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What are you changing up next year?


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What hasn't worked for you this year that you plan to change next year? Could be curriculum, scheduling, whatever!

I'm hoping to include more art and music appreciation in history class than I managed this year. We  pretty much just did SOTW with Kingfisher supplements. I want them to get more of a sense of the cultural shifts that went along with the historical events.

I'm separating the kids in all their classes. Trying to cram both of them into the same schedule for history and science drove me nuts this year. He's throwing around words like "terminal velocity" while she hypothesizes that the ocean is salty because of fish pee. Meanwhile he's struggling to remember basic mechanics like comma usage and capitalization, while she blazes ahead writing carefully constructed, grammatical paragraphs.

I think I'm going to invest in the Add-A-Century timeline. I love timelines and I want them to have a nice tidy one to share, where they can each check out what the other is studying.

My biggest change, though, is in my planning! I've discovered that what I assume they can do in 36 weeks actually takes them 40+. I'm intentionally planning only 32 weeks of study activities. If it starts looking like they'll finish way too early, I'll add field trips, extracurriculars, etc. But I suspect planning for 32 weeks will be just right. I was so, so stressed out earlier this year when I looked at my records and saw how far "behind" they were. It's been a huge relief to realize that that's because I planned too much, not because they're necessarily slacking!

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We did two separate co-ops this year for the first time ever- actually three if you count the third one that I tutored in once a week without the kids for an hour. They didn't attend that one. It was a good year. Each group has something special and filled a need for one of us this past year. But next year we won't be doing a co-op at all for the first time in ten years. We will gather with 1-2 families most weeks once a week in my home, but not a full day out of the house, just for an hour or two, and very loosey goosey. We will still be in our homeschool group that has monthly activities (once a month mom's night, once a month teen night, once a month field trip, etc.) 

Also we will welcome our 4.5 yr old into her first official year of school. In our area, all kids go to preK free in the schools (all day if you can believe it too, with no nap or rest period.) So we start our official school at that time too. It won't look super different from this year from her. This year she had a class at each of the two co-ops we did as a family, so I prepared a little lesson time at each one. We will do something similar with some specific read aloud time just for her, making sure we cover little preschooly themes once in awhile at home, etc, just setting aside a bit of special time just for her. 

I am very excited to finish high school at home with my older two. Co-op was getting to be just a fun day out of the house without a lot of educational benefit for my 10th grader. My current 8th grader still had a lot at her age going on, but I am ready for a year off. If I need to get her in a class somewhere at some point and not totally do the next four years at home completely I will- but not next year. 

Kids are still active in dance, their chosen sport, many hours a week, in scouting, church youth group, and our homeschool group. They get plenty of the S word- too much this year I think. 

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We're mostly changing up English. We had been using ELTL, and I really liked it for everything but writing instruction. But it takes too much time to add things to (which would be required to get writing instruction I like), so I'm dropping it and I'll do separate copywork, grammar, writing, and read alouds. I'm also adding in some spelling review work for my older kids to work on independently (beyond the usual spelling curriculum). 

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A co-op is starting in my city so hopefully that will pan out well for next year. I'm also trying my best to keep our regular outside activities local to avoid so much driving around. And as much as possible get transportation/babysitting help from the grandmas because I'm so exhausted trying to entertain my babies while my oldest has a lesson. I just don't have that kind of energy anymore.

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My biggest change is that I'll have 5 students instead of 4. My oldest is going to do math via distance learning for the first time, and he has to go write exams for that outside of our home, so that will all be new. Other than that, I'm just changing up English for my 5th grader (again). I want to try Language Lessons for Today with him.

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We did a co-op this year, and I don't "think" we will do it again. We are planning to start a Bible Bowl team and ds is joining a First LEGO League Robotics teams so we just don't have the schedule for it. 

In the area of Academics I don't think we are changing much...we have hit our groove with most curricula. 

One area I do plan on making some changes is more math and geography drill, and trying to stay home more...

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DD9 has requested that we have all-day subjects. She wants a math day, a science day..... At first I thought no-way. It seems daunting to me to do a whole week's worth in one day and really unbalanced. But I thought about it more and transitions really are our downfall. We are working with 3 people with anxiety, 2 with ADD, and 2 (maybe 3) with SPD. We honestly spend at least half of our "school time" on transitions. Probably more. 

So I'm considering it for next year. Maybe not strictly one-subject only for the whole day like she envisions, but closer to that than what we do now. Math at least I want to keep doing every day. But maybe math, main subject for the day, then reading. I'm not worried about science or history at all. I'm just worried about lumping a week of LA into one day and not doing it the other 4. But there is writing involved in science and history so it's not like she wouldn't get any LA, just not formal LA. She doesn't care for writing so I'm worried about push-back there. But maybe it will be easier to get her to sit down and do it once for an hour and a half instead of 4 times for 20 minutes. Any cons to this way?

 

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1 hour ago, Seeking Squirrels said:

DD9 has requested that we have all-day subjects. She wants a math day, a science day..... At first I thought no-way. It seems daunting to me to do a whole week's worth in one day and really unbalanced. But I thought about it more and transitions really are our downfall. We are working with 3 people with anxiety, 2 with ADD, and 2 (maybe 3) with SPD. We honestly spend at least half of our "school time" on transitions. Probably more. 

So I'm considering it for next year. Maybe not strictly one-subject only for the whole day like she envisions, but closer to that than what we do now. Math at least I want to keep doing every day. But maybe math, main subject for the day, then reading. I'm not worried about science or history at all. I'm just worried about lumping a week of LA into one day and not doing it the other 4. But there is writing involved in science and history so it's not like she wouldn't get any LA, just not formal LA. She doesn't care for writing so I'm worried about push-back there. But maybe it will be easier to get her to sit down and do it once for an hour and a half instead of 4 times for 20 minutes. Any cons to this way?

 

Similar dynamics and it has not worked well here. We still had issues. What has worked better is integrated assignments—stuff like History Odyssey where you write and read. We also have stopped using separate materials for each component of LA with one kid and switched to CLE LA. Having the thin workbooks has helped.

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I've discovered that ds has seemed to forget quite a few details about grammar and punctuation. He doesn't make a very large number of mistakes in his writing, but he's not being able to identify which is correct when given choices (such as multiple choice tests). Since the ACT and SAT are in the future, I plan to add in a lot of grammar/usage/punctuation review. 

I relied too heavily on computer programs this year, and I found it difficult to keep him focused when there are other things he likes to do on the computer. I'm planning for less next year. I can't avoid one subject, but he'll have a lot less than this year. 

 

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We are bringing the youngest back to homeschool - yay! With that we are trying to organize a regular group activity (maybe twice a month?) which I am both looking forward to and dreading.

I am going to try getting up in the morning before everyone... this will be a major undertaking!!

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12 hours ago, Seeking Squirrels said:

DD9 has requested that we have all-day subjects. She wants a math day, a science day..... At first I thought no-way. It seems daunting to me to do a whole week's worth in one day and really unbalanced. But I thought about it more and transitions really are our downfall. We are working with 3 people with anxiety, 2 with ADD, and 2 (maybe 3) with SPD. We honestly spend at least half of our "school time" on transitions. Probably more. 

So I'm considering it for next year. Maybe not strictly one-subject only for the whole day like she envisions, but closer to that than what we do now. Math at least I want to keep doing every day. But maybe math, main subject for the day, then reading. I'm not worried about science or history at all. I'm just worried about lumping a week of LA into one day and not doing it the other 4. But there is writing involved in science and history so it's not like she wouldn't get any LA, just not formal LA. She doesn't care for writing so I'm worried about push-back there. But maybe it will be easier to get her to sit down and do it once for an hour and a half instead of 4 times for 20 minutes. Any cons to this way?

 

That's a super interesting idea! Even if you don't go all the way with it, good on her for thinking outside the box and suggesting a solution to a problem she sees!

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Things will be really different for us.  Dd10 is starting grade 5 at ps, so my only student will be ds8, plus a 3.5 year old and 2 year old.  And ds is a really different learner than my older kids.

We are still going to be carrying on with a similar LA progression.  Ds wants to teach the pre-schooler phonograms though, so I am going to have him try it, I am curious to see how it goes.  We are switching somewhat to a practical math approach.  Mainly reading for other academic subjects, just a few things throughout the day.

But the main difference is ds is a more active hands on kid and he's pretty social and will be lonely without his sister, so we will be doing more out of the house stuff.  I think we will sign up for the hs sports group, and maybe see if we can't find something else and we'll look at field trips (which are cheaper with fewer kids.)  I'll try and find a playgroup for the littles as well.  So it will be a lot more running around.  Also he would like some more substantial chores.

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We are about 4-5 weeks into our new school year (that was my disclaimer-lol).  Grades 11, 10, 8, 6 and a preschooler.

Everyone is using a boxed curriculum this year (that is very new to us - I usually design our school year myself).  Ds3 was the straw that broke the camel's back...or whatever that saying is. 

Everyone is working on a musical instrument (that is also very new).  They are loving the music stuff!  My kids are very right-brained/fine arts-oriented and I never really incorporated much of that into our curriculum, but I realized this year that fine arts needs to be a BIG part of their curriculum.  

Less curriculum where you read stuff, write, etc and more classes where it's hands-on learning.  (We were always big with hands-on learning, anyway.)  Violin, guitar, studio art, theater (two of them are taking theater classes this fall), robotics/programming, etc.  More stuff like that.

I'm trying to keep the "bookwork" to about 4 hours a day or less (we school year-round).  Also, I'm ditching school more often to take them on little field trips - even the high schoolers.  I stopped doing that a couple of years ago (when they started high school).  Well, it's time to start that back up again.  We're actually ditching school today to go explore a creek bed and some hiking trails.  I have about 10 specific field trips planned for the school year.  We're going to see the ocean for the first time ever...

 New experiences for the teenagers: they're learning to drive.  Ds15 was invited to join a high school football team (he's never played football before, but the coach saw him at a track meet and wouldn't leave him alone - lol).  He is SO excited.  Dd16 is joining a cross-country track team in August (also a new sport for her).  That is a huge deal for her, because she had a really nasty knee surgery last summer, was in a wheelchair for awhile, couldn't walk, has had physical therapy for the past year, etc.  So, being able to do a sport again is incredible for her.

Exciting plans for the year, but also sad, because I know dd16 will have enough credits to graduate in about a year and a half.  I guess we have to enjoy it while we can!

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34 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

But the main difference is ds is a more active hands on kid and he's pretty social and will be lonely without his sister, so we will be doing more out of the house stuff.  I think we will sign up for the hs sports group, and maybe see if we can't find something else and we'll look at field trips (which are cheaper with fewer kids.)  I'll try and find a playgroup for the littles as well.  So it will be a lot more running around.  

 

I have several kids like this.  They constantly need to do sports/outside activities.  Several of mine are really extroverted and just need to be around other kids.  I've gotten used to it over the years, but our list of extracurriculars probably looks terrifying to other people.  

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Second semester of this year we were registered for classes at our umbrella school. Typically I will do two afternoons but this semester it was 3 that started in the morning and went until afternoon. That means that socially they had a great time and did enjoy their classes but I have been cramming in work in the 2 hours before we leave the house and then throughout the day at our school. We only had 2 days at home that felt like I could breathe. I just won't try to do too much again (which I am notorious for). 

My plan next year is to have our time at home until after lunch from M-Th and take enrichment classes after lunch a day or two. Friday is going to be a co-op day that enhances what we are doing at home. 

My other plan is that every 3 weeks we will have 1 immersion week. Meaning, the week will be full of deeper learning, hands on fun. This is when we will do things like build medieval catapults, have a poetry tea party, go try archery after reading Robin Hood, ride a train after the Railway Children and write about it, play games like "Create a Story" or math games and so forth. I find hands on projects and activities to be really crucial for my kids but they are hard to schedule and execute each week so I decided we would just drop formal work for a week and immerse ourselves in projects that support what we learned the previous 3 weeks. We don't take summer off so it also gives us some down time without being true time off. 

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Last summer, I enrolled everyone in the Alveary to try a 100% CM education.  After this year I realized how much my kids prefer classical--we've always toed the line between the two methods.  Since January, we've been switching over to more of a WTM approach.  So we made massive changed last summer only to make massive changes this spring.  The good news is that they have taken to these recent changes like a duck to water.

For next year, I've somewhat combined my DC into 2 groups: my younger ones (3rd & 6th) and my older ones (8th & 10th).  While not ideal, it's made teaching so much easier on me!  They are combined in these pairs for grammar, writing, science, and literature.

We are watching more videos next year: The 101 Series for science, Drive Through History, and various documentaries from the library.  My older ones are watching The Art of Argument and MP's Iliad/Odyssey.  It's given us a bit of visual fun (and me a break).  We are also implementing SOTW audio cds, educational board games, Artistic Pursuits, and science experiment kits.  I want to add a bit more fun to our days.  This has been a very expensive year once again, but I keep remind myself we aren't paying for cable or any extracurriculars.  That has to count for something. 

 

 

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Next year I will only be homeschooling 2 because DD is going to be in college.  It will be a strange transition. 

I am seriously considering having my older DS take science online next year.

I started doing something new a few weeks ago that I think we will continue and add on to.  I started doing daily writing prompts for the boys and they don't necessarily like them, but it has been enough to get them writing.  It is really fun to read all of their imaginative thoughts.  But I need to add in an element somewhere to help them with editing and grammar.

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Online classes. We are experimenting with a couple of online 8-week writing courses, and for the first time, DD is doing writing without a huge fight. So I'm planning to do at least English online, and maybe math. I'm also incorporating more videos into science and social studies (history, sociology, etc). 

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On 5/8/2018 at 5:43 PM, egao_gakari said:

My biggest change, though, is in my planning! I've discovered that what I assume they can do in 36 weeks actually takes them 40+. I'm intentionally planning only 32 weeks of study activities. If it starts looking like they'll finish way too early, I'll add field trips, extracurriculars, etc. But I suspect planning for 32 weeks will be just right. I was so, so stressed out earlier this year when I looked at my records and saw how far "behind" they were. It's been a huge relief to realize that that's because I planned too much, not because they're necessarily slacking!

 

This was me.  My poor son in 9th grade.  I planned sooo much and it was crazy.  I learned at the beginning of 10th how to plan a reasonable amount of work for a teenage boy, and not a reasonable amount of work for a 45 yo woman who already knew the material.

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For my rising 5th grader, I'm actually not changing much for next year.

  • Still using Math in Focus
  • Still using Bookshark "reading with history"
  • Still supplementing with MBTP lit guides
  • Still using French for Children by CAP (though will need to figure out what to do next when he finishes level B)
  • Science will change - we did Mr. Q physics & chemistry this year, and will do Holt Science & Technology's earth science. I used that series with my older kid, so it not "new" though.

For my rising 11th grader, more will change. Not because it isn't working, but just because it's typical in high school.

  • Still using Holt's math series (though not sure what to use after he finishes Algebra 2 in the winter - probably Thinkwell trig?)
  • Still using Novel-Ties lit guides for English
  • New writing program - Write Shop (he got really tired of Essentials in Writing)
  • Still using a textbook science - Holt Chemistry. Adding in chem labs and HOPING they are truly do-able at home!
  • New history - DH is going to design a "U.S. on the world stage" history class since we technically have to do US history but live in Europe. It will focus on the world wars, and I'm assuming it will be a mix of Great Courses, living books, and field trips, with some essays.
  • New culinary arts class, using a PS textbook as a spine
  • New Alaska history class, using a North Dakota online HS class
  • New Personal Finance class, using Dave Ramsey
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I'm sending 2 of my kids to public school next year. Gulp. They will be going into 2nd and 4th grade, so I expect that to take a huge load off of me. I'm hoping it is only for one year. I can't keep up right now, and I'm hoping this will give me the breathing space I need.

 Otherwise, I don't foresee any major changes. We have a good routine, and I'm pretty happy with our curriculum choices.

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On 5/8/2018 at 4:43 PM, Seeking Squirrels said:

DD9 has requested that we have all-day subjects. She wants a math day, a science day..... At first I thought no-way. It seems daunting to me to do a whole week's worth in one day and really unbalanced. But I thought about it more and transitions really are our downfall. We are working with 3 people with anxiety, 2 with ADD, and 2 (maybe 3) with SPD. We honestly spend at least half of our "school time" on transitions. Probably more. 

So I'm considering it for next year. Maybe not strictly one-subject only for the whole day like she envisions, but closer to that than what we do now. Math at least I want to keep doing every day. But maybe math, main subject for the day, then reading. I'm not worried about science or history at all. I'm just worried about lumping a week of LA into one day and not doing it the other 4. But there is writing involved in science and history so it's not like she wouldn't get any LA, just not formal LA. She doesn't care for writing so I'm worried about push-back there. But maybe it will be easier to get her to sit down and do it once for an hour and a half instead of 4 times for 20 minutes. Any cons to this way?

 

We do something like this. I'm the one with ADD, none of my kids have it but their habits have certainly been influenced from having been homeschooled by someone with it. It's like they have ADD-by-association, which, so far, has been remedied once they consistently took outside classes in high school or college. But anyway, we usually had subject-specific mornings. I did well with a deep focus on each subject, and they mostly did well when we could spend 2 hours on one subject really getting into it, like a block schedule. Transitions have always been my downfall. 

The one subject I try to do multiple times a week is math. Just because the kids seem to need the regular reinforcement. So we spend 2 hours on, say, Monday doing the main part of the lesson. We use MUS, so that would be watching the video, discussing the material, and doing pages A-C. The rest of the week, not necessarily every day but at least once more and preferably twice more, we'll finish up pages D-F or G. We do those in the afternoons, after lunch. For Latin, we do the lesson on a single morning, and then review with flash cards or open-book quizzes during the afternoons on other days. We usually do that over lunch or in the car when transitions aren't a huge deal. 

Writing we had to split over 2-3 days. It was just too much to do in a single day. But we still spend one day doing the majority of the lesson, and days 2 and 3 are much lighter (usually a rough draft or revisions, then a final draft.) It's worth a try, even if you just go to a twice-a-week format instead of a once-a-week. Commit to trying it for a month and then meet to discuss what's working and what isn't. It's great that she's brainstorming with you, and together you'll find the best way to make it work for her!

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I'm down to only one student next year, which will be a big adjustment for me. She got to tag along on the big kids' hands-on projects, but she was <5 at the time and doesn't remember much. Then the big kids were in high school which was a major time suck for me, so she hasn't really had much hands-on fun herself. She's in middle school and just went through the SOTW AG to find the projects she wants to do. We're doing this year's projects over summer and then next year I'll have time to do the projects in tandem with studying the chapters. That's the goal anyway LOL. 

She also wants art, so we're going to do Artistic Pursuits. In theory, I love hands-on subjects. In practice, I get distracted easily and forget to plan ahead for supplies, etc. I'm going to buy everything this summer and put it into numbered bags that I can grab from the shelf each week, and go. I can't do this plan ahead each week thing. 

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I am changing my approach to teaching writing to my teens. I have been correcting their papers and discussing with them how to improve their weak areas, but they are still making the same mistakes. We are going to start next school year with books containing examples of the best teen writing and also a guide to writing essays about literature. We will read and discuss the essays in these books together, and this way my kids will have a guide to follow and I won't have to feel like I'm always the critic (hopefully.)

We are also switching from Sonlight to a Classical approach to History and Literature.

Both of my teens are taking a Poetry course as an elective. I'm super excited about this one!

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On 5/9/2018 at 9:29 AM, nixpix5 said:

Second semester of this year we were registered for classes at our umbrella school. Typically I will do two afternoons but this semester it was 3 that started in the morning and went until afternoon. That means that socially they had a great time and did enjoy their classes but I have been cramming in work in the 2 hours before we leave the house and then throughout the day at our school. We only had 2 days at home that felt like I could breathe. I just won't try to do too much again (which I am notorious for). 

My plan next year is to have our time at home until after lunch from M-Th and take enrichment classes after lunch a day or two. Friday is going to be a co-op day that enhances what we are doing at home. 

My other plan is that every 3 weeks we will have 1 immersion week. Meaning, the week will be full of deeper learning, hands on fun. This is when we will do things like build medieval catapults, have a poetry tea party, go try archery after reading Robin Hood, ride a train after the Railway Children and write about it, play games like "Create a Story" or math games and so forth. I find hands on projects and activities to be really crucial for my kids but they are hard to schedule and execute each week so I decided we would just drop formal work for a week and immerse ourselves in projects that support what we learned the previous 3 weeks. We don't take summer off so it also gives us some down time without being true time off. 

I love this idea. My fourth is 9 and I've been at this for 13 years. I don't hear much anymore that is new (and free!). This idea has just rocked my little school as an awesome way to handle wanting to do immersion with my youngest ( whose sibs are all teens) in a way that is sustainable for me. Thank you so much!

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1 hour ago, freesia said:

I love this idea. My fourth is 9 and I've been at this for 13 years. I don't hear much anymore that is new (and free!). This idea has just rocked my little school as an awesome way to handle wanting to do immersion with my youngest ( whose sibs are all teens) in a way that is sustainable for me. Thank you so much!

I hear ya. I have grand plans but I find they are always the first to get cut each week when we are short on time. I just couldn't figure out how to make it sustainable either and then I thought back to observations I did in an upper elementary Montessori class that did this. It was so awesome and the learning was so much deeper. I had forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I was pulling my hair out over a month of dropped fun projects for the pursuit of checking the boxes of the must do work. I am just not a free spirit or spontaneous mom and I know this about myself. I have to schedule in spontaneity. How sad is that haha ?

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16 hours ago, nixpix5 said:

I hear ya. I have grand plans but I find they are always the first to get cut each week when we are short on time. I just couldn't figure out how to make it sustainable either and then I thought back to observations I did in an upper elementary Montessori class that did this. It was so awesome and the learning was so much deeper. I had forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I was pulling my hair out over a month of dropped fun projects for the pursuit of checking the boxes of the must do work. I am just not a free spirit or spontaneous mom and I know this about myself. I have to schedule in spontaneity. How sad is that haha ?

Well you have just described me. Lol

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We are changing writing.  I was going to use ELTL again, but ds8 is taking quite a while to get through all the work and when I charted out his schedule next year it seemed like overkill on the writing components.  I didn't want to weigh him down. I considered IEW but he talked me out of it with some really good arguments, lol.  We've agreed on the original Writing Strands 3.  It was something I used with my oldest and didn't click with him, but I think the personality difference is just enough that the 8yo will enjoy the challenge.  And we can shift to doing writing more in other subjects.  That also means that I'm scrapping our literature selections, though, and will be looking for 6 or so books to replace them, just in case we want to pick up the next level of ELTL after this year break.

We're also moving on from GSWL.  DS8 looked over several programs and decided on First Form Latin.  It's a lot more writing heavy than he's used to but I think it's doable, especially now that we're cutting out some of the writing elsewhere. 

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Quite a few things. 

We’re adding a new baby. 

And I’m switching to BJU math online. For my sanity I need less hands-on math for at least a year. 

We’re switching to MP Latin from CAP Latin. 

My oldest is going to be doing much more independent work. 

We’re using EIW for writing so that it’s less teacher intensive for me.

My kids are also doing BJU science online. 

And my oldest is doing their Spanish. 

We’re also adding live online Chinese classes with Lingo Bus. 

I’m trying to streamline things for next year as I’m already feeling overwhelmed. 

I will also implement planners and checklists to help my older kiddos stay on track because I know I will be tired and forget things. 

History is veritas online with some history from master books. 

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