My Homeschool Year in Review with an 11th, 9th, and 7th grader

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Before I proceed with the new homeschool year, I like to take a moment to look back at the previous year. This gives me some time to record what worked and what didn’t work before we move forward.

This year was different because I only had three children in my homeschool as the oldest began her first semester at college. It was also a very complicated fall season in our home because of various health situations. This definitely changed the way we approached academics in the fall, but in the end, we had a solid year.

Our homeschool Year in Review for a 7th, 9th, and 11th grader

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Our Homeschool Year in Review

There are only three students left in my homeschool this year as the oldest child began her freshman year at college. This transition to the final years of homeschooling has been a strange one, but our family is embracing the change and enjoying our present moments.

While it was strange to plan a year with only three kids, it was fantastic to watch my oldest begin to forge her own path at college. I mean, launching our kids is the goal, right?

Before I lay out the plan for our next year, I like to record and reflect on our previous year. Honestly, it is usually so much fun to see all that we accomplished, especially in the midst of a rough season in our home.

Our Homeschool Year in Review By Subject

I’ll break down what we did and how well it worked by subject area instead of grade level. Many of the courses were completed by two or more children working together so it makes the most sense to look at one subject at a time.

Homeschool Math

Mr. D Math

Years ago, we discovered Mr. D Math and we haven’t looked back. This year all of my children were participating in a self-paced Mr. D math class at their own level. We prefer the self-paced classes because my kids don’t always begin and end their curriculum on the traditional schedule so this allows them to work at their own pace.

Mr. D Math continues to be an excellent fit for our family and this year was no exception. I am happy we found these classes and we will continue with them next year:

How Mr. D Math Saved my Homeschool Sanity
Five Reasons we are Sticking with Mr. D Math
Successfully Homeschool Pre-Algebra with Ease

Mr. D Math also offers live, online classes and I have heard only great things about them. They don’t fit our homeschool lifestyle but are a great option to consider.

CTC Math

My 11th grader was working through Algebra 2 this year with Mr. D when she just couldn’t take it anymore. She is an artist and a creative and Algebra II was not a mountain we were willing to die on, so I needed something to allow her to finish the year reinforcing math skills.

I turned to CTC Math so she could complete various lessons in their Algebra program as a review. She didn’t want to complete the same lessons she had previously with Mr. D so CTC Math was a great alternative to select review topics for the final weeks of the school year.

Math Games

Yes, even with a house full of teenagers, we still play a ton of math games. I have found plenty of math games that my teens and tweens enjoy immensely so we break one out occasionally.

Homeschool English

High School

Both of my high school students take English with a local teacher. She uses a combination of IEW for writing and her own selection of literature. My 11th grader explored a lot of different avenues for creative writing while my 9th grader completed IEW’s Elegant Essay and a Speech Book Camp.

Both kids had a great year and we will continue to outsource English next year. While IEW isn’t my favorite curriculum, it is an excellent tool for teaching writing formats. It also helps when the teacher implementing it is a ton of fun, and she is so we are very fortunate.

Middle School (7th Grade)

My youngest child and I continued using WriteShop because it worked well last year. After exploring the program, I decided WriteShop I was the best fit for his 7th-grade year and made our plans to use it.

Overall our plan worked well and he accomplished several writing pieces that he was very proud of. WriteShop I was an effective tool for teaching him several writing skills that he can implement going forward.

We won’t return to WriteShop next year because my youngest will begin taking classes with the local teacher our family has found.

Additional Resources for Middle School:

Wordly Wise, Level 7
Spelling Wisdom, Level 1

English Booklists

9th Grade Booklist:
QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Peak by Roland Smith
Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Just David by Eleanor Hodgman Porter
Radium Girls (Young Readers Edition): The Scary But True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark by Kate Moore
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

7th Grade Booklist:
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm (Book Discussion and Ideas)
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

A Year in Review image of books

Homeschool History – World History

Our entire family studies world history together and this year we decided to use two sources to accomplish this goal. We used The Great Courses: World History with Linwood Thompson for the first semester and The OER Project: World History 1750 to Present for the second half of the year. These sources were selected for my high school students to earn their credit while my 7th grader joined in without a problem.

We began the first half of the year using The Great Courses: World History with Linwood Thompson. This course begins with the fertile crescent and progresses through the American Revolution. It is a series of lectures given by a dramatic history teacher who delivers lectures while wearing costumes that represent someone from that time period.

I can’t say that this was my favorite product but it did the job during a hard season in our home. And sometimes survival mode requires something easy while you are making it through a tough situation.

The video lectures were interesting (although a bit corny) and required no prep from me. If we didn’t have other situations going on in our home, I would have supplemented this with various readings from living books and/or a history spine. I wasn’t able to provide additional resources in the fall so overall this series did the job to provide a solid overview of the world before 1750.

I had more energy and mental space during the second half of the year when we used The OER Project: World History 1750 to the Present. This website is a fantastic resource for World History and I highly recommend it. Not only is it well written with more resources than you will need, but it is also completely free.

The website and lessons are designed for classroom use so it does take some time and energy to sift through the activities and lessons to modify them for your homeschool situation. The lessons would be ideal in a co-op setting, but we made it work in our family setting. We joined with another family about once a week to complete some of the group activities while we worked through the reading and videos on our own.

We didn’t use everything offered to us, including the vocabulary as well as tests and assessment options. In addition, I didn’t track the three frames during each unit. In the end, it still worked out and we learned a ton. I liked it enough that sometimes I found myself doing the optional reading just so I could learn more.

Homeschool Science

High School

I have tried many things to teach high school science that I didn’t love, but this year we found something that worked fabulously…a local science teacher.

Sorry, I am sure some of you were hoping that I found a fantastic curriculum to recommend but that isn’t the case. Instead, my 11th and 9th-grade students took Biology with a local teacher who was previously a high school science teacher and also fills in at a local state college. It was an excellent fit for my kids and we will continue to use his classes for high school.

Middle School

This was the first year that I was teaching science to one child without any siblings or friends joining us and that definitely felt different. My 7th grader and I decided to use BookShark Homeschool Science G: Chemistry, Physics, & Biology. We had a lot of fun with the experiments and the readings were informative and easy to read.

I shared some of our experiences on my TikTok account:

@marywilsonblog Update on our year with BookShark science for 7th grade homeschool. #homeschoolscience #homeschool #homeschooling ♬ original sound – Mary Hanna Wilson | Homeschool

It was a good, solid year of science even though we didn’t finish the entire year. We had a great time with the assigned experiments as well as the random experiments and fun we created on our own. The curriculum was easy to use and the teacher’s guide made the planning so simple.

Every week there was one assigned experiment with optional extras. Because of the difficult season in our home, we weren’t able to complete any of the optional activities. It’s a shame because I think they would have been a great addition to the year if I had been able to make it happen. Overall, I am happy with the year we had.

Homeschool Foreign Language – ASL 2

Our family continued learning ASL this year with Mr. D’s self-paced ASL 2 class taught by a graduate of Gallaudet University. The ASL courses from Mr. D have been a ton of fun while offering a great option for a high school foreign language credit.

My own mother was a sign language interpreter so I have enjoyed helping my kids learn this beautiful language. It was added bonus for my 11th grader to have a language option that wasn’t a written option.

Homeschool Art

Fine Arts: Drawing 101 with Masterpiece Society

My 9th and 7th graders began working on their Fine Arts credit for high school. My 9th grader wants to learn some basic drawing skills to implement in his various computer-coded game designs so the video course, Drawing 101 from Masterpiece Society, was a great fit.

Because we have lifetime access to the course, we are working through it slowly and will continue to finish the credit next year. It’s been a great fit and I love seeing the art that the boys are able to produce.

Art Appreciation

All of my children will receive high school credit in Art Appreciation based on the amount of time we spend studying the works of great artists and visiting every exhibit that comes to our local art museum. This is not a credit they will complete in one year but over their entire school career, including all four years of high school.

In my opinion, this is just part of raising well-rounded children who appreciate art. Our local museum offers a variety of ticketed exhibits during the year and we purchase a family membership that includes tickets to all of the exhibits. We don’t use a formal curriculum, but I usually find information online about the artist so we can dig in a little before we visit the exhibit.

This year, in addition to exhibits at our local art museum, we made a special trip to the Immersive VanGogh exhibit. It was an experience they’ll remember for sure. Beforehand, we watched the very unique movie, Loving Vincent, which was created using Vincent VanGogh’s artistic style. It is beautiful to watch and contains an intriguing plot as well as facts about Vincent’s life.

Homeschool Physical Education

Movement is important to wellness so my main goal is to make sure my kids find ways to move that they enjoy.

My 11th grader participates in dance workshops, dancing at musical theater, and Taekwondo. She loves all of this and it works well for a PE credit.

My 9th grader doesn’t have a particular activity that he loves. We asked him to try rock climbing this year and it worked out wonderfully. He isn’t interested in joining the team but would like to have a membership to the rock climbing gym so he can climb on his own. He also joins his father and brother for entire days of playing air soft at a local field.

My 7th grader still runs around the neighborhood with friends and plays outside in the nice weather. He is also part of the all-day air soft events in our house.

Homeschool Dual Enrollment

My 11th-grade daughter decided to begin dual enrollment classes at our local community college this year. We are fortunate that these classes are free for all high school students, though they are limited to certain classes.

We decided that she wouldn’t begin with academic classes, but she would explore classes in her areas of interest: art and graphic design. Both classes were offered solely online, which worked well for flexibility. She completed a fine arts/drawing class during the fall semester and a computer design class during the spring semester.

I am thrilled that we decided to begin with classes in areas of interest. This is my daughter who doesn’t care for most academic classes but I wanted her to have a good experience in college classes so this was a perfect way to start.

Honestly, a college degree isn’t a requirement for my kids, but I wanted to open her eyes to the variety of options available at college. The decision to have her begin with art and graphic design classes was a great choice and I am so glad she began this way. She enjoyed both classes and is excited to try 3 more classes in the Fall of 2022.

Homeschool Year Summary

Overall, our homeschool year was a success. In addition to academic successes, such as finding a great science teacher and a fabulous, free world history program, we also worked through situations that were infinitely important to the wellness of individuals in our family.

I am happy with the year and excited to start planning the next one.

Check out our year in review with my 7th, 9th, and 11th grader.

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