Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homeschooling: A Year in Review

This school year has been a difficult one for me, due to a lack of solid preparation in the curricula/planning department, combined with an unplanned move that left me mentally swamped for the first half of the school year.  Those things have definitely colored our year, but will hopefully affect next year in a positive manner.  Generally speaking, we had such a great time with WinterPromise's American Story 2 last year that I switched almost everything over to WP this year, which didn't work out so well.  Item by item, here's the deal:

HISTORY:  I chose WinterPromise Quest for the Ancient World for history because the age range was right (4th-6th grade), it covered the right time period (Ancient History only), WinterPromise was great for us last year with American Story 2, and the spine, Mystery of History, looked great.  In the end, we loved the Illustrated Family Bible and had fun with the Hieroglyphics Treasure Chest but the large majority of the program just didn't work well for us.  Mystery of History, although I loved it, bored the kids to tears.  In retrospect, it would have worked better if I'd pre-read each weeks lessons and taught it in my own words instead of reading the lesson together...if I'd had the time and mental where-with-all. Overall, it lacked the variety of non-fiction books that we loved in American Story 2, and that--combined with difficulty in organization and implementation (separate schedules for the students, notebooking pages)--made it less enjoyable.  I realized that it was those NF books (rather than all the hands-on craft type things that WinterPromise is known for) and the website/dvd suggestions that I really liked about WinterPromise last year.  I will probably use it again at some point, but not next year.  [next year: SL Core 2 and K, Oh California, miscellaneous additional books, as well as geography study]

LITERATURE:  Really, nothing beats Sonlight for great literature.  We used much of the first half of Core 6, and all of Core P4/5 and loved most of it.  We will absolutely continue with Sonlight. [next year: second half of Core 6, all of Core 2, Readers 2 Advanced, Core K, various beginning readers]

LANGUAGE ARTS:  Whew.  I don't know if I'm ready to talk about this one!
--Audrey started the year using McRuffy Language Arts K.  She enjoyed the different workbook pages until they started getting repetitive, and enjoys the readers for the most part.  We discontinued using it because too many words were popping up in the readers that didn't follow the rules she was learning.  Also, some things seemed to be taught in an illogical order towards the end of the program. [next year: Phonics Pathways, Writing With Ease 1, Handwriting Without Tears 1]
--I started Andrew and Melinda out using WinterPromise's Language Arts, hoping that using WP for history as well as language would streamline our day.  There were, however, too many frustrations with unexplained topics, and we quickly reconfigured our language curricula choices.  Next year we are trying something completely different.
--Andrew, for most of the year, used Junior Analytical Grammar, which I loved for it's logical progression and simplicity, but Andrew felt it to be complicated and difficult.  He used IEW's writing lessons for a while, but then we switched to Wordsmith Apprentice, which he seems to tolerate better.  That boy just doesn't like writing!  He also used Words are Wonderful for vocabulary which was fine, bordering on busy-work. SpellWell for spelling--I like their word lists, but don't know that the execution worked so well for Andrew. [next year: Character Quality Language Arts]
--Melinda also used Junior Analytical Grammar, and it went over her head sooner than Andrew's.  She used Just Write for writing, and All About Spelling (the most amazing spelling program ever). [next year: perhaps/probaby Character Quality Language Arts]

MATH:  Andrew and Melinda used Math-U-See, which I have been very happy with.  It presents everything in such a logical, sequential way that they don't struggle with the concepts at all.  Towards the end of the year, when I realized that they could use a little more drill/refresher on the basics, I started having them do Math Minutes as well.  Audrey has used RightStart as her base, which is a GREAT program, and added in Horizons and Math-U-See because she can't get enough. [next year, continuing Math-U-See and RightStart, undecided on supplemental program]

SCIENCE: We started out with WinterPromise Rock Around the Earth, which I was really excited about...until we started.  I was very interested to learn more about the earth and geology with the kids, but this program was BORING.  I tried to stick with it for quite a while, and then ended up switching to Sonlight Science 2 and 4, which has worked out great. [next year: finish Sonlight Science 2, 4, and K, then undecided]

ELECTIVES: This year we learned how to play Chess with WinterPromise, and Piano with Pianimals and Bastien.  All worked pretty good (Pianimals is great--highly recommended, especially for young beginners) and we will be continuing with piano lessons next year, adding Audrey in.  [next year: at least piano, health, art]

All in all, next year I am going to attempt to streamline Language Arts, focus on math and writing instead of history and grammar, reduce stress with a better routine/schedule, and lighten up the year with unit-sized electives and interest based science.


  1. *sigh* Your posts makes me reminisce about those good old days of homeschooling.

  2. Nice change in the blog....another thing completed...well done!