8th Grade Homeschool Midyear Update

We’re now half way through the school year, so I figured it was time to give an update on what curriculums we’re using. We have made several curriculum changes, but the bigger overall update is super positive. In fact, homeschool is going so well with my 8th grade, we’ve decided to stick with homeschool for high school too. Eek, there will be more on that in future posts for sure.

English/Language Arts: For ELA, my 8th grader is continuing to work through the WriteShop 1 writing program. We really like this program, and I’m planning to have him do WriteShop 2 for 9th grade. We’re also still using Wordly Wise for vocabulary. My son is also reading a lot. I’m using more of a Charlette Mason style (aka lots of reading) for his other subjects, so he spends at last an hour reading from various books every day. I’m also having him read fiction for ELA. For the first half of the year, I allowed him to choose what he read. I’ve started assigning him ELA reading during the second half of this year, more in preparation for high school. But I’m still assigning him books that I expect him to really enjoy.

Math: My son started the school year about two years below grade level in math. We used Life of Fred for a while, and then shifted to using a Kumon Pre-Algebra workbook that my son liked better. He is making great progress in math this year and really starting to understand what he’s doing. He’s been struggling in math since kindergarten, so this is all super positive. We’re about to finish the Kumon workbook he’s been using, and will be shifting over to Saxon for the remainder of the school year. I purchased the Saxon 8/7 curriculum. There is no way my son would have been able to handle this curriculum at the beginning of the year, but I think he’s ready for it now. I also want him to do the Saxon Algebra 1/2 before jumping into Algebra 1, so he is still about a year below grade level. But progress is being made. Hooray for homeschool.

Science: I purchased the Bookshark Level H science curriculum at the beginning of the year with the hope that it could be used by both my 8th grader and my 6th grader. We started out working together, but my sons have such different learning styles, and temperaments, that group activities just don’t work well for us. The bookshark program uses 8 different books, so I’ve been having the boys choose what book they want to do next and each work independently on separate sections of the curriculum for most of the year. It’s worked well, and my 8th grader especially did enjoy the Bookshark curriculum. But he’s less excited about the books he has left to read in the program and ready to move on to something new. My son has always loved astronomy, and even recently got a telescope for his birthday. I found a semester long astronomy course for middle/high schoolers created by Real Science Odyssey. At first, I was thinking I’d try to figure out how to add to it and stretch it out into a full years curriculum for 9th grade. But then I decided a much easier solution would be to have my son abandum Bookshark and do the astronomy for the second semester of 8th grade. So far, he’s loving the change.

History: My son is learning about US History this year. For the first half of the year, I was primarily designing my own curriculum. He’s been doing A LOT of reading. He’s also watching the Crash Course US History video series. On top of that I’ve purchased several different worksheet style assignments from Teachers Pay Teachers over the course of the year. My son does like to read, and he’s really enjoying history, but he’s always excited when I had him a worksheet or history themed game. So I decided we needed a little more substance to our curriculum. Build Your Library is a secular Charlette Mason curriculum that I’ve been interested in for a while. Unfortunately, Build Your Library breaks US History into two years over 5th and 6th grade and then teaches it again in 12th grade. Neither is perfect for an 8th grader. I decided to purchase the 6th grade curriculum, since we’re now half way through the school year and about half way through US History. I’m modifying this curriculum to be better for an 8th grader and having him do the entire years course in half a year. So far, so good.

Social Studies: My parents come over once a week to help with homeschool. They have been teaching my kids US Government all year. This was great building up to the election, but extended beyond the election. US Government is complicated and they’re taking their one day a week teaching duties serious. For the second half of the year, they’re planning to teach economics/personal finance. My mom is a retired middle school teacher, and my dad is a retired accountant, so this should be great. I’m usually in work meetings for the entirety of these lessons and don’t have much to say about them, except that I’m supper appreciative of my wonderful parents.

Health: We’re using a Charlotte Mason approach to health, and my son is just reading various books that are mildly related to health and calling it good. He does have a medical condition and for awhile he was working his way through a workbook that educates/prepares patients for future medical treatments/options. He was not a fan of that program. Right now he’s reading a book about the history of tuberculosis and loving it.

PE: This is probably the subject I’m failing at the most as a homeschool teacher. My son never leaves the house! It’s feels like a huge accomplishment to get him to leave his bedroom most days. We do have a trampoline in the backyard that his little brother loves and sometimes we’re able to coax my 8th grader out too. We’ve also started doing yoga together on rainy days, but the boy definitely needs more exercise. Sometimes, living in a pandemic is hard.

Art: Art is my sons main elective for the year, but we’ve been really bad about this subject too. We have a lot of art supplies, and most days I just tell him to draw something, or paint something, which actually happens pretty sporadically. Since we’re doing US History, I just purchased Great American Artists for Kids (recommended in Build Your Library curriculum). I’m hoping saying, “here do this Normal Rockwell project” will work better than “paint something” has been working.

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