Monday, June 20, 2011

Our Homeschooling Year in Review

We are nearly finished our THIRD "official" year of homeschooling! Yay! Mary Clare is completing 2nd grade and Ellie completing kindergarten, minus a few lessons to be completed this week. I'll review by subject area for my own future reference, as well as for others who might like to read about how we've liked our different curriculum choices from this school year. I'll also add in what I plan to use next year.

Overall, I've been glad to have the Mother of Divine Grace (MODG as abbreviated below) Catholic Classical syllabus and lesson plans to use for Mary Clare, and I plan to use them with both girls next year. Depending on how this year goes, we might enroll so we can have a consultant the next year, or at least when we add Steven Joseph into our homeschool the following year. I change out a few of the curriculum choices but do like to have a "spine" to use for our basic lessons each week.


We used Faith & Life 1 and 2 this year, picking and choosing different chapters. We also used the New St. Joseph First Communion Catechism for a lot of our First Holy Communion preparation, along with the beautiful little novel The King of the Golden City. We read saint stories from various books we have, and Mary Clare started making a saint book with pictures and dictation from the stories. We also read bible stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible many mornings this spring. Mary Clare attended Faith Formation and Sacramental Prep courses at our parish in the fall before her First Reconciliation, and then in the spring we changed parishes and did the rest of her preparation for her First Holy Communion at home, aside from a nice interview with our pastor. The girls also both attended our monthly Little Flowers class, which I led for our homeschool group this year where we did lots of learning about saints, virtues, and scripture. We also learned some basic Latin prayers together to help us better participate in the Latin Mass.

Next year, we'll do much of the same, adding the New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, and A Child's Bible History for Mary Clare, along with the First Communion Catechism, the Faith & Life books, the Baltimore Catechism, and the bible/saint stories (which we'll hopefully add more bible/saint stories to their books). The girls will take part in a girls' club which our friend is putting together where they will study saints, virtues, and scripture, along with learning handicrafts like sewing and crochet. Our classical co-op will do memory work, including the Baltimore Catechism, Latin prayers, Church history, etc.

Language Arts

This year Ellie learned to read with the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book and completed her Handwriting Without Tears and Explode the Code workbooks. Both girls have shown great progress with the Funnix computer-based reading program. Mary Clare worked through the Sound Beginnings intensive phonics program and the Writing Can Help handwriting and Explode the Code workbooks. They both memorized a variety of poems, mostly found in The Harp and the Laurel Wreath.

Mary Clare has shown some real strides in reading and some short dictations/copywork, although neither of the girls has taken off with a lot of independent reading yet. But I'm becoming more confident in our Classical approach, and feel that the nuts and bolts they are learning with their phonics instruction, handwriting, and poetry are going to be a great help to them as they slowly take off as independent readers and writers.

Next year we'll continue with our Funnix software, and possibly purchase the Seton handwriting books, since I have yet to find a handwriting program that is thorough and takes the girls longer than a month to complete! As of now, for phonics we'll begin The Writing Road to Reading and Primary Language Lessons for Mary Clare. I'll probably buy an Explode the Code or another phonics workbook for Ellie.


We are still happy with Math U See; Mary Clare is finishing her Beta lessons this week and Ellie has finished lesson 17 out of 30 lessons in her Alpha (1st grade) book. Mary Clare will move into Gamma next year and Ellie will continue with the Alpha book, moving into Beta whenever she is ready. They will do some math skip counting memory work in their co-op. And that's about it!


Mother of Divine Grace doesn't do much science/history until 3rd grade. Mary Clare had a few books...Science with Plants, Seasons and Living Things, Know Your States, and she has learned most of her capitals with the States and Capitals flashcards. We've read a few books about famous Americans like Abraham Lincoln, and they've participated in our homeschool group's Nature Club. We are raising honeybees in the backyard, which is likely the best science lesson they got this year!

Next year Mary Clare will use the Abeka books recommended in MODG for Science, History, and Geography...Exploring God's World, Our American Heritage, and Our American Heritage Map Study Skills. She will also continue learning her states and capitals. Ellie will listen along and maybe we'll do some more nature walks and lessons this year. We are planning to register both girls for some excellent homeschool science classes at the downtown Museum of Natural Science once a month. They will also be learning some timeline memory work and science lessons at our co-op twice a month.

Fine Arts

As all my blog-readers know, the girls are very accomplished little ballerinas. They are getting instruction in ballet technique, body control, and self-discipline, and lots of exposure to classical music through their Christian ballet school. Next year, Mary Clare will take 2 hours of ballet and 1 hour of modern each week, while Ellie will take 1 hour each of ballet and modern. As for art, I'm not crazy about the Child-Sized Masterpieces program recommended by MODG, so I'm considering using the Seton Art for Young Catholics program. I'm also open to suggestions of other art resources! Mary Clare worked thorough the Let's Learn Music #1 book and I think we'll continue with #2 unless I find some other music option for them. We will also be doing art lessons and some crafts at the co-op and the girls'club this year.

So that's a basic review of our homeschooling year. Hope it helps some others as much as it helped me to write it out!


Unknown said...

I picked up the Drawing With Children book used at the Homeschool Store. I had been wanting it. Basic drawing instruction. I also picked up a copy of a Scott Foresman Art textbook at Half Price. Good instruction. They had several levels. I didn't like the Child Size Masterpieces either. Also, take a look at the D'Nealian workbooks for handwriting. I have used them all along. We do a page a day three or four times a week. I like them. Sounds like a great year!

Blair said...

Oh thanks, Celeste. I do have Drawing with Children. It's actually an old copy of my mom's (she used to be an art teacher). I need to get that book out again!

Seems like D'Nealian and even teaching cursive first is becoming more common. We've already been doing manuscript though, so I'll probably stick with that for now. I need to start ordering our books!

Shelly said...

Thanks so much for sharing! Our oldest will be turning 5 this fall and I was getting so overwhelmed just thinking about starting to homeschool that I almost decided to just send her to our parish school which is way beyond our budget! I looked into MODG and really liked what I saw, but there are just so many options out there, it's just confusing. I'm very nervous about homeschooling since we have so many little ones, but I'm convinced it's the best way to go. Is it hard to get school work done with your boys around?

Catherine Anne said...

Wonderful review!!!

Nora said...

As far as fine arts goes, I just saw yesterday that "Simply Charlotte Mason" now sells art portfolios. I used the same one from MODG and didn't find it too interesting either.

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