I realized I never did a review of our school year, so as we prepare for the new year coming up I'll take some time to share what worked and didn't work for us in 2013-2014. We had a successful year, even with a lot of travel for the pregnancy. We went back to Houston for my monthly appointments and then moved there for about six weeks when she was born. They still did their work in our rental cabin, and we were able to finish most of their books by mid-May, so we've had a nice summer break and are getting ready to start the fall semester in a few weeks.
This was Steven's Kindergarten year. I take this year slow, simple, and at the child's pace. Steven worked fast in his Math and other workbooks, but Reading is still a difficult subject, as it was for his sisters. I know it will click in the next year or two and so I try not to feel pressure to have fluent readers this early, especially since it has been a hard subject for all of my children so far. In the first half of the year, we also participated in a Classically Catholic Memory Co-Op which covers a wide range of memory work, from Latin prayers, to a world timeline, to science classifications. So that was part of all their learning, for half of the year at least!
Religion: We tried to start each day with a bible story and sometimes saint stories too. We also learned different prayers like the Angelus, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and Morning Offering. He listened in on some of his sisters' lessons and also participated in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd with our homeschool group (Montesorri faith formation).
Math: He only has a few pages left in the Math U See Alpha (1st grade) book. He has done really well with this.
Reading/Phonics: We continued All About Reading Pre-Level 1 in the fall (which I probably wouldn't use again) and then started Level 1 in January (which I would recommend). We are working slowly through Level 1, and still trying to master all the letter sounds and blending short 3-letter words. We also used the Seton K Phonics workbooks, which I like them to do for extra practice. And I made sure to do daily read-alouds to him with bible stories, fairy tales, fables, and story books.
Handwriting: Seton K. I really like their workbooks, and he did alright with handwriting, but hopefully will improve each year.
Ellie had a good third grade year and is slowly becoming more responsible with doing schoolwork on her own. Next year will be a big jump for her, but I know she will do great! I'm looking forward to some of the things I'll be doing with her, like History and Grammar, and I think she'll enjoy her online Latin class!
Religion: Faith & Life. Sometimes we read this together and sometimes she did it independently. We also did some pages in the Faith & Life Workbook. Then we finished before the year was done, so she read some saint books. She also attended the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd weekly.
Math: Math U See Gamma. My kids all do well with this program in the early grades. The videos are wonderful and I think it's an appropriate amount of work for their ages. We still need to work on some fact-drilling.
Spelling/Phonics: All About Spelling Levels 3-4. Ellie is doing great with this program. It's mom-intensive and takes me 20-30 minutes per child, but I feel it is worth it. I wholeheartedly recommend this program, particularly for families who want to teach intensive phonics/spelling with the Spalding Method. She also did the Seton Phonics workbook for extra practice. She read for 30 minutes every day.
Handwriting: Seton 3. I love the beautiful Seton workbooks, for subjects like Handwriting and Phonics. They are also easy for the children to do independently.
English: Seton 2. I feel their English program is advanced compared to other homeschool curricula, so we have worked slowly and a year behind in these books.
Science: Apologia Zoology Flying Creatures with Notebooking Journals and Lab Kit. We have enjoyed the thorough Apologia science programs the past two years. In fact we completed Anatomy around November of this past school year because it was quite advanced (wouldn't recommend for elementary). Zoology was much more age-appropriate and we enjoyed reading it together a few times each week. I'm not sure I got my money's worth out of the notebooking journals and lab kits, but they did have fun doing a few experiments. There is definitely a creationist/"young earth" bias, as well as some evangelical protestant slants, so I had to keep that in mind and explain where necessary since I was reading these books aloud.
History: Abeka 3rd Grade. I like this book, because each chapter is a simple biography of an American figure. We read it aloud one chapter a week.
Geography: Map Skills 3rd Grade and States & Capital Flashcards. She'd do two pages in the map skills book each week and work on her states and capital memorization with flashcards three days a week. We also have some fun board games, puzzles, and iPhone games for US Geography.
Latin: She watched the Latina Christiana videos with her sister and used the Latina Christiana flashcards. I wasn't thrilled with this program (or Prima Latina) and probably won't use it again.
Music/Piano: Ellie took weekly piano lessons and practiced every day.
Mary Clare-5th Grade
It's hard to believe that we are through the elementary years with her! Time has gone by so fast. She has been homeschooling for 6 years! She had a good year with new challenges, and is looking forward to the new adventure of a set program and online classes for 6th grade. She is very responsible with most of her work, and is often found working in the schoolroom before most of the family is awake!
Religion: Seton 5th grade. I'm not sure I would do the Seton religion textbooks again. I let her work independently on these the past two years, but I'm not sure how much she retained or if she really worked carefully. Sometimes they tend to rush through the workbooks to check them off the list! She also helped in the Atrium for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
Math: Saxon 6/5. This was a HUGE transition for her. She fought tooth and nail at the beginning of the year. There were lots of tears and she opted to quit using the DIVE videos in January and just read the chapter on her own. I struggled to keep up with the grading and she struggled with simple calculation mistakes, but she retained most of the concepts and did very well on her assessment at the end of the year.
Spelling/Phonics: All About Spelling Level 3-4. Again, I love this program! I plan to continue it through middle school since my kids are not natural spellers. She also did a Seton Phonics workbook for extra practice.
English: Seton 4. Again, I think their English is advanced, so we worked a grade below. She did fine and did this independently.
Handwriting: Seton 5. Well, this was a doozy because I didn't check up on her (until June), and realized she wasn't doing enough work each day. So she has been doing it this summer! I won't continue handwriting in middle school.
Science: Apologia, see above.
History: From Sea to Shining Sea (Catholic Textbook Project). This seemed advanced for 5th grade. The chapters were very lengthy and detailed. I read them aloud with her for over half the year, and then she took over. We tried to do the questions at the end of each chapter but I didn't follow through with checking them as well as I could have. I still feel that she has a pretty good grasp of American History as we move into middle school and Ancient History next year.
Geography: Map Skills Grade 5. The kids do these on their own and have a pretty good grasp of map skills.
Latin: Latina Christiana, see above.
Music: Church choir, Gregorian Chant and Latin Polophony.
As I've mentioned before, we have enrolled with Mother of Divine Grace School for next year. I'm very excited about having the extra support and having the girls both take their Beginning Latin course online. Mary Clare will also attend a twice monthly History Book Club online, and I've signed up for grading for History and Religion.
We will be following their syllabus and lesson plans for the most part, except for using All About Reading/Spelling, Math U See for Steven Joseph (the girls will both be using Saxon), and some of the Seton workbooks for Handwriting and Phonics. I hope that this will give me some freedom since I don't have to choose books for each subject and figure out our yearly pace on my own. I'm also glad that we will be doing a more thorough history program including LOTS of "living books" as supplements.
I think this will get us on pace as we approach high school for Mary Clare, and I'm so glad we will have this accountability and assistance with the consultant and umbrella school which keeps records. I'm hoping to start back with piano for Ellie and maybe some kind of choir/music for MC once we move. They will be back at their old ballet school and Steven Joseph will probably do baseball and/or year round swimming. We may end up chartering a new 4-H club and will join back with their girls and boys clubs they have missed.
Hopefully Thomas will follow along with some of our lessons. He's already spelling small words and adding in his head. Although he's a September birthday and technically still has two years before Kindergarten, I think he will probably be ready much sooner. He may be my easiest student yet, with lots of interest in reading and math so far, and I'm very excited about that!
Feel free to ask questions and I can give links if needed. I'm too tired for photos or links tonight. Daddy's traveling again, and Mommy is ready for the weekend!