Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Our School Year in Review
The 2009-2010 school year is winding down for us. We do continue to formally school through the middle of July, but this is the time when I evaluate how our year went and make decisions for next year. And since I always appreciate hearing everyone's opinion about homeschooling resources, I thought you could listen in while I had these conversations with myself. :-)
Mystery of History Vol 1. - I really, really liked this. A very biblical view of history with cumulative reviews every week. And for the first time, we were faithful to fill in a time line this year; using this one here that I wrote a review about for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
Balancing the Sword - We read a chapter of the Bible in the morning when we begin school then read a chapter the nights we have family worship. We started in Genesis 1 in October and have just finished Deuteronomy. I really enjoyed the questions that were in the book and the discussions it caused our family to have.
Westminster Shorter Catechism - I only started this in January with the goal of doing one question a week so at the time of this writing we are on question #21. I am using Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade that we read together that really helps to expand the answers. The older two are memorizing the answers as we go while the younger ones listen in and do their best.
Total Language Plus - Last school year we did a heavy grammar year using Shurley English, so this was a good year to do a program that didn't focus so much on grammar. And that is my one complaint about TLP, it is missing some meaty grammar. But we really loved having spelling and vocabulary words be the same and also pulled from a great book we were reading for literature. The books we did this year were Caddie Woodlawn, The Bronze Bow and The Whipping Boy.
Simply Grammar - I knew going into this year that TLP was not going to teach enough grammar so we started the school year with this book. I did not finish it. In the beginning it was moving along at a good pace, but for my kids it began to move too quickly and the exercises were becoming too frustrating so we stopped in December. I did like the format of the book though.
Apologia Science - We did the Zoology 2 book, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.This was the first time we have done formal science and I really loved it. This is not a mamby-pamby science book; it seriously gets in-depth about God's creation, but in such a way that younger children can use it too. I am researching which title to possibly do next year.
Story Starters - I didn't use this resource as much as I thought I would; we had more writing assignments in history then I had planned on, which was fine with me. But I really love this book; it is a great way to get reluctant writers to write.
Math U See - Love, love, love Math U See....I am planning to continue this one too. All the kids seem to be doing well in it and enjoying the DVD's with Mr. Demme.
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading - I used this with Dasher this year and she really made big improvement steps in her reading. What I especially like is that it is missing illustrations; those tended to be too distracting and made her guess what the words were.
Matres Magistres - Our co-op was a great addition to our learning this year. We studied composers, artists, hymns and memorized 2 poems and 2 passages in scripture. Our focus was on geography and ecosystems, with research, presentations and crafts that the kids did through the year.
Extra phonics resources - I used a lot more hands on stuff with Dasher this year; Bob Books, Pop for Sight Words, Rod & Staff Readers and a couple word games I picked up at thrift stores.
Miscellaneous Literature - These are some of the books we read aloud this year: Hittite Warrior by Joanne S Williamson, The Spartan by Caroline Dale Snedeker, Victory on the Walls by Frieda Clark Hyman and Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick. They were all excellent, although my kids found The Spartan to be a little dry. As you can see, I try to read books that fit where we are in history; I also have a book basket that I require the kids to read from on their own that has titles from ancient history in it. So next year, I will fill it with books about the early church and Middle Ages.
So the verdict? Most of the stuff I did this year I liked; but change can always be good. With my oldest now going into 8th grade I feel we do need to make some adjustments, like adding a foreign language, starting logic and digging deeper into vocabulary roots and composition. In the next few weeks I plan to do some research, read reviews and most importantly ask my homeschooling friends for their opinions. Thanks for listening in!