As relaxed-ish homeschoolers, we still follow the general guidelines of workbooks and curricula that we have loved in the past, but we are no longer feeling beholden to checking every box by a certain point in the year or using every aspect of something if it doesn’t work well for our needs as a family on the spectrum. We try to touch on each subject every day that we do school, but if things are taking a little longer or we’re feeling a little burned out, we just start where we left off the following day to ensure we are not missing any particular subject repeatedly. My main goal with subjects like history, Bible, literature, and science is exposure to the ideas, while I prioritize daily practice in small chunks of math and language arts concepts so we don’t lose new skills from the lack of repetition. With that in mind, here is what we are using going into the fall semester of Anya’s 5th grade year:
Sonlight Core E (American History Year 2 of 2):
We completed reading the materials up to the beginning of WWII last year, so that is where we will be picking up this year.*
Sonlight Core F (Eastern Hemisphere):
Once we complete Core E, we will be moving on to Core F, probably after the Holidays. We’ll likely make it through a study of the East Asian countries in the program before breaking for summer.*
Sonlight Core E (Starting Strong Series):
We completed two of the three studies included in the collection provided by Sonlight for this Core. We will begin the fall semester with the final book.**
Sonlight Core F (Case for Kids Series):
We will move right into Case for a Creator for the rest of the fall semester, with plans to continue into Case for Christ and Case for Faith in the spring.**
Sonlight Core E (American History Year 2 of 2):
We will be reading through the remaining books that accompany the WWII materials, as well as a few just for fun titles included in Sonlight’s program. We also added the rest of the Logan family saga to our Audible list rather than only reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry on its own.***
Sonlight Core F (Eastern Hemisphere):
As with history, we will read through the titles that correlate to the East Asian nations for our spring semester literature and see where things go from there. Living in Japan means we will probably spend a bit more time on this portion of the Core.
Sonlight Science E (Electricity, Magnetism, & Astronomy):
We only have a couple of titles left from this Core to finish up during the fall semester, along with about half of the experiments. Interests in astrology and mythology were spurred by the astronomy materials last semester, so we’ll be exploring that a bit on our own, as well.*
Sonlight Science F (Health, Medicine, & Anatomy):
We’ll move into these materials as we finish up Science E. I decided to swap out the nutrition-related experiment book for a DK book about nutrition that we will read through together instead. Involved experiments are not realistic for us, and they would just end up left undone.*
Teaching Textbooks (Math 5 and Math 6):
We switched from Saxon Math to TT after the Holidays last year, and it has gone very well. She has finished over half of the program and will keep working through the lessons this semester, moving on to the next level once completed.
Life of Fred (Elementary Series):
She just began using this series when we switched to TT, and it has been a lot of fun! She’ll continue reading through them at her own pace, beginning with Book D for this semester. Applying math to real life was alluding her, and this has helped tremendously.
Free, timed math fact practice. Finishing up multiplication this semester and moving on to division facts soon.
Sonlight Core E Readers:
She still had a couple of just-for-fun titles left from Core E that she began reading through over the summer, and there weren’t really any historical readers that needed to be held off for the WWII portion of the Core, so she has already almost finished these materials a few weeks into the semester. We added in additional novels based on her interests instead, such as the Pandora series and fairytale sagas by E.D. Baker.
Sonlight Core F Readers:
As with history, she will begin reading the novels that correlate to East Asian studies when we begin working on Core F materials as a whole, probably after the Holidays.
Handwriting Without Tears (4th and 5th Grade):
She has already almost completed the last few pages of the 4th-grade cursive workbook from last year and will now be moving into the 5th-grade cursive workbook for the rest of the fall semester. She plans to then complete the print review workbook afterward for extra practice because dysgraphia has made writing neatly a struggle. We only use the workbooks, which she does independently.
Easy Grammar (Grade 4 and Grade 5):
A couple of pages of this a day keeps her up to speed with grammar mechanics and identifying parts of speech. She had a few weeks of Grade 4 to finish up this month but has now begun Grade 5. She does this independently and checks her own work to identify mistakes.
Wordly Wise Vocabulary (Book 4 and Book 5):
She had about three lessons left of Book 4 at the beginning of this semester, so she will be completing what is still left of those before moving on to Book 5 in a couple of weeks. We only use the workbooks, which she does independently.
Essentials in Writing (Level 4):
I had been feeling for a while that composition was a weak point in our homeschooling. We tried a lot of different things before finally trying this program about halfway through the spring semester last year. I was okay starting her out in Level 4 because I felt she needed the extra instruction and practice. We’ll move on to the next level as she completes this one, whenever that ends up being. She enjoys the online teacher videos and fun design of the accompanying workbook.
Keyboarding Without Tears (5th Grade):
She completed all of the 4th-grade program last year, so we began the new school year with the 5th-grade level. She will be sad to complete this final year of keyboarding using these materials, as it has been a source of a lot of random knowledge that correlated to other things she’d learned and a fun part of her school day because of the game-like presentation.
Once weekly piano lessons with an instructor, with daily practice and recitals twice a year. This will be her seventh year of piano, and she still loves it.
She is cutting back to just two ballet classes at the dance studio each week this semester, as adding in jazz, tap, and contemporary last year ended up being very stressful for her. She would never admit it, but having almost every weekday be just school, dance, sleep, repeat was very draining for her. She is doing much better with more free time after school. She will still have a recital at the end of each semester. This will also be her seventh year of ballet.
We have been attempting a formal art curriculum every year we have homeschooled and never made it very far. It would be the first thing to go when a day got overwhelming. This semester I have instead opted to make sketchbooks, art supplies, how-to-draw books, etc. more accessible for every-day use, and she is enjoying being able to pursue art in the direction she so chooses (currently anime and fairytale illustrations).
She has been in Scouts since kindergarten and will be continuing as a second-year Junior this year. We are careful not to overdo it by opting out of events that don’t jive with our internal clocks or sensory needs when we feel it is reasonable to do so. She saves her energy for attending overnight camp at the end of the year, as it is something that is important to her.
*We read the books provided by Sonlight, but we do not use any other part of the IG or extra activities. It was more than we could realistically handle. Instead, we use the internet links from any Usborne books in the program for a fun way to make the information more engaging for Anya, whose interest in history and science is limited only to things that relate to her other existing special interests. I have been relying only on the schedule from Sonlight, but moving forward, I won’t be purchasing an IG at all. We will instead work our way through the books that we would like to use from the program at our own pace in the order we choose, eliminating some cost and books that we have learned from experience won’t be a good fit.
**We do not do any of the extra scripture reading or memorization scheduled by Sonlight. We simply do the devotionals and related reading together, otherwise discussing Biblical topics as they come up naturally in our household. We often read other Bible story materials together and have lots of such resources available all over the house.
***We divide literature up between Audible in the car and read-alouds on the couch, and we like to add in sequels and prequels to books listed by Sonlight every chance we get, which extends the time needed to finish a Core’s worth of reading. We don’t do discussion questions or activities from the IG; we just discuss naturally as we read and things come up in the day-to-day that relate to the material.