2012-2013 End of Year Homeschool Review
Somehow the whole month of June just flew by. It was filled with end-of-school-year celebrations in all our groups and activities…
the start of fun summer activities like hiking and camping…
not to mention work like gardening and lawn mowing!
Note to self: Forget about schoolwork for June. Although I allow for a week off and we head out on a camping trip after the drudgery of standardized testing, both last summer and this summer we needed more time before starting our summer school schedule. I did start weekly summer schedules but as far as me sitting down with them working on curriculum or more formal studies, it would be better just to wait for July.
Part of it is because I need to give myself more time to reorganize and ruminate on the successes and failures of the last year. I’ve been thinking so hard my brain hurts, and have so much to say I’ll have to break it up into several posts. So we’ll consider this my first installment: the hits and misses from my 2012-2013 school year plan. In order to be somewhat brief I’ll refrain from going into detail on how I plan to change the things that needed tweaking or didn’t work. You’ll have to stay tuned for my new ideas for next year.
What Worked Well This Year
- Writeshop Junior D worked well for my daughter. (You can read my full review of Writeshop on Curriculum Choice.)
- Math: My original plan for my daughter failed early, but our switch to Teaching Textbooks was a hit. For my son lots of playing with math (coin recognition, tally marks, even/odd), working through Life of Fred and an old series of books called “I Love Math” taught basic concepts and we had fun with numbers!
- Funnix helped me teach my son how to read. We finished the last lesson in May and now he’s ready for all the fun beginning reading books at our library. He’s proud of his success and so am I! (Here’s my full review of Funnix on Curriculum Choice.)
- Copywork and Dictation: My ten year old started with copywork from our history curriculum, but towards the end of the year we moved into dictation using selections to address specific areas. I had read about dictation but didn’t fully realize the gold mine of a technique it can be, encompassing skills for writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting.
- Music lessons: My daughter’s piano lessons are money well spent. They give her a wonderful life skill and have also led to forming a bond with a terrific teacher. (I’m hoping we can find the same experience for my son with guitar.)
- Fine Arts: I added Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 Overview Year Plans and it made it so easy to accomplish classical music and art appreciation. Secondly, we use the SQUILT technique from Mary of Homegrown Learners to get to know one piece of music at a time. These two resources from fellow homeschool moms help in my weak areas, so the kids and I are learning together.
- Nature Study: Using ideas from Barb at the Handbook of Nature Study blog (and topics that find us) is another highlight of our schoolwork. We did group some of our nature topics into themes and completed detailed studies of trees and birds.
- Unit Studies: Due to my tendency to over-plan and over-complicate, it’s best for me to reserve unit studies for special topics or periods of time. The themed learning sure can be fun, though! This year we enjoyed studies of the U.S. Government and Elections, the Science of Snow, and the Iditarod.
What Didn’t Work This Year
All About Spelling: So many people are huge fans of All About Spelling. I admire the program and can understand all the rave reviews, but it just doesn’t fit us. I still struggled to move through AAS quickly enough to catch up with where my daughter was in her spelling ability. Since it requires 15-20 minutes of one-on-one instruction each day it was too much of a time investment for a single subject that isn’t a struggle for my daughter.
What Needed Some Tweaking This Year
I started with a Time Travelers Early 19th Century unit from Homeschool in the Woods, planning to finish by Christmas. Long story short, we got so engrossed we spent the whole year on the 1800s. What worked well was literature-based learning, but two issues put history on the “needs tweaking” list:
- The Time Travelers packs have incredible printables, but those printables required lots of printing and precise cutting and pasting, the beautiful artwork was often too detailed for coloring, and many minibooks had pre-printed text to place inside. In short, they were time-intensive with little room for my kids to make it their own and record what they had learned.
- Not that it isn’t fun to get lost in a time period, but this lasted too long. I think it was due to my aforementioned tendency to over-complicate things, working on those elaborate printables, and choosing time-consuming hands-on projects. In the end our relaxed learning while listening intently to Little House books was what my kids remember.
I still like Real Science Odyssey, but I strayed pretty far from RSO in the second half of the year. I have a science background and my son has an incredible interest in science and asks questions on a daily basis. Contrary to my natural personality, we actually need less structure in science.
I love our flexible weekly schedules. What needed tweaking was our outside engagements. By midyear I felt over-scheduled so I cut a couple things out. I have learned to be cautious of signing up for outside activities that place demands on my patience for teaching and planning. Our first year we had a science class where I could sit and chat with other moms while my kids had a great class with a super-excited scientist. Those types of events are better than something I have to help run, which leaves me drained instead of energized.
So that’s the first installment of my review of last year. I still want to share more of my general thoughts as I find myself sharpening my ideas of home education. Do you spend a lot of time reviewing how your year went? Do you get your techniques “figured out” or are you constantly adjusting?
Thank you to the wonderful hostesses with fun wrap-up link-ups. Be sure to join the fun and see what other homeschoolers are up to!