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What's Working and What's New? Mid-Year Curriculum Update for 2023-24 (with a 16yo and a 13yo)

Here's a peek into which homeschooling resources are working well and not-so-well for my 16yo and 13yo, as well as our new curriculum and areas of focus for the coming semester.




Although I do the bulk of our homeschool planning in July, by January it is time for a mid-year review. The intent of our mid-year review is to look at the following with regards to our home school:

  • What has been working well?

  • What needs to be improved?

  • What needs to be removed from our curriculum?

  • Is there anything new to focus on?

  • What specific needs does each child have over the next few months?


The whole process of our mid-year review takes about 2 hours. For more info on how we do mid-year homeschooling planning, go here:




2023-24 Midyear Review: Things That Need Improvement


Uber-Busy

Between homeschooling, the kids' activities, my natural healthcare practice, serving as Vice President of the Raw Milk Institute, plus my advocacy work, our lives have gotten incredibly busy over the last couple years. Many weeks feel like whirlwinds 😝, with barely enough time to catch our breaths.


Beyond saying "no" to additional activities, I don't really have a plan for how to fix this.


It may be that in the season of life we are in, combined with the urgent need to fix things for future generations, our lives are just going to stay very busy. Nonetheless, I will strive to find ways for us all to get some regular down-time, quiet moments, and time in nature.



2023-24 Midyear Review: Things That Are Working Well

The following things have been working especially well over the last semester.


Life of Fred Math

As a way to keep things light and unstressed for the kids, we've come back around to using Life of Fred math once again.


Ian, especially, has been stressed with new math concepts over the last year or so. I keep coming back to wise words from an experienced 7th grade teacher who said that "all kids lose their brain in 7th grade but they'll get it back in 8th grade." This is a natural and normal part of adolescent brain development, and it is okay that Ian is not ready to work much on learning new math concepts right now. 


Since we're in a bit of a holding pattern while waiting for Ian's brain to mature a bit more, we've gone back to revisit some of the earlier Life of Fred books. I read-aloud a chapter 2-3 times a week during our Breakfast School time. At the end of each chapter, the kids work a few problems on their dry erase boards. I customize the math problems for both of the kids, especially Alina who is ready for more-complex math.


For more tips on how to use Life of Fred math with kids of different ages, go here:





Community Spelling Bees

Once each semester, I organize a Community Spelling Bee in our homeschool group. All ages are welcome to participate, and I especially encourage the parents to participate so they can lead out. This has worked well for giving my kids a chance to focus on improving their spelling.


We use the TJED graduated spelling list so that the kids know which words to study. Each child is free to choose which level to participate in, and they can participate in any level regardless of their age. (Let me know if you want more info about how to make a successful community spelling bee.)



Relaxing the Pace for Our History Studies

We're still using a 4-year-cycle for history and are working on our 3rd iteration of 1500-1850 history this year. This year I'm incorporating music, inventions, and math alongside our history studies.


Generally, each semester we alternate between focusing on science or history. This reduces the stress over trying to fit it all in and allows us to dig deeper into specific topics.


I usually push to finish our history unit in the Fall so that we can move on to Science for the Spring semester. However, with our lives being so busy lately, we have not yet finished our history unit and I have decided to be okay with that. 😎 So, we'll continue on with the history unit for another 1-2 months before we jump into Chemistry. We may even wait and start Chemistry in the summer instead. I'm learning how to let go of the stress and go with the flow...




2023-24 Midyear Review: New Areas of Focus

Here are some new things we'll be focusing on for the coming semester.


Constitution 101

Since we have reached the Constitution in our history studies, we will be coming back around to the free Constitution 101 Course from Hillsdale College. In a previous year, we worked through about half of this course, and it stimulated many important discussions about the principles our country was founded upon and how far we have strayed from those principles. All together as a family, we will be watching and discussing this course.


Chemistry

We are still using a 4-year cycle for Science and alternating between history and science studies. Once we complete our history unit, we'll be focusing on Chemistry with some combination of the following resources:




Individual Reading Lists and Goals

Both kids have developed individual homeschooling goals for the coming semester. We find it helpful to have incentives that the kids can look forward to as they complete their goals.

Since Ian is still in Love of Learning Phase, his reading list is focused more on engaging-books with an overall goal of building a steady reading habit. He finished about half of his reading challenge last semester, so some of those remaining books are going to carry over into the coming semester.



Since Alina is in Scholar Phase, her overall plan for the semester is focused more on getting a well-rounded exposure to many subjects while also working on her writing skills as an aspiring author. Below is a snapshot of Alina's goals for the coming semester; you can see more details of her Scholar Contract and yearly plan here:



In reflecting on last semester, Alina realized she had not met her math goals and that her writing tended to happen in spurts rather than on a steady basis. She decided to set some specific goals for those two areas for the coming semester.



I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for performing your own mid-year educational review with your children, whether they are homeschooled or attend school outside the home.




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