Curriculum Round-up Summer 2014

by Fiddledeedee on July 22, 2014

I’m in denial that our school year starts in just 3 short weeks.  I’m also in denial that I have a kid in high school.  When I started this blog I was a homeschool mom to a 2nd grader, a kindergartner, and a toddler.  And then I blinked.

3_Students(That is my finger in the upper left. I have mad photography skilz.)

I don’t think I really thought I’d be in this for the long haul.  I simply took it a year at a time.  Or as my husband would tell you, a week at a time.  My biggest fear (besides a complete mental breakdown) was how in the world I would homeschool a kid through high school.  I have no idea how I ever made it through high school, much less how I would get someone else through it.

So much of our journey has been trial and error.  Heavy on the error.  I think I’ve tried nearly every curriculum available, from A Beka through Our Father’s World.  Some worked some years, for some kids, for some of the time.  We’ve settled on an eclectic mishmash that I believe will get me through the remainder of our homeschooling journey.

One of my favorite curriculum is Our Father’s World.  I wish I had discovered it when we were beginning to homeschool.  Alas, I had to abandon it when Emme began Classical Conversations her 7th grade year.  I had all 3 of them on different schedules and curriculum and I nearly went crazy.  When I saw that we might not have a tutor for CC 8th grade, I switched her to a local Co-op which catered to 7th – 12th grade.  That was the best homeschooling decision I’ve ever made.  The courses offered suited her academically, the teachers were amazing, and I dearly love the kids that she’s become close with.  This program will see her through high school and save me from the scary high school courses that include labs and DISSECTING STUFF.  And she is excited to start school (first time ever) because of how much she loves this co-op and that two of her best girlfriends will be joining her there this year.

I attended our annual homeschool convention in May with my sister-in-law, Trish.  Honestly, when things get really bad in our homeschooling day, we can console one another with, “but if you quit, you can’t go to the homeschool convention.”  Not even kidding.

We both had to pay extra attention and attend all the “how to homeschool through high school” classes.  The biggest takeaway I got was how important the SAT scores are for scholarships and that transcripts really aren’t all that frightening.  Fortunately I am OCD when it comes to record keeping.  I’m certain that Emme’s transcript will be suitable for framing.

So, here’s a rundown of how our school year will look.  Both Emme and Cailey will be doing the Co-op one day a week.  Their teachers give them their assignments for the remainder of the week.  My job is to simply follow up with them to make sure they have their work done and have them to their class at 8:30 dressed in something other than footie pjs.

Emme (my 9th grader) will be taking Apologia Biology, American History, Advanced Literature, a 2-D Art class, and a Math tutoring class.  She will continue Teaching Textbooks for Math at home and will be in Algebra 1.  She will also continue Spelling and SAT Vocabulary with our Big IQ Kids program.

She’s been doing Big IQ Kids to supplement her Spelling since 1st grade, and I totally attribute this program to how amazing she is at spelling.  All 3 kids do the program to supplement and it is the one constant through all of our homeschooling years.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about it.

Oh yeah, and she’ll be taking DRIVER’S ED.  {{{Hold me.}}}

Cailey (my 7th grader…gulp) will be taking Apologia General Science,  Latin & Greek Roots, a Writing class, 2-D Art, and a Science study hall at the Co-op.  At home she will be doing Teaching Textbooks 7 for Math, Accelerated Christian Education for Spelling, English, and Social Studies.  I will continue Story of the World Volume 1 for history with both Cailey and Jensen.  We are in our 3rd year of Volume 1.  We evidently like to study our history in real time.

Jensen (my reluctant 4th grader) will be doing everything at home.  With his mother.  Otherwise known as The Torturer.   Jensen is my most difficult student to date.  I know.  Hard to imagine.  He’s a wiggly learner who is likely to spontaneously fall out of his chair at any moment.  But I have to say, he’s come a long way since the beginning of his 3rd grade year.  When we began last year, he was not reading.  Not.  At.  All.

He is now reading, learning cursive (the bane of his existence), and is known to carry armloads of books out of the library for his own personal science research.  The kid is scary smart.  I just need to direct and redirect ALL THE ENERGY AND DEFIANCE.

He will be doing Teaching Textbooks 4 for Math (he is certain that Math is going to kill him…but he’s doing great), and Accelerated Christian Education workbooks for English, Spelling, Social Studies, Creative Writing, and Science.  Since Science is his favorite subject, I’m adding a new curriculum that a girlfriend of mine suggested (she also has wiggly boy scientist wanna-be’s), The Sassafras Science Adventures: Zoology.  This is an adventure story with a corresponding work-book.

I’ve gotten my Journal all set up with Donna Young free printables, curriculum is on the shelves, and Extra-strength Excedrin is stocked in the cabinet.  I think I’m ready.

I love to know what curriculum everyone is doing, so please feel free to list yours in the comments!



The Evaluation

by Fiddledeedee on July 9, 2014


At some point during the month of June, I schedule an evaluator to peruse my homeschooling journal and the kid’s portfolios.  If she gives her okiedokie, everyone is promoted to the next grade, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

(We’ve never ever NOT received an okiedokie, but you know, there’s always THE CHANCE.)

We’ve had the same evaluator for the last 7 years of our homeschooling adventure and we dearly loved her.  Alas, she retired and I knew I needed to procure the services of someone else this year.  I have a friend of many years (who has successfully completed her homeschooling AND has children that MADE IT INTO COLLEGE) who holds her teaching certificate and is able to do evaluations.  I set up an appointment with her to have all 3 of my children LOOKED AT.

The morning of the evaluation, Jensen worked himself into quite a state.  He doesn’t care for change and he REALLY didn’t take to the idea of someone looking at his school work and, you know, JUDGING HIM.  No matter how I tried to assure and reassure him, he still managed to successfully hyperventilate.  The sisters noticed his dilemma and sought to comfort him.

Just kidding.

They only added to his misery until he was pretty sure he was going to be repeating Kindergarten, even though he had just completed 3rd.

We met at a designated area and the evaluation began with my oldest.  About 5 minutes into the meeting, Jensen came up to me, hyperventilating again, and scratching himself until I though he was going to hit an artery.  As far as I know, no homeschool kid has ever died during an evaluation.  I didn’t prefer mine to be the first.

I comforted him and slid a couple of Kid’s Benydryl tabs between his lips.  There may or may not have been a promise of ice cream should we successfully finish the meeting without a trip to the emergency room.

After Emme’s evaluation was finished, we wisely decided to do Jensen’s, thusly putting him out of our his misery.  I sat and watched Jensen’s eyes shine as my friend, Pam, gushed over his handwriting (the bane of my existence), his careful attention to his math problems (he is certain that math is going to kill him), his detail to Science (the only subject which gives him a reason to live), and eventually, she marveled at his many colorful dinosaur drawings which depict every type known to man and include the requisite 9 year old boy guts and gore.

All scratching ceased.

I’m certain that there is a very special place in heaven that’s extra nice for people like sweet Pam.

I’m happy to say that all 3 children, plus their bedraggled  teacher, passed with flying colors.  Ice cream was enjoyed by all.

I typed up my letter, included the evaluation, and sent all three envelopes off to our local superintendent of schools.  Certified.  Return receipt requested.

After 9 long years, I am now officially the homeschooling mother of a high school freshman, a 7th grader, and a reluctant 4th grader.

And still, no one is in therapy.

So far, so good.



Musically Declined

by Fiddledeedee on July 8, 2014

We listen to a lot of music in our house as of late.  And by “we,” I mean the teenager and her sidekick, the tweenager.  If it were up to me, I’d go for All The Silence, because I may or may not have burned out the interior of my eardrums with headphones and cranked up AC/DC during my impetuous teens.  Do not judge me.

If they must listen to music (Dear God, I’ve become my mother) I do prefer they listen to non-secular music (and now I sound like the nuns I grew up under in parochial school).  However, we do allow a certain amount of secular music as long as it doesn’t make me gasp in maternal horror.

And to be fair, they have somewhat good taste in music, thanks to their father.  In that they can recognize pitch problems and an overuse of voice auto-correct.  (Good riddance Britney Spears.)  Broadway show tunes are a favorite.  Which secretly delights me.

Lately I’ve noticed a preponderance of what I’d like to call the I’ve-got-tears-in-my-ears-lyin’-on-my-back-crying-over-you music.  Seriously.  WHAT’S WITH ALL THE SAD MUSIC?  If I hear “What about angels” one more time I’m going to drive ice picks into my ears.

And then I got to thinking about my sad music phase as a hormonal angst-ridden teen.  My go-to artist was Eric Carmen.  I wore that piece of vinyl right out.  So I grabbed my iPad, clicked on iTunes, and forced my daughters to listen to “All By Myself” and “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.”  As I wept.  Emme’s eyes rolled to the back of her head as she deadpanned, “I’m gonna kill myself.  I’m gonna go into the bathroom, slam the toilet seat down onto my head, right after I bash it into the tile on the way there.”

Her sense of drama springs from I have no idea where.

And then for sport, I made them listen to some of my favorite Donny Osmond tunes from my pre-teen years.  Think “Go Away Little Girl”, “Sweet & Innocent”, and of course, “Puppy Love.”  They were all, “MOM, is that a GIRL?”


Me, Donny, and my best friend Karen, circa 1971 at Cincinnati Gardens

Anyhoo.  My plan worked.

No one wanted to hear ANY music for a good day and a half.

What was your favorite pity party song growing up?



Art Attack

by Fiddledeedee on June 30, 2014

One of the subjects that I don’t really cover in our homeschooling journey, is art.  Even though I actually supported myself as an artist (air quotes) in Los Angeles (I painted walls and furniture), I cannot draw to save my life.  I never progressed much past Kindergarten.


Thankfully my children inherited their artistic flair from their father, who is a talented artist.  We’ve come to realize, however, that our 9 year may be some sort of phenom in the world of art.

Fiddledaddy filmed the following over Jensen’s shoulder last night.  Keep in mind that the film was sped up only slightly.  It took him about 5 minutes to draw the following picture.  He did not have any photograph in front of him.  This was totally from his fertile imagination.

Perhaps we’ve let him watch one too many dinosaur shows.  The images may be permanently burned into his retinas.

I have tried to correct the way he holds his pencil.  Really, I have.  At this point I think I’m just going to give up because I think he could give me a lesson or three.

He did not add the usual crime scene gore.  For that you can be grateful.

My entrepreneurial spirit tells me that somehow, I can make money off this kid.  Which will totally go to pay for the future therapy his sisters will undoubtedly need after the exposure to All The Dinosaur Violence.




June 23, 2014

As soon as we finished our school year (and by finished, I mean that we’re STILL doing Math, which makes me VERY popular with my students) we began Vacation Bible School at our church. Only one of my 3 children is still young enough to attend VBS.  So the elder two daughters volunteer their services […]

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