Back to School! (And Our Curriculum Plans)

Wow! Today is the first day of 6th grade for Andrew. I can hardly believe it. I keep telling him to stop growing up but he doesn’t listen. LOL!

First Day of 6th Grade

1st day of 6th grade!

I am really excited about this year. It is our first year going *all in* with the Mother of Divine Grace program. Andrew already had his orientation classes for the Latin, History Book Club, and Fine Arts Appreciation courses. They look like they are going to be a lot of fun.

For religion, he will work through the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism and read through the Gospels of Mark and Luke. He will also go to CCD again this year. I love the program at our church and it is a good supplement for his spiritual development. (It also gives him another opportunity to be with other kids and participate in the Living Stations of the Cross put on every year by the 6th-8th graders.)

For Math, he will continue with the Right Start Math Program. He is halfway through Level E. I love that this program is level based, rather than grade based. He can work through the program at his own pace and it has lots of manipulatives which Andrew loves.

For English, he will use the Lepano (Voyages in English) books. Most of the lessons are done orally and has a *Catholic flavor* I think I will like. He will also be diagraming sentences with this program.

He also starts Editing this year. He will use the book, The Great Editing Adventure, and for each lesson he will use a dictionary and thesaurus to edit and rewrite a paragraph or two.

For Spelling, he will continue the All About Spelling program. He is going to begin on Level 4.

For History/Geography, he will be learning about ancient Egypt. He will be constructing a timeline and using an Atlas. This class meets online once a week. He will meet online every other week. He will also be reading The Old World and America and several historical fiction books.

For Science, he will be using the Concepts and Challenges in Science books which are exclusive to Mother of Divine Grace. Because I had been doing my own thing up until now, we are using the 5th grade books so that he can get in line with their science sequence (just don’t tell Andrew!).

For Latin, he will be following the online program specific to Mother of Divine Grace and meet online once a week. I love how these books show how Latin is the basis of many of our English words and the connections between the two languages.

For Fine Arts (Art Appreciation) he will meet online once a week and they will learn about various art periods and terminology, look at and discuss pieces of art work, and listen to different music pieces. He will also be responsible for writing a short paper for this class.

For Poetry, he will spend the year memorizing three or four poems from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath focusing on one stanza a week. The first poem he will learn is “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

Finally, for Typing, he will continue to practice his typing skills using typing club.

Mother of Divine Grace also encourages all 6th graders to read for at least 45 minutes a day.

Whew! I know it looks like a lot; however, several of the subjects only take 10 or 15 minutes a day, such as the poetry memorization, typing, and religion. Even the history, Latin, and editing classes should not be more than 30 minutes to complete so his work should be quite doable. 🙂

I hope these give you some ideas if you are looking to home school. Or, if you do homeschool, what books/programs do you use?


Tweetable: Back to School! (And Our Curriculum Plans)

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Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Here’s what I got done this week:

1. Pray, read bible and go to daily mass at least 3 times. (Made it to church everyday, woot!)

2. Exercise 20 minutes, 3-4 times this week.

3. Pre-write as many posts for August as I can. (Didn’t happen because I spent a huge chunk of time researching and revamping my home schooling curriculum for the new school year!)

4. Line up guest posts for September through December. (Interested in guest posting? I’d LOVE to have you. Read the post here.)

5. Hide a love note in Michael’s work bag and one in Andrew’s lunch bag (so he sees it at lunch in camp).

6. Go to “Family Camp Night” on Friday. (This was canceled due to severe thunderstorms. 🙁 )

Here’s my plan for this week:

1. Pray, read bible and go to daily mass at least 3 times.

2. Exercise 20 minutes, 3-4 times this week.

3. Pre-write as many posts for August/September as I can.

4. Work on getting more guest posts for September through December. (Like I mentioned above, to find out more, go here.)

5. Finish putting together, typing and printing out our home schooling curriculum for the fall.

6. Date night with Michael. (Our 9th wedding anniversary is coming up soon!)

7. Participate in Crystal’s 3 week “Make the Most of Your Mornings” challenge.

8. Revamp my Facebook timeline header.

What are your goals for this week? Share them in the comments or head over to the Money Saving Mom link-up and join others sharing their goals for the week.

Homeschooling During the Summer: What Does it Look Like?

Homeschooling During Summer

Do you homeschool year round? I don’t know many families who homeschool through the summer months, but we do. It is a decision my husband and I made back when we first talked about homeschooling (before we were even married). If you are curious about homeschooling throughout the summer, here’s my take on why I homeschool year round and a peek into our daily schedule.

Why homeschool during the summer?

  • I don’t want Andrew to lose the skills he learned during the “normal” school year. I remember when I was a kid and returning to school after the summer months when we spent up to a month re-learning everything that was forgotten during the summer. I don’t want that for Andrew. I want our review time to no more than a week or so.
  • Structure. I want to keep our days somewhat structured, with lots of flexibility, so there’s not too much down time that he gets “bored.” Plus, having a regular schedule and routine helps with Andrew’s behavior. He knows, for the most part, going into each day what is going to happen.
  • Life skills and projects. Homeschooling during the summer allows me to focus on teaching Andrew life skills and getting to the hands-on, “fun” projects we didn’t get to during the “regular” school year.
  • To keep Andrew reading. Andrew’s a little boy who is not a big fan of reading. He loves books and loves for me to read to him; but he doesn’t want to do the work of sounding out the words himself! It can be frustrating at times, but having him do school in the summer as part of his normal routine, he is less likely to fuss when it comes to practicing his reading.
  • We can take longer breaks during other parts of the year. We take the whole month of December off from school. We also take a longer Easter break and more days off throughout the year. Homeschooling throughout the summer allows us to take those longer breaks. (We do take the month of August off as well…)

What a typical summer homeschooling day looks like.

First of all, it is much more flexible than the rest of the year. We incorporate more field trips, hands-on learning and build our schooling into regular daily activities. We only do “formal” schooling Tuesday-Thursday which leaves Mondays and Fridays free. We also take the month of August off. And, Andrew will be going to camp for the first time this year. That said, here is our plan for the summer:

  • Reading and math using online games and worksheets, as well as flashcards. (Andrew loves flashcards.)
  • Spanish using the Pimsleur Method. It is an audio program only, so Andrew can get an ear for the language without having to worry about grammar or reading and writing the language.
  • Science using some really cool YouTube videos I found and small experiments.
  • Character building and life skills (such as small sewing projects and learning to “cook” small meals).

Do you homeschool year round? What does your summer curriculum look like? Do share in the comments!



Guest Post: 5 Things to Know Before Homeschooling

school(Photo Credit)

Editor’s Note: Here’s a guest post by Jenny Ellis, a reader of Simple Catholic Living and freelance writer.

You may be toying with the idea that you want to homeschool your child. Before you start these next adventures, be sure you consider the following so that you are prepared:

Rules: Homeschooling is legal in the United States; however, each state has different homeschooling laws. It is important to know and comply with the laws of your state. You should know the requirements for grade reporting, testing, attendance records, access to public schools and curriculum levels. You can find the laws for your state online or you can check with your local homeschool organization.

Patience: It is very important that you realize how much effort homeschooling will take from you. It is a rewarding educational choice but it can be very overwhelming at times if you are not prepared. Lesson plans, grading and your child’s attention span are things you should consider before you start teaching. Patience is a great virtue, especially in homeschooling!

Needs: When considering homeschool, there are things that you will need to teach at home, such as a curriculum, notebooks, etc. It is not necessary to set up a traditional classroom setting, but it is important that your child has a place for learning. Overlapping living spaces can make it difficult for children to adjust to when it is time for learning or time for playing.

Cost: Homeschooling can be expensive but most parents who currently homeschool say the outcome of home education outweighs the expense. Depending on what you plan on doing for your child, such as the textbooks and supplies you will be using, will affect your cost. Extracurricular activities, supplies and field trips are other costs you may not at first account for. Parents may also have to move down to single income and not two. The best thing to do is to research and do your homework on the potential costs of homeschooling your child.

Socializing: Socializing your child is often a concern for those who are considering homeschooling. Socializing with other children teaches your child to cooperate, play and work with others. Just because your child is not in a typical school setting where they share class, lunch and recess with other children doesn’t mean they won’t get a chance to socialize. There are plenty of other families that homeschool their children. Look in your area for local homeschool groups. Play dates are often set up for families. Also consider enrolling your child in team sports and other extracurricular activities.

Homeschooling can be a fantastic way for you and your child to learn together. It is a wonderful experience to educate your child the way you see is best for them. But remember, it takes hard work and effort o your part; do you homework and research before you get started! Good luck and have fun teaching!

Jenny Ellis is a freelance writer, and a regular contributor for  She welcomes your comments at: ellisjenny728 @

(Interested in writing a guest post here at Simple Catholic Living? I’d love to have you. Check out my guest post policy and then contact me at guestpost (at) simplecatholicliving (dot) com.)

WFMW – Mom, I’m bored! Edition

works for me Wednesday

This week on Works For Me Wednesday, we are encouraged to offer tips and ideas for keeping our kids occupied and happy during the summer. I can’t wait to read what others have to say; but, in the meantime, here’s a few of the things I am going to do:

In my situation, I  home-school and also work from home; so, for me, except for the heat, there won’t be a huge difference in what I do – with some exceptions, of course! In my experience, a balance between structured time and free time works best; as does a lot of flexibility!

1. Modified Homeschooling. Andrew is learning to read and loves doing “math.” I don’t want to lose that momentum, so I plan to continue homeschooling at least three days a week. What I will probably do is alternate reading one day and math the next. I’ve also been tapping America: The Story of Us and a few shows on the Discovery Channel for him to watch once in a while.

If you don’t home-school, it might be a good idea to set apart some time each day for the children to read or practice their math skills. If I’m not mistaken, some schools now send kids home with work to do over the summer. If so, schedule time each day for them to work on it so they aren’t trying to do it all right before school starts.

2. Day trips. Obviously, the summer is the time to get outside! You can do something as simple as a day or afternoon at the park or something as extravagant as a trip to an amusement park or zoo. Day trips don’t have to be expensive either. You can often find coupons or deals online and even free ideas, like here.

3. Crafts: I plan to spend time several times a week on crafts/activities. You can find lots of craft ideas online, but I love the book “365 Ways to a Smarter Preschooler.” Andrew has a lot of fun doing the activities in this book and can stay engaged for a long while, once he’s set up. This is were I got the peanut butter play dough recipe from, that Andrew just loves!

4. Quiet Time. I am a big proponent of quiet time. Even if your child doesn’t nap, it’s a good idea to implement a rest period. Heat and humidity can wear on everyone’s nerves, and when the kids get cranky, it can wear down the best of moms!

The best time for naps would be in the early afternoon when the sun is at its most strong. It would be a good idea to do the outdoor activities earlier in the morning or later in the day. Of course, do what works best for you!

5. Don’t forget free time! Part of the fun of summer is the freedom to NOT be scheduled, so don’t forget to plan time just to “be”! Summer is the time to lay in the grass and watch the clouds go by, get an ice cream cone and catch some fireflies. In a word, take time to just enjoy your family, let kids be kids and HAVE FUN!