I’m back with another planning post – this time for my 13-year-old, who will be doing 7th grade. We are planning an eclectic year with a really wide mix of resources and experiences, many of which my 13-year-old picked out or at least signed off on. This is the joy of homeschooling an older child is they get to have a say and it becomes more of a planning partnership every year.
I’ll organize this post a bit differently than I did for my 9-year-old and talk about subjects, because we have moved to an all-subjects-all-the-time type schedule rather than the block schedule we used when my oldest was younger.
This is my 13-year-old’s favorite subject by far and it’s the subject we most enjoy doing together. In fifth grade she studied Ancient History and last year she studied the Middle Ages & Renaissance and for seventh grade we’re going to skip ahead a bit and cover U.S. History. This will be our third year using History Quest as our primary resource for history. Because History Quest is written for an elementary school audience, I’m going to be supplementing more significantly this year to beef up the historical content. We have always really loved History Quest’s narrative approach – I find that it’s a natural fit with Waldorf’s story-based approach to so many subjects. To supplement I’ll be using Oak Meadow’s seventh grade World History course book. I am not going to be using all of it. I spent yesterday going through the HQ and OM books and pairing up chapters and there’s actually a lot of overlap. So for example there’s a chapter in History Quest about the American Revolution and in Oak Meadow there’s a chapter about not just the America’s revolution but also the French Revolution. So I like the idea of giving some worldwide context to what was happening in the U.S. We’ll see how it goes! Using multiple resources is of course more complicated than using one but I think it will really satisfy my history lover.
The other resource I love using for history is books! I am a big fan of reading historical fiction myself and a fan of using it in our homeschool. There’s a nice list of books in the History Quest study guide but because of the intended audience those are mostly picture books. We’ll definitely be reading them! But I’ll also be pulling from other booklists like Bookshark, Build Your Library, Oak Meadow, Pinterest, recommendations from friends, etc. Oh and the San Fransisco Waldorf School booklists are great – I’ll be using this one and this one.
Some of the books she is most excited to read are:
- Johnny Tremain
- Phoebe the Spy
- Chains, Forge & Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Echo Mountain (there’s an Arrow for this one!)
- Code Talker
- Journey to Topaz
- Brown Girl Dreaming
- Hidden Figures
- The Story That Cannot Be Told (this isn’t U.S. but covers the Cold War & Communism)
My primary resource this year will be Oak Meadow’s seventh grade language arts. I like that the language arts is tied in to the history and the book selections look great. I also like that it explicitly covers some language arts components that I guess I’ve been hoping my kiddo would absorb by osmosis but that hasn’t happened yet. 😉 She’ll be learning things like paragraph structure, essay writing, sentence editing, etc. The language arts curriculum wraps up the year with writing an auto-biography, which I know my kiddo will love.
In addition, my 13-year-old has enrolled in a yearlong writing class that’s being offered through our homeschool charter. The class is based on the Bravewriter Faltering Ownership program, and will emphasize moving toward more independence in writing. We’re partially doing this for the writing experience and also partially doing it for the social piece. I’m excited to see how this goes!
I also bought Memoria Press’ American Literature Poetry and Short Stories and thought I could incorporate that into our U.S. History studies. In looking at it I’m honestly not sure if my kiddo is going to like it so I may just use it as a resource for stuff to read and leave out the analysis piece.
Back in the spring I was super happy with our experience with Oak Meadow’s sixth grade math and bought their seventh grade math resources. But over the summer I reflected on priorities and looked ahead to my husband’s second year of working full time and pursuing an MBA and decided I needed to experiment with letting go of math completely. It’s not my strong suit and my husband will be too busy to help. So I’ll be setting aside the OM math and we’re going to give the fall quarter of the Jamie York Math Academy a try. It’s very different from anything we’ve tried before and it’s much more expensive than just buying a curriculum so we’re going to give it eight weeks and see if it’s a good fit. I’m hopeful that the live math group and tutoring components will be fun and motivating for my 13-year-old.
I think one of the themes of this post so far is how dynamic the planning process is and how often plans can change over the summer. My two older kids participated in in-person science classes at our local science museum last spring and we were excited to continue with that this fall, but the program recently decided that our afternoon session would continue requiring masks. My kids are really, really done with masks and so they decided to withdraw. It’s too bad for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it puts science back in my lap. 🙂 After considering quite a few options for what to focus on this year, my 13-year-old decided she’d like to do biology, so we purchased Real Science Odyssey’s Bio 2. This is our first time using a RSO resource, but it’s published by the same company that does History Quest so I feel like we’ll be in good hands. I just cracked the book open yesterday for the first time and realized we need a microscope for the first lesson. Whoops! So we will likely get started with science a few weeks into the school year after we get our school year rhythm going. I’m not sure if science is something we’ll be doing daily or if maybe we’ll try to implement a ‘Science Fridays’ type of approach.
A couple other subjects we’ll be working on this year include:
Last but not least she will be doing ballet three times a week, which brings her so much joy. She also works as a mother’s helper a couple of times a week, which has been a great experience and is teaching all kinds of great skills like keeping a calendar, responsibility and money management.
When I write it all down it sounds like a lot, but it’s all stuff she wants to do and I think that’s key to happiness in these middle school years. They want to have a say and know that they have agency in their education. Working in partnership is key to planning at this stage and I’m sure we’ll reassess as the year gets into full swing. Back to school after Labor Day!