Today’s post is by my sweet friend Rachel Q, who shares her year in review.
The school year is winding down, and I’m not really sure how I feel about that! This has been our best school year yet, and I just don’t know that I’m ready for it to come to a close. However, our summer is filling up with learning of another kind, so we’ll put away the curriculum for a bit. When we come back toward the end of summer, hopefully we’ll all be refreshed and ready to start anew.
Recently I’ve had quite a few people asking about our curriculum choices, and while I don’t claim to have it all figured out, I was quite pleased with what we used this year. First you should realize that I rarely stick to any curriculum precisely. I prefer to use it as a guideline. For that reason I don’t use a complete curriculum. I tried that once. While the package itself was lovely, and I would recommend it for someone who did want a complete package, it just didn’t work well for us. So, what does work?
For my kindergartener I used My Father’s World. This is the second time I’ve used it with one of my children. It gently introduces phonics and math, and I like that. My son wanted more math than was included, though, so I purchased an inexpensive workbook at a drug store. We also add hands-on math as often as possible. He’s not so crazy about phonics, but the approach of MFW has been good for him. Most importantly we’ve enjoyed many good books together.
For my older children math has always been our biggest challenge, but this year has been different! We started the year with the same old ho-hum workbooks, but in the middle of the year my 4th and 6th graders each began a set of Your Business Math from Simply Charlotte Mason. These are one-year courses in which they are responsible for running their own businesses. The choices are a pet store, a book store and a sports store. Each of my children chose a different one based on their own interests. However, the structure of each is the same. They have to keep an inventory, fill customer orders, figure sales tax, pay bills, etc. Each month they randomly draw a chance card. It could be a good thing that brings business into your store, or it might be a bad thing like a leaky roof that requires you to pay extra. At the end of each lesson they have to determine whether or not they have made a profit or suffered a loss. These are all practical life skills, and I’ve been very pleased with the results.
My 2nd grader began Life of Fred this year, and again we’ve been very pleased! She loves them and often wants to do more than one lesson at a time. At first glance it seems like it’s not enough, but there really is quite a bit of review and because it’s set up for the student to repeat the series, she is learning plenty. What you will not find in LOF or Your Business Math is busy work. My only regret with either of these curricula is that I didn’t try them sooner.
Our spelling is pretty basic. We began using Spelling Power a few years ago and it’s done fine for us. I improvise somewhat, but I like that it moves as rapidly or as slowly as the student needs it to.
My 6th graders have been using Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola. I personally love it, but it seems a bit dry for the kids. It’s been a decent introduction, but I plan to try the Life of Fred Language Arts next year. My 4th and 2nd graders have been using English for the Thoughtful Child volumes 1 and 2. Again, I really like them, and we will probably use them until they complete them. The lessons are short, but complete. However, I think they get more just from copywork and our discussions about something interesting they’re reading or writing. They enjoy most creative writing that we do, so I try to give them opportunities for that as often as possible.
For reading I love to see my children curled up on the couch with a good book. They pretty much decide what they will read, but I have to approve their choice to make sure it is challenging enough for them. I require oral narration regularly, and a written report after they’ve finished a book. I like the variety that is a result of their varied interests. One of my favorites was The Boy Colonel, and I personally think all teen boys should read this book. Other books or series that we’ve enjoyed this year are the Elsie Dinsmore books, Little House—the Rocky Ridge Years, and the American Girl books. This is an abbreviated list, but hopefully it will give an idea of the great books we love.
I hope that this has been an encouragement to you. I’ll be back to review a few more subjects. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about any great living books that you use.
Rachel is married to her best friend, Eric, and homeschooling mama to their 8 amazing children. Life is a daily adventure in their home and provides lots of love and laughter! They live on a dairy farm in Ohio and their children are self-proclaimed “country kids” and quite proud of it! It is their family’s goal to seek and honor God in all that they do and to be a blessing to those around them. Aside from being a homemaker Rachel enjoys reading, writing and dreaming about the day she’ll actually make some of those Pinterest crafts!
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