The beginning years of homeschooling, in spite of all the preparation, research, and planning that I did, were all about figuring it out. I am still putting plenty of time into figuring it out, but it is less arduous than it was in the Littles Years. I understand the personalities and gifts of my kids more clearly. They understand my expectations more readily. I am willing to just scrap something that isn’t working rather forcing all of us to endure something that is just not a learning experience for us. They have learned to ask when they would like to spend more time some place, less time place, or to go in a totally different direction. Because we have established some of our basic dance steps, I have felt I had the stability to implement some longer-term tools. Here are a few of my favorites.
Homeschooltracker: Oh my goodness. I know not everyone gets a thrill from a great database experience, but I do. And this tool has been worth every penny and minute I have spent on it. This beauty is lesson plan scheduler on steroids. I do the input. The kids check their assignments each day and do them. I can see real-time what they are accomplishing as they check it off. There is also the option to have grading done for the classes (even with a weighted grading scale). It keeps an accurate attendance record, allows me to schedule appointments, days off, and outside classes. The lesson plans I input for Caleb can be used again for Anna and Sofia when it it their turn, and it will be easy to make whatever modifications I need to for each individual student. I love this service.
Google Drive: This is where we do the majority of our history and language arts work. This is where I keep my grade books. The kids answer questions here. I comment on their responses, creating a dialogue setting. The kids do writing assignments and I edit or comment in document.
Preceden Timeline: I have no idea how I found this gem, but I am so thankful for it. Our primary curriculum (Sonlight) recommends keeping a timeline. They offer a big book and stickers, but that didn’t fit our style from the beginning. What they offer can be used year after year and kids travel through years of world history and American history. It is a lovely idea, and I always felt a little sad that we weren’t building that experience into our studies. I found Preceden a few years ago. It is an online digital timeline that can be customized in a number of ways. The way we are using it now is that the kids have one timeline for the school year and are almost daily are putting dates in place. Sofia will complete her second year of American History this year, Anna her second year of World History this year. They will have timelines from last year and this full of the dates from those courses.
The Great Courses: This is the priciest of my favorite tools. But this course resource can’t be ignored with older learners. We have built classes with these resources as anchors or as supplements. There are multiple formats for the classes. I love that Caleb is learning to learn from a college level lecturer, broadening his learning styles experience. Good news about this resource is that they recently connected with Audible, and if you just want to listen to the lectures (without video or the class material), you can use an Audible credit for purchase. (Audible has been a long-time favorite for our family for audio books.)
KhanAcademy: When we get stuck with math or science, I check here first. Caleb is practicing for SAT using KhanAcademy. We are so thankful for this resource. Remember if you use it to make a donation once in awhile. We want to keep this resource growing.
(I am not an affiliate or employee of any of these companies and have not been compensated for saying nice things about them. I’m just telling you about some things that make our school run well.)