Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2021-22 (with a 14-year-old and an 11-year old)
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
This school year, things are a bit different as my 14-year-old Alina daughter has moved into Scholar Phase! That means she is doing more self-directed studies on her own, and I am doing more one-on-one schooling with my 11-year-old son Ian. This post will detail our curriculum and resources for the 2021-2022 school year.
Character Comes First
Education is much more than academic learning; it involves our emotional and spiritual development as well. I believe that teaching my children to be honest, responsible, kind people is more important than the acquisition of academic knowledge. I intentionally focus on character development through:
Discussion of character during read-alouds
Service within our community
When my kids were younger, I focused on teaching them life skills that we worked on together. Now that I have one young adult and one adolescent, I’m feeling a need to impart more independent life skills to my kids, to ensure that they are prepared for really owning tasks.
Both of my kids have a fairly large list of household responsibilities, which they have been taught and are expected to complete on their own. They are working to master all aspects of home care, including laundry, cleaning, maintenance, etc.
Although they are still expected to help me with dinner preparation as needed, my kids are also each assigned to cook dinner for the family once a week now. They get to choose the menu for their assigned dinner days.
With Ian, I often help him learn to cook new recipes. However, for Alina, being a 14-year-old who has a harder time accepting instructions and feedback from her parents now ☺, she generally prefers to learn to cook simple new recipes on her own rather than alongside me.
Most of the recipes my kids use are simplified versions of recipes I have developed. Both kids have binders where they can store their recipes. Alina, especially, seems excited to be creating her own cookbook.
With their differing ages, Ian is still learning to cook very simple foods, while Alina is learning to make more complex meals. Some of my kids’ favorite meals to prepare are:
Grassfed beef hamburgers on sourdough or sprouted grain buns
Pizza with homemade sauce plus veggie sticks with homemade ranch dressing
Quesadillas with fresh tomato salsa
Einkorn pancakes topped with smoked salmon, cucumbers, green onions, capers, and sour cream
Salad bar with many different toppings including meats, cheeses, nuts, and vegetables
Teriyaki beef and broccoli, served over rice
Simplified chicken long rice soup
Individual Needs and Interests
The homeschool philosophy we love and implement is Thomas Jefferson Education. In this homeschool model, rather than children being in specific grades, they are in “Phases” which each have a specific learning focus. There is more info about the Phases here, and in brief, they are:
Core Phase – Age ~0-9 – Focused on character development, right and wrong, good and bad, etc
Love of Learning Phase – Age ~8-13 – Giving the child the opportunity to fall in love with learning through nurturing their own interests and providing opportunities for exploration of academic subjects
Scholar Phase – Age ~13-17 – Focused on study in a wide range of topics with increasing ability and commitment
An important part of nurturing a love of learning in my kids is through encouraging them to pursue their own interests. One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is that my children have as much time as desired to follow their passions. I'm supporting my children's current interests as follows.
My kids are partners in a small chicken egg business. They work together to take care of the chickens daily, and each earn a small amount of money for every dozen of eggs that are sold. Owning their own business has given my kids the opportunity to learn much about raising and caring for animals, handling and saving money, profit vs. loss, the value of hard work, perseverance, and long-term commitments. They're becoming experts in management of the flock, and they make the hard decisions about keeping their business viable throughout the productive and unproductive egg laying years of their hens.
14-year-old daughter Alina – Scholar Phase
After participating in TJED High for a few months last semester, Alina recently decided to undertake self-directed Scholar Phase. This is new ground for us, and the two books that have helped us know how to make Scholar Phase work well are:
Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille
Hero Education: A Scholar Phase Guidebook for Teens, Parents, and Mentors by Oliver DeMille
As recommended in the Phases of Learning book, Alina has a Scholar contract which lays out her responsibilities and benefits. There is time scheduled every week for her to work on her Scholar studies (currently 8 hours of study per week).
Alina develops her own curriculum of books to read (with my guidance). As recommended in Hero Education, Alina will work on a list of 10 books at a time.
Alina’s First 10 Books List
Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy (with Mentoring in the Classics Introduction and Debrief)
The Emperor’s Soul by Sanderson
Conversations with God: Book 1 by Walsch
Little House in the Big Woods (with Mentoring in the Classics Introduction and Debrief)
Math Doesn’t Suck by McKellar
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by Gatto
Pollyanna by Porter
The Rithmatist by Sanderson
Intelligence by DeMille Robinson
Back-up Books, in case there are books on the above list that are just not working for Alina:
Ancient Rome and How It Affects You Today by Maybury
A Little Princess by Burnett
Additionally, Alina is currently very interested in sewing stuffed animals. Resources for supporting this interest include
Sew Mini Animals Kit by Klutz
Felt, fabric, and stuffing
Stuffed animal patterns from https://dollmaker.nunodoll.com/plushie/
11-year-old son Ian – Love of Learning Phase
Ian is in Love of Learning Phase. He has had a lifelong passionate interest in cars and other wheeled vehicles, tools, and machines. More recently, his interest in dogs and hunting have been increasing. I support these interests through:
Getting him involved in household maintenance (such as letting him help with annual cooler maintenance, changing bike tires, using the drill and manual staple gun, etc.),
Including a focus on inventors and inventions in our history studies,
Providing him opportunities to ride his rollerblades, scooter, and bike,
Helping him learn how to hunt and clean dove, and
Making sure he has plenty of books about dogs, vehicles, and machines to read.
I purposely do not push my children academically, but I do give them exposure to plenty of academic subjects and pursuits. We currently have family “kidschool time” for 1-1.5 hours each morning, before Alina goes off to do her Scholar Time and I do more one-on-one academic explorations with Ian.
There is more about the how we make our homeschool successful and sustainable here, and more about our general homeschool routine here.
Literature is foundational to our homeschool. It gives us exposure to different cultures and values, allows us to "walk a mile" in others' shoes, and facilitates important discussions that lead to character growth.
Daily Read-Aloud and Kids’ Book Club
I read aloud classic picture and chapter books to my children most days. Read alouds spark many of our most important discussions about culture and character.
I also facilitate a children’s read-aloud classic book club once-a-month. Our recent and upcoming read-alouds include:
Rose books in the Little House series, by Roger Lea MacBride, including Little House on Rocky Ridge, Little Farm in the Ozarks, and In the Land of the Big Red Apple
A Dog Named Chips by Albert Terhune
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Stormy, Misty’s Foal by Marguerite Henry
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes