2020: A Homeschool Odyssey

It’s been six years since my last post about homeschooling. (You can see everything on the subject here.) In the summer of 2014, we made the decision to enroll our kids –then 4th and K/1st graders (with a tagalong preschooler) — in school for the first time. Over the years since that enrollment, our family has experienced private Montessori schooling, private Christian schooling, and public schooling.

In every environment, my kids had teachers who loved them and who loved education. In every environment, my kids made friends and learned a lot.

And then the early spring of 2020 hit, and everything went crazy in the world and in our nation and state… and in my kids’ schools. I’m sure yours had a similar experience as administrators, teachers, and staff pulled off the most amazing pivot ever to bring non-traditional instruction to every family. I have nothing but kudos for both schools we were enrolled in!

However, this fall brought a few changes to our family.

Our 6th grader, 10th grader, and 3rd grader. On a first day of school where no one leaves the house, no one wears shoes!

Our son is still at the same school — now a sophomore, he’s been told to plan on distance learning at least until Fall Break, and that’s 100% okay with him. (It turns out that he really likes NTI. Managing his workload from home really appealed to him. An introvert by nature, he hasn’t been too rattled by the social shift — as long as he can text and in-game chat with a few buddies a few days a week, he’s fine.)

Our older daughter finished up her 5th grade year with a very mature appeal to her father and me. She wanted us to consider a switch to public school for 6th grade, because she has a long-range plan that includes an engineering degree (which she wants to work toward starting in high school at our county’s engineering academy, for which she’ll need to take the ACT in 8th grade, for which she thinks she’ll be better prepared by the public school. Plus, our county school offers a number of STEM classes and electives. It was pretty hard to argue with that! We took time to pray about it, then toured the school in January and made our decision). It wasn’t ideal, starting at a new school with digital learning, but at least all the 6th graders are in the same boat. And our district is sending K-8 back to in-person classes next week, so she is over the moon to be headed to school! However — that will only be 2 days a week. The other three, she’ll still be at home doing NTI.

And our youngest is a 3rd grader this year. For a whole variety of reasons, we decided to pull her out for a year of traditional homeschooling. I am so looking forward to spending this time with her. The years I spent teaching her older siblings were so rich and rewarding, and still number among our fondest memories.

We have a little spot upstairs that is perfect to use as a schoolroom. Susannah has a station for her Chromebook and supplies, and Abigail and I have stations that are nearby (in case Susannah gets stuck with homework, or has a technical difficulty during her class times).

For 3rd grade curriculum, we are using:
*BJU Press Math 3
*HMH Trunity Science Dimensions 3
*Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4
*Zaner-Bloser Handwriting 3
*Tapestry of Grace: Year 2, Unit 4 through Year 3, Unit 3 (literature, history, geography, fine arts) — Upper Grammar level
*Writing: mom-created curriculum
*Spanish: Duolingo 3 days/week
*Typing: Mavis Beacon 3 days/week
*Law & Debate: mom-created curriculum 2 days/week
*Logic: various sources 2 days/week

Several of these resources were chosen because they are what her private school used last year (and our current plan is for her to return there next year for 4th grade, so with transitions in mind I kept her in the same math and handwriting curricula). However, some of what we’re using is because she has a very particular interest right now. Did you notice the less-common-for-a-third-grader materials on her list?

Right now, she says she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up; she wants to be a lawyer so she can become a judge, and work in family court, and help kids. I’m honestly not sure where this particular passion came from, and I don’t know much about it myself. So we are going to be learning a lot together this year!

One thing I do know: lawyers need excellent reading, writing, and research skills. A familiarity with Latin and an ease with logic and debate couldn’t hurt, either. So I’m cobbling together a special interest corner of our weekly rhythm to help her explore those areas. Eight-years-old feels a long way off from taking the bar exam… and you never know, she could change her mind a dozen times between now and heading off to declare a college major. But no matter what she ends up doing, I think the skills she’s covering this year will stand her in good stead.

How does school look at your house this year? Do you have kids doing virtual schooling, in-person school, hybrid options, traditional homeschooling, or some combination of all of the above? I’d love to hear about it.

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MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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