Friday, July 27, 2012

Homeschool Year in Review 2011-2012

I'm going to do a brief overview of our curriculum choices and how they worked out for us this year.  Mary Clare finished 3rd grade and Ellie was in 1st.  There were a lot of mid-year changes, so I'll try to explain those.  I'll also write down our plans for curricula for the next school year.  Please excuse the fact that I don't have it in me to put links to everything.  If anyone wants more info and can't find it on Google, let me know and I'll share it with you!  We followed a lot of the recommendations and lesson plans for the Mother of Divine Grace homeschool program, and participated in the Classically Catholic Memory co-op in the fall and the Classical Conversations co-op in the spring.

In case you're interested, HERE is the link to last year's review and HERE is one from 2009.  I'm not sure if I did one in 2010.  No, it doesn't look like I did.  The 2009-2010 school year was the one when Mary Clare was in 1st grade and we attempted the Charlotte Mason approach, using Elizabeth Foss' Along the Alphabet Path program.  It was a fun year, but not a very academically successful one! HERE are all my posts from the Alphabet Path.


Ellie and I read through the Faith & Life 1 book this year. Nearing the end of the year, she was able to read paragraphs herself in the book.  Mary Clare finished up Faith & Life 2 and did some memory work from the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism.  In the first half of the year, she went through some of the Child's Bible History book, doing narrations, but the second half of the year she worked on the Seton Religion 3 book.

Ellie will be doing First Confession and First Holy Communion preparation this coming year.  We'll work through the First Communion Catechism and the little novels about St. Imelda and the King of the Golden City.  I also have the Faith & Life 2 book and workbook for her to use.  Mary Clare will continue the Seton 3 book she started mid-year, and hopefully get through most of the Seton 4 Religion.  I have some novels on the lives of the saints for her to read, and we'll likely be doing some memory work from the Baltimore and First Communion Catechisms.

Language Arts

Ellie worked through a lot of the online Funnix program for phonics this year.  She also used Handwriting Without Tears during the first half of the year.  Mid-year, we started the MCP Plaid A phonics book, and the Seton English, Handwriting, and Spelling books.  Mary Clare started the year doing Funnix 2 and Primary Language Lessons, along with Handwriting Without Tears and The Writing Road to Reading.  Those books weren't the best fit for us, so mid-year I did a huge book change.  We started MCP Plaid Phonics 3, Wordly Wise A, and Seton English, Handwriting, Reading, Religion, and Spelling.  Both girls showed tremendous reading progress with our new workbook-style approach.  They like doing these self-led lessons, and I could check over their work and help when needed.  We also did some poetry memorization with our co-op and at home using the Harp and Laurel Wreath book. 

This next school year I plan to start Sound Beginnings with Ellie, which should be a good phonics review for Mary Clare, too.  We'll continue where we left off in all the workbooks for both the girls, since we started mid-year.  Hopefully they'll breeze through them and we can order the next level up after a few months.  We'll plan out some poems to memorize this year as well.


Both girls completed the year using Math U See, which we've used from the beginning.  Ellie finished the first grade Alpha book mid-year and has started the Beta book, which she'll finish this year.  Mary Clare finished the 3rd grade Gamma book.  Both girls have done well with math, although I'm at the point where I've planned to move to a new program for 4th grade.  Most homeschool programs seem to recommend Saxon 5/4 in 4th grade, which is what I'd planned to use. But I don't think it's going to be the best fit for Mary Clare, so I'm still deciding if we'll stick with Math U See or try something like Teaching Textbooks.  I'd also like to find some program to work on their math drills this year.  Advice welcomed!


We used the 3rd grade Abeka books for Science, History, and Map Skills this year, adding in the history biography books recommended in Mother of Divine Grace.  Ellie didn't have any set texts in these subjects, but listened in on Mary Clare's lessons.  They both worked on learning the states and capitals, which Mary Clare mastered.  They've learned a lot of the presidents and many history dates through the MODG recommendations and our co-ops.  We raised honeybees this year, which was a wonderful lesson in science for all of us!

I'd like to expand on these subjects a lot more this year.  We'll do a simple Map Skills book (I have listed Map Skills for Today on my to-buy list), and continue memorizing States & Capitals as well as Presidents and History Dates.  For science I'm leaning towards using Apologia Anatomy with the corresponding journals.  For History, I'm considering doing some fun unit studies this year, including one on the Olympics, one on the Election, and doing a Texas History unit in the spring with visits to some of the sites we learn about.  I haven't ordered any of these materials yet, so they are still to be decided upon!  I'm also hoping to coordinate a Nature Club at our local botanical garden, so that will include a bit of science learning, too.  Mary Clare will be a part of the 4-H group at our parish, which will include some great hands-on science lessons if she ends up raising any animals! 

Fine Arts and Foreign Language

This year the girls got some great instruction in the arts with our co-ops and the piano lessons they started in March.  They also continued in their ballet training.  Mary Clare had a music workbook (Let's Learn Music #2), but I don't think she completed it.  We also bought and listened to some of the Music Masters CDs.  In fact, they listened to one about Strauss today!  The girls both learned some prayers and other words in Latin; Mary Clare memorized many of the Latin and Greek root words with her English from the Roots Up Flashcards.

Hopefully the girls will continue with piano and ballet instruction, along with listening to classical music and doing arts and crafts at home.  I plan to do some nature drawing and painting with them during the Nature Club activities, and maybe we'll find or start a little sewing or homemaking club.  I just found a recommendation for some Picture Study Portfolios through Simply Charlotte Mason that look like they may be fun.  I'm going to start the Prima Latina Latin program with both the girls this year, and I'm really looking forward to learning along with them!  I plan to continue to teach and learn some Latin prayers, chants, and Mass parts.


I think that just about covers it!  Now for the shopping.  I still have a lot of books to buy in hopes that we can ease into the new school year in mid to late-August.  I'm actually looking forward to making some charts and lists for the subject areas and how I'm going to work through them during which weeks of the year.  I think it will be good to have it planned out and organized.  Let's see how I do! 

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