Changing Up How We Learn

Up until last year we walked through our learning day as a family. Experiencing every topic together, yet processing information at slightly different levels. This year, we’ve seen the expansion between levels grow to where this is no longer a viable option. What do you do when your Middle School son is in the Logic stage, and your High School son is in Rhetoric? (No Affiliate Links in this post, just a mom sharing her heart, no reviews, no sponsored links.)

The boys also have different interests in activities. My oldest has been working independently focused on his projects and goals. He has taken certified courses in his field of interest and is working right now. We were not going to promote or allow outside employment in High School, but that has gone down on our silly list of “things we weren’t going to do”.  Our younger son has a hard time staying in doors long enough to brush his teeth let alone focus on Literature or History. Trying to get him to sit still long enough to engage in thoughtful discussion regarding his reading is difficult. Adventure. Activity. Friends.  What’s a mom to do?

We have changed our schooling style.

Both boys are in Chemistry – Nate is using The 101 Series, Chemistry. He uses the accreditation guide for his assignment checklist. This pairs well with Exploring Creation through Chemistry and Physics for Jon. Jon really likes the way Jeannie Fulbright explains Chemistry concepts. Her love for boys and the water helps too.  We can take the book along on our adventures and read part of a chapter together out loud.  One time we were in a discussion about Atoms vs Molecules vs  Elements in the car. We were pretty sure the answer was coming soon – and Jon says – “That’s the problem with the book, the chapters are so long. It would be easier to get to the answer if the book was ‘just the facts’, but Jeannie knows she has to tell me stories to keep me entertained.” He was really serious, half way apologizing that he really liked the interesting way the information was presented.  We’ve always done Science from a field guide, project/interest based method with a shelf full of lab ideas and another shelf over full of supplies. We love spaces like Superchared Science that give us an online science teacher full of videos, texts and challenges. I never imagined the switch to full curriculum based science learning. I think the key is to find a company that shares the same learning style and goals that you have as a family. I am thankful for The 101 Series and Exploring Creation. I wish we had started Exploring Creation at an earlier age.

The next change has been in our History.

We’ve never taken a direct approach to History. As we learn about the early alchemists we take note of the time that they are in. We study Art and Music and follow it on a defined time scale. We study geography and look at the country through the centuries. We follow wars and watch movies and take note of the place and time. History has been entwined through our natural learning process.

Until this year. The boys spent the first year going through their Artist and Composer studies, but did not show the same delight as in years past. We are in the 1850’s to 1920’s, the industrial age. In January I received America the Beautiful.  by Notgrass as a part of the Top Nature Blog Award.  The second half of the book covers this time frame directly. As I looked over the book I realized it had the same feel as the Exploring Creation. Although the intention of the program is a full blown unit study with quite a few extra books, we are using it as our History Reading assignment. I’ve given permission to the boys to run down any rabbit trail they find. Check out movies or books that might interest them if something sparks their interest. The stories in the book are interesting on their own with much side information. Both boys are reading the lessons independently and then chatting with me about it. So far, we have not worked in a lot of extras, narration, notebooking, but just a casual reading every day.

I had read about this way of learning from Harmony Art Mom with her Friday Talks that she has with her boys. I remember thinking – I don’t need to have a Friday Chat because I was there on Tuesday. Well, now I’m here on Tuesday but the boys are not reading aloud or chatting out loud.

So this led to re-vamping up our schedule keeping. I’ve been doing it on paper the last year. Each morning I write the day’s goals on the white board in the dining room. This is becoming a bit of a hardship, spending too many hours figuring out which lessons are coming up, which pages, which . . . . sigh.  I turned back to my long time friend Homeschool Tracker. It has been so delightful to sit down once a week, look through the upcoming assignments, and plug them in. With HSPlanner Plus the calendar work is so much easier. I can put in Nate’s work schedule and activities, and then plug in his learning assignments around those times.


I can print so many different types of Assignment Reports – Nate likes the Assignment Calendar below.


I print an Assignment Report of Jon and he prefers his on the White Board still. He enjoys getting up and marking each part off. He makes sure to add his preferred TO DO list items as well.


I am thankful for paper lists, printed lists from years pasts and planner pages we’ve used.

DSCN0657     DSCN0658


We are also starting a new year with the TOS Review Crew. You’ll soon start to see many of our new curriculum items that will be added to our day. These schedules really help me see where we are – goal based – to see what tools will help us get to that learning goal. As spring in the Pacific Northwest comes  – I need to keep our learning goals ever present as first priority for the day – not an easy task with boys who love adventure!

As I mentioned above, none of the links are affiliates, I just thought I’d save you the time and give you a link if you are interested. This is just a chat from my heart of what we are actually using. None of these products are ‘in review’ for us right now. (Oh, unless you look really closely and see Spelling and Mango on the lists.)

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
This entry was posted in Some Schooling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Changing Up How We Learn

  1. Diane says:

    I always enjoy your posts and getting a look into how you unschool your boys. I am very excited about using the 101 Biology DVD next year with our readings from the Apologia Biology book. I too wish we had started Jeannie Fulbright’s series earlier so we could have finished all of them before we aged out of them.

  2. El Guapo says:

    Love that you, as their teacher, are finding ways for them to stay engaged, and despite the extra work for yourself, keeping them interested at their level.

    It would be nice if all schools could do that.

I love to hear from my readers, I appreciate comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s