Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our Homeschool Year In Review

Laura Lee of http://wastedtextbooks.blogspot.com/ asked me to update my plans for this school year, especially in light of our time on the TOS Homeschool Crew.  Did we achieve all our goals while testing other curricula?  No, we didn't ... but we're close.  We're still on track with the main subjects.

I had planned to take a slower trek through Tapestry of Grace Year 3, so we didn't start into Tapestry of Grace Year 4 until the new school year.  (We initially started TOG in the Spring, so we're always starting a new year plan toward the end of a school year.)  We stopped our TOG for awhile to review other curricula, and then we actually started it again as part of our Crew reviews.  But in order to finish Year 3 in this school year, we've made the decision to move quickly through these last two units ... "double-time" in military lingo.  We're covering two weeks at once, but not as in-depth.

8 yo J and 9 yo C each tried out Math Mammoth for awhile this school year, but they also finished their Horizons Math workbooks.  C started Saxon 54 over a month ago and J is currently finishing the Mathematical Reasoning book we reviewed from The Critical Thinking Company.  We really like this, and it's got him at grade level, whereas he was using a lower level of Horizons Math.

13 yo A tested Aleks online math for a few months this year, but she did finish her Saxon 76 and started Saxon Algebra 1/2 this past month.  12 yo R is the only one who didn't test an alternate math program.  She completed her Saxon 65 and started Saxon 76 this month, as well.

I had hoped to use Ray's Arithmetic once a week for a new challenge with the children.  I didn't crack them open once.  I've owned them for 2-3 years now, and haven't used them.  I think I'm going to sell the set.

13 yo A had to set aside her Apologia's General Science text to review Friendly Chemistry for awhile.  So she's now continuing with General Science.  I have a plan for her high school science all figured out, but that will need to be another post. 

9 yo C and 12 yo R are both reading It Couldn't Just Happen at the moment.  I think C is young for it, but she finished her Christian Liberty Nature Readers and needed something else for science.  I'm pondering whether to have her continue with ICJH or not. 

I still need to use my Handbook of Nature Study with the children more, as we observe the nature around us on our property.  Although I always set a goal of working on our nature journals regularly, it always seems to be set aside.

9 yo C and 8 yo J continue with their Italic handwriting, after taking time to test Peterson's Directed Handwriting.  After finishing testing Peterson's, 13 yo A asked for a traditional cursive workbook (but not Peterson's).  Although she had not been doing daily handwriting for several years,  we bought her A Reason For Writing, and she's working on developing her cursive more.  She didn't care for italic cursive in the end.

13 yo A finished her Easy Grammar workbook and will start Simply Grammar for a change of pace for now.   We're still trying to decide what grammar to use through high school with her.  12 yo R is still working on her Easy Grammar workbook.

I did not manage to add Emma Serl's  Primary Language Lessons and  Intermediate Language Lessons into our curriculum, but I still hope to. 

Spelling Power has been neglected this year, for everyone.  We'll pick it up again for these final weeks of school, and continue with it in the Fall.  I'm still pondering All About Spelling that we reviewed, and whether to use it with J and future young students.  My mind is telling me it's the right way to teach spelling and phonics to young students, but my flesh is whining about the extra lesson.  Wimpy me!

The oldest two girls are finishing their logic workbooks.  R will finish hers this week, but A is further behind.  I still need to decide whether to pursue this subject in the fall, and with what curriculum.

8 yo J has spent the year working on his reading ability, and building confidence.  He's made quite a bit of progress, especially in the last month.  This will open up many more subjects to him next school year. 

While we didn't get as far in some subjects as I would have hoped, and I still didn't add in some of the supplemental stuff I wanted to, we did learn things I hadn't planned this school year.  Thanks to the Crew, we studied Latin, Spanish, French, piano, art, chemistry, web-page design, homophones, creative writing, The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia), and A Cricket In Times Square.  And my younger ones tested a science textbook, hands-on spelling, and a formal writing curriculum, which we don't usually use at those ages.  We also were able to try two different products for phonics and reading that were new to us and did help J with his reading.  I think those things balance out the goals we didn't meet for the school year.

In addition, we dealt with many life issues this year.  We welcomed a new baby into our family and learned to unselfishly care for him and his needs.  We further developed our ability to work together as a family.  We learned about grief as we said goodbye to my husband's Dad, the children's first grandparent to die.  We hosted extended family here several times, which added in extra life skills of housekeeping and hospitality.  The girls are also learning to sew and J is learning woodworking for 4H.  We've had kittens born, and watched some die, and we're raising Ameraucana chicks in our basement at the moment.  And of course, they're still learning how to care for our dog and the Persian cats.

We have also practiced public speaking in homeschool group and 4H.    They prepared a project and presentation on Germany for the homeschool group, memorized and told stories for the homeschool group's story-telling class, prepared their first science fair projects and presented them, introduced games and music for their 4H group meetings, and will be doing their 4H project talks this weekend. 

So many things they've learned outside of "textbooks" that make this school year a success, in my opinion.  They're even learning to make new friends in church, 4H, and homeschool group.  They're learning about their new community, their new church, and figuring out the social skills to adapt to a new group and forge friendships in a new community.  They've made so much progress in this area since the Fall!  They're also learning how to build their own relationships with each other, and how to enjoy the family God has given them, living out in the country without next-door neighbors.

We'll be finishing our school year in early July ... again.  Last school year the move made us go later, and this year a new baby set us behind schedule.  Hopefully next school year we can follow a more traditional schedule.  I really prefer to finish in late May or early June.  We'll probably start in mid-late August again, so if all goes well, we should be able to finish in May or June next year.

Next fall, we will have 9th grade A (14 yo), 7th grade R (12.5 yo), 5th grade C (10 yo), 3rd grade J (8.5 yo), Kindergarten M (5.5 yo), preschool L (3.5 yo), and toddler G (1 yo).   I'm still finalizing my thoughts and plans for next year, but we have most of what we need already.  I'll post more about our plans for next year sometime this summer.  I'll also share my plans for A's high school years soon.

Trusting in Him,
April

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