Anna and I started the school year by sharing some of the reasons we homeschool. While the main focus of this blog is not to discuss homeschooling, some of our readers want to hear more about it. Anna recently shared about how she’s simplified things in her house this year, and I thought I’d end the school year by telling you what worked and what flopped at our house. So here goes!
Bible: T and I have daily homework for CBS. We also are working through memorizing the Gospel of Mark, and we accomplished about a chapter and a half this year. This worked well and will be our plan for next year, as well.
Math: We use Saxon math. There are many good curricula out there, but Saxon works for us. But when my son started complaining that math was boring, I recently added Beast Academy to our line-up as an extra supplement. It’s a total math curriculum with a very different approach. The lessons are taught through comics, and the practice problems are more like brain teasers and problem solving. T LOVES it and willingly does pages every day. We’ll be using both next year
Language Arts: I am a big fan of Peace Hill Press materials because they are well-scripted, easy to teach, and straightforward. We use First Language Lessons for oral grammar, and I recommend it to all. We use Writing With Ease for writing (composition). I firmly believe in Susan Wise Bauer’s breakdown of the steps of the writing process. It makes sense to me, and I’ve seen it build confidence in both my kids as we’ve used it. I could find passages and dictation sentences myself, but buying the workbooks saves me that step for now. We added in All About Spelling this year for my son because a friend passed it on to us, but he flew through the first two books in a few weeks. There are lots of moving pieces, and new levels are expensive. AAS is fine, but if I had to pay for it, I’d go for something cheaper and simpler. We got the Veritas Press Classically Cursive books, and that was fine, though I don’t see the need for going through more than one book if you’re going to have your child use cursive in the rest of his schoolwork. I did like that photo copying was allowed for reuse within the family.
History: I’ve been looking forward to using Veritas Press history since before T was born, and this year did not disappoint. We loved it! I did a bit of supplementing with Story of the World and the SOTW activity guides since I had them on hand, and it was a pretty good balance. The kids love the timeline, the memory song, the activities (I did less and less as the year progressed), and our big map over the kitchen table. I just bought the CD with PDFs of all the files, and that was a good call since I print off just what I need. T got a 100% on his end-of-year exam, so I think there was a lot of retention. Since the program is not scripted, I did have to devote some time over the summer to planning out the schedule and making a list of what books we needed to get from the library when, but I love that sort of thing, so it was no big deal. Living books are the best way to learn history, and I plan on us using Veritas history (with SOTW supplements) for the forseeable future.
Latin: I bought Song School Latin sight-unseen, because it was supposedly a fun and gentle intro to Latin, but it was basically a waste of time. He learned a very little vocab, but no conjugations or declensions. The worksheets were fine, but never challenging. And I lost the CD at some point this year, so we can’t even listen to the songs in the car to review. Total Flop! We did get Getting Started With Latin out from the library and started working through that together orally, and it was much better.
We did the core subjects above four days a week, and we rotated the “specials” below one day a week.
Science: We loved watching the Way Things Work physics videos, but I totally dropped the ball on actually doing the experiments I’d found on pinterest. I’m using a textbook as a spine next year for better accountability.
Geography: I bought Legends and Leagues from Veritas Press, and even with the workbook, it was blah. The kids learned more actual geography from some Evan Moore workbook we inherited from our babysitters.
French: I tried using the Bonjour Les Amis videos from the library along with Duolingo online, but we were hampered in the latter because they kids weren’t typing well for most of the year. Though I’m confident in my French (I used to teach it!), we’re going to use a textbook next year to keep us accountable.
Typing: BBC Dance Mat Typing is free and fun. Why does anyone pay for typing programs?
Fine Arts: The goal was to rotate a month of study of an artist with a month on a composer. I made the rookie mistake of only planning out the first half of the year last summer, thinking I’d plan the second half of the year over Christmas break. Silly me! It never happened. In the fall, however, we enjoyed listening to First Discovery and Introduction to the Classics CDs, getting biographies out from the library, and watching Mike Venezia’s famous artist videos.
Today is our last day of school, so I think I can officially start lesson planning for next year tomorrow… Of course, we set up our house to learn, strewing interesting books and games and toys, and talking about things all the time, so learning will not stop over summer break!
If you homeschooled this year, I’d love to hear about your hits and misses. If you have any questions about what I used or did, I would be happy to go into much more detail in the comments or an email discussion. Several of the links above are to amazon products, using our amazon affiliates code. When you buy items through our links, we get a tiny percentage back that we use to support hosting this blog.