I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately, so I decided it’s time…
Time for a homeschool update.
NOTE: If you are not a homeschool family or looking into homeschooling currently, I won’t even try to pretend this post will be interesting. I totally excuse you to exit this one before I bore you to sleep. Of course I invite you to click around my site and find more interesting topics, and I promise…I’ll be back again soon with regularly scheduled programing.
Now…for the handful of you who are still here: Let’s dive in!
This topic will be divided into two posts: Today I will cover what my two youngest (first grade and 7th grade) are doing, and then in my next post I will talk about my two high schoolers (10th grade and 12th grade). The high school post will also cover things like how we keep records, transcripts, graduation, and so on.
Note: at the bottom of this post you can find links to other homeschool-related posts I have written, and a suggested resource for anyone looking into various homeschool curriculums.
Now here we go:
Note: I suggest you begin with this post from two years ago about A beka–the curriculum all of the boys have used for about four years. We still use A beka for much of our homeschooling, so that gives some good background.
LEVI, first grade: Levi is doing A Beka Academy — the A Beka online streaming curriculum. He watches a first grade teacher and a classroom on video for all of his classes. The teacher includes kids watching the videos while teaching the students in the class. (“Kids at home, what is 4+3?”) He enjoys “getting to know” the kids in the class and truly feels like he is part of the classroom. They use workbooks and readers to go with the video lessons. There are many videos and worksheets to do each day.
The pros are: Levi’s teacher is amazing, and I think he is getting a great education, right from the comfort of our home computer. A Beka offers a really solid foundation in phonics, math, social studies, and Bible. The videos are thorough, yet fun. There is a lot of singing, artwork, poetry and Scripture memorization, map studies, and overall I think it is a really well-rounded first grade class. I love the workbooks and I especially enjoy how they go with the seasons and holidays of the year. Another benefit I see is that there is positive peer-pressure; no one in that video is goofing off, talking back, or being disrespectful in any way. Therefore, Levi sees a great example of a classroom of focused kids learning a lot.
As the homeschool mom, having Levi watch videos allows me a bit of freedom. If I need to leave the room, Levi CAN continue to learn from his video. That can take a lot of pressure off of me.
the cons are: As a six-year-old boy, it is not easy to sit still in front of a computer for that long. (nor do I think it’s healthy to do it every day.) So, there are days where we skip videos and instead go over the material using the teacher manual. Also, though he can do his work independently, someone pretty much has to stay near Levi throughout the day or he will start spacing out, fiddling with something, or running around the house.
Thankfully Dave is super helpful during his days off work, and we also have Morgan, a wonderful “household assistant” come over twice a week for a few hours to assist. She knows Levi’s school work well, and is actually much better at keeping him on schedule than I am. (Those are the days I try to focus on the older kids, run errands, get writing done, or just take a nap. haha.)
If Levi were my only child, I would probably chose to do A Beka for some subjects, and then choose another curriculum for others. I loved the Sonlight Curriculum when my boys were little, so perhaps I’d mix in some Sonlight readers, or pull from other amazing curriculums to round out his education. There are so many great curriculums available, I could go crazy just choosing one for those early years. I have such fond memories from when first three boys were all elementary-aged, and we did a huge variety of things together. I wish I could do that with Levi too, but we’re just in a different season as a family now, and I’m learning to accept that and not compare or feel bad about it.
LUKE, 7th grade: Luke made a complete switch in curriculums this year. Luke was one of my biggest A Beka fans, so this wasn’t an easy choice. He has always loved his A Beka teachers, and truly enjoyed learning through the videos. The problem is, Luke’s competitive surfing life is requiring more and more time, and A Beka is very time-consuming. For Luke to watch all of his videos and do all of the book work required is a very long day, especially considering his personality and how many breaks he “needs to” take (to do things like tend to his kitty, wax his surfboard, and catch highlights of whatever pro surf contest might be happening on line.)
Last year I felt like we were in a constant state of frustration just trying to get through a school day, and I knew we needed a change.
This year Luke is trying Alpha Omega’s curriculum called Monarch. Monarch is a 100% online curriculum that Luke can do anywhere. There are NO books; the work is all online. (Don’t worry, we use our reading books to supplement!) Instead of watching a video of a classroom like A Beka, Monarch is just the student interacting with slide-style lessons and fill-in-the-blank assignments. The program auto-grades most of his work, though I am able to login separately as his parent to review his work, and help out as he might need. I am also responsible to grade all essays and bigger projects, and in general to keep him doing his work and not goofing off. 🙂
The pro’s are: Luke says he is learning a lot, and he really does like Monarch. He is able to get through his work much more quickly than he did with A Beka. There is much less paperwork. Monarch covers a good range of topics, and seems to be challenging, but not overwhelming. Since there are no books or workbooks, Monarch can be done on the road easily, which is great for travel (which could be important down the road.) The parent login took me a little while to get used to, but is overall user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The cons are: I can’t really put my finger on it, but I just don’t have the same confidence in how much Luke is learning this year. I really appreciated the quality of lectures in the A Beka videos, and I miss that. Sometimes Luke will whip through his Monarch lessons so quickly, it’s hard for me to feel like he’s learning a lot. I miss textbooks and highlighters and workbooks. (which might just be me being old-school.) So, bottom line is: I think I’ll have to report back at the end of the year with how I feel about Monarch then!
If you have a competitive athlete or uniquely gifted child in your home who needs to put a lot of time into an activity outside of school, Monarch may be good for you. Click on their site to see a video introduction to how it works.
If you have specific questions about our experiences with either A Beka or Monarch, please leave them in comments since other people may have the same questions! ALSO: If you homeschool your children (or have been homeschooled yourself) I would love to hear what curriculum you use(d) and anything you have to say about it. Please feel free to comment sharing your experiences as well!
My next post will be an update on homeschooling HIGH SCHOOL…complete with record keeping, transcripts, graduation (!!) and more. I hope I have not bored you to death, and thank you for being here!
Here are a few of my other homeschool-related posts:
Homeschooling: The good, the bad, and the slightly awkward
Five Favorite moments in our homeschool day
A VLOG: Considering Homeschool? This one’s for you.
A Typical Day in our Homeschool Life
And a book that helped me when I first got started:
102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
See you back here soon. Have a great weekend! 🙂