We’re getting close to the end of my Top Picks series. Next week, I’ll be sharing what little I’ve discovered about high school so far, after a mid-year switch from 8th to 9th grade. I’ve enjoyed sharing my favorites. You can see the previous Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Top Picks for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th grade, and 5th and 6th grade.
Math. Since Horizons only goes through 6th grade, this would be the point where, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out Teaching Textbooks. Let’s just suffice it to say that I had one of those horrible teachers for Algebra — you know the ones; they know how to do it, but they don’t know how to teach you to do it. I squeaked by with my first C ever — the C that kept me out of the Honor Society and the Top 10% of my class. Stupid Algebra! That being said, I love that Teaching Textbooks offers step-by-step video teaching lessons. No need for me to dredge up painful memories.
Grammar. Nothing changes here; my picks for grammar are Easy Grammar with Daily Grams. Can you believe that my oldest admitted, just this week, that she was going to miss Easy Grammar next year? She’s finishing the last book and will only be doing the Ultimate Grammar series from here on out. If having a teenager say that she’ll miss grammar isn’t the ultimate endorsement for a program, I don’t know what is.
Writing. We love WordSmith. It’s a creative writing course, rather than — oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? You know, other types of writing, such as reports, persuasion, and so on. However, for a reluctant writer, creative writing is sometimes less intimidating and definitely more fun. And, in my opinion, the mechanics of writing can still be learned through creative writing.
Now, if you want the more formal writing stuff, I’d suggest Jump In. It covers the main types of writing in a clear, conversational style. Like WordSmith, it is written to the student, so it’s designed to be used mostly independently. Both programs require feedback on the writing from Mom, but the actual day-to-day lessons are designed for the student to do independently.
Reading. This is the time to start reading some of the great books and preparing for high-school level reading. A few of my favorites for this age, again, mostly tied to history, are: Johnny Tremain, Across Five Aprils, and Island of the Blue Dolphins. If your student is a strong reader, I would suggest checking out the book Reading Lists for College-Bound Students. It makes a great reference for preparing for high school literature.
Spelling. As I mentioned last week, if you’ve got an older child who struggles with spelling, we’ve had great success with Apples: Daily Spelling Drills. Apples is designed for older students who are struggling with spelling and it does a great job of breaking down the spelling and phonics rules for older students (middle to high school age). It is decidedly Christian, so if you’re looking for a secular spelling program, this would not be for you. If you are Christian, you may run into some issues with Bible translation differences for some fill-in-the-blank spelling practice. We had this issue — a lot of times the word that the workbook was going for was not the word used in our translation. This wasn’t a big issue, but it did come up from time to time.
History. Again, I was really impressed with Pandia Press History Odyssey for kids who have completed the four year Story of the World cycle. Pandia Press History Odyssey combines great, hands-on learning with fantastic literature. As I mentioned last week, Brianna has found the Level 2 reading list very challenging, so, based on your child’s reading level, you may want to consider sticking with Level 1 through middle school, though you may have to beef up the activities or supplement with more challenging (than Level 1) reading.
I’m also considering checking next year to see how difficult it might be to select alternate books in place of the more challenging Level 2 books. Since many of the lessons are directly related to the reading assignments, this may not be a feasible option. I’ll let you know how it goes, if we decide to try that next year. Either way, if you take a look at History Odyssey, be sure to read the book lists for each level to find the right fit for your child.
Science. Like I said last week, we’ve long been fans of the Christian Kids Explore science series. If your child hasn’t done the Chemistry and Physics books in the series, seventh and eight grades would probably be the perfect time to go through these two books in the series. They would make a great introduction to the topics so that, hopefully, they’re a little less challenging in high school.
Bible. I still think Bible Study Guide for All Ages is perfect for the whole family, from preschool through high school. However, seventh and eighth grades are the perfect time to add in some more age appropriate personal Bible study in the form of some of my favorite studies by one of my favorite authors, Rebecca Ingram Powell. She offers two Bible studies for girls in this age group – Wise Up and Get Real – and one for boys, Dig Deep. Love, love, love Wise Up! Brianna went through it a year or so ago. I’m going to get Get Real for her this year and Dig Deep is on my list for Josh in a couple of years.
Don’t give up on nature study and music and art appreciation at this age, either! Visit Barb at Harmony Art Mom and Handbook of Nature Study for ideas on how to continue these areas of your homeschool on up through high school.
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.
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