Well, it’s fall, and homeschool moms everywhere are thinking they’ve just found the most wonderful, shiny curriculum to use for the new school year. I don’t do school years and have bought very little in the way of curriculum over the past few years, but will show you what we do for our relaxed homeschool curriculum.
It doesn’t follow a schedule, and I don’t have pre-printed checklists, but we try to live an educating life and allow plenty of time for spontaneity.
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Family Homeschool Resources
Homeschooling two or three children at different grade levels can be challenging; when that number keeps increasing, it can seem downright impossible. Homeschool moms in this situation seem to fall into two categories: those that purchase a grade-level box curriculum and those that combine children wherever and whenever possible.
I fall into the second category and try to do as much as a family as possible. There are many homeschool curriculum resources that can work for everyone in your relaxed homeschool.
The Brave Writer lifestyle is a key component of our home educating life. From poetry teatime to freewriting, this is the foundation upon which I build a life of learning. My friend Angela at Nurtured Roots has a great graphic that organizes all the aspects of a Brave Writer lifestyle that I use as a little reminder.
You can also use the online lesson plans available as an add-on to a Homeschool Planet membership, which will give you a daily prompt to incorporate a movie, copywork, teatime, etc. into your day.
My favorite Brave Writer resources are found on the Home Study Courses page, of course. I’m never good with an entirely planned curriculum, so these are perfect:
This works well for us because I like to economize on time by having our read alouds correlate with our history, geography, or other topics. This way we can use that read aloud for our copywork or discussion of literary devices. We can do the projects in the guides as we see fit on our schedule, and I love the sample schedules given.
The sample schedules provide a great snapshot of how to incorporate the elements of a Brave Writer lifestyle into your homeschool without thinking you need to do everything, every day.
Masterpiece Society Studio
As I’ve said before, Masterpiece Society Studio is the BEST homeschool art curriculum. We’ve loved Alisha for years and had most all of her mixed media courses, but she made it even better with her subscription site.
We have easy access to all of the mixed media courses, plus all of her new content such as:
- Drawing 101
- Watercolor 101
- Masterpiece Moms
- Step-by-Step Drawing Lessons (K-2)
- Coloring pages for the Pre-K crowd
It takes a little prep work and expenses to get all the supplies you will need for the mixed media courses, but once you have them, they will last for quite some time.
I’m not a mom who loves cutesy construction paper crafts, so Masterpiece Society is perfect. Even I want to create the pieces, and we all have our own interpretation and final product.
Layers of Learning
I just discovered Layers of Learning this spring and thought this is what I’ve been looking for. It has a four-year rotation and covers history, science, geography, and the arts for your entire family.
Each year is divided into 20 units, and you can use your time as you see fit, though they recommend two-weeks each. So if you love one unit, you can linger for three weeks. Not crazy about another, get it done in one week. Make it work for your family.
My favorite Topic is The Arts. Just for year two, it covers such things as King Arthur Tales, Gothic Art, Plays, Printmaking, and Textiles. There is even a section on “vivid language.” Just by following this topic alone, we would cover a lot of those things that seem to get pushed to the side when time is tight.
Each unit begins with a library list for all four topics divided into three levels, so 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12 grades. There are also timeline images, maps, coloring pages, recipes, project ideas, and more to help you put together an excellent unit study. They also have some fabulous Pinterest boards for all the units with links to projects, videos, and other information.
Layers of Learning gives me so many ideas, books, and projects to incorporate, there is no way I can do them all. Therefore, I choose the ones I know my girls will love and next time around; we can try something else.
We love our field trips, and we’re fortunate to live in an area with an abundance of opportunities. I try to stay abreast of upcoming homeschool days and exhibits so we can take advantage of the hands-on learning that field trips provide.
Already we’re planning a mini-trip to visit the Biltmore Estate during their homeschool days, visiting a local science museum that holds monthly lunchtime lectures, and a trip to the zoo once the weather cools off.
This upcoming year is our fourth year to participate in a wonderful music program for homeschoolers. Two of my girls are in the band playing flute and percussion, three of the girls are in guitar class this year, and all of them are in the chorus. The little man will be in a music class for preschoolers.
This is where we spend our Friday, but it’s so worth it. Not only do they receive excellent music instruction, but they also get to spend time with friends.
Individual Homeschool Curriculum Selections
So there you have the things I use for all age levels, but when they do work independently, we have some other resources. Some of these multiple children use, but it’s not necessarily something we work on as a family.
My oldest turned 16 this summer and is beginning dual enrollment at our local technical college. Our state has a generous program for dual enrollment, and our goal is to have her take courses that will transfer as general education requirements at our local university. She may do something else, but this way we’re creating a transcript of outside classes and potentially gaining a lot of college credit for free.
Her first classes are English 1101 and an Introduction to Computer Systems course. The computer course isn’t what we expected, but will be suitable for an elective.
She also took her first CLEP exam this August at our local university, passed, and therefore has 3 hours of history waiting for her. Not too shabby for a child that was never required to write a book report.
So in addition to her college courses, she will be working at her own pace through her Mr. D Algebra course. Math is not her favorite, though she does fine with it, and we intend to take College Algebra through dual enrollment at some point.
She is also working on Russian with Rosetta Stone and is a voracious reader. Honestly, I feel like I’m just in a supporting role with her. It is very much a conversation about what she is doing and reading. I’m not choosing things for her, but helping her decided what she needs to accomplish.
The roles of a homeschool mom are forever changing.
Middle School/Junior High
Technically, according to birth dates, I have two high school age, but one works more with her younger middle school sister. They’re only two years apart and similar academically.
My second is dyslexic and would rather do anything other than academics so every day can look different. I try to give her a mix of online and at the table work. So here’s what we’re currently using:
- Reading Horizons online
- Workbook for Dyslexics
- Khan Academy for Math and Grammar
- Reading a book a week
My third works quickly, so she does these things and then usually embarks on projects of her own:
Together, they are working through the Poetry and a Movie course from Literary Adventures, which we are loving. We all wrote poems using personification and are preparing to watch our first movie, Citizen Kane. This has been an excellent course that my girls are enjoying.
I have two elementary age children, and their choices are very similar:
- Explode the Code for phonics reinforcement
- Grammar Galaxy
- Life of Fred (I also like the online lesson plans from Homeschool Planet)
I have used Explode the Code for years to help reinforce phonics, and it has proved helpful for all but my dyslexic child. It provides something for them to work on fairly independently while I help other children.
We’re also using Grammar Galaxy, which my 8-year-old begs for. Learning is always so much more fun with a story. I usually read aloud the chapter on one day, and then we do the lessons in the mission manual orally while they write the answers.
They’re also using CTCMath, but when they haven’t quite mastered a topic, I’ll pick up an inexpensive workbook to give them a little more practice.
Thankfully, I still have a little one, and he loves to “do math,” though I’m not one to do any formal preschool. So my plan with him is very simple:
- Once a week music class
- Storytime at the Library
- Plenty of picture books
- Helping around the house
- Playing with siblings
- Tagging along on all of our adventures
- Lots of time outside
- Love from everyone
What more does a 4-year-old boy need? The only preschool books I like are the Kumon workbooks, especially the maze books.
Building a Relaxed Homeschool Curriculum
Building a relaxed homeschool curriculum doesn’t require extensive checklists and a summer full of planning. For me, it’s simply thinking of ways to build the skills each child needs to work on while filling our life with interesting things.
Whether it’s field trips, documentaries, read alouds, movies, or games, there is always a way to introduce something new and fascinating to pique their curiosity. Building a relaxed homeschool curriculum is as simple as making life do the educating. May we all strive to create an atmosphere of learning in our home.
What are you doing to create a learning atmosphere in your home?
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