Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So How Did We Do? ~ An End of the Year Review



I don't know about you, but I cannot believe the school year is coming to an end! It went by SO fast! We had a few little bumps along the way, but mostly this was a very successful year and there really isn't much I would change about it.

It was a transition for me to send Dawson back to public school (I have missed him and the high school subject matters a lot!) and to bring Eli home to school with Brynne. But, the kids all did well and I know that we made the right decisions. I do still wish Dawson was home and, in fact, I wish that I would have homeschooled all of my children from day one and graduated Kyndal this year from home.  (I don't care a thing about bowing down to the oppression of government institutions ... had to deal with the harsh realities of that this week!) But she has graduated and Dawson is doing fine and is where he wants to be, so I guess all is good.

Speaking of graduation ... now there's an adjustment! I have a graduated child. So strange! She is very excited about her future plans of attending cosmetology school, which she will begin in the fall. She and I will be going to tour the school next week. She will do a great job, I know, because it is something she has always wanted to do! My sister is hoping to apprentice her so that she can take her booth here in the town where we live on the days she is not able to work it. So, Kyndal might come out of school with a booth and clients already established. That would be a blessing!

So, onto what worked and didn't work for us this year in our homeschool ...

Bible. We started each morning with a Bible lesson out of Grapevine Studies: Stick Figuring through the Bible - Old Testament Overview Level 3-4. I would read passages from the Bible and the kids would then draw stick figure drawings in their journals. We learned about:
  • Creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • The Fall
  • Noah and the Flood
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Job
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph the Slave
  • Joseph the Ruler
  • Moses
  • The Deliverance
  • The Exodus
  • The Law and the Promises
  • The Tabernacle
  • The Twelve Spies
This was a perfect way for us to start our day and we will use this book again next year and do the last half of the series. Excellent!

Grammar. We started our year using Easy Grammar, but it just didn't seem to work for Eli the way that it worked for Brynne. So I spent some time just printing free worksheets off the internet. We focused a good deal of our time on nouns, verbs and adjectives using Rainbow Sentences and Samson's Classroom. But, both of those things ran their course. We were doing so much reading and writing that I decided to abandon formal grammar for the rest of the school year. We replaced it with Spanish lessons. I would really like to find a good fit for us for grammar. I do believe the kids are getting loads of it with all of our reading and writing, but I would still like a formal program. My heart has always leaned toward Cozy Grammar. I may just have to buckle down and buy it.

Writing. We spent the year doing the lessons out of WriteShop Primary Book A and are finishing it this week. I have really liked this program a lot. I don't know that the kids love it, but I feel like it has given them so good foundation in writing. They covered these topics:
  • Personal Writing
  • Thinking of Ideas to Write About
  • Selecting a Title
  • Constructing a Beginning, Middle and End
  • Using a Period at the End of a Sentence
  • Using Word Families to Write Stories with Rhyming Words
  • Using a Story Web to Organize Ideas
  • Introducing the Personal Narrative Story
  • Writing About Events in the Order They Happen
Brynne loves to write. Eli does not. I realized this week that part of his problem may be linked to his Asperger's (took me long enough), so I need to spend more time allowing him to get his thoughts out orally and then helping him to put them in writing. This causes him a lot of stress, usually combined with a lot of tears.

I have already received WriteShop Primary Book B and we will use it next year.

Additionally, we have also begun cursive handwriting using Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Handwriting. We will continue to use this throughout the summer. It is wonderful and the kids have really taken to cursive. (Do you know they don't even teach that in public school anymore? What???) My children will learn to read and write cursive. Next year we will move onto Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success for 4th graders.

Spelling. Ugh. We used All About Spelling this year, starting with Level 1. I thought we liked it. By the end of the year, and midway through Level 2, I decided we did not. We abandoned the tiles early on as tedious work. I don't know how to explain it. We just didn't like it and it was one of those subjects that got LOTS of groans! We homeschool. Groaning is not necessary. I considered abandoning formal spelling altogether and just doing copywork. But, honestly I think Eli would groan so much through the extra writing that he would miss the spelling aspect of it. So this week, at the recommendation of a friend, we are using some sample lessons from Soaring with Spelling and Vocabulary. LOVE! I think it is exactly what we have been looking for! I love the games and the vocabulary aspect! I think I will definitely be purchasing it for next year. Whew!!

Math. We started out our year reviewing facts with Addition and Subtraction Teaching and Learning Made Easy by Glenda Brown James. It was a great way to start the year. Then we moved onto Math Enhancement Programme, a free math curriculum that I absolutely love. It is intense and wonderful! Brynne loves it! Eli, not so much. But then we had some math programs to review through the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We did lessons with A+ Tutorsoft, did some of our own lessons on measurement using living books, and then found the wonderful world of Math U See. This came at a perfect time because it was time for us to start multiplication!

We will continue to use Math U See Gamma throughout the summer to work on our multiplication facts. The kids also play Math Rider everyday and do Multiplication Math Wrap-ups. They will continue this, as well.

When school starts back up in the fall, we will start our year with Multiplication Teaching and Learning Made Easy by Glenda Brown James. After we complete the book (6 weeks) we will finish Math U See Gamma and then move onto Math U See Delta to work on division.

Unit Studies. For social studies and science, we do unit studies. This also includes literature studies. I just build these on my own based on interest, community events, literature and Schoolhouse Review Crew products. This year we studied:
  • Caves
  • The Story About Ping (Five in a Row)
  • Penguins
  • Fairies
  • Insects
  • Fall Equinox
  • Lentil (Five in a Row)
  • Clown of God (Five in a Row)
  • Nigeria
  • Indonesia
  • Halloween
  • Election
  • Japan
  • Charlie Needs a New Cloak
  • Atoms, Molecules, Crystals
  • Gingerbread Friends
  • Arctic Animals
    • Denmark/Polar Bears
    • Canada/Snowy Owls
    • Norway/Arctic Fox
    • Sweden/Whale
  • Australia
  • Rocks
  • Birds
  • China
  • Valentine's Day
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Stick Man
  • Light
  • Shells
  • Vikings
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Recycling: Plastic Bags
  • Herbs
  • Square Foot Gardening
This was a fun year learning about a wide variety of things. But next year it's time to start a more concrete area of study. I am planning for us to do an entire USA geography study using Road Trip USA by Confessions of a Homeschooler. Eli and Brynne love Geography and I think this is going to be a great year-long study for us. Any science we do will be nature or product reviews.

Art, Nature, PE. These things were done intermittently throughout the year as time and interest arose. Next year we will probably just do it the same way. We had days where we just went to the park for nature study, or played on the playground. We took lots of walks and rode scooters. We did some art projects here and there with our other lessons and independently. I was happy with what we did.

Co-op. We miss our Co-op in Oklahoma. It was a perfect fit for us and we had great friends. We joined a Co-op in a town 30 minutes away, but it just did not work for us. The kids took two classes: Holidays Around the World and Water World. We just didn't like it. This fall I am hoping to start a very small Co-op with a few local families to meet on Friday mornings. I would like for us to do some type of weekly art lesson. And then I thought I might lead a study through Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling since we never seemed to get to it this year. And I want to!! I am still working through this in my mind.

Reading. This was a biggie for us this year! The kids did LOTS of independent reading, progressing very nicely! They read every day for 30 minutes. Then we also had several read alouds. This year we read:
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Secrets at Sea
  • Stuart Little
  • Peter Pan
  • The Storm
  • Snowshoe the Hare
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles series
  • Bud, Not Buddy
  • Herb Fairies, Stellaria
  • Herb Fairies, Secret of the Scotch Broom
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • And loads and loads and loads of picture books and non-fiction books
I would have to say that all-in-all, this was a successful year with excellent products and great progress! With only a few tweaks, we have next year all mapped out with few changes. We have a relaxed summer schedule planned with continued learning and then will start back full-time in late August.

How was your year? I am linking up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise, and you can go to their blog to see how other families felt about their school year. It goes live on May 25th.

8 comments:

  1. No one is more proud of you and what you are doing than me!! This government and the way they "run" everything including public schools is a complete sham and waste of tax payers money when the simplest things can not be accomplished at a small town public school where D is now attending. This whole incident embodies stupidity, laziness, incompetence, and complete negligence as well as discriminating against you and D. I'm sure there is a lawsuit here against them, but lawsuits against stupid people is exactly how this government succeeds. It is easy to see how public schools are a complete waste of a child's life (which they are not even considering in this matter). In any other position in AMERICA the employee would be fired for such lack of common sense much less the direct discrimination that they have shown toward you. But a government worker gets to not only commit "murder" but also gets to pay no consequence for their actions. E and B will NEVER go to public school ever ever ever!!

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    1. Babe, thank you for your continued and constant support of my education of our children. Thank you for being here with me as we navigated this sticky situation between Dawson and the school. I'm just thankful it all worked out.

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  2. Always great to do a final wrap up of the year and see where you were and what things should be changed, but above all accomplishments!

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  3. What a great post! I really enjoyed reading it and bookmarked a few of your recommended curriculum choices for later review. Sure looks like a busy and successful year! :)

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  4. Hey, I am doing Road Trip w/ my younger crowd next year too! Just got it yesterday, lol. Hoping it will compliment the studies I have planned for the older kids. =)
    Don't ya love writing out what you did for the year (especially instead of seeing what I didn't get to)... I always feel so accomplished when I can look at it from a different angle.
    Love following along your homeschool journey!
    ~Sheri

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    1. Sheri, let me know what you think of Road Trip after you have a chance to look it it!

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  5. I wish you guys lived in the same town as us then you could join our Tuesday Cooperative which is great. Lots of great kids and classes.
    Blessings
    Diane

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  6. Great post! This is so helpful for my planning for next year. We are excited to start the homeschooling journey. Did you use Math U See for beginning addition and subtraction?

    In Texas the state cut funding for public school text books. Katelyn doesn't even have any in high school. Crazy!

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We all know that in this crazy world of homeschooling, we need all the (adult) support we can get. Please leave a comment if you so wish!