Back to School 2015-2016

It became Fall overnight in our neck of the woods.  That means it’s high time for a back to school post.  I’ll share what our family lessons (history, science, etc) are going to consist of another day.



Alice is growing like a weed and I can’t believe she’s a year old already!  I especially have a hard time believing it because I’m still no where near getting my life back together this time.  Baby number six continues to be a game changer!  Fortunately she’s mellowed quite a bit over the last year and is super cute.

Alice, at twelve months loves cereal, attention, and dancing.  She’s just he cutest little dancer you’ve ever seen!

Alice’s goals for the year are:

  • Walking (she’s getting close!)
  • Talking
  • Sleeping through the night.



Henry is an enigma of sorts.  He will be three years old in November.  He prefers to eat dirt and boogers over any actual food, and up until a month ago he was terrified of the toilet.  He’s still not super interested in potty training but he will sit on it in exchange for a skittle.

But over the last few months I’ve been blown away at how smart this kiddo is.  I remember sitting down with him not too long ago to teach him his colors.  I picked up a blue lego and said, “blue”.  He pointed at it and said, “blue.”  Then I picked up a red one and said, “red.”  He repeated after me.  Then he picked up a yellow and said, “yellow”.  And then a green.  “Oh,” I thought, “Ok.  I guess you know your basic colors already.  Cool!”

The next morning I was reading in my scriptures when he came into my room and picked up one of my colored pens.  “Pink.” he said, holding the pink one out to me.  “Purple”, he said as he grabbed the purple.  Orange, green, black, white, gray… he knows them all.

Well darn.  I was kind of counting on that.  I’m not fussed about my kids focusing on academics at this early age but individual “lessons” are the only one on one time I get to spend with them.  The more lessons they need, the more time they get to spend with Mom.  I need to teach Henry SOMETHING!

So I pulled out All About Pre-Reading and figured I’d teach him his letters.  That will last us a few years.  So I sat down and we did the lesson on A.  Oh he loved it!  Loved the song, loved coloring the picture (and eating the crayons), and he loved reading with me afterwards.  Then he proceeded to point out 80% of the other letters and tell me their names.

Numbers!  I’ll try numbers!

Yeah… he already knows them.  And I can tell you, there is nothing cuter than a three year old coming up to you after finding a flash card of the numeral one and saying, “letter one!”

Then Henry crashed Jack’s reading lesson, and it turns out that the kid knows more sounds than his older brother does and today he started sounding out words.  Whatever.  Henry doesn’t need any help from me.  He’ll be helping Lucy with her quantum mechanics homework by this time next year.  Until then I’ll get my snuggles in when he crashes Jack’s lessons (which he continually does) and when I read to him.

So this year, Henry’s goals are:

  • Potty Training
  • Going to bed without throwing a fit

Jack – Kindergarten


My sweet Jack.  This boy gives me a run for my money.  He is equal parts angel and devil.  His speech has improved leaps and bounds over the last year and this year we will continue to work on articulation.  Part of his speech therapy is going to involve All About Reading.  The lessons are constructed in a way that emphasize the sound of the letter and I’m using that to my advantage to help him with the more difficult sounds.  Another reason why I am starting him so early on All About Reading is because he, like his older sister and mom, is severely dyslexic.  It is going to take him much longer to learn how to read than the average kid.  So, after much prayer, I have decided that rather than waiting until he’s older to start the reading process, I’m going to start him at five and go much slower than usual, making sure that he has a good, strong handle on everything before moving on because it takes Jack much longer to make that connection between the symbol that we use for a specific letter and the sound it makes.

Over the last year we have also had some potty problems.  What I thought was just regression turned out to be something much more serious–Functional Constipation.  Functional Constipation basically means that the colon has been stretched out to the point that he no longer has any sensation when he needs to have a bowel movement.  The boy can’t feel when he has to poop.  The good news is that with the help of our doctor we have him on a program to help shrink his colon back to normal size so he can regain sensation.  The bad news is that it’s a long process.

Jack’s goals this year are:

  • Learn compassion and patience.
  • Be nicer to his siblings
  • Poop every day when mom asks without complaining
  • Reading – All About Reading Level 1 – I don’t care how long it takes us to get through it.  It takes a lot of repetition in order for him to remember the sounds each letter makes and that’s ok.  So far it’s been taking us about two weeks to get through one lesson.
  • Writing – Get Ready For The CodeConfessions of a Homeschooler’s alphabet and number writing templates, and whatever else I can find for him to use.  Not because I want to overload him, but because you can only use the same worksheet for letter A so many times before you get bored.  If it takes us two weeks before he has A down, I want to give him some variety.
  • Math – I’ll probably use some TouchMath with him.

Spencer – 3rd Grade


Spencer is my scientist!  This guy wants to know how everything works and why things work the way they do.  A few months ago I gave him a screwdriver and an old DVR we weren’t using anymore and you would have thought it was Christmas!  It’s been pretty exciting for him to grow up and really take an interest in things.  He also joined cub scouts this year and is so excited to earn badges.

His goals this year are:

  • Reading – Can I tell you a secret?  Teaching children how to read is my least favorite thing about homeschool.  Second is teaching basic arithmetic.  It’s torture, it really is.  I would rather scrub toilets.  But it needs to be done.  And this year Spencer and I are buckling down and conquering this reading thing!  He CAN read, he just doesn’t realize he can.  We’ll continue to use All About Reading to increase his confidence and nail this thing down.  We are also using Explode the Code.
  • Math – We are using Math Mammoth for Spencer this year.
  • Spelling – Phonetic Zoo
  • Science – In addition to our family science lessons, Spencer loves to listen to the Brains On podcast and we also have a handful of science audiobooks for him to listen to.
  • History – In addition to our family lessons, Spencer will be listening to Founding Father Stories, Story of the World, Mystery of History, and other things that will tell him all of those wonderful historical things that I love so much.

Emma – 5th Grade


Emma is my artist.  She loves to see and create beauty all around her.  I’m so grateful that she has such a clear passion at such a young age, but at the same time, her single mindedness can become quite frustrating at times.  She can often be found doodling while she should be doing math, or dancing when she’s been asked to do chores.  Such is the life of an artist.  She doesn’t love school in general but is willing to do what she has to in order to have more time for drawing.  I try to keep the non-art work to a minimum so that she can maximize her art time while also pointing out the different ways she can use her talents for a possible career later in life.  I’ve talked to her about architecture, studio arts, graphic design, photography, and many other options that she could put her talents to use.  She’s shown some interest in all of them.  But mostly she just likes to create at this point.  I imagine she’ll find her niche in the next year or so and we can really start exploring some plans from there.  But regardless, I’m going to see if I can find a drawing class that I can enroll her in.  Art homeschool curriculum doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard.

Emma’s plans for this year include:

  • Music – Emma plays violin and is currently working her way through the Minuets of Suzuki Book 1.
  • Writing – I will be following IEW’s Style and Structure and incorporating writing in with Science and History lessons.
  • Grammar – Fix-It Grammer.
  • Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000.
  • Math – Emma is rocking it this year so far with Saxon 65.  This is especially nice because math has been a struggle for her in the past and so I was surprised but pleased when it all finally seemed to click at the beginning of this year.
  • Spelling – Phonetic Zoo
  • World Languages – Duolingo Italian

Lucy – 7th, 8th, 9th Grade


Yup.  You read that right.  Lucy is working at three different grade levels at the moment and so our plans for her are still somewhat up in the air.  As far as her age is concerned, she’s in 7th grade.  She’s working at the 8th grade level in math, and the 9th grade level in language arts and electives (except spelling, unfortunately she inherited my poor spelling skills).  I expect that she’ll move onto algebra long before she finishes this school year, in which case she’ll “officially” be in 9th grade since she’ll be working at the 9th grade level on all subjects.

This puts me in the position of high school planning a couple of years before I had intended to do it, but it’s actually pretty awesome so far!  We are hoping to avoid redundancy at all costs with our children’s school (which is not the same thing as spiral learning, or repetitiveness for mastery’s sake).  Their time (and my time) is valuable and so there is no reason that they need to take the same class more than once. has a few excellent videos in their “Homeschooling High School and Beyond” series that can walk you through how to do this for your children, too.

So this is our year to get our feet wet and test a few things out to see if they work well for us.  Actually, we could do this for two years if we want to since she won’t technically be in high school for another two years.  Until then we’ll keep feeling out her interests, trying new things, possibly enrolling in a college class or two and see how she handles the workload.  Fortunately, Lucy is extremely self-motivated and a hard worker.  I know of no other child who asks her babysitter to teach her calculus while mom and dad are away.  My job will mostly be to keep her from overworking herself.

So, our subject to change plan for Lucy this year is:

  • Music – Lucy plays piano and is very good.  We are fortunate enough to have an excellent teacher who seems to really be helping her.  She has lofty goals but is certainly willing to put in the work, so I imagine she’ll reach them.
  • Math – Saxon Algebra 1/2, moving on to Saxon Algebra 1 when the time comes.
  • Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000
  • Grammar
    • Fix-it Grammar.
    • She is also taking a high school Latin course from BYU Independent Study (Latin is supposedly very effective in teaching English Grammar).  She’s doing well and seems to be holding on to a B average.
    • I am also hoping to take an English linguistics course from BYU Independent study this year.  If I do, I’ll see if she is interested in taking it with me once she is finished with the Latin class.
  • Science – Exploring Creation with General Science
  • Language – Rosetta Stone and Duolingo French.  If this doesn’t keep her happy, BYU has some french courses she can try out.  She’ll need two consecutive years of a foreign language for her high school transcript.
  • Writing – Novel Writing.  Lucy would like to be a novelist (it’s one of her two passions).  I’ve read some of her stuff and she’s very good (spelling aside).  She listens to Writing Excuses almost religiously, and is knee deep in writing a book called The Iron Wood Bow.  It’s pretty cool watching and listening to her talk about this fantasy world she is creating.  As part of her this curriculum for this, she is currently reading How to Write Fantasy and Science Fiction and Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters and Viewpoints.  When she’s done with these, I’ll get her the rest of the set.
  • Electives – The other passion that Lucy has is sewing.  If she decides not to pursue writing, it will because she has started her own fashion line.  At twelve years old she’s an incredible seamstress.  I can teach her nothing but am planning on enlisting the help of a fabulous sister in our ward as well as any Intermediate-Advanced sewing classes I can find.  Right now she’s taking a Beginning Serger class from  Lucy usually finishes most of her schoolwork in a few hours and then will spend the next four to six hours sewing or designing (or writing, or playing on the piano).

Me – 13th Grade


When I was a freshman at Binghamton University, my parents moved down to Alabama.  That one move by my parents (after I had left home) changed my life forever.  Now that my family (who had lived in the state of New York for the previous 14 years) was living out of state, my school decided to charge me out of state tuition for the second semester.  Well, I couldn’t afford out of state tuition, so I withdrew from school, moved in with my parents until I could save enough money for a bus ticket (about four months), and moved to Provo.  It was there that I met my sweet Matt and the rest is history.

15 years later I still have just one semester’s worth of official college under my belt.  This is the year that changes.  I’ve been thinking about going back to school for years but now, thanks to BYU-I’s Pathway program, the time is right.  For the next three semesters I will be taking the pre-selected classes required by Pathway, and if I pass with a B average or above, I can apply to BYU-I Online and finally start working towards my bachelor’s degree.

As of yet, their degree options are fairly limited, but I figure between what they offer at BYU-I and BYU Independent Study, I can get the equivalent to the English degree I’m aiming for (with an emphasis in Literary Studies).

So my aims this year include:

  • BYU-I Pathway – 2 classes per semester with a total of 15 credits that are fully transferable to BYUI.
  • Violin – I’ve been taking violin with Emma and just love it.  I’m continuing with that and will be working through Suzuki Book 2 this year.
  • French – I’m going to take advantage of Duolingo and Rosetta Stone as well.  We have a trip to Paris planned and I would like to be able to communicate (even if only on the most rudimentary level).
  • I’m also going to try and be a little more organized this year.  Things like housekeeping and meal planning have been fairly lax since I got pregnant with Alice.  Now that she’s a year old, using her as an my excuse for serving cereal for dinner is slightly more lame that it was six months ago.  I’ve embraces the fact that I’m thoroughly “type B”, but I think in the process of trying to be content with who I am as a fairly laid back person, I may have gone a little overboard.  I’m not saying that I want to change my personality, or be someone I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept all of the negative side effects of being a free spirit.  Translation: getting up on time and a little more discipline in certain areas of my life won’t kill me.

Matt – 25th Grade


Yes, you read that right. He’s spent as much time in school after high school as it took to graduate from high school.  And he has three years to go (he promises that will be it… no really… he means it this time.)  This year he is a surgical intern with a seriously time consuming and anxiety inducing schedule.  Most of what he will be doing will involve working an illegal number of hours, slave labor, rapid stress induced weight loss, and sleep depravation that makes SEAL Training look like a walk in the park (Hell Week not included).

Well, that is what we have on the docket this coming school year.  What are your plan?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Emilee says:

    I love reading about what cool homeschool curriculum you plan on using! We love brains on too. And btw, the morris museum has amazing art classes for kids that Emma might enjoy. Who is your piano teacher? Looking to get Cheap started soon…


    1. Brother Bailey teaches Lucy but for a beginner I would suggest Jesse Cummings.


  2. Emilee says:

    Lol. Somehow C was autocorrected to cheap :)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s