Homeschool Update - January 2019

As we enter the second semester of our school year I wanted to bring you up to speed on how our homeschool is moving along.

I long for the days when we did a lot of notebooking and creative unit studies, but middle and high school have their good points, too.

Our children begin grappling with BIG ideas, and begin to take responsibility for their own learning. Our role as parents shifts from that of teacher to mentor and coach.

January Homeschool Update - Homegrown Learners

Our homeschool word for 2019 is INTENTIONAL. Each and every thing we do is evaluated carefully, because my time with my children at home is short!

Eighth Grade

My son continues in his Classical Conversations Challenge B group.

His tutor and classmates are a TREMENDOUS influence in his education. All of the parents in this group often remark that a combination of children like this is RARE.

These kids support each other, spur each other on, and are genuinely committed to a pursuit of knowledge and goodness. We don’t take this blessing lightly.

This year has been one of a lot of growth (physically and mentally) for my son. I’m working on letting go and trusting him with more responsibility. That isn’t always easy, and I have to remind myself that my goal is to work myself OUT of a job.

He is enjoying playing basketball for a local Christian school and also plays the piano. Before bed he likes to draw Fortnite characters in his sketchbook and listen to music.

His life is busy and full. This is a great age!

Curriculum Update - January 2019 @ Homegrown Learners

A few subject updates:


Grant made the switch to Shormann Math this year and it has been very good thus far.

We switched from Saxon Math to Shormann because of the video instruction and its reputation for SAT and ACT preparation. Shormann also will carry my son through Calculus, which is a requirement for him.


This has been a surprise for me.

Grant LOVES Latin and I think he does very well with it. We are continuing his Latin studies, and I hope to add another foreign language to the mix next year.


Grant is a reader. I’m finding that boys of this age really enjoy series of books.

We also read aloud during our Morning Time.

A few of his favorite series right now include:

Pendragon Complete Collection: The Merchant of Death; The Lost City of Faar; The Never War; The Reality Bug; Black Water; The Rivers of Zadaa; The ... of Rayne; Raven Rise; The Soldiers of HallaAlex Rider 10 Books Box Set Complete Collection By Anthony HorowitzLeviathan (The Leviathan Trilogy)The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (the Hobbit / the Fellowship of the Ring / the Two Towers / the


12th Grade

(You might want to check out the series, Homeschool to College, where I have been documenting our journey with Anna.)

I’ll be honest with you. This is a tricky time for me.

Keeping the momentum and motivation in the last year of homeschooling is a challenge! I can see so much growth in my daughter, and a gradual pulling away from her dad and me (which is what we want, but, oh it’s not always easy!) . Anna is just a few months away from turning 18 - she still needs guidance and direction, but no longer the same rules and structure she had earlier in high school.

Homeschool Curriculum Update January 2019 @ Homegrown Learners

She is a nanny three afternoons a week and continues to volunteer a lot with the special needs ministry at our church. She plays guitar (she recently played and sang for her Granddaddy’s funeral, which completely reduced me to tears) and has a beautiful, authentic sound when she sings.

She is a textbook introvert . She has a HUGE heart.

She loves to bullet journal and has really gotten quite good at her hand lettering.

My daughter has been accepted to three colleges and has narrowed this down to two. (We should have a decision soon). She technically has enough credits to graduate high school right now, but is finishing an anatomy and English Literature class at our local classical school. She will be participating in a formal graduation ceremony in May with the classical school.

{Insert mom freaking out}

She wants to study Special Education in college - but I have a feeling she may wind up in some type of therapy field. I’m excited to see what God has planned for her!

Academic Updates:

Last semester she took Homeschool Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice - we HIGHLY recommend this course!

This semester she is going to be working her way through some of the review courses on in preparation for taking a few CLEP exams this spring.

She is really enjoying her Anatomy & Physiology class.

I’m really not sure where the time has gone with her. It truly does seem like yesterday when we dropped her off at Kindergarten and she walked into the room like she owned it. Three years later we brought her home for school and never looked back.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I hope this brief update has been helpful to you. Sometimes there isn’t a ton to write about as our children get older - and they are picky about their privacy. Hopefully this has given you a glimpse into our world!

Do you have any homeschool questions for me?

Leave them in the comments below and I’m happy to help!

Eighth Grade Homeschool Plans

Weren't we just building LEGO landmarks and pretending to be westward explorers

Here it is - eighth grade - and while it's hard to believe - it is HERE and we are READY! 

I'll say it over again and again... I'm so thankful we abandoned traditional school to homeschool our children. We have created an abundance of memories and children who love to learn and love being with their family.

Through homeschooling, we can address our children's particular talents and desires. I'm seeing my son is a math and science kid, and he also has a humorous, compassionate side, too. I can't wait to see where God leads him!

Eighth grade is full of many of good things.

Eighth Grade Homeschool Plans

A Word About Eighth Grade

Because I've been down this road before, I know the importance of looking ahead to high school (and yes -- maybe even college) in the eighth grade.

A few things we are doing in that regard:

  • Math - Think about where your child needs to end up in math - for math minded, college bound kids this is generally Calculus. If this is your child's goal, then they should be taking Algebra I in the 8th grade. Some children may just need Algebra I, II, Geometry and Pre-Calculus.
  • Science - Science minded kids they will probably want to take Physics in their senior year.  If this is the case, then Physical Science is probably a good idea for 8th grade. Some children will not take Physics and that is OK! 
  • Will your child want to dual enroll? Maybe they can get some high school credits out of the way in 8th grade. Perhaps they can take a foreign language for credit or an elective of high school quality.

Every child is different, and our goal as homeschoolers is to MASTER the subject matter, not to be slaves to a curriculum.  

Also, please remember to STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE. Your child is your child and you cannot compare the education you are giving them to anyone else's. (end of lecture)

How We Begin Our Days

We have a "Morning Time" of sorts each day.

Spending nearly an hour each morning eating breakfast, having devotions, and reading aloud, helps our days get started on the right foot. It lets us ease into the day, and it also connects us to each other first thing.

I love that.

Grant's Challenge group is studying Proverbs this year, so we read a chapter of Proverbs each week and discuss. We will also be doing memorization for his confirmation studies at our church.

Then, there is our read-aloud time - a favorite for both of us!  I shared our picks in Favorite Read-Alouds for Teen Boys.

Classical Conversations Challenge B

My son has participated in Classical Conversations since the third grade. He is now in Challenge B with a wonderful group of young people.

CC Challenge B


He attends "school" one day each week and is led through six separate subjects (strands) by a parent/tutor. We have a guide for his work and complete the rest at home. This format has worked well for him so far. 

We take homeschooling one year at a time, so I can't say if he will move along to Challenge I next year or not - we'll cross that bridge when we get there!

We are following the entire Challenge B curriculum (which I am listing below) with the exception of math.  We also add in an elective (music appreciation this year) and some physical education.


We made a switch this year to Shormann Math Algebra I. 

We had always been loyal to Saxon with my son, but the spiraling and repetitiveness was driving him a bit nuts. After a lot of research, I learned the Saxon homeschool edition is a bit lacking in some concepts and standardized test preparation. 

Shormann has courses through Calculus, which was a requirement. It also keeps grades for you, and the parent can be almost 100% hands-off, which is what I need for math at this stage of the game. 

So far it is going VERY WELL. It is video-based, with math terms presented at the beginning of each lesson, lecture (with note-taking encouraged), practice problems, and then video solutions. It is also God-centered and fits the Classical model quite well. 

(Try it for free and see if you like it - we did, so we purchased it.)


Latin B

Grant is continuing with Henle Latin this year.  There is something about the puzzle pieces of Latin he enjoys, so this subject is fun for him! 



Continuing from last year with The Lost Tools of Writing to hone writing skills, the kids dive into a few pieces of literature this year - and then into short stories and eventually writing their own short stories.


Current Events and Mock Trial

In my opinion, this is one of the greatest benefits of Challenge B - confronting hard topics, learning how to argue both sides of an issue, and honing mock trial skills. 

In the first semester, we're researching difficult topics (we started with Euthanasia) and are learning to think and reason through them well. The second semester brings a mock trial case, which culminates in "competing" against another Challenge B class in a real courtroom with a real judge presiding.  

Good stuff.


History of Astronomy & Origins

One of the advantages of the Challenge program is learning how to RESEARCH and WRITE. 

Children who have been in CC since Foundations have a firm grasp on the timeline of the world, so the science strand allows them to write their own history of science and see how that coincides with other events in history. 

If we know anything it is this: Subjects are NEVER isolated in history. Everything is interconnected, and God is in the middle of it all! 

We give students guidelines on research so that they can write their own history of astronomy, instead of just reading a textbook. This method allows students to take ownership of their study of astronomy while applying discipline to complete their projects on time and present in community. Students retain the great moments in scientific achievement in the context of history, which forms a good foundation for more intensive science studies that will follow.
— Classical Conversations

Informal & Formal Logic

This is a challenging logic curriculum. 

My son reads the text, watches the video lesson, reads the text AGAIN, and then completes the exercises. 

It's beautiful to watch how the art of logic ties into debate, science, and all of the other strands. 



There are still some things that we want to add to our son's education. If learned anything going through Challenge with my daughter, it is that we can't rely on one curriculum or program to be our everything. 

We cannot lose the wonder in high school.

We homeschool for a reason - and for us, that is to individually tailor our child's education to their strengths and desires. As my daughter progressed through her high school career her education changed, and I fully expect the same to happen with my son.


Music Appreciation & Piano

We're using SQUILT LIVE! this year for music appreciation (it helps when your mom is the teacher!). 

Grant uses the daily listening calendar to learn about all different types of music from all eras. He also attends the live lessons each month to dive deeper into specific pieces. 

He has also been taking piano lessons for several years and will continue that this year. 

It's one of those non-negotiables in our homeschool - and I happen to think he really enjoys it, too!



I don't think you can school a teenage boy without a physical outlet! 

Grant works out at the YMCA, but he will also be playing basketball with a local Christian school this year. He's been attending basketball camps and drills on Saturdays to keep his skills up to par until the season begins. 

He played flag football last year in a local league and may do so again this year. 

(I have some thoughts about organized sports at this age - good and bad - but I'll have to save that for another post!)

Have to keep a homeschool teenage boy ACTIVE!


Those are the plans for 8th grade. 

I'm looking forward to what the year holds, because I know it will go quickly and then we will be in high school.


Are you homeschooling an eighth grader this year?

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