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As part of our year-round homeschool routine, we do summer homeschooling. I’ve found this works best for our schedule and allows us to take time off throughout the year. It also helps keep things in focus. At the beginning of 2020, I shared our homeschool lesson plans. We switch things up three times a year: in September when CJ advances to the next grade, in January after we discover what’s been working and what hasn’t been working, and in June. The June changes allow us to add in the increased needs of the homestead and also focus on things that might need a little more effort.
Our day starts with outdoor chores; feeding and watering the goats and chickens takes a little time. Then we spend a few minutes checking the garden. When the full heat of summer hits, we also do an early morning watering. Learning how to care for livestock and a garden is an important part of living on a homestead. But, if I’m honest, CJ doesn’t love it. He does it, but it’s not a passion.
Summer homeschooling focuses on areas that need a little more attention and allowing CJ to follow his passions. This summer, like last, we’re working on times tables. Using timed tests and flashcards is helping to sharpen his skills. And, like last summer, spelling is still a focus. Sometimes we use a workbook with activities, but usually, it’s a verbal or written quiz. We’re also spending time on cursive. The workbook Learning Cursive with The Hobbit has proven to be a fairly enjoyable book for this.
This summer we’re also trying something different. In the past, we’ve used a mish-mash of curriculums. On one particularly trying homeschool day (yes, those do exist), I wondered if we needed to do something different. Apparently I wasn’t the only one have a day, because someone in my homeschooling group asked for suggestions for a more organized curriculum. Someone suggested Monarch. I really liked how each subject offered a test. We signed up and started with the testing, and then planned the lessons around what he needs to level up. It’s been very helpful to see what needs to be focused on.
In addition to the focus areas, we’re continuing with our core subjects for Civics/Government with the Tuttle Twins series. While we were doing the weekly curriculum during the “official” school year, now we’re only reading and discussing the full-length books. CJ is especially interested in the books on starting a business. He’s still trying to find the perfect business for himself (at the age of 11) after having started a few business plans.
Earlier I mentioned he helps around the homestead but that it’s not his passion. Finding his passion is something we also focus on as much as possible. I’ve just finished reading the book Passion-Driven Education: How to Use Your Child’s Interests to Ignite a Lifelong Love of Learning by Connor Boyack. Early in our homeschooling days, I listened to this podcast on finding and developing your child’s talent. I long knew I wanted to help CJ foster a love of learning. Not a love of memorizing (like the times tables and spelling) but a desire to want to know more. To want to delve into subjects and make them his own.
Finding interests and expanding on them can make homeschooling extremely enjoyable. CJ has started thinking of different talents he can work on now to benefit him in the future. He has an extreme love of swords and spends a lot of time researching different swords and knives. We’ve even discovered a bladesmithing community in Wyoming, and he hopes to take a class when he’s old enough. He also loves to draw swords, so we encourage his artistic efforts through in-person and online classes.
Homeschooling is a family event. Evening gardening and chores often take all of us. And even with a small garden, it takes time to water and tend to. The meat birds need moved to fresh grass and the goats need to be played with–yes, that’s a hard chore!
After a break during the recent lockdowns, we’re back to our twice-weekly martial arts lessons. CJ and I also take Healthy Moving breaks throughout our day as part of P.E. And we continue with taking history and economics courses through Liberty Classroom. Most nights, CJ and Joe continue with their evening ritual of storytime. Sometimes, instead of a story, they’ll watch a short video (about swords) or show together.