Well, we wrapped up our first half of the school year before Christmas and I thought, “I’m going to sit down and write a Mid-Year Review RIGHT NOW before time escapes me.”
Hi. Time escaped.
So I’m estimating that we are about 3/5 of the way through our year, and I’m sitting down RIGHT NOW to write about our school year before…well…it’s over!
(I actually never wrote a review of last year. It really deserves a post of its own and I hope to write it one day before I’ve completely forgotten. But today is not that day.)
I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of anxiety about homeschooling this year for 3 reasons. A) I would have a relatively new baby. Enough said. B) Israel was coming home for kindergarten, so I was going from teaching 1 to teaching 2. (That’s double!) C) Israel was coming home for KINDERGARTEN. I’ve never taught anyone to read before, and I was pretty terrified of not being able to pull it off!
I was really hoping to knock out a lot of planning for the school year the week in July that the kids were gone. You know, the week that Arrow was supposed to come at the END of? Well, seeing how THAT didn’t go as expected, I also didn’t have that quiet week of planning that I had been counting on, which added another layer of anxiety to the beginning of the school year.
However, ready or not, the school year started!
Here we are on the first day! I picked “Team Linker” as the theme for our school year because, well, we live together and probably spend 85% of our time together, but there are a lot of times it feels like we’re not functioning as a team! I know sibling rivalry is a normal part of life, but my goal is to really minimalize that as much as possible.
SO, I really can’t review our WHOLE year in one blog post, so I will cover our curriculum today! If you don’t think that’s exciting, you might want to stop reading now.
Here’s what we’ve been studying:
- Bible – Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Loyd-Jones. When I saw that there is a devotional by the author of Jesus Storybook Bible, I said sign us up!
- Bible (for December) – The Truth in the Tinsel. This e-book was a perfect Advent study for us. It’s great for a variety of ages, and everyone enjoyed it. It’s hard to find something that works for Ava AND Egan, so that’s pretty huge! And I’ll be completely honest and say that I put down the extra $4 to print ornaments instead of making them as she suggests. We just don’t have time fo’ all dat.
- History – A Child’s Story of America. We are learning about American history in Classical Conversations this year, so this is our history. We read a chapter a week. I honestly have not done a whole lot with the kids besides reading it; on occasion I will give Ava a writing assignment that deals with the book, and they both did a history project in December when we were not having co-op meetings. But we are enjoying going through the book, and I’m learning a lot, too!
- Science (first half) – Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Human Anatomy and Physiology.
The first half of the Classical Conversations year was centered around human anatomy, so we did this to parallel. Ava would read it to Israel, and it took us about 3 days a week in order to cover a chapter a week. It was SO MUCH, that we were doing good just to read the information, so we really didn’t do much else with it! In December, Ava wrote her research paper about the digestive system and Israel made a model of the axial skeleton.
- Science (second half) – Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Chemistry and Physics. I know, I’m glutton for punishment getting another Apologia book, but I felt like I needed the predictable format. However, I’m making two big changes this semester that seem to be helping. Instead of trying to skip around the book to stay consistent with the CC memory work, we’re just going straight through the book this time. I’m also creating science notebooks for the kids as we go so that they have a small, age appropriate assignment to go with each day of reading. Last semester, I would often skip the fun parts (experiments!), but the science notebooking is helping me to stay accountable to doing the experiments with the kids. And I know the people that follow me on Instagram just LOVE it!
- Reading: I know Ava is a very proficient reader, but I still want us to have family reading time together. Now family reading time is about 15 minutes after lunch, and then we break up and Ava does her reading while I read to Israel. Together, we have read The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. Now, we are reading the Beatrix Potter collection.
- Math – Teaching Textbooks: Math 5. This has been a great decision for us. Last year, my biggest struggle with Ava was math. (And, let’s face it, I don’t love math, either!) I was also really concerned about time management when I would add another student to the mix. Teaching Textbooks is a computer software that does it ALL, from lecture to grading. Although I don’t want to be constantly sticking my kids in front of a screen, this works perfectly for our life stage. Ava loves it, she gets it done while I teach Israel phonics, and we never have a Math Meltdown.
- Shurley Grammar, Level 2. I adore Shurley. It makes my Grammar Nerd side very happy. Not everyone likes scripted curriculum, but I can skip over/summarize the script when it gets too tedious, but I never have to actually come up with wording if I don’t want to. Win/Win.
- Cursive: Prescripts for Classical Conversations. I love this. Ava does it entirely on her own, and not only has her cursive really improved, but it reinforces her learning her history sentence every week.
- Spelling: the internet and other free resources. Seriously, she flew through two years worth of spelling curricula last year, so I decided I’m never buying her curriculum again. We first went through all the spelling lists in a second grade workbook that was passed down to us, and then I printed out a 3rd grade list off the internets.
- Writing: mah head. Ava has to do 3 journal entries a week. Last year it was pulling teeth to get her to write more than a few words in a journal. This year, she’s learned to love it. Another thing she does completely on her own! I also give her about 3 paragraph assignments a week having to do with things we are learning.
- Reading and Reading Comprehension: The library. And sometimes Amazon. The girl is a fast reader. She goes through 7 – 10 chapter books a week. I don’t make her “do” reading comprehension exercises with those books because I don’t want her to lose the delight in it. HOWEVER, in keeping with our theme, she reads a piece of American literature (of my choosing) each month and writes a five paragraph book report on it. So far, she has read “Rip Van Winkle,” The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Alone Yet Not Alone, and Caddie Woodlawn. Charlie Skedaddle, Little Women, and My Side of the Mountain are to come!
- Math – Singapore 1A and 1B – I taught this to Ava last year, and she flew through them both in the first half of the year. (They are supposed to each take a semester.) Since she obviously had already learned most of it in kindergarten, I decided it would be safe to start Izzy with these instead of searching for a Kindergarten curriculum. I thought we might end up taking longer than intended, and I was OK with that…and then December started, and I realized that Izzy was almost done with 1A! So we ended up starting 1B in January! I did end up buying the student workbook for 1B, and I’m so glad…I found myself making a lot of worksheets for 1A, so I figured I would save some time and get the workbook! And his reading skills are now to the point that he can read a lot of the workbook himself, so that is a nice surprise!
- Phonics – Phonics Pathways. This was THE hardest decision to make in regards to this year’s curriculum. As I’ve mentioned, I was terrified of teaching someone how to read. Also, I really was not familiar with phonics; that’s certainly not how I learned how to read! I was recommended 5 or 6 different curricula, all with a variety of prices and preparation needed, and I basically prayed over the list. I ended up coming back to the first one I had ever heard of: Phonics Pathways. It is recommended by Susan Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind. And it seems to be working great! I love watching someone develop literacy, it is truly such a gift and such a privilege to be a part of it!
- Writing – also mah head. We started working on handwriting over the summer. Now, every day I dictate a sentence for Izzy to write (giving him spelling hints, like, “This word will get its long vowel sound with a ‘magic E’.”) Then I give him two more sentences to trace and copy. In the end, he has a paragraph to read!
- Reading – I’ve gotten lots of quality time reading with Izzy! We’ve been reading through The Magic Tree House series, and he loves them! Not sure what we’ll do when we’re through!
And there you have it! Tune in later for review posts on:
- Our not one, but TWO co-ops!
- Field trips
- The highs and lows of shepherding little hearts