Homeschool year 2014-2015

Here's the learning line-up this year for

Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy and St. Jenn's School for exceptional teens  :D

I am homeschooling my last two kids.  At one time, I was homeschooling is looking real different these days!

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Amie 7th grade:

Math   Aleks Math online                     Bible  Apologia's World View Series, we are finishing "Who is God?"

Language Arts    Grammar Rod & Staff 4   Literature & Composition:  Outside class with Biola Star they are using: IEW writing

**Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook      **The Bronze Bow -Elizabeth Speare  **various book report books
-Institute for Excellence in Writing

Science:  **Oak Meadow Science 6  and  **Quick Reads level E by Modern Curriculum Press

History  Veritas Press online History- 1850 to Present      Geography/social studies/History: online Minecraft class, reading Around the World in 80 days

P.E.  Swimming laps 3 days a week and daily 1 mile walk/runs

Art:  private art lessons                      Music:  private voice lessons

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Demi-Sky High School 9th grade

Math  Aleks Math

Bible  Apologia's World View Series, we are finishing "Who is God?"

Language Arts

Grammar Rod & Staff 4

Literature & composition outside class with Biola Star  using:

*Fundamentals of Literature Student Text,  -Bob Jones University Press       *Brief Wadsworth Handbook 7th edition

*Vocabulary from Classical Roots A    *The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy   *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

*The Hobbit by J.R. R. Tolkien           *The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens      *Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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*a combination of Oak Meadow World History (using Glencoe Text book) and My Father's World 

*Minecraft online class (geography, social studies, history) using Around the World in 80 days

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Outside class with Biola Star using Abeka Lab ManualAbeka Biology

Latin:  First Form Latin -Memoria Press   -DVD's & books      Art: private art lessons

Music: private piano lessons

 Josie 11th grade at performing arts charter school

- after-schooling with First Start French -Memoria Press and  driver's ed with Automobile Club

Meg sophomore at a community college

she works several horse care jobs, at Barnes & Nobles part time and is in the police explorer's program, beside full time college classes.

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Homeschool 2013-2014

2013-2014 Homeschool Year at Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy:

{Teddy, my bonus student, went back to public school last school year.  Meg graduated and is attending her first year of college. (Yes, I homeschooled her all the way, K-12)  Josie auditioned for a performing arts high school (charter school) and will be there for 11th grade and 12th grade (unless she decides to come home, but she loves it so far).  This year, we are down to two students; Demi-Sky is in 8th grade this year, and Amie is in 6th grade.}  Here is a list of our studies and books we are using;

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Amie 6th grade

Math Mammoth light blue series     Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons        Parkour classes (p.e.)

Science:  Aha Science -online, and a few Science 2 U classes (monthly themed classes)    Literature: independent reading

Test Prep: Buckle-Down Language Arts 6

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Demi-Sky 8th Grade

Math: Teaching Textbooks         Aleks Math (online)           Piano lessons      Lacrosse team (p.e.)

English: Intermediate Composition 8 with Biola Star (once a week class with a great syllabus):

*Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook Institute for Excellence in Writing 978-0984099092 *Student Resource Notebook Pages IEW   *Word Web Vocabulary Workbook Vol. 1 Sage Education Enterprises, Inc. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth Speare Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom Miracle Worker, by William Gibson Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt

Latin:  online Latin Class with Biola Star (twice a week)

*The Latin Road to English Grammar vol. 1 & 2

Oak Meadow Science 5                   Buckle Down Science Standards Review 8                Independent reading

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Together-Amie & Demi:

Veritas Press self-paced History: Explorers to 1850 (online)

Shurley English 4

Bible:  Who is God? -Apologia Worldview series

private art lessons

to get to 2nd semester, hopefully:

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Memoria Press First Form Latin set with dvds

Grammar of Poetry IEW

Fallacy Detective

The Ode less traveled; tackling the poet within -Stephen Fry

Philosophy for Kids

Logic of English: spelling (for Amie)






After-schooling with Josie -

Who is God apologia Worldview (independently and by discussion)

*Rosetta Stone French      *assigned literature -To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.

After-schooling with Meg-

Mere Christianity (reading together and discuss)

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Mom School:

Mere Christianity with Meg

going back to college, 3 unit Child Development class Spring semester

The week in progress- Oak Meadow History

Our homeschool is much more productive when I type up weekly assignment sheets for the high school students.  Not that I always do, ahem...but I should.  Here is what they look like, not high-tech at all...

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I type them up on google docs (it's in the cloud so I can move around on different computers) and I don't mess with tables or charts, just type them in and add big, bolded o's for the kids to put a check-mark in when completed.

This is Josie's sheet.  She is on week 16 of Oak Meadow World History.  I simply look through the OM syllabus and through the textbook and decide what she should do for the week.  There is a lot of reading and information to cover in the textbook and we have to keep moving, so I try to keep the work not too-involved most weeks.  Her Biola classes also keep her very busy.  This week, I pulled the bolded words out of the text and asked her to make a definition page, this is not in the OM syllabus.  The OM syllabus has a list of great essay questions after the reading, so I did assign one of them, and then asked her to think about another (because I know she has a lot of writing to do with Biola already)  As I was looking through the chapter in the textbook, my mind keeps wanting to go down I did add in two documentaries from Netflix, and some extra reading and short 2 minute videos from  -because I just have to do the rabbit trails... {help me}  I made an effort to keep it simple so we could move on to the next chapter next week, but it was an effort...

She has gotten behind in her Math, so I am assigning two pages most days.  Her Biola class syllabus are pretty involved, so I just ask her to check and follow them, and then check mark that she did so.

My younger students just do what I tell them to, though some weeks, I do sheet for them, too...but not often, it's just a bit too much for A.D.D. mom

I am really enjoying Oak Meadow, I like that it keeps me moving, and that everything is in the long as I don't get distracted!

how's your week?

Extra Credit for Homeschool Parents -guest post

Some homeschool parents need to focus on completing the basics during their children’'s high school years, because that’ is all they can handle.  Other parents are anxious to do it all, and ready for extra credit!  If you are comfortable with homeschooling high school and want to learn more, here are some things you can begin to focus on now, during your student’s early years of high school.  Sophomore year is a great time to make sure you understand about high school tests. Now is the time to ask yourself, which test is better for my child, the SAT or the ACT?” It'’s very easy to obtain a sample test for the SAT and ACT on the College Board website

Have your student take a sample of each test, in your home, and then just compare the scores and see which one your child scored better on. It’'s as easy as that and nobody but you will ever know the results.  Once you’'ve determined which test is best, begin studying for the SAT or ACT. Sophomore year is a good time to start studying, although you don'’t want to be really intense, or to stress your child out. Usually if parents are ready to go beyond the basics, so are the children.   Sophomore year is also a good time for your child to take subject tests, like the SAT subject test or AP subject tests, if those are necessary for your child. Some colleges require them, and it can be difficult to cover them all in senior year, so it’s much easier to do a couple every year.  Sophomore year is a good time to be thinking about college, and college financing. Your child can start writing essays to apply for scholarships, and you can use those essays in your writing plan for the year for English credit.  Sophomore year is a good time to get a jump on what kind of colleges you’ are interested in. If possible, take your Sophomore to a college fair. Visiting colleges is a really good idea during Sophomore year as well. Spend some time reading college catalogs and figuring out all the details about finding a college. Think about what colleges want from homeschooled children, and ask the representatives at the college fairs.  Sometimes they'’ll have real opinions and say, “from homeschooled children, we really prefer the ACT instead of the SAT.” This is important information to learn.

Lee Binz is a homeschooling expert and the founder of She successfully homeschooled her two sons and currently helps many parents in homeschooling their kids. She specializes in helping parents homeschool high school.

Homeschool, the week that was

Well, hello bloggy friends!  Sooo, this little thing called homeschool...we had our first week last week, right after labor day.  I wouldn't be the Bridget Jones Homeschool mom if it all went swimmingly and as planned, right?  Hold on, I won't disappoint you....


I did manage to get my new My Father's World Curriculum books set up in the homeschool bookcase.  The idea is that the kids each have their own section and can put away/ find their books themselves. (they never actually ever put their books away, so we will see how this goes)  There is also a section for books on tape, which my two youngest will be assigned daily (more on that later).  The top part of the bookshelf is not so cleaned-up, nor is the homeschool closet.  }it's how I roll.....


I bet you are all wondering how it went?  How do I like My Father's World?  I love it.  I want to marry it.  I wish I had tried it years ago.  [le sigh]

...that was a sigh of deep regret for my years wasted in nomad curriculum-land....

I love the schedules.  I love that they are bound in handy/manageable book form, not in honking big binders I can't lift.  I love that everything is on one page, and that after the schedule grid-page, there are pages listed by day that have extra notes, instructions, etc.

I love that the High School schedule is written to the student.  Josie checks off as she goes and I check in with her.  <3

The first Day went swimmingly, it was more work than my two youngers are used to.  Because I was homeschooling my bonus student, I had really pulled the punches in regards to out-put of work.  Writing was really difficult for Teddy, Demi dragged his feet about it, I really went light with them all. ( I never wanted Teddy to fill dumb or like he was lagging behind).  A full day with MFW's Exploration to 1850  plus our normal 3 R's  was really a stretch for Demi and Amie.  I felt bad that I haven't made this level of work normal for them.  I am glad that it will become normal for them.  We read about Leif Erickson on Day 1 and the kids had to write a a few sentences about him. People, it was a stretch to get two good sentences out of them.  Demi is starting 7th grade, his writing output needs to seriously jump up several notches.  I thought about my 7th grade History class and all the notes we took.  My teacher's teaching style was to fill up 3 large blackboards up with the lesson, which we copied into a notebook.  Not the greatest teaching style, maybe- though I am a visual learner and do really well memorizing information I hand worked well for me that year- but my point was that I quickly and very neatly copied pages of notes several days a week.  My 7th grader?  I can't even imagine him pulling that off.  I've decided my solution will be to narrate together about each historical person, and then to cursive write several sentences onto a whiteboard that they will need to copy neatly.  I will increase the length of these narrations as I go, so that eventually soon their output will be where it should be.

Day 1 went off perfectly, though we were very stretched (which was Tuesday because of Labor Day) Day 2 was Wednesday and it all began to unravel on this day, in typical Jenn-fashion.  We had plans for a long-awaited beach day with our cousins.  We got a tiny bit of MFW work done, our 3 R's and then hit the beach.  Our hen Dapples injured her foot, I was able to get her in to see the vet after we got back from the beach...and there ended any further school work.  Day 3-Thursday we got the 3r's done, but no MFW for the littles, I had to attend a long orientation day with Meg and Josie for their Biola Star classes. I'm not even sure I want to tell you what happened with can leave that one to your imagination, but it might have involved, or not- my teens out in the wee hours tp-ing their cousins' house and my littles staying up with them to ungodly hours because I was sick and went to bed at 8, Sky goes to bed at 10 and then chaos apparently reined without mom at the helm.  I had to drag everyone out of bed around 11 on Friday  <Maybe>


Let's jump ahead and just say that on Monday (tomorrow) we will pick up with MFW and stretch out the rest of week 1.  which actually, I like the thought of, because the work load is such a stretch for the kids, this will be a nice pace.  So yeah, I like stretching it out, but I don't like that I am stretching out because I am such a loser at finishing an actual week.

Josie finished her week 1- and then some, actually.  She had to start reading Julius Caesar, and then just finished it.  Again, I love that the schedule is self-directed to the student!

So there you have it.  I love MFW, but then again, I haven't actually finished a whole week with the I will have to do a later report on our progress. But, so far, I really like what I see.  That I could follow and finish a complete day on the schedule- as written- is actually huge for me.  With other programs, I began jumping ship mid day and started skipping books, jumping days....typical mayham.

Our lives degenerated last year and this Summer into so much unproductive directionless meandering that I had to sit down and make up daily to-do lists for my kids.  Josie's and Meg's are a weekly check-list and list MFW work, basic classes, prep for their Biola classes and music practice, exercise.  They are actually really good about doing what needs to be done, but it helps them to see it listed instead of having to ask me.  Demi and Amie's are more detailed and they have two separate lists- one for daily stuff they need to take care of like 'brush teeth' and 'make bed' (sad to say, but yeah, I have to list that) and then daily lists of school work so they can see what we have to do before their school day is over.

I hate schedules, and I hate having to type these up...but I can also see that they are going to help us get so much more done.


So lovelies, it is now late o'clock on Sunday night.  My homeschool closet is not clean, but my house is and we hosted the Bible College boys over for dinner. Summer is very quiet without them.  I do have check lists for my kids all typed out and printed up.  The daily-human-living lists for Amie and Demi go into plastic sheets and then onto a clipboard so they can check them off.  My goal for my son is no longer Latin, but just to make him human.


How is back to school going for you?  Any new curriculum loves? 


**this post is linked to Homeschool Highlights in MFW at Discover Their Gifts or 2 ladybugs and a lizard "  Homeschooling with MFW or want to see what a real day is like with MFW?  Click over and read other Homeschool Highlights!

Homeschool 2012- 2013

Here are the picks for the 2012- 2013 school year for our homeschool, known around here as Cliffs of Insanity Day Academy and St. Jenn's School for Exceptional Teens  :)


Here is our line-up

Demi-Sky and Amie grades 7 and 5

(my bonus student has moved on to public school this year)

Studies Together:

History/ Geography/Literature/Science/Music:  My Father's World Exploration to 1850 (American History)  our 1st year with MFW!   

Oak Meadow 5 Social Studies and English (U.S. History)  as much as I love MFW I have to face the reality that I am not using it...will Oak Meadow be {the one}?  I'm thinking yes.  For A.D.D. mom, having a basic text that I can plow through and add to at will seems to be key.  We have switched over mid-year, I will report back


Boy, Have I Got Problems!: James (Discover 4 Yourself® Inductive Bible Studies for Kids)

Science: Exploring Creation with Botany & The World of Animals with MFW

Oak Meadow 5 Science

Geography: Geography work/ States with MFW

The Complete Book of Maps and Geography, Grades 3 - 6

Geography is written into Oak Meadow

English: Shirley English 4,

Daily Warm-Ups: Language Skills Grade 4

Music:  Introduction to Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Chopin (six CD set) -scheduled with  MFW and Private piano lessons

Art: private art lessons and unit studies with Harmony Fine Arts/Sister Wendy's History of Painting-following listed artists in MFW

P.E.: daily exercise at home and weekly homeschool p.e. class (rotating sports)  (enjoyed this for 2 months, did soccer and flag-football but couldn't continue because of Demi's Lacrosse practice times)

Demi- his studies:                                                            Amie- her studies:

Math: Math-U-See Delta, then Epsilon, Horizons Math                  Math: Math-U-See Gamma, then Delta, Horizons Math

Assigned reading                  Rosetta Stone Chinese                              Assigned reading       Swim lessons twice a week

two books w/ literature guides from progeny press

lacrosse team/practice


Josie- 10th grade

Algebra II - Math-U-See                   Daily Grammar Review

History/Geography: High School World History and Literature by My Father's World

Oak Meadow World History High School course  (loved MFW but realizing this A.D.D. mom needs a program with less parts, less books to get out/coordinate.) *we have jumped in OM at 2nd semester.

Literature and Composition with Biola Star Program  (outside class twice a week)

*Jensen’s Format Writing     *Brief Wadsworth Handbook 7th edition    *Vocabulary From Classical Roots A

*Fundamentals of Literature 2nd Edition ~ Bob Jones University Press   *The Scarlet Pimpernel –Baroness Orczy

*The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn     *The Hobbit      *The Christmas Carol –Charles Dickens

*Little Women       *Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

Science: High School Biology with Biola Star Program

*High School Biology Student text, Lab Manual, Test book, Quiz book  ~ Abeka books

Music: private piano lessons and Introduction to Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Chopin (six CD set) -scheduled with  MFW

P.E.: private fencing lessons       Private Art lessons for 1 semester.


Meg - 12th grade

British Literature with Biola Star Program

*British Literature 2nd Edition  ~Bob Jones University Press          *Brief Wadsworth Handbook, 6th Ed.

*Vocabulary From Classical Roots D             *Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

  *The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan    *Animal Farm  -George Orwell      *Northanger Abbey  -Jane Austin

High school Chemistry with Biola Star Program

*Exploring Creation with Chemistry 2nd Edition  ~Apologia   *Exploring Creation w/ Chemistry solutions & tests book

Government-Semester1: A Noble Experiment DVD set and workbook by Zeezok Publishers

switched to Oak Meadow  high school U.S. Government

Economics-Semester2: With Biola Star Program  ( Prentice Hall Economics textbook)              

Math: Geometry by Math-U-See

Russisan  Russian level 2 -Rosetta Stone. The Everything Learning Russian Book with CD: Speak, write, and understand Russian in no time! (Everything: Language and Literature) (second half of book)

P.E. equestrian cattle sorting/riding/exercising         Music: private violin studies


The post where I spill about what worked, what didn't 2011/12

Here's where it gets real, friends.  Homeschool plans 2011-2012: What really happened-


Okay, homeschool mom in the field, reporting back....

My Plans:  The 3 youngest Students [together]

Bible: Possessing the Land (5th grade) Positive Action for Christ Curriculum

Sonlight History Core D  intro to American History (was called Core 3) [History, Geography and literature]

Wordly Wise (vocabulary)                                  Abeka cursive handwriting

Writing with Ease 2 by Susan Wise Bauer

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry level 1- Pandia Press

The Reality:

Sonlight American History - we slogged through this and got to week 19 or so.  I wasn't even really following the schedule anymore, just looking to see what book came next and if we wanted to do it.  I ended up using mostly "A History of U.S.A." workbooks from this core and then reading from "A story of US" series from Core 100 and doing narrations.  I don't have the whole Core3, what I have I've had stored away for a few years, so I don't feel bad about wasting money.   For next year, I am moving over to My Father's World- I was able to look through their TM at a conference and it looked easier to use.  They have an American History year we will be using.

Worldly Wise- didn't use much.  Writing With Ease 2- I still like it, we got about half-way through, we will keep using this through the Summer.

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry - found it delightful, Amie loved it but we only got to Chapter 2.  Instead, for Science we ended up using Teacher Created Resources Nonfiction reading workbook- I just picked the Science topics.  Bible- didn't get done much, will do some soul-seaching and planning for next year.

Individual Studies- 3 youngers:

MCT Grammar Island , Sentence Island, Practice Island, Music of the Spheres (poetry) etc.  - did a few chapters but decided the sit down one-on-one format was too difficult for me to follow through. I also was sad to see little retention in my kids.  I ordered Shurley Grammar 4 and began using it in May, will continue through the Summer. Instead, I used mostly the workbooks I had for standardized testing prep- I relied heavily on Daily Warm-ups: Language skills by Teacher Created Resources. It was easy to use. (I like easy)

Math: *Math: Math-U-See      *Horizons Math  *Mad Dog Math (multiplication)  it was all good, I was pleased with our picks and will continue using these.  This was our first year supplementing MUS with Horizons math- I was really pleased with Horizons, it was colorful, very easy to use, I hardly ever had to use the manual.  MUS was our main text, moving through Horizons was slow, we will continue with it through the Summer.

The Highschoolers: The plans-

Math: Math-U-See -Algebra I, Algebra II     Switched on Schoolhouse H.S. English  (minus essay assignments)

Switched on Schoolhouse HS Earth Science  Biology- Biola Star Program

Intro to Composition: Biola Star Program (Josie)  Inklings-Biola Star (Meg)

The Reality: 

I continue to be pleased with Math-U-See, we will stick with it through High School.  The Biola Star program continues to shine (pun intended) and I am so thankful for these classes.  Josie's composition class centered around IEW writing and also included grammar.

Switched on Schoolhouse English and HS Earth Science:  The Earth Science was a big fail.  Doing it on the computer drove me nuts.  I need to be able to look through the book, see where she is at, what is upcoming and how I can plan to add any projects/reports.  I had to order a study guide to use with this to flesh out the content.  I have decided that for my next 9th graders (Earth Science is required in Ca) I will be putting them in the Earth Science class at Biola which is geared for Jr. High, but I've heard the text and content is demanding enough for HS.  At least it will be easier to use and document (and will have a lab)

Switched on Schoolhouse English- I had the same problem using it on the computer, I ended up ordering the lifepac units for the 2nd semester which seemed to be exactly the same as the computer version.  It was better having the units in my hands- but we will not be using these again for High School.  I added on a few meaty books with sparks notes to this program for my 9th grader and 11th grader.  Switched on Schoolhouse English got us through the required subject for reporting purposes, but we had no joy using it, and English has always, always been my favorite subject.  My only joy came through reading The gift of the Magi, The Scarlett Letter and To Kill a Mockingbird on our own, with the help of Sparks notes for the 2 novels.

The Inklings class:  (English composition/Literature/Humanities) Biola Star program

This program was stellar.  I watched Meg's writing abilities soar, her reasoning abilities sky-rocket, enjoyment- discussion- logic-argument- it was all there.  I loved this class.  Unfortunately, it was a giant reading load, and mega-writing due every week.  As much as I loved her growth, we became alarmed as her other studies suffered, she got behind in her Algebra II studies and was not practicing her violin.  We had her drop the class at the end of the first semester.  I was sad to see it go, but she needs a strong Math finish.  It was also an expensive class, it was a relief to not pay the fee 2nd semester (total honesty here)

Biology with Biola Star was great, I loved all the lab work and projects they did (that I didn't have to...more honesty)

So, all the hits and misses at The Cliffs of Insanity Day School and St. Jenn's School for Exceptional Teens.  I'll set up our plans for 2012-2013 soon and put it under the homeschool tab at the top.

So friends, what were your hits and disasters?  Spill! 

around the house -back to homeschool organization

So, How long does it take an un-organized person to get ready for the new homeschool year?  Umm....Sky snapped this photo of me yesterday.  I am finally boxing up the Sonlight Cores we have used and making room on my shelves for this year's books.  Sadly, there is more in that closet there, but I don't know when I will get to it!


So, instead of organizing, we've had several days of this...

because back -to -homeschool is better served along with back-to-beach-homeschool :)

The beach is so much more empty and pleasant now that everyone else is back to school...We plan to visit as much as possible while the weather is nice.


Emma the Wonder-labradoodle hurt her foot recently.  She wasn't putting weight on it, so a trip to the vet was in order.  They took some x-rays...including this body x-ray.  It was very interesting and nice to know there weren't any way-ward socks or toys inside always made me nervous that she loved my fluffy bed-socks so much!

No breaks, just a badly bruised foot pad.  She is back to her normal self now.

I am excited to jump back into homeschool, having a Monday off was very nice, now I'm ready to hit the street running!

What's new at your place?  How was back to school?