June 25, 2007

School's Out

We finally dragged to the end of the school year on Friday. Math and language were holding us up, but we made it through a year of homeschooling.

Sunday I started planning for next year. Although I've been researching and thinking all year about what I like and what I don't like with this year's curriculum. I think the seven year old got a good first grade education, but I think if I did it all again I could do it better with even better books and materials.

For instance, although I think he got a good grounding in grammar from First Language Lessons, I was rather disgusted by the fact that the poems chosen for memorization were all revised and rewritten and they chose not use fine art for the picture studies. If children aren't learning the standard versions of poems then something is lost from cultural literacy. The kids are going to think they know and understand references, but they aren't. Next year I plan on using Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl. I think it will provide much of the same stuff that I liked from the other book, but with more authentic texts. I'm not sure what we'll do for spelling. I may just have him write more and practice words that he has trouble with.

Last year we used Saxon Math 1 and again, I think my son got a good first grade education, but it took a lot of prep work on my part, even though the lessons were scripted, and although my son now claims to have loved every second of math, some days it was a challenge to get him actually to want to do his lessons. I think for next year we may switch to Math-U-See.

I'm not sure what I want to do for science. That was the subject I had the hardest time with this past year. Nothing clicked well with either of us.

History was my son's favorite subject throughout the year. We used The Story of the World and I liked it for the most part. Although I liked the writing in Hillyer's Child's History of the World a lot better. I'm trying to decide whether to switch from the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer to a much older Story of the World series. It's still written in a narrative that will captivate the audience, but the writing is better. On the other hand, it doesn't have the handy maps and activity guide that the books designed to go with A Well-Trained Mind provide and I might miss those a lot.

For my four year old who will turn five in the fall and who learns in a very different way and doesn't do much of anything that she doesn't want to do, I think we'll be taking a different approach from that of her brother. I plan on using Five in a Row as the springboard for her Kindergarten studies with a heavy dose Waldorf-style meaningful activities (like cooking, cleaning and sewing) and the ritual of different activities based on the seasons.

We'll also start Latin this year, I hope, and maybe do a little passive German. I'm a bit embarrassed that I have not taught the kidlets any language at all.

So that's my preliminary plan. The kids will probably continue taking swimming lessons and the four year old wants to take ballet. It will be interesting to see how things go when we start up again. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying a little break -- if you can call it that. As I type, the seven year old is sitting across from me making me teach him how to add large numbers that involve carrying digits.


Congrats on finishing up the year! DD officially finished at the end of May from the Charter school we use, but it didn't really change anything here since we don't generally use texts. But I did want to suggest that you try to get a hold of someone's Math U See books and take a good look at them. We had the Primer (Kinder) for dd and I had several problems with it - lots of repetition which we got around by skipping tons of pages, and a lack of problem solving. I looked at other grade levels and still found the thought process to be missing. The word problems followed the pattern that the other problems on the page followed, or even worse, provided the operation so all the kid needed to do was plug in the numbers and compute. DD also spent more time playing with the manipulatives than she did using them for math. It was nice in that she could watch it by herself. I picked up Singapore Math in case we decide to do text math next year. I LOVE their intensive practice workbook challenge problems. The one drawback to this program is that if you get and use all 3 books you will end up with too much busy work. I plan on picking and choosing which pages/problems we do if I do it.

I've added your SS ideas for next year to my list of things to check out. You have the same problems with SOTW as I do.

Posted by: Beth at June 25, 2007 07:06 PM

Wow - congratulations! It sounds as if it was a successful year, and like next year will be even better. From what you've said about your eldest, it may be difficult to keep ahead of him in a few years.

If the 4 year old wants to do "homework" on cleaning and cooking, or an intensive course in basic sewing, I would happily take her for a week or so :^). Reasoning and math skills can be learned in tons of things.

Posted by: Diane at June 26, 2007 06:26 AM