I’ve never done a homeschool year in review post before because I always have it in my head that I’m a newbie who has no idea what I’m doing. There are so many parents out there with multiple kids and years of experience and to be honest, our homeschool style is not for everyone. But at the same time, because of our unique situation I sometimes feel it’s even more important to share since there are so few resources for those who are homeschooling radically accelerated children.
Our homeschool style is what I would be consider to be eclectic, so cough, we don’t really have one. We use curriculum for science and math because those are my son’s strongest subjects and my weakest. Because of my son’s age, we largely unschool for language arts and social studies– learning as we go along and using books, museums, and other resources to create an experience-rich environment. His science and math is so heavy in academics that I think it allows us a good balance. We also like to dabble in other subjects as well, though not as formally.
Our requirements for curriculum are that they are secular, challenging, and age-appropriate. I do a lot of research before purchasing a new resource, but it’s still not always perfect. I especially struggle finding purely secular sources. I know a lot of secular homeschool families who use Christian resources, but that’s not for us.
My son turned 6 during this school year, so if he was in public school he would be in grade 1. We chose homeschooling because junior kindergarten was not a great fit for him, with the hope that we could enrol him in a private school or a public charter school for gifted children at an accelerated grade once he was 6. But he is just too far ahead academically that we chose to continue homeschooling so that we can continue to meet his unique academic, social, and emotional needs.
So without further ado, here is what our 2018-2019 homeschool year looked like:
Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth Physical Science
Science is always our biggest struggle because it is by far my son’s favourite subject and my weakest. This is why we chose to swallow the large price tag of a CTY course. I also wanted to have some sort of piece of paper that I can point to and say without a doubt my kid is at this grade level (hello, imposter syndrome), which I now have in the form of a transcript.
My son loved the online course. He found the content engaging and especially loved the simulations. He also enjoyed the independence factor of sitting down to the computer each day and knowing exactly what he needed to do without any help from me.
CTY’s courses are not cheap, and from what I’ve heard their courseware is the same as other less expensive options but for us the biggest pro was age. Because they work with talented youth, they are understanding of students working above grade level. Just speaking with the amazing educators and administrators through email was such an amazing experience as a parent because they get it.
Art of Problem Solving Prealgebra
Art of Problem Solving is definitely the math curriculum for high achieving math kids whose parents want them to learn to think in complex ways. My son loved Beast Academy 3, but when I purchased Beast Academy 4 I realized that his math skills were needing something more. He enjoys reading through the guidebooks, so we’ll most likely purchase 5 and 6 without the workbooks for fun, but for “school” we’ve been working through AOPS Prealgebra with the odd unit from AOPS Introduction to Number Theory intermixed since that’s my son’s favourite kind of math. I am not a math person, but luckily the explanations are thorough enough that if my son does have a problem, I can still help him find the solution.
My son loves to code and I have to admit, I think it’s going to be a necessary skill for our kids when they’re adults. There are luckily some great coding books and toys that we love. My son’s birthday and Christmas money usually go towards purchasing himself something he can code so we have LEGO WeDo (we’re in Canada so we purchased from Spectrum Nasco), a Kano, and a BB8 Sphero. Phew. They all get quite a lot of use, though, and the possibilities are almost endless. He also loves the Coding Games books by DK. He’s dabbled in both Scratch and Python and honestly, I much prefer him building video games than just playing them!
While a grammar curriculum just wasn’t sticking for us this year, I did want my kiddo to have some language-based program. With the abundance of latin terms in Harry Potter and in science, my kid was pretty willing to give latin a try.
Minimus Latin is a comic book style resource that’s appropriate for young kiddos, but I have read a few complaints that it’s not a stand-alone curriculum. I do keep a pronunciation guide in the front of our notebook and we have watched a few of the Great Courses that introduce Latin through our library’s Hoopla app but for the most part my kiddo has been able to put the pieces together with little issue. For me the important thing is that he is getting language practice; we can always refine it in the future. And honestly, his grammar is better than a lot of adults that I know, so I’m not too worried about it just yet.
I think a huge part of schooling is getting out of the house and having experiences, whether it’s just a trip to the library or a huge family vacation. Right now we live about an hour and a half from Toronto (although it’s often more like two hours or more with traffic these days) so large museums are a big trip for us. We did however have an Ontario Science Centre pass which was a fabulous purchase! We also love the Royal Ontario Museum and finally visited the adorable Willoughby Museum on the Niagara river. We also spent six days in Iceland which was the trip of a lifetime!
This year we didn’t do a strict scheduling of our school days. I did try to plan initially but our life was just too chaotic to make it stick. My daily requirements have always been a little science, a little math, lots of books, lots of fresh air, and a bit of music. It seems to work well for us and I feel like my kiddo is happiest when he’s having all of those different needs met. We read so many fantastic novels and picture books. Silly stories were written. Fantastically fancy poetry tea times were savoured. We took hikes and had play dates and rode our bikes all around town. My kiddo was in swimming lessons and took karate, and also did a number of programs at our local library.
This year was a great introduction into a slightly more structured homeschool day with real curriculum and coursework, though I’m so glad we took our time with it and still allowed for some flexibility. It was fabulous watching my kiddo’s skills develop– things like handwriting even though I eventually said screw it to the handwriting books. Of course, I’ll probably go back to them now that I wrote that.
I learned that my son thrives when he can teach himself, and while he still wants me near, he likes his independence. I also learned that his growth happens in spurts just the same as always; one day I’ll be banging my head against the table trying to explain a topic and the next morning he’ll have mastered it better than me. That’s just the way it goes. I’ve learned to plan loose, flexible plans, like sticky note activities inside the text book so that it’s there waiting for me when we get there and not lost to my abandoned planner. I’m also learning a lot about myself, and becoming more comfortable with this path that we are on.
I guess with this year behind me that only means it’s time to start thinking about what next year might bring!
What worked for you in your homeschool this year? What didn’t?