Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Kinder central.  Where we work on our reading lesson.

Jamie writes:

"Would you share what your family is using curriculum-wise this year, and how you're able to keep up with all of it.  I'm having a hard time staying on top of everything...our six kiddos range in age from 1.5 to 14.  How do you keep everything running smoothly?  How do you intertwine school with the rest of life?"  And "how do you keep the joy while doing all that you do"

Hello Jamie!

Thank you so much for your fantastic questions.  If you had the chance to read the first part of my response in this previous post, you already know how I stay refueled and joyful while not keeping up with everything.  :)

I said that I would also share how I am currently tackling the education of a wide age range of kiddos.  Or, in other words, how I homeschool five grade levels without getting an ulcer.  Smile.

You certainly hit on a hot spot.  One so many moms ask about.  How can school be intertwined with the real life of moving, having babies and getting groceries?!  It's one I have had to wrestle with myself.  You see, in the past nine years (what I would consider pretty critical homeschooling years) we've moved twice; lived in a camper for eighteen months; cleared land; built a house ourselves; attempted to tame ten acres (that part is still in process).  Had babies; bottle fed goats and worked more than once to start our own business.  In that time, I've tried five plus spelling curriculums and schooled in various ways- everything from writing my own unit studies to buying a full curriculum. 

There have certainly been times that things have not run smoothly.  Even times when I wondered if this whole homeschooling thing was really being pulled off at all (maybe my family was wondering the same thing!)  Only to see God at work, reminding me that He's got this.  

He really does. 

Daily chores are assigned to all the children.  Littles get a star when they have completed a task.
While we work hard to balance God's sovereignty with man's responsibility in the area of homeschooling, we must remember that it is GOD who gives our young people knowledge, skill and wisdom.  It is from Him.  We can jump through all the right curriculum hoops, but that does not guarantee academic success.  
We're told in Daniel 1:17:
As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Some people will read this and think I am saying as parents we should sit back and not work at academics; not try to find the things that will help equip our children into adulthood.  I am not saying that.  Daniel and his companions worked at academics.  I am saying that we work, but we do not work alone.  We will tempted to fear there are "holes" or we're "behind," whatever that means.  But God. 

We can trust God with our "five little loaves and two little fish" effort.  He is the God who is able to do great things with what we consider to be meager starts. 
This year our oldest took the PSAT and honestly, I was blown away to see how well she did when competing with the college bound children her age.  That was not me.  That was God. 
We love Christian Liberty Nature Readers.  They are God honoring books that
used to be public school texts.
So, let's talk nitty-gritty.  I hope I don't lose you in the details.  This is pretty long, but I know you wanted the full scoop!
1.  We Make Bible and Scripture Memory Number One.  Memorizing Scripture and learning to apply God's Word are the most important things we teach.  Period.  I am not super worried that my kiddos have not memorized every capitol or the dates of all the pharaohs.  I am concerned that they know God's Word and have wisdom to navigate an unknown future.  I am concerned that they are becoming people of character.  I am going to put in daily effort here. 
2.  We use My Father's WorldIt's a Christian curriculum that was created for homeschooling families and helps us to teach to a wide age range.  I tweak things, but at least I'm not reinventing the wheel.  I don't do the separate High School package.  I want to keep our High Schoolers with us as we study Latin and Greek root words; read ancient history etc.  They also have their own independent path to meet their broader needs.  Note:  I have other friends who do Classical Conversations, Robinson Curriculum, Charlotte Mason and others with perfect success.  So often, a curriculum needs to match the teacher as well as the students and it can take time to find the right fit.   
My Father's World sample schedule.  It divides subjects into small, daily chunks. 
Great for multiple grade levels.
 3.  We Create an Independent Work Path for Each of Our Children.  I have been working toward a system that frees the kids up to work through their daily work more independently.  That way, I am not keeping one student from working as I meet the needs of someone else.  And, when "real life" hits and I need to focus on something unexpected, they are able to complete a full load without being derailed.  
 Each student has a list they work through each day (posted on the wall).  The list is numbered and corresponds either a numbered file in their locker box (older students) or a drawer (younger students).
Each student has a binder (stored with their school things) to file completed work that they want me to check.  Of course, if they have a question, they come to me right away.
Lists to let our students know what they need to be working on.
Older students have files and books stored in their locker boxes and a binder to file completed work.
Our younger two children have drawers.  Note: In homes with toddlers,
drawers can be turned around to keep little hands from accessing them.
I try to set up the activities for the youngers so they both don't need help at the same time.  In other words, when Hailey has her reading lesson and needs me (her drawer 1), Lydia is doing math which she does well on her own most of the time.   

So let's run through what the lists include. 
Hailey, Grade K
1.  Reading Lesson (with Mama)
2.  Make new magnet words (Based on reading lesson)
3.  Color Letter of the Day (Rod and Staff Coloring book pulled apart)
4.  School game- Bambino LUK (Self correcting puzzles!)
5.  Mathematics (A simple math workbook)
6.  Surprise- Check the drawer (may be a matching game to play with Mama; lacing cards; a simple craft or a worksheet)
7.  Reading Log (Each student has a reading log to fill each month; I often read aloud to Hailey and Lydia to fill theirs)

Lydia, Grade 3
1.   Mathematics (Saxon)
2.  Language Lesson (Premade Charlotte Mason style lessons by Queen Homeschool)
3.  School game- Mini LUK (Self correcting puzzles!)
4.  Spelling- Sequential Spelling DVD-Rom/ Other lesson
5.  Science (Christian Liberty Nature Reader and homemade worksheet to draw and write about what was read)
6.  Math Center (something from Evan-Moor right now)
7.  Reading Log (Each student has a reading log to fill each month; I often read aloud to Hailey and Lydia to fill theirs)



Sarah, Grade 7
1.   Mathematics
2.  Language Lesson (Premade Charlotte Mason style lessons by Queen Homeschool)
3.  See Folder  (This is where I slip in something I'd like to cover.  Right now, we are copying and analyzing some of George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.  Sometimes it's a skill sharpening form like something from
4.  Science (Christian Liberty Nature Reader and homemade worksheet to draw and write about what was read)
5.  Spelling and Grammar (This varies right now, but includes Sequential Spelling)
6. Reading Log (Each student has a reading log to fill each month)
She uses Christian Liberty Nature Readers as well.  This is the simple form I created
to turn it into a bit more involved than just reading a chapter.
We are stuck in ancient history right now, but that doesn't mean I don't want the kids
to have a general knowledge about other things.  So, when I find book like these at
the thrift store, I buy them and assign them as their daily reading for their reading log.
Free worksheets are great for skill sharpening.

Michaela, Grade 9

1.   Mathematics
2.  Language Lesson (Premade Charlotte Mason style lessons by Queen Homeschool)
3.  See Folder  (This is where I slip in something I'd like to cover.  Right now, we are copying and analyzing some of George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.  Sometimes it's a skill sharpening form like something from
4.  Science (Answers in Genesis)
5.  Spelling and Grammar  (This varies right now, but includes Sequential Spelling)
6.  Reading Log (Each student has a reading log to fill each month)
7.  Violin Practice

We use Answers in Genesis Science.  I will at times create custom questions,
but they do provide pre-made questions at the end of the chapter.
George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.  This says, "Reprehend
not the imperfections of others for that belongs to parents, masters and superiors." 

Faith, Grade 11

1.   Projects (She had a lot of projects this year- a movie; the PSAT and some other things that are in the works)
2.  Mathematics (Teaching Textbooks)
3.  Chemistry (Answers in Genesis)
4.  Current Events (We use World Mag for the latest news from a Christian perspective- see below)
5.  Worldview/ See Folder (Assigned Reading- She just read War of the Worldviews and is now reading a book on film production)
6.  Reading Log (Each student has a reading log to fill each month)

World has been great for High School current events.  I just print articles I
want read and reported on.
The news report cover sheets are something I made.  They ask the student to
summarize the article; Give their thoughts with Scripture to back them and
discuss if there is a biblical call to action.
See all those fractions and x's?  Me too.  That's why we use Teaching
Textbooks now.  :)

Whew!  I hope that wasn't too much information, Jamie!  I know that it looks like a ton of work, but it really isn't.  Often the kiddos are working through a book and the files only may need to be updated once a quarter (or when I get the bug to add something new!).  It's pretty static. 

In the end, the important thing to remember is that whatever curriculum or method we chose, these are just tools to glorify God.  As we seek Him, He will direct our paths.  Don't grow weary in well doing, dear one!

May you be blessed.

P.S.  Several of you have emailed asking about what we are doing for spelling and how the Sound City I have created works.  I have not forgotten you!  I should have an exciting update for you soon.  :)
Miscellaneous FREE Resources:  Printable Reading Logs; My Current Event; Book Report (for use with Christian Liberty Nature Reader) and Sample of Art, Tact and Social Grace Forms at MediaFire; The cute sight word caterpillar is from Confessions.  A great site for inspiration.


  1. I always love your posts as our family size is similar. It's so inspiring to see how others home educate. We use some of the same curricula, but a couple of others I am curious about! Thank you!

  2. I am really enjoying your posts. So nice to have you back! I really like your idea to have them read World, and then give a report while defending their position with scripture. What a wise thing for them to learn. Something I wish I was better at myself!

  3. This post couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Thank you so, so much for sharing! This post has been such an encouragement to me today.

  4. Thank you, girls! So nice to be back and see you all! :)

  5. Rebecca......this is Jamie! I could almost cry because of all the time you've taken to address my concerns and questions. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it; I truly do! I was definitely having a hard time, and still do to some degree on some days, but somewhere in the midst of it......We had a good day, and it made up for all the hard ones. :) Isn't it funny how that can be? I don't think that it helped any that over Christmas we were with family (which we love) that are all public schooled and involved in sports, etc. and so everything kind of revolved around all of that. Call me wimpy, but as much fun as I have with my family, it definitely wasn't an encouragement in the education realm. That's what I appreciate about my hubby so much, as he's not "affected" as much as I am. :)

    Between your first and second posts addressing my questions, I did have some time in a chairlift (going up a ski hill...yes, we homeschoolers have been getting to have a ski day once/week for a few weeks) :) to think about things in light of an eternal perspective. That's what it's about, isn't it? Is what we're doing as a family eternally valuable? That's what I appreciate about your emphasis on the Bible, God, and the most important "subjects" that should be taking priority in our family's education. I loved reading that reminder. It can be so easy to get caught up in all the extra "stuff," that we miss the important things that are far more lasting.

    I look forward to commenting more on some of the specific areas that you addressed in the last couple of posts. I better call it "quits" for now, but will be back. This is so exciting, and was such an encouragement to me. I've read your posts in the past, and I can tell how much you enjoy what you do and are wanting to make the most of it. Thank you! You truly care, don't you......for both your family and others (me....a complete stranger to you). :) May the Lord richly bless you and continue to fill you as you put out so much for others. Blessings to your family, Jamie

  6. Hi Jamie!!!

    Ha! Isn't that true? Praise God for those good days-- and hubbies who are so strong! :) I think moms are always tempted to think we are somehow doing a disservice to our children if we are not super busy with outside activities. I hear that often. But for my family, I've seen that busy-busy and sweet and patient attitudes don't really coexist. So... I am going to stick with what works for cultivating character. :) Some families can pull it off. We can't. I have to prioritize.

    I am so glad the posts blessed you, Jamie! I do absolutely LOVE amazing homeschooling families like yours! You have chosen the harder thing (homeschooling) with the sole purpose of glorifying Christ. You work quietly, maybe thanklessly some days, as unto the Lord for an eternal reward. I feel honored to share our life with women like you and call you my friends!

    Big hugs from CA!

  7. Rebecca, thank you for this helpful post! What an encouragement it was to see your schedule and hear about how your day flows. I have 2 boys, and I hope to try some of these ideas to keep us on track, with the Lord's help. Question about My Father's do they teach about Greek Mythology? Some publishers put a heavy emphasis on this, and I was just wondering how MFW addresses it. Also, do you also use God's World News for your littles? Considering that for my boys, ages 8 and 6. Again, thank for graciously sharing. Your blog has been a blessing to me!

  8. Hi Crystal!

    You are speaking to my heart when you ask about the teaching of false gods to our children. In fact, that was the very topic of a post in June 2012 entitled, "IN PRACTICAL TERMS {teaching about false gods}" which can be found at: In a nutshell, we feel that Scripture gives many warnings about learning too much about false gods, so we choose to be cautious in our approach.

    MFW may go into some depth about a variety of false religions via supplemental books, but we will either hit the main points and move on or skip those books entirely. We can usually handle all their supplemental resources at our local homeschool conference, so making that call is easy to do before purchasing. Quite honestly, MFW uses The Story of the World as their primary history text. But I favor Mystery of History (even though I need to edit that as well).

    No, I simply use World Mag for our High Schoolers and have enjoyed Nature Friend for our younger kiddos. :)

    Blessings to you!

  9. That is so helpful! Thank you!