Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

It’s hard to believe it’s our 3rd year of homeschooling.  It seems like I just had two in diapers and now I have two in school!  ((Cue the weeping))  A few close friends ask for homeschool updates, so without further ado, I’ll share what we’re planning this year while homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner.

If you want to read our past updates on homeschooling:

A really long post about our first year of homeschooling

Second year of homeschooling

The past two years I’ve focused heavily on reading and math.  My philosophy for younger kids is that if you can get them reading and doing math, the science and history and other puzzle pieces will all fall into place.

For Olen, our kindergartner, I’ll be focusing on those two things!  I feel like, unfortunately, since Olen was my middle one in the midst of 3 under 4, he missed out on some of the preschool work that I did with Jackson.  I’ll be doing the same Abeka K5 program for phonics and reading that I also did with Jackson.  The program is probably better suited to a small classroom or private school, but it did set a good foundation for Jackson so we’ll roll with it again.

Handwriting will be the ever-famous Handwriting without Tears.  We’re fairly certain that Olen is a leftie, so hopefully I’ll be free of tears, too, as I navigate trying to teach left-handing writing.

Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner - Handwriting without Tears

Jackson (2nd grade) will be starting the next book in the series of A Reason for Handwriting.  I really like this workbook and the way it helps us to also learn Scripture.

For math, we’re doing some catch-up and review via a School Zone Kindergarten workbook and flashcards, and then diving right into Horizons Math 1.  Jackson is nearly halfway through Horizons Math 2 and we should complete that this year.  I like Horizons, but I do feel like it moves at a quick pace.  I want my children to master a skill, not just ace the test.  I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing addition and subtraction with Jackson and let’s hope it haspaid off!  He’s starting multiplication this week.

For science, both boys will be studying Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day, although I expect Olen’s role will be geared more towards just coloring in his accompanying Junior Notebooking Journal.

Homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

For history, we’re going to use the The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child and the accompanying activity book.  Because I love history, this was the hardest curriculum for me to pick.   I really like the Classical model, and I’m hoping this will be a good fit for our family!  I think I’ll be able to gear this for both boys based on the activities- Jackson will be able to do a little more than Olen, but I like that we can all work on it TOGETHER.

The Story of the World - Homeschooling a 2nd grader and kindergartner

For Ohio history, we’re planning field trips to Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio and the Johnny Appleseed Museum at Urbana University.  We’re also hoping to get to Marietta!

That’s probably all for Olen- while Jackson will have his own spelling, language arts, and phonics.

For  Jackson’s phonics, we’re using Explode the Code again.

I call my homeschool the hodge-podge method and it’s because I enjoy many different styles.  I’ve enjoyed many things by Charlotte Mason.  Last year we used a Charlotte-Mason based nature study called The Outdoor Secrets Companion and I’m sure that over the years I will revisit this combination of literature and nature.  For Jackson’s language arts we’re using Language Lessons for Today: Grade 2.

Spelling will be Building Spelling Skills- Book 2.

Building Spelling Skills- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

We also spend lots of time developing our reading and listening skills by reading aloud.  Over the summer, the kids “earned” screen time by reading books and allowing me to read to them.  We’re reading through the Little House on the Prairie series and will finish The Long Winter this week.  Anyone have any suggestions for when we’re ready to move on from the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder?

The Long Winter- homeschooling a second grader and kindergartner

Per the State of Ohio, we’re to cover health topics like nutrition and body care.  I found this fun book called Nutrition Fun with Brocc & Roll and I think it puts a kid-friendly spin on how to read labels and I can’t wait to get my copy. I’ll be supplemented with some library materials like Nutrition Facts for Kids and Good Enough to Eat.

Nutrition Fun- Homeschooling a 2nd grader and Kindergartner

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention our darling Miss C. So far she’s been sitting at the table and doing many of the same things as Olen.  She hasn’t been as distracting as last year (but it’s only day 6!).  Today, when she tired of my instruction, she just went to her room and played with her dolls.  We’ll see how it goes as the year progresses.

Tell me- What’s your go-to curriculum?  Do you use any of the same things? I’d love to know!  


A really long post about our first year of homeschooling

There’s nothing like celebrating the end of our first year of homeschooling with a little Alice Cooper. #notyourtypicalhomeschooler Ha!   As of today, we are d-o-n-e, done.  Now that’s not to say we won’t do some review over the summer or keep up with our daily kids’ devotional, but no more 4-days-a-week-2-hours-a-day for the next 3 months.

I’m going to break down what went well, what worked and what didn’t- mostly for my own reference to just.keep.swimming.  However, SO many people asked me about homeschooling this year.  Questions about curriculum to schedules to state requirements and even things like “Don’t you want a break from your kids?”  Only 3% of American school-aged children are homeschooled, so it is rare, and people want to know more- I totally get that!  So here’s my two cents- along with what I loved and what I didn’t love.

Things I loved/that went well:


Do you know how hard it is to get three kids out the door on a Sunday morning by 9:30 am when both parents are home?  HARD.  So I shudder at the thought that I would have had to either drive or walk Jackson to school every morning with two other children fed and out of their pajamas. I love the flexibility of homeschooling, to be able to easily maneuver our day around sick children, appointments, naptimes, and the like.

That said, I felt like I spent much of the year trying to find a weekly routine that worked for our family.  I started out trying to school mostly in the afternoon while the toddler slept, but I realized after the holidays that Jackson was pretty tired in the afternoons (as was I) and I was treating his lack of focus as disrespect even though he was just facing a drop of metabolism like I was (but without the coffee).  Since March we’ve moved to mostly doing school in the mornings (typically 9:30- lunchtime) and I’ve seen a small, but helpful, change in ALL of our focus.

I also adore the flexibility, not only on the daily notion, but as a whole.  A quick review of my calendar shows at a minimum, had he been in public/private school, my little man would have missed 5 weeks of school!  I’m sure some truancy officer would be sending me hateful letters.  In reality, I can’t imagine how much of life-altering on-the-road schooling Jackson would have missed had we not taken that time off.  Nonetheless, we DID do school when all of the neighbors were off for Christmas and Spring Break.

I like the idea that our school year can revolve around our travels and my husband’s busy/slow seasons at work.  We have talked about doing some type of private education in the future, and I think the flexibility would be one the single hardest things to give up.


In July and August last year, I spent a lot of time asking trusted homeschooling friends and acquaintances what their favorite curriculum was and why.  I tried to give them a feel as to where Jackson was at and get their feedback on what they thought would be appropropriate.  Since it was just kindergarten, I didn’t want to overwhelm him with a bunch of history/science/etc but just work on setting a good foundation for phonics, reading, and math. We also did a handwriting and Bible lesson everyday.

We used the following:

Math- Horizons Grade 1

Phonics and Reading- A beka K5 

Handwriting without Tears – Letters and Numbers Kindergarten

Bible- Long-Story Short: 10 Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God

I think what I picked worked really well for our first year.  I will continue to use Horizons next year.  My only complaint is that it really goes quickly from one item to the next, so I’ve been supplementing learning with a Rod and Staff grade 1 book and worksheets I find on blogs or Teachers Pay Teachers.   I think A beka worked well, but I am going to use something different next year.  While Jackson thrived with this, everything was formatted for a larger classroom and I disliked having to buy the curriculum that includes handwriting and numbers, when I didn’t want to use those.

We finished the Handwriting without Tears curriculum before our trip to Australia (I may have required too much, too soon), so since then we’ve been working through A Reason for Handwriting and we’ll continue to do a page/day next year.  While I’d like my kiddos to have nice handwriting, I worry that I’m teaching them a lost art.  I wonder if I should start teaching them to type!  😉

I didn’t focus on science and geography this year, although I know we did so much learning in Florida and Australia and during local field trips.  Our local arboretum also offers a preschool science class every other week and we attended most of them.

Things that didn’t go so well or I didn’t expect

Strong-willed child v. strong-willed mama

I always laughed when a comment was made like, “Wow, you must have more patience than me.” or “It’s great you have the patience for homeschooling.”  Let it be known, if there was a character trait I was to be praised for, it would NOT BE PATIENCE.  Because I did a little bit of homeschool for preschool- maybe 2 days a week for 45 minutes a day, I was naive about the process of schooling approximately 8 hours a week.  If ever there was a sanctifying process, parenting full-time AND teaching your children to read, write, etc, is THAT.  Poor Mr. YT fielded a lot of calls during his workday between a stressed out mama and a frustrated, antsy pants, little boy.  Whatever the cost of it though, we’ve both grown up (maybe me as much as the little man) and we’re resilient to keep going (his decision, too).

Time-management/playtime for Mommy

From having three kids in four years to having three kids and one needing to do school was a big change.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that much of that past 5 years was spent in survival mode, a cycle of diapers, dishes, and, eh, drama?  Once this Momma entered the world of teaching a child, schedules had to become more concrete and social time diminished.  I used to have many more playdates and outing during the week, but when most of your friends are also homeschooling, the time alloted to get together with other ladies and children is reduced.  Much of this has made me consider how doing a co-op would help with the social time for both the kids and Mommy– although the oldest needs no help to his sociability- TRUST ME.



The first year of homeschooling was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, years of my life.  I know that many may read this and think, “well if it’s so hard, why would you keep doing it?”  I ask myself once a week! No, really, most good things are never EASY things, and even when days were hard and exhausting, I remember how much Jackson has learned and grown (and how much I’ve learned in the process).

This process of growing up isn’t just for the kids, right?  Each new phase of parenting (and schooling), grows me, too.

I’m not sure we’ll always homeschool, but for right now we’ll enjoy learning new things while constantly being there to see every new milestone and learned skill.