Friday, May 27, 2011

Homeschooling - End of the year review

We're finished for the year!!!!  We have a couple days  of history readings to finish up next week and one read aloud to carry over into the summer.  It's been a pretty good year.

Things That Worked:

  • Sonlight's Core 3 (Now D) -  We loved almost all the books this year.  We had many great discussions and the boys learned a lot.  We're looking forward to Core E next year ... although I think that will probably be our last Sonlight Core.  As much as we love Sonlight, logistically, with 6 kids, I just am not sure I can pull it off.  More about that later, though.
  • Growing with Grammar - This is a thorough, simple program that gets the job done in a relatively short amount of time.  Gotta love that!
  • Explode the Code - The girls both enjoyed these books.   A fun way to get some phonics practice in!
  • Horizons Math - My kids are not lovers of Math ... it actually is work and takes a fair amount of time each day.  But, I think Horizons does a great job of teaching Math.  It introduces things incrementally and then continually practices them throughout the year.  You don't have to worry about them forgetting what they learned, because of the constant review.
  • Sonlight Science 5 - Caleb used a little over half of this.  He'll finish it next year.   It started out a little rough, because he was hating the activity sheets.  Once I had him complete the readings and narrate to me, he really began enjoying it.
  • All About Spelling - We didn't start this until the very end of the year and only did it for a few weeks, but the kids all love it!  Time will tell if they learn from it, but it seems to do the job well.
  • Writing with Ease - Another thing that we didn't start until the end of the year.  I actually bought both this and AAS for next year and decided to begin them early.  Very simple to implement and yet seems to be very effective.
  • Getty Dubay Italics Handwriting - Caleb used this from the beginning and has very nice handwriting.  I decided to try something different with Joe ... and have switched to several different things ... and he still writes like a first grader!  The younger four will all use Italics from the start!
  • Hands-On Activities - The kids really enjoyed the activities I added this year and I hope to do even more next year!
  • Poetry Teas - The kids loved this!  It was a great way to get in our poetry readings in a fun an interesting way.
  • Memory Work - Again, this is something we didn't start until the end of the year.  This went really well!  The girls had a little harder time than the boys, but I was surprised at how well they did.  We'll definitely be making this a part of our daily routine next year!
  • Family Bible Readings - This was a way for Aaron to join in with the bible teaching this year.  He usually would read at either breakfast or lunch.
  • Various Montessori and Preschool Activities for Sarah - Not only do these help her developmentally, but they keep her busy for long periods of time.   I am going to plan her at least one activity every day next year.
  • Having a dedicated school room - We loved our school room!!  It's still evolving, but just having everything in one place is so wonderful!!  It's also so nice to be able to stop for lunch and not have to clear the table first of all the books.
  • Netflix - We've watched a lot of wonderful documentaries on the subjects we've studied this year, many on instant streaming.  A simple way to add a little fun to our school.
  • Tuesday Classes - This is a coop of sorts that we joined in this spring.  The boys both took P.E. and Caleb took Art.   They enjoyed their classes and were able to spend some time with friends, too.  

What didn't Work - 

  • Hey Andrew Teach Me Some Greek - This just moves so slow.  I think the first level is good if you are starting with very young students - it teaches the alphabet at a very slow pace.  We are switching to Elementary Greek next year.  My former Greek teaching husband says it looks much better!
  • Science - This one isn't the fault of anyone but me.   For some reason science is hard to fit in.  The ironic thing is my degree is in biology!  Next year I am going to try to do unit studies for science.  I already had animal, plant and human body units planned for this year, so we will use those.  Now, I just need to actually do it!!!
  • Art -  This is a subject, like science, that I tend to skip.  I'm hoping to better next year.
  • Sonlight's Language Arts - Just doesn't seem to be a good fit for us.  The writing assignments lack any actual writing instruction.  This may work for some people, but did not help my boys at all!
  • Bible Study Guide for All Ages - This is a great program!  But, again, it was something I didn't use as often as I could have.  We're incorporating bible into our memory work next year.  I also want Aaron to be more involved in Bible at our house.   With his education and constant study, this is an area that he can add more insight to for all of us.  I'm hoping to work our way through books of the bible next year, employing lots of  discussion and some individual study for the older ones.
  • Weekly scheduling in a day planner - This did not work for us.  In the next few weeks I hope to post about the planning I am doing for next year and our newest scheduling technique.  Stay tuned for details!!
  • Being pregnant and having a newborn throughout the entire school year - This one pretty much speaks for itself, but it has been a difficult year for me.  I'm hoping next year is better and I have a lot more energy and brain cells!!

Favorites:
  • Me - Read-Aloud: Witch of Blackbird Pond and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Caleb:  Read-Aloud - Johnny Tremain; Reader - Om-Kas-Toe and Naya Nuki; The Backyard Olympics
  • Josiah: Read-Aloud - Calico Bush; Reader - Meet Thomas Jefferson; The Backyard Olympics
  • Rachel: Reader - Chang's Paper Pony;  Read-Aloud - Miss Rumphius; Crafts
  • Jada:  Favorite Read-Aloud - Go Dog Go; Field Trip to Mounds State Park
We finished our school year with a 'backyard olympics' this morning.  It was cold (in the 50's), but at least it stopped raining long enough for us to have a little fun!  Caleb made all the medals earlier in the week and thought up the events.   We had to skip a few due to the extremely wet conditions in our backyard.  The boys had a distinct advantage, but I was very proud of the girls for having fun even when they knew they couldn't win.

Backyard Olympics

{Long Jump - Caleb 1st (7 ft. 4 in.), Joe 2nd (7 ft), Rachel 3rd (4 ft); Sprint - Joe 1st, Caleb 2nd, Rachel 3rd; Standing High Jump - Caleb 1st (10 in.); Rachel 2nd (6.5 in); Joe and Jada 3rd (6 in.); 1/2 mile race - Joe 1st, Caleb 2nd; Hopping - Jada 1st, Rachel 2nd; Discus (our oversized frisbee) - Joe 1st, Caleb 2nd, Rachel 3rd; Shot Put (small rubber ball) - Joe 1st, Caleb 2nd, Jada 3rd; Basketball - Joe 1st, the other three tied for 2nd}

7 weeks off and then we start our new year!!

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