Tag Archives: 2020 Not Back To School Blog Hop

Record Keeping In High School ~ 2020 Not Back To School Blog Hop

Record Keeping in High School

I have always been a tracker rather than a planner in our home education life. It has worked better for us to just plod along with the next lesson and note that we did it each day than to try to plan ahead for specific pages on specific days for the entire year. I like my paper planner. I like writing in pretty colors. This has worked for us. But, what about high school?

We all know high school need a different degree of record keeping so what have we done? And is it working?

I’ll answer the “Is it working?” question first. Yes, it is. Our oldest is starting dual credit classes this fall and my record keeping was sufficient to get her accepted to the program.

So, what have we done?

First, a few weeks before 9th grade started, I looked up our state requirements for public high schoolers. This gave me an idea to supplement what I already knew – 4 years each of math, science, history, and language arts/literature. It let me know about how many “extras” she might need – PE, languages, arts, and other electives. We were well on track with planning for all of this.

I wrote it out for her and then we sat down together to discuss that plan and add in some more specific ideas. Some of the specifics were: what language did she want in addition to sign language? what art – music (instrument or voice) or visual art? What other topics sounded interesting that she wanted to get in?

We then came up with a penciled in 4 year plan. At that point, she was not considering taking dual credit. So that should tell you already that our plans have definitely changed. Not a ton but we have adjusted some things to fit in the time that dual credit requires and to adjust for her doing what would normally take fall/spring home school time in just the fall.

For each year, I have started making sure I write down which curriculum is being used for each class. If it is an outside instructor, such as for voice lessons, I note that and who it was/is. For our dance classes, I note weekly hours and styles of dance. This is all kept in my planner. Some of you already do this kind of thing but I didn’t used to. I used to note things in my daily plans as we went along and started a new program or finished one. Now, I keep a running tally for my high schoolers so that it is all in one place and easy to find when I need it.

We have a discussion at the start of each year to check in on “the plan” and see how we are faring, what we need to do, if we need to change tack, etc. This year, my oldest decided she wanted to add Spanish to her lessons because of a program she has really been enjoying. So, we worked at it a figured out how to work it in. If we stuck to the original plan from 2 years ago, this would not have happened. But what a joy to be able to accommodate that desire!

Most of all, I encourage you to enjoy these years of growing independence and narrowing of interests. It can be eye opening but it is tons of fun. We are enjoying it tremendously with our teens. Please let me know if you have any specific questions regarding planning for high school.

The Homeschool Review Crew members are writing about different aspects of record keeping and planning today. Visit the Crew blog to find the link up.


Yesterday, several members wrote about how they teach different subjects or how they approach teaching in their home school. A few of these are below.

Lori, At Home.


Teaching It All ~ 2020 Not Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

Teaching It All

Another of the major misconceptions about home education is that the parents have to “teach it all.” You don’t. You can’t. So, what do you do when you come across something you just don’t feel qualified for? Here are some choices.

  • Allow your child to learn it himself. One of the major goals our family has is that our children know how to learn thing, how to teach themselves. I don’t need to know everything because I need to teach them how to find information, to learn, to seek out what they want or need to know. Of course, I am there to guide and to help. I have often done some research of my own on the side so that my guiding is more informed but I still teach them to teach themselves. Videos abound on all sorts of topics. Blogs are out there that are highly specialized. Companies exist for every niche imaginable. Learn to seek out these things and anything can be learned.
  • Learn it yourself by staying one step ahead. There have been a few classes where I have learned either by doing the lessons one day ahead or doing it right alongside the girls. I don’t have to know it all ahead of time; I can learn as we go, too. History and science are some that this approach has worked well with.
  • Find someone who knows. Maybe this is a friend. Maybe this is a company with a video curriculum. Maybe this is a co-op class. There are tons of options for outsourcing the class. You do not have to be the one teaching every single component of every single student’s curriculum. You can find help. Voice teachers and violin teachers – we have done both of these even though I could have done both of them myself. (I have a music ed degree and taught it for several years.)
  • Video curriculum is available for many things. Some of the best companies have great customer service where there is a teacher answering phones or chat boxes so that the student can get expert help with this struggle. Unlock Math was fantastic about this and every time my oldest got stuck, she could enter a question into the chat box and have automatic, specialized help. Journey Homeschool Academy is another video based curriculum that is highly specialized and has great help available to the student. The biology class that my oldest is using is just fantastic about pushing and encouraging and helping the student along.

I am sure there are plenty of other options out there that I haven’t touched on because, honestly, I am just sharing what is coming to mind when I sit here pondering the question “How do I teach. . .?” Don’t stress because there are plenty of options and you know yourself and your children better than anyone else. Nothing is permanent and choices that don’t work out can be changed. So, dive in and find what works best for you, for your child, and for the subject that you are considering teaching.

There are others writing about how they teach different subjects so visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about the topic of “How do I teach. . .?” From tot school to high school to the many elective options, there is a lot of wisdom being shared at the linkup.2020-Not-Back-to-School-Homeschool-Blog-Hop

Yesterday was discussing curriculum choices. If you missed it, here are some of the blogs for you to read.

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses shares Homeschool High School Curriculum Choices for 2020.

Annette @ A Net in Time shares Grade 10 Curriculum Choices.

Yvie @ Homeschool on the Range shares Curriculum Reveal.

Vickie B @ Tumbleweed News shares Our Favorite Curriculum {Blog Hop}.

Jessica H @ My Homeschool with a View shares Tips for Curriculum Shopping.

Yvonne @ The Life We Build shares Our Kindergarten and 4th Grade Curriculum Choices.

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag shares Morning Time.

Teresa B @ Teresa Brouillette shares Homeschool Curriculum .

Kristen @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach shares Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices.

Lori, At Home.


5 Tips on How to Pick a Curriculum ~ 2020 Not Back To School Blog Hop

How to pick a curriculum

One of the many common questions about home education is “How do you pick a curriculum?” This is not an unexpected question because there are soooooo many options out there. And they all fit a need somewhere in the home education community. So, how do you go about picking a curriculum when there are so many choices?

1 – Consider Your Comfort With Teaching

If you are comfortable teaching and creating, you don’t need a big box curriculum. You might do better piecing together your own curriculum for your children. If you are not comfortable and want it all planned out for you or all of the pieces of it chosen for you, a box just might be the best choice. If you are somewhere in between, you could pick a company that does the language arts and you find your own combo for history and science. Or pick a company that has a good history base that incorporates language arts, literature, or more. Many of the big name companies have lesson plans you can purchase to go along with their books so you may choose to go that way.

This year we are using both a big box curriculum (9th grade), piecing our own (11th grade), and a history spine with language arts, literature and Bible built in to which we will add math, writing, and science. The reason? Our girls are all different, which leads to the next thing to consider.

2 – Consider Your Child

Some children need a huge amount of structure. Some need a huge amount of creativity. Some need the freedom of rabbit trail following. These will help direct you to whether you can pick a big box curriculum and just change it around to fit the flexibility needed or whether you would be better off piecing your own curriculum together.

When our girls were younger, we did the piecing together because it allowed us the freedom to move at their pace, at their interest level. If we were working on something and their interest level just belly-flopped, we moved on to something else. We are not in a state that requires extensive documentation so we have the freedom to do that. Piecing together our own curriculum allowed us to do a lot of unit studies with things that were interesting or related to some trip we might be about to take. We could allow life to really direct what we were doing in education.

Now that the girls are older, they have to hit some requirements for college entrance so we are being much more deliberate about choices. We are sticking things out, even when we piece together the curriculum. We might have two or three things work together to make a high school credit. (Example: studying videos and pictures on Pinterest to get ideas for bullet journals + using a hand-lettering book to practice new ideas + creating two complete bullet journals = 1 high school art credit) We also have chosen for our 9th grader this year to use a big box curriculum. It fits her personality and her needs at this point so it works for us. Our 6th grader needed a bit more structure this year to foster more independence so the history spine that we picked does that for her.

3 – Consider Interest

Once again, this is a huge factor in choosing curriculum. If you have a student who loves science, you need to start at your science choice so that the interest is fed. From there, the other subjects can fall into place but you spine is science. If you have a student who loves writing, you would want to start by finding a strong language arts/writing program and build from that choice. Some of the big box curriculums have these things and if you know, for example, that you want an IEW program for writing, you can eliminate any curriculum that do not include that. It really helps to narrow down options.

4 – Remember: It Isn’t Permanent

Nothing you choose is etched in stone. Even if you have to stick it out for the entire school year, you can change next year. If you are in a state like I am, you can change as soon as you are certain that what you are using is just not the best choice. Don’t beat yourself up if you have picked something that just isn’t right. Put it aside and try again. We went through probably 8 math programs before we found the ones that we KNEW fit the girls well. And, even then, the math we used for Algebra I did not have an Algebra II program so we had to find something new the next year. So don’t be afraid of change. Change often brings about the best results you can imagine in the long run.

5 – Take A Break If Needed

Sometimes, curriculum choices and planning can be overwhelming. So take a break. Whether that is getting a tall glass of iced tea (hey, it is summer in Texas and 100 degrees!) or taking a quick run (I’ll just walk on the treadmill if that’s okay with you; see previous statement about Texas and temperature). Do what you need to get your thinking refocused because planning the year a bit really does help it to go smoothly. You don’t need everything planned out unless you are just that type of personality. (See number 2 about considering the child; she needed it all planned out for the whole year and it is going great for her!)

Curriculum choices does not have to be overwhelming and it all starts with thinking a few things through to narrow your choices before you even start. And, don’t forget that there are plenty of home educators out there who want to help you succeed so find a place and ask a question. I’ll gladly help you out. Leave a question in the comments or shoot me an email by heading over to the contact me page. I’ll do my best to answer and if I don’t know the answer, I know a slew of homeschool moms and dads on the Crew that will help, too.

Speaking of the Crew, head over to the Crew blog to find the linkup for today’s topic of Curriculum. There are suggestions of curriculum, curriculum favorites, and much, much more being shared in the blog hop today.


Yesterday was about Resources and Supplies. You can find a few of those below.

Lori, At Home.


Homeschool Supplies . . . Squirrel ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop 2020

Homeschool Supplies

Do you ever have that feeling that there are a million tracks running all around you and no one in your family is on the same one? In fact, about the time you figure out where one person is, they jump to another track? Well, that is how it goes here. Let me tell you about this evening. . .

Me: Girls, what is your favorite or most necessary school supply?
L: Like our favorite or one that we really need?
E: Pencil sharpener and a pencil ’cause I like my pencil really sharp and have to sharpen it several times a day.
Dad (from the kitchen): Oooh – a Trapper Keeper was a necessity for me! I loved my Trapper Keeper.
Girls: Your what?
Dad: You know how you used to need a folder with the brads in it for every subject? This was something that you kept them all in, sort of like a 3 ring binder. But it was fun and had pictures of popular characters and things on it, like the Care Bears or Spiderman.
Girls: I bet you had the Care Bears one.
Girls: Or hearts!
Me: Except for the year he got one with a sparkly unicorn on a rainbow.

TONS of laughter was going on throughout all of this.

J: I would need my organizers – my pencil holder, my planner, the boxes that my books go in.
E: My laptop. I have lots of school on it and it has a calculator on it I know how to use.
J (excitedly): Oh yeah! My “phone.” (Her phone is an old one that has a game or two on it for her to use.)
Me: Your phone?
J: Yea. I know how to use that calculator.
Me: When do you use a calculator?
J: On my math.
Me (with a questioning look at her): You aren’t supposed to be using a calculator on your math.
J: I know.
Dad (still in the kitchen, singing): Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. . .
Girls (joining in the singing): These are a few of my favorite things.
Me: Where did that come from?

Singing continues with lots of mixed up words. LOTS of laughter goes with it.

Me: So, L, any supplies you need?
L: Well, since you said necessary, I have to say curriculum. I can’t do school without it and you only asked about one. So that has to be it. (said with a sly smile)
Me: Ooookkkaaayyy. So, other than curriculum, what would you say is your favorite school supply or something you really like to have?
L: Which is it? My favorite or something I like to have? Those are two different things.
Me: You can name more than one, you know.
L: But you said one.
Dad (from kitchen): New shoes! I loved getting new shoes. That was always something I liked. I didn’t care much at all about the clothes. In fact, I hated going clothes shopping but shoes? Those I liked getting!
L: But you said we couldn’t list dance shoes. . .
Me: Dance shoes are a given. Those are definitely required school supplies and the top of your favorites list.
Dad (from kitchen, singing): These are a few of my favorite things. When the dog bites. When the bee stings.
Girls all join in: When I’m feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so sad.

LOTS of laughter.

Me: Anything anyone wants to add to the list here?
Dad: Polo shirts.
Girls: Polo shirts? You played polo?
Dad: No, the collared shirts with three buttons down the front? I don’t know if the polo players designed them or the company named Polo just make them popular or what. I just really liked those shirts.
Me: You still do.
Dad: Yea. But like my 9th grade year, that was all I wore. I had 4 that were really soft and comfortable and that was what I wore Monday through Thursday. I wore something else Fridays.
J (interrupting): But there’s no school on Fridays!
Dad: I really liked those shirts.
E (singing): These are a few of my favorite things.
Me: Squirrel!
Dad (laughing): Yep!
Girls: Squirrel? What? I don’t get it!
Dad: I think your blog post just wrote itself.
Me: Yep.

So, there you have it. A list of favorite homeschool supplies. Does it make sense? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, you have a list:
pencil sharpener, pencil, planners, pencil box, book boxes, curriculum, violin (that was in there somewhere for L), polo shirts, squirrel, new shoes (tennis or dance, you pick), calculator (you know how to use), and laptop. Personally, I would add some good pens and a pretty and easy-to-use planner for mom.

Do you have a favorite supply? Do your kids?

Today, the Homeschool Review Crew members are sharing about their own favorite supplies. Head over to the blog for the Crew to find the links for other blogs to read.

Yesterday, the Homeschool Review Crew members wrote about traditions. Here are a few of those posts if you want to read them.


Traditions for Back to School ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop 2020

Traditions for Back To School

We are taking most of August off of school since we have been going full force through June and July. With the COVID-19 travel restrictions, the closure of all of the girls’ summer activities/camps, hot summer months in Texas, and summer dance class options providing a full class schedule, we decided to push through to the end of July. We officially started our year at the beginning of July. The girls have almost 5 weeks of classes done at this point and we’ll start again, probably after Labor Day when dance starts back.

I have written about our 1st day of school traditions a couple of times in past blog hops and I don’t want to rehash it all again. So, I’m going to point you back to a couple of the past posts. In 2016, I wrote Tradition! Tradition. In 2015, I wrote 1st Day Traditions.

First Day Traditions

We still do new school supplies, but now it is as needed since the girls have really settled in on their favorites of different things. They like different kinds of pencils, have smaller needs for crayons and notebooks, and each have specific needs for their classes.

We will do donuts for breakfast when we officially start again. We will likely not go out to eat since it is not very fun option right now. We will get a new outfit for each of the girls. We will definitely do signs with the grade level on them. (In fact, one of the girls has already said she missed doing that back at the beginning of July.)

We will add another tradition this year though. We started it last year when we had to make a trip to a dance store in a neighboring big city to have one of the girls fitted for pointe shoes. We will be doing that again soon but this year, two of the girls will be fitted for point shoes. All of the girls need at least one pair of new dance shoes. They worked hard this last year and shoes wear out. So, new dance shoes have become another tradition for the start of school.

Do you have a fun or favorite tradition?


Lots of other Crew members are writing about their traditions today so visit the Crew blog to find the blog hop. (My platform just doesn’t allow for the hop to post thumbnail images and links on this page, so please do visit the Crew post for that.) There have been some fun traditions I have read about today so maybe you’ll find a new one for your own family.

Lori, At Home.

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