2017-2018 Homeschool Review

*2020-2021 School Curriculum
*2019-2020 School Curriculum and Review
*2018-2019 School Curriculum and Review
*2017-2018 School Curriculum and Review
*2016-2017 School Curriculum and Review
*2015-2016 School Curriculum and Review
*2014-2015 School Curriculum
*2013-2014 Review

We started the year with two strong months of homeschool. Then Daniel was adopted (nearly a month of travel/hospital/recoup) and then several months for homeschool to slowly get traction again. Not every subject will be complete at the end of the year, but I’ll use this blog post to share what I liked and didn’t like about each curriculum option.

Anna – 5th grade
1. Christian Light Education Reading, level 5 – Both Anna and I liked this. The stories were interesting, old fashioned, wholesome and (thankfully) engaging. They were a little long for it to be easy for her to read them aloud. The workbook lessons required her to practice reading comprehension as well as a smattering of spelling, grammar and grade-level instruction on story arcs and other same-level reading basics.
2. Teaching Textbooks Math, level 6 – Teaching Textbooks is still a win for me. The kids complain that it’s boring, so that’s a downside. However, the lessons are fairly short, over in under 30 minutes, including lecture, practice questions and the current lesson. Each lesson has about 20 questions plus a few practice questions. The lecture is easy on the ears and eyes, concise and well-paced. The curriculum level is roughly a year behind “average,” which is why Anna did Math 6 during 5th grade. Anytime she is confused about a question, she can ask them to show her how to get to the answer, not needing to call me. Anytime she makes a mistake, it logs that in the grade book, but allows a second chance… which is essential since sometimes they make mistakes with the keyboard or, increasingly, with accurate writing on their work, which encourages them to do it neatly the first time. (isn’t working yet, but at least she’s getting the idea!)
3. Christian Light Education Science and Lab Kit, level 5 Sadly, Anna thinks this is boring and that she already knows everything in the books. I would disagree and think it is a decent science curriculum with infrequent low-mess, high success experiments. We haven’t gotten very far through this, so I’m hoping we do get to the rest of this. Unlike earlier years, there is a textbook, although each lesson is not many pages. Like most curriculum where parents are mostly hands off, it’s not as vibrant as it could be if I engaged with it also. It’s been an excellent fit for this year and I hope to continue with it.
4. Christian Light Education Social Studies, level 4 (finish from previous year) I still like this curriculum, but because it relies heavily on reading comprehension, Anna does not like it. She finds the material mildly interesting, but gets so frustrated trying to remember what she read and then answer the workbook questions that it’s an overall negative. No fault of the book. Just something she’s learning to do!
5. Writing – survey of styles with prompts from me (write a play, story, journal, poem, etc.) I’ve wished for a more organized approach than this, in particular when it comes to me correcting and guiding it. But learning to write is such a multi-faceted skill, that it’s been a good fit for my perfectionist to “just start writing” and get some material out. Not sure what I’ll do in the future.
6. Christian Light Education Bible, level 5 I learned stuff in this curriculum and it continued to hold Anna’s interest and be one of her easier subjects. On the few lessons that she knew nothing about, it became significantly more difficult. It carried our momentum along until we got into the other more difficult subjects, so I’m grateful for that.
7. Story of the World History CD and workbook, Early Modern Times We haven’t done nearly enough of this! There were a couple chapters with far too many names and events for us to follow it, so we lost momentum. It’s also difficult to get everybody in the same room and ready at the same time. I hope to finish these discs before the year end, but I am not optimistic.
8. All About Spelling, level 1 This was a intensive, fairly rapid pace, but super beginner spelling curriculum. Even Carolyn participated. It is difficult to apply the amount of time necessary to really get a handle on all the different spelling rules that are taught. Thankfully, the material was so elementary that the amount of time that I could hold their attention was long enough to complete the curriculum. I was hoping to also do level 2 (regular beginner level) but anticipate pushing it to next school year. The little magnet letters and letter combinations and spelling rules are used every day. There is flexibility in whether I use the board or handwriting or some other form of making letters to spell the words. It did take several days to get the feel of this curriculum… it wasn’t super easy to just sit down and go and requires teacher involvement for the entire lesson.
9. Christian Light Education Art, level 3 We did art multiple times a week during the first two months but have not done any formal artwork since. I like this curriculum, because there is a specific skill that is being taught, because it is prepared and easy to use, and because many of the projects can be photocopied and given to siblings. Each level has focus on different sets of skills or types of projects… but the pages are all mixed up now and I don’t remember which go to which.
10. Ballet – Still a great fit for Anna. I wonder if we can do it next year too… it goes all the way through the end of June and I need to be finished in May.

Maggie – 2nd grade
1. Christian Light Education Reading, level 2 Like all CLE Reading curriculum, you read the story to yourself one day (and do the workbook lessons) and then read the same story out loud the next day. This program has been a great fit for Maggie.
2. Teaching Textbooks Math, level 4 Working well.
3. Christian Light Education Science, level 2 Maggie is loving the last books in this that focus on learning about a few specific types of birds. It’s been an easy program for Maggie, but holding her attention.
4. Writing with story pages We did a lot of these in those first two months. For Maggie, coalescing an idea into something she can articulate is the most difficult part. We scaled back and scaled back until she was able to invent a single sentence story, which she then illustrated. The funniest one is probably, “A humminbird flew backwards 50 miles per hour.”
5. Christian Light Education Bible 2 These aren’t exactly fluffy, but they were not challenging. It was a good filler curriculum to keep her reading and writing and applying herself. The material is interesting, but as church-raised kids, it was mostly familiar.
6. Story of the World History CD and workbook, Early Modern Times Reviewed more above. Haven’t gotten very far.
7. All About Spelling, level 1 Reviewed above.
8. Christian Light Education Art, Level 2 Reviewed above.
9. Martial Arts We did this for several months. It was enjoyable and they were learning. But once a week was barely enough and it proved difficult to leave the house in the evening… especially after Daniel came home. We retired this in favor of a family movie night.

Carolyn – preschool
1. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons I still really like this book. It is logical, clearly laid out, in small bite sized chunks, and works really well. Carolyn did it with me frequently early in the year and then infrequently since. She’s reading so well that she’s doing the lessons near me now instead of totally together. (Together is better, but sometimes she wants to do more snuggle time than I can do at any given moment!)
2. Language Lessons for Today Did not dig into this.
3. Handwriting Without Tears, level 1 Very happy with this! She is completing her work – about a page each school day – and is learning how to make her letters. There have not been tears, so that is good!
4. Singapore Math Essentials Book A is considerably easier than book B. Book B was difficult at the beginning of the year, so we did only book A. (That does make sense, though!) Anyway, now that we’re doing JUST book B, Carolyn is having no trouble at all. So she understands the concepts of addition and subtraction and is getting familiar with many ways of writing the problems. Many of the problems (all of the earlier ones) use actual items to visualize the math and I believe that was helpful in conceptualizing. I plan to use Singapore math for first and maybe second grade too before moving into Teaching Textbooks.
5. Now I’m Reading! books Yeah – she’s got these down.

Mostly self-led studies:
– 1 year subscription to JAM Inventions – Some fun, but the kids didn’t dig into it after just a little while.
– A number of educational tv shows and movies (have any recommendations?) – Whenever possible, the kids avoid my learning shows. They did really love Survivorman, though!
– A stack of inexpensive science kits ($10-$20) including a “Magic” science kit, a bubble-gum making kit, perfumery, etc.- The chapstick was underwhelming. The others were good for keeping the kids interested on days when we didn’t have anything fun to do and it was rainy out. I don’t remember which ones they did, because I didn’t pay attention. That’s the weird part about self led. They did not really enjoy the owl pellets!
– A couple projects where i gather the materials and then let the kids have at it, such as birdseed ornaments, homemade rock candy and homemade slime: I think the one they did here was making candy dots. THey did that a few times. I should get them the stuff for the others. It fell by the wayside.

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