Homeschool Plans for 2016-2017 School Year

It is that time. The new school year officially starts on July 1st in New York State, and I’m a rule follower. 😀 I now have a 7th grader. It’s our 4th year homeschooling and I finally feel like I’ve figured this whole thing out a little bit. Some changes this year include using a Bullet Journal just for homeschool. This journal will help my daughter, and any family members who may be in charge on work days, know what needs to be done each week. It also helps quarterly reports go more smoothly.

We don’t take summer off. We do take summer slowly and with sleep in time. I assign her books that need to be read. We do science experiments, and art projects. We go on field trips and get together with friends to troop through the woods or play in lakes.

Mid-August we start back to more “formal” schoolwork. I warned my daughter that this year may take a bit more time than prior years because she’s firmly in middle school now. NYS has stringent requirements, and although I know that every moment they’re learning, certain areas need to be taught.


  • Life of Fred Language Arts – these are geared toward high school students, but the first three are fine to use with younger students.
  • Writing With Skill Level 1 – we started this midway through last year and it seems to be working. We’ll continue and perhaps start the next level during the year.
  • Plenty of Novels. I have over 30 books for her to read this year. I’m going to make a whole post on them, so look for that.

History and Geography

  • Lapbook on Government and the Election Process
  • History Year by year – we’ll go through half this year and half next.
  • A geography course. I haven’t decided which I want to do yet.


  • Carbon Chemistry – She did The Elements by the same author to finish out last year. It was a hit and she can’t wait to start this one.
  • Focus on Middle School Physics – This is new to us and looking at the book was exciting. I can’t wait to try it out.
  • Another unit that is undecided. If the Focus On series is a huge hit, I may purchase one of the other titles. The other possibility is one of the biology courses I have.


  • Life of Fred – always and forever. This works. We’ll start with Decimals and Percents and move on to Pre-Algebra 0 with Physics. Then this girl will be all caught up with Math!
  • Kumon workbooks for extra practice


  • Art Pac 4 – I know, it’s for 4 th grade. But she’s never really done art like this before and they recommend starting here.
  • Lego sets.

Health/Library Skills

  • I have so many resources. She needs to learn more about Dewey Decimal this year.


  • She does Gymnastics three times a week
  • Outdoor play, hiking, swimming, skiing, etc.

In addition, she’ll be starting French. Duolingo to start, but then I may either purchase Rosetta Stone or use online resources. We’re also thinking of starting a Booktube channel for fun.

That’s the plan so far. Does anyone have recommendations for world geography or language learning?


Homeschool Update

Everything has changed since September. What can I say, I spent a lot of time planning something that didn’t work out for us. Was it a waste of time? Not really. Now I know how poorly the comprehensive curriculum workbooks actually work in our situation.

Life of Fred for math is still wonderful. Little Mop Top completed the Elementary Series and began Fractions. She has been “behind” since I took her out of school after third grade, but this doesn’t bother me. I want her to understand more than I want her to be at grade level. Part of the charm of Life of Fred is that there are no grade levels on the books, so there’s no indication to the child whether or not they’re ahead, behind or on level according to someone’s rules. (who decides these things anyway?) We did grab some Kumon workbooks for basic mathematic drills. I really like how things are introduced in the Kumon books and I highly recommend them.

Little Mop Top is an excellent speller and she tested out of the entire sixth grade spelling words. Grammar is something we both struggle with. She did have a LOT of grammar instruction through Calvert school, so I decided to buy the Life of Fred Language Arts series. It’s meant for High School, but the first two books are perfect for even younger children. I plan to have her read through the series every year. I also changed writing curriculum. We were both slacking at this subject. I needed more support in my efforts, so after some research I decided to purchase Writing With Skill. It’s only been two weeks, but I have high hopes!

History and Science need a change. We’ve been pretty lazy about it, doing History with literature, and completing science by reading Kids Discover Magazine. Throw in a few Crash Course videos and mark it done. While this could work with a child who likes to figure things out and spend time looking at books… Little Mop Top is not such a child. Although completely delightful in many ways, she is not a student. As a result, I’m going to continue History as is – I have several interesting units planned, and I purchased Real Science 4 Kids Focus on Physics to try.

It’s funny to look at my original plans compared to what is going on now. I guess it’s normal to be figuring things out three years into homeschooling. I’m sure plans will continue to evolve over the years. Stay tuned. I haven’t used this blog as I intended for my homeschool adventures; I intend to change that now. Look for biweekly updates and an occasional rant. No-one said this is easy, but it sure is worthwhile. Have a happy week.


An Attempt

I’ve had a particularly bad week emotionally. Homeschooling, work, dance, family, everyone had something to say the week that overloaded my tanks. I let stress pile up until I break from the most mundane thing. It’s not healthy, I know that. But here we are. Everyone is steering clear of me, afraid, and I’m hating myself. It will get better, but I wish it didn’t happen at all. 


Picture Book Mini-Reviews

I’ve read a few picture books this past week from NetGalley that I feel like I should review. I plan to use two in my homeschool this year, so they’re worth checking out. I’m not good with adding links and such, but all of these books are on Goodreads.

Things I’ve Said to My Children by Nathan Ripperger

Parents – Listen to yourselves. You could then add to this book. You say funny things. About the book: I thought is was cute. The pictures were funny and correlated to the crazy things being said. I wouldn’t buy it for myself, but I think it would be a good gift to give to expecting parents. 🙂

Don’t Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager

This book does just what it says it will. You will never forget what a participle is again. It starts with a small lesson, then goes on to give a wrong and then a right sentence. Let me tell you, the examples are funny! The pictures make them even funnier. Great book that I will be using in my homeschool very soon.

Ivy In Bloom: The Poetry of Spring from Great Poets and Writers from the Past by Vanita Oelschlager

To be honest, I’m not sure why I loved this book so much. Maybe because children’s poetry is all I can understand. Or perhaps it was the clever way the Bibliography was put together. Maybe it was the inspired pictures. The progression from black and white to full color was amazing, as was the way the paintings looked so textured. All of the above? Five stars from me and guaranteed use during Poetry April with my daughter.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing these eBooks in exchange for an honest review.

Bye-Bye Fifth Grade! Hello Middle School!

Little Mop Top and I finished Fifth Grade! No more Calvert Homeschool! Three weeks of sleeping in and letting her get bored while her other friends finish up their school years!

My end of the year paperwork has to be in to the school district before July 1, the first day of the new school year. I’m still finishing that up and I’m still going strong on my curriculum planning for Sixth Grade. I love research. There are post-it’s all over the house. My desk is covered in papers. It’s great. 🙂

On July 1 we start again. Yes, my daughter has to do light school over summer. If we don’t do math, she’ll forget everything. I also believe that kids need to read. Her summer reading list is fun and not too long. Who doesn’t love some messy science? Experiments are best done outside where there’s a hose! So it’s looking to be a jam-packed summer with just enough time to get her bored and ready for more formal work in September.

I’m hoping to post some of the interesting things we do this summer here. It’s another reason why I started a blog, to keep track of the school we do together. Maybe someone who homeschools and needs some ideas will stumble on here and get some good ones (without the ridiculous amount of advertisements).

Do you remember anything from Sixth Grade? I have some great memories of that year. I hope LMT will have a great year!

Peppermint Tea and Testing

The weather is definitely signaling that spring is here. I spent the Friday thru Sunday at work, so I missed the heat wave. Now we’ve begun the April showers. With spring comes my NY mandated quarterly report, and this year, NY homeschool mandated standardized tests. Homeschoolers can’t opt out of these. We do get to choose which brand of test we would like to take. I decided to go with the PASS Test, since it is made withhomeschoolers in mind.

Little Mop Top is finishing 5th grade. She went to public school through 3rd grade, so she knows about testing. She is an anxious test taker.  She also has ADHD (something I didn’t believe in until I met my daughter). Timed tests do not work for her. She reads nothing and just picks answers because she’s afraid she’s going to run out of time. Thankfully, the PASS test is untimed. It’s three sections. We do one section a day.

Today Little Mop Top woke with a stomachache. We all know why. Darn test that we’re forced to take. So, I brought out the pretty tea pot and a pretty cup and she’s ready for some peppermint tea sipping while she tests. Life is always a bit better with tea.

On Breakups

After returning to work for two, back to back 12 hour shifts I’m contemplating breakups. I hate confrontation. As you can imagine I’m the one who gets dumped, I don’t do the dumping. Part of me mentally visualizes myself flipping the bird and walking out on an expletive-laden rant on healthcare/nursing. Not gonna happen. My personality would not allow this. Plus my dance lessons demand employment. Once I start calming down my brain still lingers on the breakup thing. I have one breakup currently pending and one that I’m pushing off for as long as possible. So I’ve been inspired to write.

After two years of Calvert homeschool, it has become breakup time. Calvert is a brilliant, all in one, never have to think option for parents. The education children receive is phenomenal. Why am I leaving? It is not for my daughter. Little Mop Top does not thrive in a “school at home” environment. Plus, I don’t feel we’re taking advantage of the fun things to learn. We have so much to do in this area of the world. I’m in the process of figuring out exactly how next year is going to play out. New York State can be a challenging state to homeschool in. This means hours of research because I never do anything the easy way. Never forget the Type A. Needless to say I’m handling this breakup very maturely, I’m screening my phone calls. They’ll get the hint.

The breakup I’m avoiding…this one takes some explaining. A year and a half ago, my husband got tired of me talking about how I wanted to learn to dance. He set me up with an introductory lesson at a studio in the big city. A studio owned by famous people. I’ll leave it at that. To get to this studio I have to take a 2 hour train ride each way. I’m not sure what hubs was expecting. Of course I signed up for more lessons. So Studio #1 is far, far away and super expensive. But I love my teacher. He’s the extrovert to my introvert, yet geeky just like me. We mesh well. On the other side, Little Mop Top has danced for four months at our local franchise studio. My hubs and I did a few lessons there together as well. Hubs would like me to just go to studio #2, it’s closer and a bit cheaper. It seems reasonable, but I don’t think I’m capable of breaking up with Studio #1 or my teacher. This is such a personal breakup. So for now I have to block out 6 hours of my day to take one hour long lesson. I just can’t do breakups.

(Just so you know. I think I write backwards. Things will become more clear the more I blog. This didn’t help, did it.)

Type A?

How can I tell my daughter to read a book that I haven’t read myself? I can’t. My conscience won’t allow it. I forgot about that fact while I was curriculum planning for next year. I’m a Type A research type person. I’ve spent hours looking at book lists and taking suggestions from people. I wrote a lengthy list of books children need to read before high school. I really make planning a bigger deal than it probably is. As I was spreading this ridiculously long list of books out into reasonable (by mom standards) increments, I noticed something. I hadn’t read many of these myself. In my defense, there are some books on the list that weren’t  out when I was young, but they are predominantly classics of some sort. How did I miss out on these books? I’ve never read The Phantom Tollbooth or Treasure Island! How am I supposed to have discussions with her if I have no clue? Hard questions with one answer. Her TBR just became added to my TBR.

Obviously, the Type A thing at work again.

Any book suggestions for a sixth grader? Any suggestions for changing my crazy personality?

Hello world!

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for years now but have always had my reservations. I’m not an English major. I’m not a writer, nor do I aspire to be one. What if no one is interested? What if people ARE interested?  Eeek. Which of those is worse? But as I sit on the couch with a stress fracture in my left foot and some pulled muscles in my upper back, my meds are telling me to give it a go!

As I’ve researched blog writing I was told to write about one topic.  I’m going to ignore that advice. I live a life full of popular blogging ideas. I work part time as a nurse (I won’t blog about this because I love you); I homeschool my only child who has ADHD; I attempt to ballroom dance (the only people who actually can dance are professionals); I follow a paleo lifestyle; I read a lot; I drink massive quantities of tea every day.

I hope to use this blog in three areas. First, to keep track of my dance lessons -both the things learned and the emotional aspects. Second, for book reviews and such. Lastly, for homeschooling. There is a lack of homeschool information and encouragement for the middle school years. If I can help one person I will be satisfied.

My first post went well. Let’s see where this ends up!