Our Homeschool Year in Review

I’ve talked about our homeschooling/daily routine here a couple of times before (you can see my “day in the life” post + some other bits and bobs), but I’ve gotten so many questions recently about how to get started in homeschooling, what curricula we use, and what our typical day looks like that I thought I’d give all 20 of you (who have probably already emailed me privately, ha!) interested another peek at our school routine–especially since this year has been considerably different than usual.

Although…we’ve had several iterations so far in this homeschooling journey (including full-time homeschooling and part-time homeschooling + private school), and I never know exactly what the next year will hold, so maybe “usual” is a misnomer.

This year’s notable difference has been the addition of my mom as a teacher. (Insert aaaaalll the praise hands). She homeschooled my brother and me through around age 15 when we both started college (although, not that at the same time, since my brother is 4 years older), and before + during (albeit very part time) + after that, she taught both high school and college students. She’s an amazing teacher–patient, creative, meticulous…


I really don’t toot my mama’s horn enough, but she’s an incredible woman, and I am so grateful that my kids have her so actively involved in their lives. This year that looks like hiring her to come to our house on Tuesdays and Thursdays to teach the boys and Della from 10-3. Then, those three go home with her on Thursday evening and stay through Friday (they only have to do their “independent” workbooks at her house on Fridays rather than our full curriculum, so it’s our lightest day).

Which means that I only home school alone on Mondays and Wednesdays. That has been such a Godsend this year, with 2 very active (read: tiring) 3-year-olds + a toddler, since I spend those days catching up on laundry and housework, blogging, meal prep, figuring out stuff for the new house, etc. I always have grand plans of getting giant projects done the days that my mom is here, but the truth is that I’m usually doing well to get the normal housework done. Funny how excited I get about having help, only to realize that having 3 little kids “underfoot” is enough to put a kibosh on painting projects and the like. Duh, Abbie. Turns out 6 kids at home all day is busy whether there’s help or not. (Don’t get me wrong: I’m THRILLED to have it and wouldn’t want my kids to be anywhere else).

Typically, Mom focuses on history, writing, handwriting, keyboarding, and __________ (additional subjects vary per day/need). And I do history, science, grammar, and Christian apologetics (plus some Spanish; but I’ve slacked on that this year). This is in addition to the boys’ independent work, which they do (with questions answered) mostly on their own each day.

Our Monday routine is: gym in the morning (where the boys complete their independent work), grocery shopping for the week, errands, home for lunch, school in the afternoons, dinner prep, free time, (these days) soccer practice, dinner, then bed.


{This is usually the scene when we get home from grocery-shopping on Mondays, and everybody’s famished, and there are bags everywhere in the process of being put away}

Wednesdays are a mad rush of: chores, school (both independent and with me), lunch, piano practice, gym, dinner, bed. Definitely our most hectic day.

We don’t do school on the weekends, of course, and on Monday the whole rigamarole starts all over again. I cannot even begin to express lightning fast this year has gone. I am still in denial that it’s May with the school year already almost done. #likewhoa

As far as curricula, we’re all over the place. I’ve done all-inclusive curricula in the past, but I never loved every last bit of it, so over the years, I’ve honed my favorites and gleaned a lot of recommendations and reviews from fellow homeschool mamas until I’m pretty happy with our setup.

Which is:

Math – Horizons

Reading – Bob Jones

Writing – Institute for Excellence in Writing (I can’t actually speak to this because my mom teaches writing, but from what I’ve gleaned from her, she doesn’t love it; feels like it’s a bit dry/restrictive. Others I know rave about it, but my mom IS a writing teacher, so I definitely trust her to take what she can from the curriculum and put her own unique stamp on it)

Science – Apologia

Apologetics – Apologia (Who is God and Can I Really Know Him)

History – The Story of the World

Spelling – A Reason for Spelling. Honestly, I’m not impressed with this curriculum, and we won’t be using it next year. The activities don’t do very much to reinforce the words, and the words, themselves, seem way below grade level to me (my mom agrees)

Grammar – First Language Lessons for the Well-trained Mind

Handwriting – We have a book (whose name I cannot currently remember, shamefully), but I also print Bible verses to copy for handwriting practice

We also supplement with some super-reading/language skills books from Sylvan learning, which I really like because they include word finding exercises, lots of practice with prefixes/suffixes, homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, and various other “wordy” things that can kind of fall through the cracks of a curriculum category.


Della doesn’t do all of these things, of course, but she does have her reading/math/handwriting exercises, and she’s usually present when we’re doing history/science/grammar together (she’s surprisingly good at spotting things like prepositions and adjectives, even when the boys get stumped), so she’s absorbing a lot. She’s also grown a ton in her reading confidence, so she’ll be ready to officially head into 1st grade in the fall (even though she doesn’t turn 6 until the end of November).


Speaking of the fall, we’ll be adding yet another twist to our homeschooling routine because we’ve joined a co-op. When I was growing up, I remember being part of a co-op–which basically meant that, once a month or so, all the home schooling moms and their posses got together at the park and played and ate a picnic. It was definitely a social thing.

But this is infinitely more structured than that, and both Shaun and I will be participating in a teaching/helping capacity (parents are required to pitch in, and election for the very limited available spots that come open each year is awarded according to which parent positions need filling rather than child “merit” or number). Fortunately, they needed a computer programming teacher (Shaun, NOT me), which is why we made the cut. They have nursery and toddler facilities, so our whole family (well, Shaun’s role is limited to an hour) will be spending 3 Mondays a month attending school at the co-op. The rest of the week should look similar to our current setup, but again, I never know quite what to expect, so we shall see.

Aaaaand if you made it all the way through that, I congratulate you. Your attention span is better than mine. (I started nodding off somewhere around paragraph 3).

Obviously, our routine wouldn’t work for everybody, but it’s great for us right now. I’ve said it before to anyone who cares to listen, but I’ll say it again: I love homeschooling for its flexibility (among other things). Is your kid ahead? Great! Bump him up. Is he behind? No problem. Slow down, and take more time on a specific subject. Is your schedule nuts one week? Not the end of the world. Just double up on your work the next week.


{Sometimes, you just gotta take a break to help your sister put together her new Princess Legos}

My kids are easy to teach, so far (not gloating; just observing with gratitude), and they really like the schedule, what they’re learning (for the most part), and the opportunity to see their Softa (my mom) so often. This has been the least intense homeschooling year for me by far, and I’m honestly just really grateful for that, with everything else we have going on, building the new house and how much that requires Shaun to be gone.

ANYhoo, I’d love to hear about your homeschool routines and any curriculum suggestions you might have for me (I’m especially interested in finding something fantastic for: spelling and maybe some more Charlotte Mason style subjects like poetry, art, and music), and I hope this post has been at least a teensy bit helpful and informative for those of you who have questions about such things.

If I overlooked something or didn’t address your questions, feel free to ask away. Even if I can’t answer it, I bet you a much more seasoned and awesome homeschooling mom than I can answer it in the comments.

P.S. Lest I have somehow painted too rosy a picture of our homeschooling experience, I would like to point out that Simon came downstairs the other day intent on having me settle an argument between him and Ezra, in which he was insisting that the USA is in South America, while Ezra countered that it was in North America. Whomp whomp. At least one of them had a clue, right? Methinks I may need to add “geography” to our must-have curriculum list.

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13 thoughts on “Our Homeschool Year in Review

  1. Love this post! My son will be 4 at the end of August. I have purchased a few curriculums already with hopes of working our way into a homeschool routine, but much to my chagrin , he has no interest what so ever. When will the twins join the homeschooling posse? Do you think I should wait longer to start officially start a curriculum?

    1. Hi Robin! I’m so sorry to be so slow to answer. I will start working with the twins during our “off time” this summer, and then they will be doing preschool material this summer. They’ll be 4 in September, but this is the latest I’ve ever waited to do any letters or numbers at all. #4thand5thkids Honestly, though. I wouldn’t sweat it. If he’s not interested/ready, he soon will be. Just do easy, fun stuff that’s less “curriculum” and more “games” (like cutting out letters from magazines or doing number puzzles. If he’s interested in those at all, he’ll pick up more than you’d think.

  2. Spelling seems to be a difficult to subject to find a good curriculum to use. I’m giving All About Spelling a try and thus far it seems to be a good alternative to the traditional spelling lists. You can visit their website and learn more about this program.

    Our oldest (she’s in high school this year) has greatly enjoyed Wordly Wise for vocabulary. She’s also doing a drawing program through Artistic Pursuits. They have a variety of levels of art-type instructional books. While I don’t have any experience with the younger grades using this, it is wonderful for our independent learner. The nice thing about this book is that it is non-consumable.

  3. Thanks for the homeschool post! It’s always great to see how other people do it, especially since next year will be our first at homeschool, so I don’t really know what I’m doing! I have 5 kids, but it has been a journey to get my husband to be ok with homeschooling at all, so it will just be my second-grader next year (though I will still have a 3-year old and 4-month-old at home). It is a little daunting but I am excited!

  4. Definitely not an offensive question! The short answer is that, while we learn science from the perspective of God’s creation, I definitely tell my children that the theory of evolution exists.

  5. Definitely not an offensive question! The short answer is that, while we study science through the lens of God’s creation, I definitely teach my kids about the existence of the theory of evolution.

  6. Hi Abbie! Great post! I find it especially interesting as I’m from the other part of the world (Europe…) and homeschooling isn’t as common here. I do have a question though (please, do not consider it offensive, I have no ‘ulterior’ motives, I’m just genuinely interested about how you pick the topics for homeschooling) – I know you teach (and follow) apologetics. Do you also teach your children evolution (so they know it exsists) or do you omit it completely? Thank you for your answer.

  7. Also when I was growing up my mum just had lists of words she’d ask us. If we got any wrong those words would go in our exercise books and we’d practice writing them out ten times a day for a few days. Then they (and new words) would get tested and the process would repeat.
    Nothing like good old repetition, lol. :D
    My Mum had good results with Sequential Spelling for some of my younger siblings, too.

  8. Sounds great! I think our home education routine looks more free-form than that, but we also have been working on finding what works for us.

    You asked about arty subjects– I am planning to add in some poetry memorization with the “Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization” program from IEW. It sounds really great and spans multiple years of use. I heard some seminars about the benefits of memorization recently and it really got me thinking. I know I memorized poetry in school, along with scripture. So we started reading some fun poems and the kids picked some short ones to memorize and it’s been actually really easy and fun. The bonus is that they have something to recite and “wow” people with.

  9. Really good tips! I’m wrapping up a decade of homeschooling my 3 by sending my youngest to online public school this fall. It’s been a great season, but it’s nice to change roles and just be a “learning coach” as the high school subjects continue to get tougher. Their school is called Connections Academy. For homeschooling resources I’ve loved giving the kids a Biblical foundation as part of their school, so we really enjoyed the missionary stories in Sonlight. Math-U-See has been a life saver for me because I am NOT gifted in math and the kids can watch a DVD with great instruction from an expert. We also enjoyed Sequential Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears.If you want a fun Geography option, especially for younger kids, Sing the World sets countries, oceans, planets, and continents to music making them fun to learn. My 10 year old can name all the states and lots of countries without any help now. I’m sure your kids will cherish the memories they have of learning with Grandma. What a blessing!

  10. Wonderful post! I sooo enjoy reading how other super-mamas implement homeschooling! How fortunate you are to have help! I have five kiddos…9months to 9years old…and I dream of some sort of help to balance out our days/weeks. As a result, I ALWAYS feel behind. But, we just keep plugging away. They surely will learn something, right?! For writing next year, we are going with BraveWriter (by Julie Bogart)…have you heard of her? She also has Poetry Tea Time. She is sooo inspiring, creative, and smart. I am looking forward to starting!

  11. Hiring your mom? If you don’t mind telling..how much are you paying? Do you plan anything she does or are her subjects completely hers to plan and execute? Thanks!

    1. While I’m not comfortable saying how much we pay her, I will say that she does the prep/execution for the subjects she teaches.

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