We’ve got some big changes coming this year in our homeschool — and I’m pretty excited about them! Big surprise, I’m always excited about filling my Amazon cart! For the most part, the books have all been ordered, shipped, fondled, and have found a shelf to call home. We’re ready to dig in!
This year I’ll be homeschooling seventh and fourth grades with a tag-along kindergartener. Besides our curriculum picks, we also are planning on participating in our homeschool community’s monthly co-op, continuing in a monthly World Studies mini co-op with a small group of friends, and adding in some sewing lessons too!
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So many crisp new books, and a pile of old favourites too, this is what we’re using for curriculum this year in our relaxed classical homeschool!
Relaxed Classical Homeschool Curriculum for 7th Grade
This past year has been a big one for my oldest daughter and she’s matured and developed so much! She’s turning into a responsible young lady and as such, I feel she’s up to the challenge of some serious courses. Although a few old, familiar favourites are found in her list of curriculum and resources, there are some big changes and challenges ahead for her this year.
We’re trying something completely new this year in the Language Arts department, and I’m really looking forward to it!
I’ve never used a “boxed curriculum” with any of my kids and have always pieced together my preferred resource choices myself. This year we’re going to try out a curriculum package from a Canadian Classical homeschooling curriculum supplier — Tree of Life School.
Tree of Life School’s seventh-grade curriculum (What’s the Big Idea Level 1) includes a required reading list of 19 rich, living books, but my oldest is a voracious reader and I’m sure she can handle it. Up until now though, I’ve never had any assigned reading in our homeschool at all.
What I’m really excited about is that I decided to go with the tuition option which means that I don’t have to mark my daughter’s writing assignments! While I’ve really not enjoyed marking this past year, I’ve also wondered how an outside teacher would grade her papers. So I’ll be getting some external feedback AND a break to my workload this year.
Math-U-See is still our top choice for math and this year my 7th grader is working in the Zeta book. Actually, she started it this summer and is cruising through it much quicker than she has with the other levels. We’ve stuck with the program from the beginning and I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’ve had a few hiccups over the years but these tips & tricks have helped us thrive with this excellent math program!
In addition to her daily Math-U-See lessons, she’ll also continue with a lesson a day with CTCMath. It’s a great way to supplement her math learning — it takes less than 15 minutes a day and because it’s online, it adds no work for me!
Since the Tree of Life School curriculum for 7th grade includes The Fallacy Detective, which she completed last year (it was her favourite resource of the year!), we’re going to sub in the next level, The Thinking Toolbox.
I spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about what my oldest would be doing for history this year. After 6 years, we have finally finished all four volumes of Story of the World. My initial plan was just to start the cycle over again with Volume 1: Ancient History, adding in my youngest who is now kindergarten age. While this would have been the easiest for me, I started to wonder whether it would be enough to satisfy my history-loving daughter. I was on the hunt for an alternative.
It just so happens that Tree of Life’s seventh-grade program includes ancient history through living books. Problem solved! My seventh grader can sit in on our Story of the World read-alouds and activities if she wants to, we can continue to learn together as a family, and she can be challenged with something new.
My daughter is about halfway through Middlebury’s Middle School French 1, so she’ll continue with that until at least Christmas. After that, we will either move on to Middle School French 2 or we’ll try some French workbooks, library books, and try out Duolingo.
Although science has never been a favourite subject for me to teach or for her to learn, I’m really looking forward to helping my oldest through a more substantial science text this year. She’ll be using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with General Science 2nd Edition by Jay Wile. I’m hoping she will work mostly independently with this, but I do want to spend some time teaching her how to take notes.
I’ve tried various curriculum & methods for science over the years while trying to find something my kids like. The most successful year so far was the year I bought the lab kit. A lab kit means no excuses. Experiments get done. Kids have fun. Prep is not my forté, so I plunked down my money and bought the kit.
Art & Music
We’ll cover art & music appreciation during Morning Time (see below) and my seventh grader will continue with her private piano lessons and mixed media art projects with Masterpiece Society Studio.
Relaxed Classical Curriculum for 4th Grade
One of the main advantages of homeschooling is the ability to work with your child at their own level and not necessarily their grade level. Never has this been more obvious to me than when I take a look at the mess of resources I use with my soon-to-be fourth grader!
Since my simple homeschool planning is to simply do the next thing and we homeschool year-round, we won’t be picking up the next book or level of these choices in September but when we finish the level before. Here’s what’s up next for my new fourth-grader.
Now that she’s done our phonics primer, we’ll be working on fluency, independence, and trying to develop a love of reading. This has been a long, uphill climb for my second born. Reading for this girl has been HARD. This year I’ll simply be having her read aloud to me daily from our All About Reading Level 4 readers and then moving on to some of these quality early chapter books.
Writing & Penmanship
For writing this coming year we will continue with Writing with Ease, moving into Level 3 which continues to focus on copywork, narration, and dictation.
We will also continue on with Handwriting without Tears’ fourth-grade workbook, Cursive Success. When she’s done the workbook, we’ll use copywork pages created using the HWT Worksheet Maker. I tried using other copywork pages last year but she had trouble with the more detailed fonts compared to HWT’s simple style.
We only got halfway through First Language Lessons Level 3 last year due to prioritizing other subjects, so we’ll finish that up. I’m not at all disappointed though after seeing Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind, (which comes after Level 4) — it’s really hard! There’s no way she’ll be ready for it in fifth grade.
Spelling was pretty much her favourite subject last year, and I love how easy it is to teach using All About Spelling! We’ll be in Level 3 this year.
For science this year, my fourth grader (and tag along kindergartener) will be using Apologia’s Young Explorer Series, Exploring Creation with Astronomy and/or Elemental Science’s Sassafras Science Adventures Volume 4: Earth Science.
I’ve used the Astronomy text previously with my oldest daughter but the Sassafras one is completely new to us. Hopefully, the girls will find the text engaging (it’s a living book approach). I’m also going to give lapbooks a try again. I used lapbooks a few times with my oldest a few years back and she hated them! But my more hands-on, wiggly girl might appreciate the activity that was just annoying busywork to her big sister.
This year we’re starting the History cycle over again with Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times. I’m really excited to explore the stories of the Greeks and Egyptians again with my younger children! My fourth grader will keep a History notebook with my Story of the World Volume 1 Notebooking Pages. She’ll record her narrations and do the mapwork in the Activity Guide while my Kindergartener will tag along for the stories and activities.
Art & Music
My fourth grader will continue on with her private piano lessons (despite her requests otherwise!) and I have zero plans for art for her beyond art appreciation. She has a strong resistance to participating in any art tutorial-type activity, but she does occasionally enjoy Art for Kids Hub, ChalkPastel.com, or Masterpiece Society.
Relaxed Classical Curriculum Picks for Kindergarten
I’m not a big fan of pushing any kind of early education on our kiddos. I believe that bookwork is best left to the older crowd and our littlest kids should be able to fill their hours with as much unstructured activity and free play as possible.
I’m also not a fan of spending endless hours creating sensory play experiences and learning through play activities that create more work for mom than benefit for our children. If that kind of thing floats your boat, then have at it — you do you.
The funny thing is, my youngest learner, currently 5 years old, thinks she’s halfway grown-up. She doesn’t just want to join her siblings in “school time”, but is actually capable of working and hungering to learn. So, after having made zero effort to teach her her letters, upper-case and lower case, numbers, etc. last year I bought her a math book, penmanship exercise book, and started to intentionally teach her to read. It seemed criminal to watch her sitting on the sidelines, trying to figure it out on her own.
She got about halfway through her math book, so we’ll continue doing as little or as much school work she wants for this year using Math U See Primer, Handwriting Without Tears Letter and Numbers for Me, and The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.
She’ll also join her older sister for Science & History and all of us for Morning Time.
As my girls grow and mature, there is less and less that we can do all together while meeting everyone’s needs. This year, the only thing we will be doing all together is Morning Time. Here’s what we’re planning on using:
- YWAM’s Christian Heroes Then & Now missionary biographies books 6-10
- Maestro Classics
- Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolio: Van Goh
- One Hundred and One Famous Poems
- Ancient History read-alouds as appropriate
- History of the World Mad Libs
So that’s our line up for the 2019/2020 school year! We’re pretty excited about our selections and would love to hear about what resources you’ll be using this year — let me know in the comments!