An Overview of Our First Homeschooling Year: What Worked & What We Failed At

If you read my announcement back in August, you already know we are homeschoolers. I wanted to offer a quick summarized update – from our mission and vision, to what works, what didn’t work, and big hurdles. I’ve broken it down into sections for quicker reference.

Our Mission and Vision

My husband and I are dedicated to offering a Christ-centered, personalized academic experience that places Jesus at the center of everything, acknowledging the Bible as our ultimate authority, and training lifelong disciples of Christ. We are committed to offering a home environment that prepares our children to serve faithfully in God’s world and equip them for a lifetime of learning, leadership, and worship for the Glory of God.

Our hope is that our children will be Christ-centered learners who are knowledgable, imaginative, wise, and creative. We hope they will be Christ-centered leaders who can engage in the community and collaborate with others. We hope that they will be Christ-centered servants who are stewardly, compassionate, and worshipful.

The scripture verse we chose to embody these homeschooling beliefs is Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strengths and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

Tracking & Assessment Periods

I personally always disliked the idea of a 3-month long break from education. I understand breaks are important, but I also remember forgetting absolutely everything I learned every single summer. There are no extended periods of pausing learning in real life, learning is lifelong. Instead, we follow a traditional year-round homeschooling schedule.

I found year-long schooling takes some pressure off of us, as legally, we have to record 875 hours or instruction in our state. We have implemented a grading/assessment period of 6 week. Every 6 weeks, we reassess the positives and negatives of the past weeks and we use the 7th week for vacation time, a lighter schedule, made-up days, and field trips. The assessments aren’t really necessary with a young child, but I can see the importance in later years and we’ve kept the schedule for habit forming.

At this time, we do not give out formal grades. Our weekly schoolwork planner and hours tracker consists of evaluation of character and effort instead. I have strong opinions on the public school grading system.

For our schoolwork planner and hours tracker, I made it myself. It lists the subjects we are doing, the seven days of the week, blank space for dates & week tracker, area to write time spent in a subject, character evaluation, and schoolwork planner/tracking section. I printed enough for the year and added it to our 2021-2022 school binder. You can view or download for your own use below:

Our Weekly Schedule

I’ve personally found a modernized Charlotte Mason inspired homeschooling education fits our learning styles and interests. We are still fine tuning what works for us, but here’s what’s been working.

Every day, no matter what, these are the learning topics that have to be completed:
-Math
-Bible
-Reading & Copywork

The rest of the topics of are alternating days. Following the completion of the topics above, here’s what we do:

Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays we focus on History, Health/exercise, and ASL.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we focus on science, piano, and art.

Thanks to our pursuit of the Charlotte Mason style of educating, many of our alternating subjects can end up being fulfilled through our mandatory daily requirements. Many homeschoolers suggest unit studies like Gather Round curriculum.

Our Curriculum

  1. Simply K by Masterbooks (light study of the Bible, rhyming, and ABC’s) In the future, I wouldn’t do this one again, though it did help gain confidence in home education.
  2. God’s Design for Life for Beginners (science) We enjoy this, but it’s turning out to be a spine book. In order to make it feel like a true science day, I have to coordinate with other games, activities, and books from the library for it to be complete otherwise it’s just a page of reading and a basic activity.
  3. Math Lessons for a Living Education (math) This is greatly enjoyed by my son and I enjoy it simply because it’s helped create a habit, but in fall we will be switching curriculum.
  4. Christian Light (variety of topics) Christian Light Curriculum was one of the first things we bought for our homeschooling pursuit. I found that it fell a little flat for younger children, but looking at all of their subjects, I can see using them years down the road. The best part was the price point.
  5. Handwriting without Tears is used occasionally, but it’s not a main curriculum.
  6. Hooked on Phonics was a great resource, but we paused it while we are using something else
  7. ASD Reading is a gift from God right now highly recommend!
  8. ASL flashcards
  9. Learn How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons was recommended by many, and I understand the appeal. However, I started pushing the lessons before my son was ready.
  10. Ambelsideonline.com
  11. Khan Academy Kids, which we use rarely because that requires phone use
  12. Bob Reader Books

I’ll create another post in fall with updated curriculum choices, but as we are preparing now, we are considering BiblioPlan for history, Math-U-See, Masterbooks for Language Arts, and Ambleside Online for reading, music, and art. We are currently trying to settle on a new science curriculum, but may stick with nature study instead.

Social Aspect

I feel this has to be included as an obligation to those with outdated views of homeschooling. We are a part of a homeschool co-op, a homeschool group, and attend multiple social outings with traditional schoolers and homeschoolers.

Hurdles

Most of our hurdles were mental, aside from getting into a good routine that worked for us.

I personally struggled a lot with what people’s opinions were. My husband was and is proud and confident in saying, “We homeschool”, while I struggled to get the words out…or downright lied. I don’t enjoy hearing negative critique or opinions when I haven’t been able to find my confidence yet. If I’m just learning techniques on watercolors, and someone gives a negative comment, I am prone to falling into horrible self-critiquing. It eats at me and self-doubt creeps in quickly. I am scared to be the main educator of my children and negativity only fuels that. I felt the same way when I was pregnant and when just becoming a mother. It took a while before I felt confident enough to speak up on how I wanted my children raised.

I also struggled with not following what the public school is doing or recommending.

My son already dances to the beat of his own drum and has delayed milestones, I’m not going to fret over if he’s behind or ahead of his peers in other ways. I personally had a college reading level in the 6th grade, but I could hardly do addition without using my fingers. My sister struggles in the subjects I exceed in, and her greatest pursuit is science. The point of homeschooling is to have an individualized education, and the best thing I did for my son was remove the milestone dates. If he needs to go slower in certain subjects, I’d rather have him not struggling to keep the pace of his peers. The point of education is to be educated, not to race or compete. If my 3rd grade self could have gone slower in math basics, I may have not found myself so math deficient as an adult. If my father-in-law was allowed to slow down during language arts, perhaps he would enjoy reading more as an adult.

There’s a lot more to say on the topic, let me know if there’s anything you are interested in hearing more about by leaving a comment.

In His Name,
Samantha

13 Book Suggestions for the Homeschooling Christian Mama

Hello friends,

Last year, I read a total of 23 books and while not all of them were worth the time nor worth even mentioning now, I wanted to share the ones that I would recommend or reread myself. All book links take you to Goodreads, a fantastic tool for finding and tracking books for the avid reader. If you’re interested in reading them, I’d suggest checking your local library or an online used books site before using Amazon.


  1. Uniquiely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant

“Autism is usually portrayed as a checklist of deficits, including difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. This perspective leads to therapies focused on ridding individuals of autistic symptoms. In Uniquely Human, Dr. Barry M. Prizant suggests a major shift in understanding autism: Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, he sees them as strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will naturally lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life. In fact, argues Dr. Prizant, attempts to eliminate autistic behaviors may actually interfere with important developmental processes. Including inspiring stories and practical advice drawn from Dr. Prizant’s four-decade career working in universities, schools, hospitals, and in private practice, Uniquely Human offers a compassionate and insightful perspective that parents, professionals, and family members will find uplifting and hopeful.”

2. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

“At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue. Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.”

3. Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies

“…the book you’ve been looking for. This mom-to-mom guide will equip you to teach your kids how to form their own biblical beliefs about what is true and what is false. Through transparent life stories and clear, practical applications—including prayer strategies—this band of Mama Bears offers you tools to train yourself, so you can turn around and train your kids.

Are you ready to answer the rallying cry, “Mess with our kids and we will demolish your arguments”?  Join the Mama Bears and raise your voice to protect your kids—by teaching them how to think through and address the issues head-on, yet with gentleness and respect.”

4. Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot

“In our age of instant gratification and if-it-feels-good-do-it attitudes, self-discipline is hardly a popular notion. Former missionary and beloved author Elisabeth Elliot offers her understanding of discipline and its value for modern people.

Now repackaged for the next generation of Christians, Discipline: The Glad Surrender shows readers how to

-discipline the mind, body, possessions, time, and feelings

-overcome anxiety

-change poor habits and attitudes

-trust God in times of trial and hardship

-let Christ have control in all areas of life

Elliot masterfully and gently takes readers through Scripture, personal stories, and lovely observations of the world around her in order to help them discover the understanding that our fulfillment as human beings depends on our answer to God’s call to obedience.”

5. Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life

“Since its publication in 1969, this has been an essential guide for parents wanting to find the best books for their children. Now in its fourth edition, Honey for a Child’s Heart discusses everything from the ways reading affects both children’s view of the world and their imagination to how to choose good books. Illustrated with drawings from dozens of favorites, it includes an indexed and updated list of the best new books on the market and the classics that you want your children to enjoy. Author Gladys Hunt’s tastes are broad, her advice is rooted in experience, and her suggestions will enrich the cultural and spiritual life of any home.”

6. The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective

“Martha Peace, a nouthetic councelor of women, has written an Excellent Volume. Not only does it explain what God “requires” of a Christian wife, but it explaines clearly how to obey God’s commandments in order to become that wife. Get it, read it and profit from it.””The Excellent Wife” is an absolute must for women today. This book is a welcomed first because it is a Scripturally based, systematic and practical work for today’s women. Within its pages is a detailed portrait of a godly wife. Not only is the standard high and godly, but Martha demonstrates that by God’s grace, it is attainable…”

7. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World

“In this book, John MacArthur laments the drift of American Christianity towards compromise with culture and issues a call for the church to recover its prophetic, unadulterated voice in order to have a renewed impact on society.”

8. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

“Have Christians become so preoccupied with “major” sins that we have lost sight of our need to deal with more subtle sins?

Navigator author Jerry Bridges addresses the “acceptable” sins that we tend to tolerate in ourselves, including pride and anger. He goes to the heart of the matter, exploring our feelings of shame and grief and opening a new door to God’s forgiveness and grace.

Travel down the road of spiritual formation with Jerry and discover your true identity as a loved child of God.”

9. Mother Culture

““If mothers could learn to do for themselves, what they do for their children . . . we would have happier households.”—Charlotte Mason

Mother Culture® is the skillful art of how a mother looks after the ways of her household. With a “thinking love” she creates a culture in the home all her own.

A mother does a lot of taking care, so she needs to take care of herself too. As a mother is feeding and cultivating the souls of her children, she is nourishing her own soul with ideas, while taking a little time for her own play and creativity. Nourished and refreshed, she keeps growing closer to God and into the Christian woman God is designing her to be.”

10. Awaking Wonder: Opening Your Child’s Heart to the Beauty of Learning

“As a parent, you want to send your children into the world with healthy minds and vibrant faith. You want to develop a strong foundation for them. But in our fast-paced, outcome-based, technologically driven society, it’s easy to lose sight of the innocence, potential, and uniqueness of each child. Childlike wonder can become lost in the fog of formulas that view children through the distorting lens of social expectations. 

Awaking Wonder helps parents unearth the hidden potential of their child’s imagination, learning capacity, and ability to engage authentically with the world. “

11. Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You

“Readers will be challenged and motivated by Twelve Extraordinary Women, a poignant and personal look into the lives of some of the Bible’s most faithful women. Their struggles and temptations are the same trials faced by all believers at all ages. Inside this book, best-selling author and Bible teacher John MacArthur shows that the God to whom they were so committed is the same God who continues to mold and use ordinary people today.”

12. The Pursuit of God – You can actually read the entire book for FREE

““As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” This thirst for an intimate relationship with God, claims A.W. Tozer, is not for a select few, but should be the experience of every follower of Christ. 

Here is a masterly study of the inner life by a heart thirsting after God. Here is a book for every child of God, pastor, missionary, and Christian. It deals with the deep things of God and the riches of His grace. 

In The Pursuit of God, Tozer sheds light on the path to a closer walk with God.”

13. Knowing God by J..I Packer

Knowing God brings together two important facets of the Christian faith– knowing about God and also knowing God through the context of a close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Written in an engaging and practical tone, this thought-provoking work seeks to transform and enrich the Christian understanding of God.

Explaining both who God is and how we can relate to him, Packer divides his book into three sections: The first directs our attention to how and why we know God, the second to the attributes of God and the third to the benefits enjoyed by a those who know him intimately. This guide leads readers into a greater understanding of God while providing advice to gaining a closer relationship with him as a result.”

I look forward to sharing my 2022 book recommendations & I’d love to take your requests.