Swanson Boys: Homeschool Updates, and Books they’ve been Loving
I don’t know about you, but my boys go back to school tomorrow. (Tomorrow!!)
I hope you enjoyed the last post about Homeschooling High School. (I remember being so nervous about the idea of homeschooling high school, but it has turned out to be a blast!)
As promised, I am back today to give some quick updates on the homeschool curriculum my boys are using this year, and also to share some of the books they’ve been enjoying.
^^My 4, yesterday — at a Hawaiian Rodeo! 🙂
I’m down to homeschooling just three boys, as Josiah graduated a year ago, just finished his gap year (which was so good!) and is headed to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Ca. in a few weeks. Crazy! But really — he is SO excited and SO ready, it’s almost hard to be sad that he is leaving. 🙂
As for the other three…
Jonah is heading into his Senior Year.
Luke will be a 9th grader
Levi is starting 3rd grade.
And as for curriculum:
- ALL of the boys are using ABEKA online Videos for their language arts classes and Bible.
- Luke and Jonah are using the DIVE curriculum for Math and Science.* (see note below.)
- Levi is using a variety of science and history books (mostly read-aloud) and Abeka Math.
- All of the boys will be using IEW for various writing classes. ** (see another note!)
* DIVE CURRICULUM: My boys have loved using the DIVE curriculum for everything from Earth Science (Luke in 8th grade) to AP Calculus and AP Physics (Josiah and Jonah senior years.) DIVE is growing in popularity all over the world, and if you hop over to their website you will find some great giveaways going on now! Some DIVE classes have live options and others are web-based, and self-paced. DIVE is the most affordable curriculum we have used, and even in the higher level classes (Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus and Calculus) my boys have been able to take the classes completely independently because Dr. Shormann’s teaching is so good. (Which is really nice since asking their Mom questions about Calculus would not be very helpful. 😉 ) If you’re looking for Math or Science curriculums, I highly recommend DIVE! (Be sure to follow them on Facebook, and Instagram.)
*a few more fun facts: The creator of the DIVE curriculum , David Shormann, is our good friend, and he lives here on the North Shore. Dr. Shormann and his family are originally from Texas, but have been living here in Hawaii for a few years. They go to our church and their daughter Ellie is a good friend of our boys. (and she helps out with Levi’s homeschooling a bit, too.) We have so much respect for Dr. Shormann! Each of the boys have worked with him on his research projects, and they spend as much time fishing and boating with him as possible.
Also, my son Jonah is the current face of the Dive website. Hehe.
**IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing.) We’ve used the Institute for IEW for years, beginning when Josiah was in about 3rd grade. Andrew Pudewa is such an engaging, funny, and super-smart teacher, and the kids love him! Writing can be challenging for boys, and finding a good curriculum is a game changer. I am convinced that Josiah’s early experiences with IEW inspired his love of writing, and prepared him well for great essay writing, which helped earn him college scholarships. We are big fans of IEW!
Aaaand, after years of being fans of Andrew Pudewa, I was honored to be a GUEST on Andrew’s IEW PODCAST in an episode called “The Joys of Boys” a few weeks back! (<–use that link to listen to my episode!) It was a super fun chat!
What about Abeka? We’ve used Abeka as our core curriculum for much of my boys’ homeschooling. I think it’s a great balance between kids learning in a pseudo-classroom environment (students watch a video of a teacher in front of a class, so they get to see a full lecture as if they are in the classroom) with seat work done at home. I don’t have to “teach” but I do correct and grade their papers, quizzes and tests. I feel super confident that they are getting a very thorough, college-prep. education, from a Biblical perspective.
Now for some books!
Here’s a short list of books my boys have been reading lately. This summer has been a BIG READING SUMMER for all of my boys. (Josiah decided to “train himself” for a lot of reading in college and his brothers followed suit!
LEVI, 3rd grade:
The One Year Book of Devotions for Boys
(We read this with him every morning for his devotions. It’s good for his age and I’d recommend through older elementary school.)
The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7-Book Collection: All 7 Books Plus Bonus Book: Boxen
(We are reading this series aloud to him, and are currently in the 3rd book. He loves it!)
The Absent Author (A to Z Mysteries)
(I picked up the first few books in this series while we were in California because Levi needed something to read to himself. He is finishing the 2nd book, “The Bald Bandit” now and seems to be really enjoying it.)
LUKE’s recent favorites, 9TH grade:
Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)
Okay for Now
(I got this after seeing that Sarah McKenzie from the Read Aloud Revival recommended it. Luke really enjoyed it and I want to read it next.)(And BTW– Sarah at the The RAR ^^ has heaps of great book recommendations, an awesome podcast, and tons of encouragement, so follow her now if you haven’t before!)
Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms
Finish First: Winning Changes Everything
(^^both of the last 2 are great, especially if your kids are competitive athletes. I love finding positive role models like Tim Tebow and Scott Hamilton. I highly recommend both of those books!)
JONAH’S recent favorites, 12 grade:
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
The Great Divorce
(and other CS Lewis books…He and Josiah have been devouring CS Lewis. :))
How to Win Friends & Influence People
(great for learning to work with people at his new restaurant job, and though some people don’t love this book, I think it can be great for self-awareness and social skills.)
JOSIAH, pre-college reading:
Confessions (Oxford World’s Classics)
(a requirement for his Augustinian program at Westmont.) (He loved it!)
An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest
(recommended by Westmont for entering students. Another good one!)
Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People
(Gotta love Bob Goff. :))
The George MacDonald Treasury: Princess and the Goblin, Princess and Curdie, Light Princess, Phantastes, Giant’s Heart, at the Back of the North Wind, Golden Key, and Lilith
(He hasn’t read all of these but has been on a George MacDonald streak after hearing that C.S. Lewis was inspired by MacDonald. :))
**AFFILIATE LINKS: Some of the items listed here are affiliate links which means if you click through and purchase, I will make a small commission on the purchase. I am not an affiliate for any homeschool companies. 😉
I’d love to hear what your kids are reading, especially in the younger years as I am always looking to inspire Levi to love reading as well! Also: If you have any questions about our homeschooling, feel free to ask!
We started reading a cute science theme devotional called Indescribable this year and my kids all love it! Your youngest would enjoy it 🙂
Thanks for all the resources!! Cant wait to checkout Dive and see how we like it 😉
This past year we found a GREAT book I can’t reccomend enough, its called Boys on the Boat! One of my favorite books we have read as a family, it’s so good and a true story at that. It has so much history tied into it and shows how hard you had to work to get some where, it takes place during the great depression. Just a Great Great story…
Your gonna love it!
Author Cornelia Funk
We do not homeschool – though have thought about it so much – but I’m still interested in the books you share. Our oldest will be starting 1st grade. I would love to read the Narnia series with him – do you think 1st grade is too young yet? Book suggestions for a 1st grader?
So my neighbor just recommended Double Play by Ben Zobrist. I am half way through and already know I will be reading it to my boys when they are ready. It is the best play by play of a biblical relationship, turned marriage, that you could hope to spell out for our Christian men. By the way, thank you for the Scott Hamilton recommendation. I actually read his first book by mistake and then ordered Winning First. His first book The Great Eight was a good read as well.
Oh wow, we used Abeka also. Many thought we were taking on too rigorous a curriculum as two working parents that homeschooled, but we both loved the organized nature of the curriculum. We would ask the kids to give us their opinion every year and they grudgingly felt Abeka challenged them the most. Although, we tried many other curriculum as supplements. Membean (for vocabulary building), San Diego Scribblers for writing, YouthDigital for programming and CTCMath for math help, and Outschool for live eclectic classes.
We read the One Year Book of Devotions for Boys too- excellent!
Also, Hero Tales by Dave & Neta Jackson are also excellent! There are 4 volumes I believe.
Yes, RAR with Sarah is a great resource for age appropriate book recommendations!
Have a blessed school year!
My son loved the Red Wall series in elementary school. He listened to the first few on tape ( he’s 23 now)! John Scott felt they really helped him enjoy reading and understand the old english style novels he read in high school. Your 9th grader might like the Christopher Paolini series Eragon my son still loves these books. We read Raising a Modern Day Knight with our son in middle school it was a great book too! Have your older boys read The Hobbit? The Lord of the Rings Series is amazing. The deal was my son had to read the books before he could see the movies he gladly took the deal!
Read Aloud Revival is such a great resource! We listened to Okay for Now on our family road trip. We all loved it!
I love to hear that your son is reading, or has read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Pulitzer Prize winner, All the Light We Cannot See. Both are two of my favirite books ever! I’m a huge reader, as well as my two sons.
My 9th grade son just finished reading All The Light after I highly recommended. I read with my Book Group and as i read it, I knew my son would relate to Werner, the Germany boy in the story. Oh Monica, this is one of the best books ‘ve read in the lst 3 years (and I read about 3 books a month). Beautiful story and beautiful writing. I think you and your husband would enjoy this one.