fang Comp Guide $12 (RE 6)

000740 Fahrenheit 451 Comp Guide $12 (RE 6)

000733 Adv of Tom Sawyer Comp Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

000766 Robin Hood Lit Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

000745 Fairy Tales Comp Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

Rainbow Resource ($165 & $16.50 shipping)

010085 Geology Rocks $9.75 (SC 3.14 & 5.16)

033417 Volcanoes & Earthquakes $11.50 (SC 5.22, 5.16)

023838 Science Detectives $7.50 (SC 5A, RE 6)

040531 Great Ancient Egypt Projects $11.95 (SS 7.7)

017774 Our Planet Earth $19.75 (SC 5.16 & 3.12)

048004 Our Planet Earth Teacher Supplement $7.95 (SC 5.16)

017808 Our Universe $19.75 (SC 5.17 & 3.15)

048005 Our Universe Teacher Supplement $7.95 (SC 5c, 5D)

017457 Heaven & Earth Student Supplement (SC5 c &5D, RE6.9)

046013 The Fallacy Detective $17.50 (RE 6.13 & 6.19)

041452 Cool Stuff and How It Works $14.50 (SC 5, RE 6)

005262 Magic School Bus Lost in Solar System $5.25 (RE 4.16, SC 3.15)

009891 Lit/Sci Guide Magic School Bus Lost in Solar System $7.95 (WR 3.6, SC 3C)

016218 Magic School Bus Inside Earth $5.25 (RE 4.16, SC 3.12)

009888 Lit/Sci Guide Magic School Bus Inside Earth $7.95 (WR 3.6, SC 3C)

013669 Planet Earth $4.25 (SC 5.15

Plan for 2013-14 school year

It’s that time again. Time to think about and plan curriculum for next school year. We have the added complication this year of going on vacation from mid-August to mid-September. That means we need to order at least the items we will use at the start of the school year in time to have them by July so we aren’t a month behind when we get back.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. I will be ordering from several different companies again including Sonlight, Veritas Press, Christian Light Education, Winter Promise, and Rainbow Resource. For science I want to finish up the physics programs from last year then move on to geology and astronomy. They will continue with Christian Light Education for Bible, Reading, and Language Arts. Richard needs some basic geometry so I will take a break from Math-U-See and do Math 700 from Christian Light instead. That means both of them will be using CLE for math. Richard will be using a few of the programs from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

SCIENCE will be the same for both of them this year. Start off with physics finishing Exploration Education from last year. Geology and astronomy will be 2 textbooks and several fun add-ons.

(God’s Design for) Our Planet Earth: Rainbow Resource: $19.95 textbook, $8 guide

(God’s Design for) Our Universe: Rainbow Resource: $19.75 textbook, $8 guide

Heaven & Earth worksheets: Rainbow Resource: $8

Pompeii Buried Alive: Veritas Press (3rd grade), $4

Cool Stuff 2.0: Sonlight science G, $25

Bell & Science of Telescopes: Sonlight science E, $9

Planet Earth: Sonlight science C, $5

Magic School Bus Inside Earth: Sonlight science C, $7

Magic School Bus Solar System: Sonlight science C, $7

Geology Rocks: Winter Promise, $13

Volcanoes & Earthquakes: Winter Promise, $16

R: 7th grade

MATH- Math 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $6.70×2 answers

LANGUAGE ARTS- LA 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $7 guidebook, $3.35×2 answers, But Not Forsaken (novel) $9

READING- Reading 700: Christian Light Education: The Road Less Traveled (reader) $10.50, $2.75×5 workbooks, $2.75×2 answers

HISTORY- God’s World His Story: Christian Light Education: textbook $25, $2.75×10 workbooks, $2.75×5 answers, Illuminated Lettering: Winter Promise $18, Ancient Egypt Projects: Winter Promise $15, Medieval Game Pack: Winter Promise $15

BIBLE- Bible 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $3.35×2 answers

LITERATURE- Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein $6 Veritas Press (grade 7), Science Detectives $9 Veritas Press (grade 7), Michael Faraday Father of Electronics $11 Veritas Press (grade 7), Call of the Wild/White Fang Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 7), Fahrenheit 451 Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 6)

CRITICAL THINKING- The Fallacy Detective: $22, Veritas Press (grade 7)

WRITING- “Teaching the Classics” and “Fix It! Grammer and Editing made easy with the Classics”: Institute for Excellence in Writing. I have the workbooks but need to figure out how to order just¬†the DVD’s.

K Grade 4

MATH- Math 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $6.70×2 answers

LANGUAGE ARTS- LA 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks

READING- Reading 400: Christian Light Education:¬†Beyond Bridges¬†(reader), $2.75×5 workbooks

HISTORY- American Story 2: Winter Promise

BIBLE- Bible 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks

LITERATURE- Tom Sawyer Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 4), Robin Hood Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 4), Brothers Grim Fairy Tales Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 3)

Curriculum recomendations

I’ve included websites for these companies below.

SCIENCE: Apologia science is good for high school. They offer several different subjects like biology, general science, and chemistry. I’ve also used science books in the God’s Design series. You can get both online from Rainbow Resource.

If you want to do physics, Exploration Education is fun. They do a lesson the computer then a hands-on activity and answer a few questions. There are 3 levels, but level 2 and 3 are similar but with more in-depth questions for level 3. This year my son is doing a science program from Sonlight (Core F science) focusing on anatomy and nutrition.

WRITING: For writing, the Institute for Excellence in Writing is very good. They offer many different programs for several different levels from elementary through high school.

For handwriting, Christian Light Education offers supplementary workbooks that are good (I Can Write Manuscript and I Can Write Cursive) that can be used independently. They take students from the basic stroke formation to writing letters, sentences, and finally short paragraphs or poems. We like them much better than the Abeka writing workbooks.

MATH: Math-U-See is good for hands-on learners. Each workbook has 30 lessons. Each lesson has 3 practice pages and 3 mixed review. You do as many pages as needed. The books are topical (single digit add/subtract, multi digit add/subtract, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, etc) rather than spiral. They go up through high school calculus. There is a video the student watches before doing the lesson. There is a manipulative system for all books to help understanding. They use the same system for all books, so they don’t have to keep switching once they are used to it. There is a test book with lesson tests and unit tests as needed. Some people find it useful to do a page a day. My son does math only 2-3 times/week and is doing great.

My daughter does math using Christian Light Education. It is a spiral approach so you cover a broader range of topics in each year, but not as in depth. There are 10 workbooks per grade. Each lesson has an explanation at the start, then practice and mixed review. It is designed to do a lesson each day. There are also daily timed drills. Each workbook has 2 quizzes and a unit exam. Christian Light Education also offers a full range of other subjects for all grades.

READING: A good list of age appropriate literature books for each grade can be found on Ambleside Online. It’s a good resource but can be adjusted as needed. We also use Christian Light Education for reading. There are readers and workbook questions to improve reading skills and comprehension. The stories are old fashioned, but keep my kids interest.

HISTORY: For history, I use programs from WinterPromise. They are rather expensive, but include lots of quality literature and activities instead of textbooks and workbooks.