1. Hooray for Old School Blogging!

    I love hearing about your homeschooling journey – and can’t wait to embark on my own. I, too, fell under the thrall of The Well-Trained Mind when it first came out (I was in high school!) – but, unlike you, planning and spreadsheets are my forte. I’ve been planning homeschool for at least a dozen years – and am quite sure I’ll find out it’s nothing like I’d planned 🙂

  2. And three cheers for Tolkien homeschooling! I have graduated six children, and I have two more at home. I can honestly say that the only thing that has been consist for each of them is math. I require that they all finish Saxon Algebra 2, at least. Some of them went on to Advanced Math. As you approach high school, sit down and decide what you require for them to graduate (four years of some kind of history?, four years of some kind of literature?, biology?, chemistry?, physics?, whatever math, etc.) Then, give your student the requirements and tell them how they can get there. Complete a text book? A reading list? Do a course online? Write something?

    Other than the high school requirements, jus keep doing what you’re doing. Wander. Melissa Wiley has some wonderful stuff on her blog on this kind of homeschooling, and it’s really OK. Better than OK.

    • Amy


      You have no idea how many times I’ve wished I could just sit down and talk to you about homeschooling! Truly. I value your experience so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I could never follow any one else’s schedules either. I sometimes like making my own, but I don’t always even follow those…LOL! My best spreadsheets are the ones that are basically long books lists.

    I feel like for us, sixth grade is where I will really need to increase Miss M’s math endurance (she melts down if it takes her more than 30 minutes…that won’t cut it for pre-alg and algebra!), and start buckling down on writing. I feel like she is still “behind” grade level in that area. We’ve made a lot of progress this year, but her writing still sounds to me as “younger” than it should.

    I’m content to have a spine I like and keep reading lots of of library books for at least another year in history. 🙂

    What I want to figure out is how to use 7th and 8th to prepare for high school in a way that leaves all our doors open — continuing to homeschool, regular public school, charter school, private school. My DH has always felt pretty strongly that (assuming the kids were willing) they should go to a brick-and-mortar school of some sort for high school — Not that he doesn’t think we’re capable of doing high school at home, but more because he wants them to have more time to spread their wings and learn to navigate things on their own while still living at home. I feel less strongly about this, and I’m not sure I feel about the school options where we currently live (we don’t own our house though, and I could see us moving within our current city before Miss M starts high school since we may finally be ready to buy a house again, and high school options really vary depending on one’s neighborhood here).

    Regardless of what path we end up choosing, I want to prepare by making sure Miss M knows how to study from a textbook, take notes from textbooks and lectures, and write at whatever level is expected of 9th graders these days (not sure what that is, but I am sure it is more than what was expected of me in 9th grade — I didn’t even learn the 5 paragraph essay format until my freshman year of high school!). Even if she stays home, I think we would utilize more drop-off co-op or online type classes by high school anyway, and those study skills will come in handy.

    • Amy


      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know what you mean about wanting them to be ready for high school. I taught public high school many years ago, so I recognize how wide the range of capabilities are at that age. It’s tough to know exactly 1.) where to aim and 2.) how to accomplish it, isn’t it?

  4. Keeping it Old School, love it!

    I had a lot of the same thoughts last year when C. was going into 6th grade. I decided to look at middle school a different way. I felt like it’s our last chance to be more freewheeling and less organized (which is hard for me). That may not be completely true, but I know once high school comes we will have to worry more about things like transcripts and requirements. I wanted to have some time to explore things that I had felt like we hadn’t had time for and time to take more field trips and to just have free time.

    I also came to believe that skills are more important than content at this age. Not to say that content isn’t important, the content rich subjects are what makes learning fun. But I have come to believe that it doesn’t matter that much in the elementary and middle school years what exactly we cover as long as they get the skills they need to learn at a higher level and they develop some degree of enjoyment of learning.

    So I have spent more time thinking about what skills I want my 6th grader to learn and have by the time he gets to high school. That shaped our core studies. For us that has been Math, Latin and Piano. He also has to write regularly. He reads a lot on his own but for another kid I would add reading if they weren’t doing it on their own. I feel like as long as we do those things daily he’s ok. Within those subjects we’ve been working on things like study skills, organization, writing, grammar, communication, independence, time-management, etc.

    We also have done a unit study all year that has consisted of 6 week units on various topics. That has been where he’s gotten some history and science and literature.

    It’s been a good year for us.

    • Amy


      I love your philosophy, and what’s more, the outcome of “a good year.” I’d love to talk with you more about how you shaped your studies.

  5. No deep thoughts here since we are in much the same boat. I do think that I’m finding that we work better with the accountability of the CC community and while I know Challenge is going to be a big jump for N1 in 7th grade, I think it will be a good fit for her personality and mine. (And truly, I’m hopeful to learn alongside of her some.)

  6. Jennifer

    Oh, sweet Amy! I finally got a moment to read this blog post. You know my journey has been all wandering. And like Tolkien says, I don’t feel like they’re at all lost. As we’ve wanderered I’ve seen their personalities develop. I’ve watched them perk up on certain things, and get downright ugly on other things. I think the wandering is good for a season. It helps everyone figure out what they do and do not like. You are my honeschool hero, and I know you’ll look back one day and say, “it all worked out.” 🙂

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