/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » ch-ch-ch-changes… homeschool style

This summer begins our fourth year of homeschooling and will find us back at lessons, revamping our previous plans for a leisurely time-off and romping in the summer sun.  Our previous plans, of course, were contingent upon staying in MI, included expanding our garden to twice its normal size, canning vegetables, and building a chicken coop.

But we’re not in Michigan anymore, Auntie Em.

Before we moved to Arizona, I investigated the important parts of family life:  homeschooling laws down here and the availability of raw dairy.  I know – corny, right?  But these are things that were important enough to us that we went out of our way to make them a reality in our day-to-day lives in Michigan.  As it turns out, raw dairy is legal here, but hard to come by (the laws involve so much red tape that it’s not cost effective for dairies to comply and most still sell privately “for pet consumption”).  Homeschooling laws are almost as lenient as Michigan – I have to provide an “affidavit of intent” to the principal of the high school Brendan would attend and nothing else.  I also discovered that many families down here school through the crazy-hot summer months (when they hibernate inside anyhow) and take a “summer break” in the late fall/early winter months when the temperatures are beautiful and playing outside makes much more sense.

Image credit: Michael R. Swigart

And so we’ll be doing that this summer.  Brendan thought about it for a bit and decided that it wasn’t too traitorous an idea (if we were still in Michigan, he’d balk at it), as long as we did cool family-things in his “off-time.”  And so we’ll plow through this summer and in to fall, taking our “summer break” from December to the end of February.  We’ll do fun things like visit The Painted Desert, Sedona, the Petrified Forest, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and eventually, the Grand Canyon.  We’ll study our surroundings and tie them in with history lessons about the native tribes and how they were forced on to reservations, as well as study the desert art that exists in these parts.

We’re also changing up our math program.  For 3 years, Brendan has done Horizons Math, which is the accelerated math arm of Alpha Omega publications.  It’s been a challenge for him, but one that was not too hard so as to discourage him.  I heard about Teaching Textbooks from Sonlight, and when I gave my kid a chance to play with the program online, he was hooked.  The lessons are done both on computer and on paper, and it seems as though it will be a good fit for him.  I have two different tests – 3rd and 4th grade – to see where he will fall.  Horizons 2nd grade program is the equivalent of 3rd grade math in other programs, so I want to see if the next level (4th grade) is better for him or if doing a review-year of 3rd grade makes more sense.

Our studies will continue to use a classical approach to history (working on year 3 of the 4 year cycle), using Story of the World‘s Early Modern Times, continuing on with read-alouds and silent reading, improving handwriting & grammar via copywork, and incorporating art as it applies to the Early Modern Times history lessons.  And of course, starting with Teaching Textbooks math program.

I’d say we’re adapting to our new environment relatively well; at least, for having been here 2 weeks today.  We’ll join the local homeschool group in our area this month and mix in some fun with lessons at the same time, but the changes our summer encompasses are proving to be interesting as well as fun.

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