Thursday, August 23, 2012

"School Photos" for 2nd Grade and K1

School Photos

Our "school year" actually started in June, but for some reason we never get around to taking "beginning of the year" photos until early fall.

Here are this year's. I am a little in awe at how big they've gotten, yet thinking about how next year these very pictures will seem "little". It's cliche, but time really does fly.

School Photos

And just for fun:

School Grades

School Grades

Enjoy your autumn, everybody!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

"Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many." Proverbs 4:10

Hunter is 7 years, 5 months old and in "2nd" grade
Damien is 1 year, 2 months, 3 weeks old [14 months] and in grade "K1"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dealing With Self-Doubt as a Mom: The Big Yellow Bus

Struggling with Self Doubt
I can't explain why this picture can in the same moment make me both envy the classroom for my child and be thankful that he doesn't have to go through it
"With great power comes great responsibility."
You want to know a secret?

I struggle with self doubt as a mom. A lot. Often multiple times a day, every day of my life.

I wonder if I am doing enough, if I am being enough, or doing too much, or doing something when I should be doing something else.

I don't know why. Because deep down, I know I'm doing ok. I know my kids are ok. Maybe not perfect. But I know that at least most of the time I am a "good" mom.

Even still, I just can't ever seem to shake it. I can't ever seem to stop questioning myself.
This time of year for one reason or another always brings some intense internal struggles. I get on my computer and am bombarded with pictures of all my friends' kids on their first day of school. The backpacks. The bus. The desks. The new teachers.

And I can't figure out why it bothers me so much.
Maybe it's because I feel some sort of isolation. Alone. Different. Out of place.

No one in my circle of friends home schools.

And certainly no one I know home schools the way I do. Teaching a few grade levels above age.

Teaching young. A lifestyle of learning many useful and interesting things.


So some silly thought process repeats over and over again in my head.

Feeling that maybe if all of these people that I respect and care about are choosing a certain thing for their kids, then, well, I don't know. Maybe they're onto something? Maybe I really am crazy? Maybe I am going to mess up my kids, somehow, someway?

The thoughts aren't so much on an intellectual level as they are on an emotional level.

Because I know in my head that what I am doing is, in the very least, the best thing for my kids. For my family. For this time in our lives.

Intellectually I can clearly and concisely tell you a thousand reasons why I am doing what I'm doing. Why I choose to do things differently. Why it benefits our lives, and makes us a better family, and individually better people.

But on an emotional level, that picture of your kid in his third grade classroom makes me question myself in a way that just doesn't make any sense.


Do you ever struggle with self-doubt as a parent, whether you home school or not, even if it doesn't always make sense?

“For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.”Romans 14:8
My boys are currently 7 years, 4 months old and 1 year, 2 months old

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Our House and Where We Do School

School Rooms
Damien - 14 months - in his bedroom, with his bookshelf and desk (where he colors and we do journaling)

We are a homeschooling and home-learning family and, in the last three years, I have tried setting up many different versions of a "school space". But in the end we always end up doing our learning all over the house and the school space just ends up being a clutter-collecting mess.

I have two sons: Hunter, who is in "2nd" grade (age 7, but doing above age level work) and Damien, who is in "baby school" (age 14 months, we call this grade level "K1").

Where We Do School

School Rooms

Hunter (7) playing with a tray of baking soda and colored vinegar at the kitchen table

We honestly do school all over our house. Often on the couch. Sometimes in bed. A lot of times on the floor. Frequently at the dining room table, in the kitchen, on the patio, at the park, or in the car.

I have many, many times tried setting up specific "school centers" but in the end I guess we are a restless bunch and end up moving all over every corner of the house, anyway, so I've really given up on the idea.

But I'll spare you with posting pictures of all of that because, I assure you, it's not all that interesting.

School Rooms
Hunter's Desk

Earlier this spring I bought Hunter a very small computer desk from wal-mart. It is small enough that we do not store anything on it (pencil cans, books, etc) and therefore it does not collect (that much) clutter. Or at least when it does collect some clutter, we have to put the clutter away before he can use his desk, so it stays pretty tidy.

I know I just got done explaining how we do school all over the house, but now I am telling you that we have a school desk. Let me explain.

The thing is, he doesn't use it for everything, or even every day. Really it is just a tool to help him focus during certain times, mostly when I need him to be working on something by himself. He does a lot of his school on the computer (see his curriculum here) and so it also serves as a charging station for the computer that does not move. I cannot tell you how many times I have told him to go do some school on his computer, and he recoils with "But the computer's dead and I don't know where the charger is!"

Some other reasons this little desk works great for us:
  • It's very small so no distracting clutter (or toys) get stored on it. This really helps him focus.
  • We've been keeping it in the dining room where his little brother generally doesn't play. This really helps him pay attention to his work.
  • I usually have him do his independent work on there, and I can watch him from the kitchen.
  • He has a coaster on it where he keeps his water bottle, avoiding the constant water breaks (the coaster is attached with poster putty to prevent it from slipping and getting lost).
  • The pull-out keyboard tray is a great extra workspace if he needs some more room.
  • His stool fits perfectly underneath for storage and the whole set-up takes up very little room.
  • He keeps his "workbox" next to it, which holds his pencil/supply box, reading books, binder full of weekly assignments, timer, scratch paper for math, journal, and so on. This box does move all around the house with us, but being able to "put it away" here prevents the "I don't know where it is" issue.
So that is what is working for us right now, at this stage of our life and his development.
Now onto the living room, where Damien (14 months) spends most of his time...

School Rooms

Living room, with some shelves for Damien (14 months) and the keyboard

In the living room is where we all actually spend most of our time. We have a big old couch, TV, and piano keyboard in there, but the rest of the furniture is centered around Damien.

The baby-centric nature of the room evolved out of the fact that this used to be my daycare room so it in turn was the toy room. Right now the only toys I have out are ones that Damien is currently developmentally interested in. In theory I rotate these weekly but in practice they stay out for longer than that, but the toy selection does nonetheless change on a semi-regular basis.

The above picture shows some of the shelves with lots of small motor development toys, some fine art prints on the top shelf, as well as Damien's bit bag (the blue monkey bag) where I keep all of his flash cards, poetry and music copies, checklists, and journal. To the left is our piano keyboard with a basket of alphabet letters resting on top of it.

School Rooms

Across the room is another toy shelf for Damien. Next to it is a big open space where another shelf used to be. That shelf is now in Damien's room harboring books (see first picture in this post). The open space makes a great place to keep his ball popper and slide.

School Rooms

Next to our little TV stand is Damien's potty. We keep some books down here and to be honest he spends more time looking at those books than he does all the other toys in the room. That little patterned box you see next to him is something I made for him when he was learning how to pull to standing and push things around the room. It's just a cardboard box that has some extra cardboard pieces inside (for strength), a few jingle bells tossed in, then sealed up and covered with patterned contact paper.

He is way past that stage now, but it is now serving as a perfectly-sized "table" to him to set his books on while he goes potty.

School Rooms

See tutorial and pictures of uses here

The last little thing in the living room is Damien's jungle gym. We built this out of PVC pipes (cut with a saw and secured with a hot glue gun) when he was still very tiny. Back then we used it as a mobile bar and hung things from it for him to look at and hit or kick at. Later he used the sides to pull up on or crawl through. Now he uses it to hang from the "monkey bars" and still climbs through it and around it.

The big kids throw a blanket over the top and use it as a fort, or get a ball out and use it as a soccer goal (the front side is open). We covered it in colored duct tape because all the plastic paints we could find were toxic. (See tutorial and pictures of all its uses here)

Other parts of the house...

School Rooms
Stair landing bookshelves

We have a lot of books in our home. Since I am a firm believer in the idea that books belong in shelves, not stored up in boxes, that equates to a lot of book shelves in our home, too.

The above picture shows the bookshelves that are conveniently located on the landing area of our stairs. They contain all sorts of books but they're mostly educational. We also currently keep a lot of kid games on the top of the shelf, as well as that little plastic colored shelf full of other kid games, such as card games, puzzles, and so on.

Some other book storage areas from around the house:
  • Tall bookshelf in my room
  • Medium bookshelf in Damien's room (see top picture in this post)
  • Book area next to potty station (see above photo in living room)
  • Small book station next to Hunter's bed
  • Two long shelves in laundry room above my desk
  • Shelf of school books in a downstairs closet
We also store other kinds of school supplies in other places:
  • Art and office/school supplies fill part of a closet downstairs
  • Toys and learning materials we're not currently using go in a section of an upstairs closet
  • Flash cards and paper learning materials we're not currently using go in a two-drawer filing cabinet in my room
  • Flashcards, worksheets, and other paper learning materials that are scheduled to be used in the future go in two drawers of a filing cabinet in the laundry room
Our storage areas aren't currently all that pretty or organized so I will spare you of posting pictures.

But this is basically what is working for us right now. Rather than having everything all in one room it is just spread throughout little convenient areas of the house where it fits and makes sense. Some of it is up and out of the way since we don't use it that much. Some of it is accessible and open because we do use it on a fairly regular basis, but not daily, so it's nice to have it out of the "daily" living areas (living room and kitchen/dining room).

I also really enjoy having everything out of the way so that I can focus on what we are working on.

School Rooms

Right outside our back door to our "very own" gym

Besides the inside of our house, "school" happens other places, too. We do a lot of school outside on our patio and a lot of physical education at the basketball court and park behind our house. It's nice to have our "own", free gym!

School Rooms
Some physical education equipment in our garage

We also do quite a bit of physical education in our garage. We have a treadmill, a punching bag, a pull up / dip bar, some weights, a foam mat, and a basketball hoop.

School Rooms
Picking fresh grapes at a vineyard

And last but not least, school frequently happens out and about. We go on a lot of impromptu field trips and listen to educational songs or have discussions in the car.

I hope you've enjoyed this little description of our homeschool space. I'm looking forward to seeing how much things will have changed by next year!

Previous "School Room" Posts:
I am linking this post to iHomeschool Network's "Not Back to School Blog Hop"

Not Back to School Blog Hop
"Yet he filled their houses with good things..."
Job 22:18
Hunter is 7 years, 4 months old and in "2nd" grade
Damien is 14 months, 2 weeks old (1 year & 2 months) and in grade "K1"

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Early Potty Training: My 14 Month Old has Better Sphincter Control than Me

14 Months

Today before nap time I sat Damien on the potty to give him an opportunity to go if he needed to. He loves sitting on the potty and looking at books, but sometimes he is too busy and hops right back up in his typical toddler fashion and starts running around the room again. This time it happened to be the later - after about 15 seconds he hopped up, walked a few feet away - and then started peeing on the floor. In sort of an urgent voice, but trying to be calm voice, I said "No!" And the instant that word left my voice, the stream of urine stopped. I was surprised but thought that maybe it was just coincidental and he was done going. But then he walked back with me to the potty, sat down, and nearly halfway filled the potty with the rest of his bladder contents. My 14-month-old stopped his stream of urine dead in its tracks, held it for 10 seconds, and finished somewhere else.

He officially has better sphincter control than me. You better believe that after two kids, there is no way I could do that.

"Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?" Jeremiah 18:14

Damien is 14 months, 1 week old

Friday, August 10, 2012

Archery (Physical Excellence Friday)


Hunter has started learning how to use his compound bow.

So far he really enjoys it.

Archery is a fantastic, new-to-us sport that is suitable for toddlers through the elderly, with lots of great qualities:

Physical (and Mental) Benefits of Archery:
  • Develops arm and whole upper body strength
  • Builds balance, steadiness, and stability
  • Develops hand-eye coordination
  • Improves hand and finger flexibility and strength
  • Keeping still while shooting develops core muscles and coordination
  • Builds mental focusing and concentration skills
  • Can be relaxing and mind-clearing
Isn't it great?

Happy Friday! What physical things have you been doing with your family this week?

"They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin."
1 Chronicles 12:2
Hunter is 7 years, 4 months old and in "2nd" grade

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012-2013 Curriculum (Grade "K1" - Damien, age 1)


"They knew the real secret. They knew that the magic is in the child, not in the materials..." - Glenn Doman
"Tiny kids can learn anything that you can present to them in an honest, factual way. If you give them the facts they'll deduce the laws that govern them. That is exactly the same method that scientists use to discover laws. So don't give them theories and abstractions, give them facts, give them reality. From the facts little children are brilliantly able to intuit the laws." -Glenn Doman
Damien is my one year old. In this post I am going to share about my "curriculum" for him, or the learning activities we do in our homeschool.

Right now Damien is so much fun to observe, be around, play with, and teach. He just turned 14 months is saying multiple new words on a daily basis, both one- and two-syllable (like "dino" and "apple" and "baloo[n]"). He can repeat almost any word we say to him, when he wants to.

He pages through our substantial collection of books nearly nonstop every day. When given the chance to go outside, he is nonstop on the move, walking, walking, exploring, and sometimes (almost) running.

He loves being read to, talked with, tickled, played goofy games with, and doing bit cards (flash cards) together.

Damien making a mess getting out his bit cards

Yes, I use flash cards with my baby. No, it does not mean that I strap him to a chair and drill and test him for three hours a day.

We use flash cards in the very same way that other people use board books - it is just showing a baby words, pictures, and talking about them together. They are just another fun learning toy we play with. They take but a few moments several times a day (sometimes not so often) and he loves them and, in fact, begs for them and demands them. I present them in fun, game, and merriment, and it is a great few-minute addition to our little routine.
"Babies are learning every minute of every day and we're teaching them - whether we know it or not. The problem is that it may be bad to be teaching them if we don't know we are. We may be teaching them things we don't actually intend to teach them. Most often we are unintentionally teaching them things that aren't worth learning - or at least aren't as worth learning as the things they could be learning and learning much more quickly and easily." -Glenn Doman
However most of our day is spent like this:

Climbing on Mommy's back 6-10-12 16_new

Or this:


Or this:


Or this:

Zoo & park Fresno 6-3-12 120_new
Damien has a very normal toddlerhood. He spends 90% of his day freely playing with toys, books, his brother, exploring the house, eating, nursing, napping, being snuggled and adored and talked to. The other 10% (on a good day) involves other wonderful but not so common (and often misunderstood) activities like playing with flash cards for a few moments together, listening to classical music or notes being played on the piano, coloring with crayons, fun little planned games and toys for developing small motor skills, going for walks, doing little games to promote balance, and so on.

It is all fun and games to him and no one has ever told him that watching Teletubbies is more fun than math or exercise, and it turns out babies aren't born with that bias.


I keep track of our activities in a little binder and all of our bits cards (flash cards) go in our "bit bag". I will write later on how we organize and keep track of our activities as well as the printables I created.

Damien's Curriculum, K1
(Ages 12 through 23 months)


“Very young children can and do learn to read words, sentences, and paragraphs in exactly the same way they learn to understand spoken words, sentences, and paragraphs." - Glenn Doman

We use ideas from Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby to Read.

I know some people cannot comprehend a baby being able to easily (and joyfully) learn a task that most adults struggle painfully for many months or years to teach to 5, 6, and 7 year olds. But I have found baby reading to be very enjoyable and simple. Learning to recognize written words is actually a lot less complex than learning to successfully recognize spoken words (with its varying tone, inflection, accent, speed, and so on that we bombard babies with) yet virtually all children become fluent in the spoken English language before their second or third birthday and understand much of English before the age of six months. Yet we never blink an eye at adults bombarding infants with spoken languages.

Written English is much more straight-forward, consistent, and clear, and it turns out that if we present written English to babies in a clear, large, factual way (just as we speak to them in clear, loud, straight-forward speech) they can successfully learn to read (fluently, by sight and phonics) before their second or third birthday and recognize/understand many written words long before then.

But I am getting ahead of myself, and the topic certainly deserves a post of its own! Baby reading involves showing babies whole words (just as we speak to them in whole words, obviously) and initially the baby will simply "memorize the shape" but not long after he will begin to observe patterns, deduce the laws that govern them, (just as all babies do with English speech and grammar) and begin to read phonetically.

Content: The goal is to go through about 50 words per week (he loves them!) although we won't always be that consistent. Right now he is just doing single words, such as family member names, animals, objects, colors, and so on, usually accompanied with pictures on the flip side of card. Soon I am going to introduce some (homemade) simple sentence books for him.

Alphabet: I also explicitly teach him phonics and he currently knows the sounds of about half of the letters of the alphabet (uppercase). We are going to finish with the sounds of the uppercase letters and then introduce the corresponding lowercase letters, and at some point introduce the names of the letters. Also later introducing letter combination sounds (ch, sh, igh, and so on). He really loves his letters and gets very excited when we play with them in the kitchen, bath, or during diaper changes.

Literature: Damien is usually right along with there with his older brother when we read classic literature, poetry, and the Bible together as a family.



Using activities from Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby to Write. In the booklet, the author states that writing is not just the physical act of putting a pen to paper. If Shakespeare would have had a secretary record his words as he composed them, would his works have been any less great, or any less his? Certainly not.

Writing, they say, is a creative process that can begin long before your baby can form letters with a pencil. You can start with your baby at any age. Once a day, have a journalling session where you ask them questions and wait for their answer. Babies of just a few days or weeks old will respond and "talk" to you. We usually ask simple questions, such as "How was your day? What was your favorite part of today? What was your least favorite part?" Then record the questions and their responses.

The better their speech the more detailed their responses will be. This little activity is a great way to "give baby a voice", a great memory maker, and great language development game, and a great way to teach them what writing is (putting ideas to words / paper) and give them a desire to want to do it themselves. Later on the physical act of writing is introduced, but tracing words before tracing letters.

I also during our nightly writing sessions (they don't happen every night but when we can) let him draw and color on his journal page. I give him a choice of two different colored markers and he makes the most beautiful "pictures"! He is also learning fine motor skills and pencil control in doing this.


Language Development
"With few exceptions, the more parents talked to their children, the faster the children's vocabularies grew and the higher the children's IQ test scores were at ages three and up."
-Drs. Betty Hart and Todd R Risley in Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children

Conversation is such an important part of overall development and the ideal goal according to this study is 17,000 words a day for the first three years of life. So we try to do a lot of talking around here, both talking to my baby as well as talking with him (waiting for and listening to his responses, having back and for conversations, and so on).

We also do American Sign Language, but not nearly as much as I thought we would, as he verbalizes well and I am more focused on teaching him spoken words and pronunciations.


"Always remember that math is a game. It is fun! It is playing with your baby." - Glenn Doman

We use the activities from Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby Math and the Math for Mothers (I-III) booklets by Glenn Doman from the Gentle Revolution Press.

Baby math involves using cards with randomly placed dots to teach quantities first before teaching counting. The baby does not count the dots but subitizes them. That is, can tell that a card with 55 dots has more than a card with 54 dots, instantly, an ability they will loose before their second or third birthday. So the names of the numbers are taught to the baby and then arithmetic can be taught. It in no way resembles the way you teach your first grader math and is a great deal of fun and only takes a few seconds a day.

I have no scientific studies to demonstrate that babies have this ability but witnessed it with my first born son when he was two and three (he kept the ability a little longer than "average") and it is phenomenal to say the least.

Counting: We also do count things around the house frequently, talk about numbers and shapes and positions and so on, and twice a day since he was seven months old (when I lay him down for nap and bed) I "sing" from 1 to 100 in the tune of twinkle twinkle little star. It has gotten to the point where I can't lay him down without singing that first. Looking forward to the day he sings back.


Encyclopedic Knowledge

"Babies can learn absolutely anything that you can present to them in an honest and factual way and they don't give a fig whether it's encyclopedic knowledge, reading words, math, or nonsense for that matter. They'd prefer great things - reading, math, all the presidents of the United States, the nations of Europe, the great art of the world, the song birds of the eastern states, the snakes of the world, the kings and queens of England, the great music of the world, the international traffic signs, the dinosaurs, the state flowers, or any of the millions of fascinating things there are to know about on this old earth. But they'll even take nonsense if that's all they can get." - Glenn Doman

We will be learning the names of lots of beautiful and interesting things this year by way of reading books together and also playing with "bit cards" (flash cards) via the ideas in Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge.

For simplicity's sake, everything there is to know is organized into 11 categories (Art, Biology, General Science, Geography, History, Human Anatomy, Languages, Literature, Mathematics, Music, and Scripture) and we'll pick maybe 5-10 facts from 5-6 categories per week (or every other week) to learn about.



Using ideas and simple exercises from Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby to Be Physically Superb. The physical program involves things like going for daily walks together, walking on different terrains (bumpy, hilly, sandy, etc.), stair climbing, and crawling (on hands and knees as well as "army crawling").

The balance activities are things like holding your baby in your arms and gently spinning, lifting baby up and down and side to side, and lots of other things that parents naturally do when they play with their baby. Their are also fun little things like rolling on the floor, doing somersaults, walking on a balance beam, and so on.

The manual program involves hanging from a bar, doing brachiation [monkey bars], and small motor activities like pouring and transferring.

Swimming: Swimming activities using Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby to Swim. Right now this involves swimming underwater (by himself), back floating, jumping in the pool, climbing out of the pool, splashing, and being cute. Will hopefully be able to keep up our fantastic summer progress over the winter and during our travels. You can read about our activities here.

Water table 6-15-12 04_new


Also part of the physical program is sensory activities.
Tactile: Just fun one-year-old stuff like water play, play dough, art activities like painting, helping out in the kitchen, playing with dry rice/beans/pasta, texture material samples, and so on. I don't do these things as often as I would like to but I am hoping to be more consistent over the fall. Also, he tends to make up his own sensory experiences

Auditory: Conversation, talking about sounds we hear and where they're coming from, naming piano notes, and so on.

Olfactory, Gustatory (smell, taste): Mostly unplanned, impromptu experiences while helping out in the kitchen: smelling spices, ingredients, tasting things, and so on.

Visual: Visual stimulation is now in the form of the reading, math, and encyclopedic knowledge games as well as talking about sights that we see.


Small Motor

Lots of home made and store-bought toys that encourage small motor skills, thinking, and problem solving. Fitting various objects into various spaces and holes, puzzles and manipulation toys, object stacking, sorting, pouring and transferring, and so on.

Sweeping Damien 6-10-12 02_new

Life Skills

Little Damien loves to "help out" around the house and do what we're doing. Of course at this point it is anything but "helpful". But I have learned the value of allowing babies to participate in real life instead of being shooed away to play with their toys or watch TV all day. Some benefits I've observed:
  1. It brings about many opportunities for vocabulary building and conversation
  2. It provides lots of great impromptu sensory experiences
  3. It provides lots of problem solving and learning opportunities as babies can observe how things work (such as how a screw driver turns a screw, the hot water changes the texture of the pasta, etc)
  4. It provides lots of small motor opportunities, such as sorting, pouring, carrying, turning, and so on
  5. It helps build good behavior as babies get a chance to practice self control and follow directions
  6. It builds your relationship with your child in a powerful way
  7. It builds confidence and self esteem as the child knows that he is needed, wanted, valuable, and useful (rather than just being "told", he gets to experience and live it)
  8. It builds children with a great many skills and a strong work ethic - they may not be much "help" in the very early years, but you will be reaping the benefits of teaching your children to work while they are young for years on end. As experienced with my first child, by the time he was two and three he was a genuine help in many areas. By four he was a noticeable help around the house. At seven he is a substantial and significant help in all household tasks - more capable and helpful than many ten year olds and even some teens I have known in our post-modern America.
So what does Damien do? Everything he can! I like to bring him along with me while I do laundry, cook, fold clothes, organize, work at my desk, clean, and whatever we are doing. With help, he picks up his own toys, takes his diapers to the trash, and takes his clothes to the hamper. He "helps" in fun cute ways and loves to be with his parents and big brother!


Out and About

We like to get out of the house - go to the farmer's market, the grocery store, the fair, the zoo, the park. Most weekends at least we are out as a family going somewhere interesting.

So that is our little homeschool program for Damien. Maybe it sounds like a lot (or maybe it doesn't) but it's really just become a part of our life, a part of our routine, as normal as wiping messy faces and making lunch and giving kisses. Most of our little flash card sessions happen right before and after daily routine tasks - mealtimes, diaper changes / potty times, naps, bathes, and so on. I hope you've found this post interesting and informative.

To see what big brother's curriculum plans for the year are, you can go here.

Farmer's market 6-28-12 22_new

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:7-9
Not Back to School Blog Hop
Damien is currently 14 months, 0 weeks old (grade "K1")

2012-2013 Curriculum ("2nd" Grade - Age 7)

Tablet school Doing school on my tablet

This post contains the curriculum and teaching methods I am using this year with my "2nd grader" (age 7).

To be honest, sometimes I amazed when I look back and think about how much has changed in the way we do our school in just three short years. This past year has brought just as many changes.
Over the spring and summer I have reanalyzed and changed a great deal of things in how we do school on a daily basis. Our current organizational system of homeschooling involves 5 things:

1. Learning on the computer
2. Worksheets from school binder (an alternative to the workbox system)
3. Learning on the tablet
4. Selection of learning activities and projects to choose in free time
5. Lessons with mom

These all don't necessarily take place every day. Sometimes he does a few of these things and sometimes he does all of these things.

The first item is "Learning on the computer". Currently we are using Time 4 Learning as our "core" curriculum. This contains all of the basics so that I can be sure that he is mastering the criteria from each grade level. You can see my review of the program here.

He also uses the computer to blog, which I describe more under the "Language Arts" section of this post. In his free time he uses the computer to look up science questions and videos and sometimes plays games (educational or otherwise) or uses the paint program.


The second item is his "School Binder". His school binder is an organizational system I came up with after outgrowing the workbox system. His binder contains a pencil/supply pouch, an assignment chart, a big list of facts he is currently memorizing, reference charts, his reading log (he simply writes down each book he finished, he doesn't keep track of minutes or chapters), and then two weeks worth of "daily tabs".

The daily tabs are simply tabs labeled Monday-Friday (see picture below). Behind each day I will put that day's work: Penmanship sheet, writing prompt and lined paper on which to write, and worksheets or paper projects for math, geography, foreign languages, grammar, and sometimes science/history/music/scripture. I will also put in art assignments and a piece of sketchbook paper or worksheet. He does not do all these subjects daily. He generally does well with worksheets and so this works well for his learning style right now. I will write a separate post about this system later.


The third item is doing learning apps on my tablet. I have found quite a few different things to practice math, music, and foreign languages. He also has some flash card apps. This is new to us and I am looking for more (android) apps so suggestions are welcome.

The fourth is learning activities and projects he can choose in his free time. We have a lot of educational and constructive games, activities, and projects around the house, so when I can I will ideally put together a list (or set things out) of ideas and suggestions of things for him to do in his free time.

Lastly is lessons with mom. He does not do most of his school with me nowadays although I am usually always there to help him or offer him advice. Ideally at least once a day but sometimes not so often, I have lessons and projects planned to do with him - art and music lessons, science experiments, and so on. Life has been pretty hectic lately so these have not been happening that often.

Hunter's Curriculum (Age 7)

Hunter is in "2nd grade" this year, however most of his work is on the 4th-5th grade level, some higher than that, a few lower. I don't go by grade level but rather by ability and interest. We school year-round, so this "school year" actually started in June for us.

This list contains some of the things we are using, however we by no means use all of these things every day and we don't even do every subject every day.

We are also going to be vacationing / traveling for quite a few weeks during this school year, so a lot of our school will be done on the road.


Language Arts
"By regularly reading classical literature to a child, using selections beyond his own reading ability, a parent will stimulate his enjoyment, imagination, and understanding of the vast and beautiful language of his culture." - Glenn Doman

Literature - Read alouds together, from children's to high school / adult level classic literature.

Reading - Hunter reads mostly upper elementary and middle school level books now. I "assign" him a certain amount of reading every day and he also reads a lot in his free time as he still enjoys it a lot.

General (Reading Comprehension, Grammar) - Time 4 Learning language arts lessons, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. We will likely only be using this as a supplement since I feel he is very strong in this area and doesn't need to go through all that they offer (Time 4 Learning has a lot of Language Arts activities).

Writing - Hunter now has a blog that where he writes about things that are interesting to him (I haven't decided if/when I want to publicly share it yet). He writes a lot about history, science, projects, lots of different things. Sometimes he narrates to me and I type, and sometimes he types it himself. It has been a great learning experience and he is learning a lot about good writing (main ideas, beginning, middle, ending, staying on topic, etc). It is also turning into a fantastic portfolio and record of his progress. Besides his blog, he occasionally writes letters and stories on paper with illustrations.

Penmanship - Daily copywork in cursive and manuscript from Bogart Family Resources

Greek/Latin - English from the Roots Up, Rummy Roots card game

Vocabulary - Word of the Day



General - Time 4 Learning math 4th, 5th, possibly 6th grade

Accelerated / AdvancedJones Geniuses (Math Four)

Worksheets - Miscellaneous worksheets I have around the house, including but not limited to: Math Practice at Home Grade 4Math Basics Grade 4, Grade 5, and Grade 6The Complete Book of Algebra and Geometry (Grade 5-6)

Logic / Thinking Skills: Building Thinking SkillsMathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis Book 1

Other: Projects, experiments, manipulatives



Biology - We started biology in kindergarten but never finished it and last year we were using the K12 program. So we are going to reintroduce Exploring Creation With Biology. By now I think he is old enough that I do not have to adapt it much, even though it is a high school level text the writing is very clear and easy to understand I think he will be grasp most of it by just reading though the text with me. We will also be doing some experiments and projects / crafts

General - Time 4 Learning has lots of general science lessons that I would like for him to work through at his leisure to ensure the elementary school basics are covered.

Other - He often watches documentaries, "How It's Made" type shows, nature shows, and survival shows on Netflix. He also loves looking up science questions on Google and YouTube.

Discovery park w. uncle David 6-30-12 03_new


Our Father's World - I purchased Our Father's World, Creation to the Greeks, and am not sure if I am going to use it or not. We will at least start out with this and will probably also do other resources to learn about ancient history.

Social Studies - Time 4 Learning elementary lessons.



Facts - I would like to reintroduce the 196 nations of the world including: their names, locations, flags, capitals, and shapes. I would also like him to learn all 50 capitals (he is partway there) and the location of all 50 USA states. He already can name the 50 states in order. Map tracing / puzzles will be part of this.

Other - The Complete Book of Maps and Geography

Fourth of July 7-4-12 77_new

Art & Music

Piano - Hunter has been doing Alfred's Basic Piano Library but as we will be on the road a lot I am not sure how our piano lessons are going to work out during that time. I am looking for more apps for my (android) tablet. Suggestions welcome.

Art - Drawing lessons by me, art projects from Pinterest.

Classical Music - Song of the week, loaded to mp3 player

Hymns - One hymn per unit (2 weeks), to memorize


Foreign Languages

Spanish - Abeka's Por Todo El Mundo (high school spanish text). Worksheets from The Complete Book of Spanish.

American Sign Language - Up in the air, may learn some more with Damien (age 1)



Mealtime Reading - We listen to 3-5 chapters per meal (ideally) on my tablet

Independent Reading - One to three chapters per day from the King James Version

Other - Bible history (in history), memory work, spur-of-the-moment discussions, devotions, and stories

Can recycling 7-2-12 09_new

Life Skills

Entrepreneurship - Hunter has found multiple ways of earning money, including selling things and collecting cans / glass to turn into the recycling center. Going to continue to encourage this and help him organize his efforts.

Finances - With the money he has earned, we are going to talk about long term saving, short term saving, giving, investing, and spending.

Responsibilities - Hunter continues to help around the house in more substantial ways as he gets older. We are always reevaluating his skills and teaching him new things about how to manage a household (one day), see the purpose of working hard even when he doesn't feel like it, develop character qualities in doing so, and so on. Him being home with his family every day gives us a lot of opportunities to impart many skills as we go about our day.


Physical Excellence

Running - About 1-2 miles per day, when we can

Exercises - Sometimes he participates in resistance training such as pushups, small weights, flexibility training, balance activities. I am working on making a daily exercise checklist part of his school routine.

Swimming - With our traveling this may be up in the air, but while we can he will continue to work on the crawl stroke, back stroke, sitting dives, back floating, treading water, and water safety.


My curriculum posts always feel incomplete. I always have a lot of ideas, a lot of plans, a lot of resources, and a lot of aspirations, and it is hard for me to put that all down on paper and say "this is everything we are going to do". In reality we always end up changing at least some things, adding others. Some things get neglected and I never get to them. We never get everything done every day. But the longer I am in this homeschooling journey, the more "ok" with that I am learning to be.

You can see what I'm doing with my one year old this year at this post.

Wishing everyone a great school year!

"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
Deuteronomy 6:7-9
I am linking up this post to iHomeschool's "Not" Back-to-School" link up
Not Back to School Blog Hop
Hunter is currently 7 years, 4 months old and in the "2nd" grade