(Last Updated on April 17, 2021)
A lot of homeschool bloggers like to post their yearly curriculum choices (like I’ve been doing in this series) for their readers. Over the years, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to see what other families are using.
But sometimes these “what we’re using this year” lists give the impression that choosing curriculum for the year is a once-and-done kind of thing.
Totally not the case!
It is absolutely allowed to drop a curriculum that’s not working, add things in as you go, and change your original plan.
Side Note: If you’ve been following this blog, you probably already know that the phrase “change your original plan” isn’t easy for me to write, let alone DO! If you’re a Type A Planner Person like me and you’re considering homeschooling or just starting out, please be aware that homeschooling WILL strengthen your flexibility and spontaneity muscles.
After all, flexibility is one of the beauties of homeschooling, right?
So yes, I make a plan to start off the year. And yes, we pick resources to help us reach our goals. But assessing our progress is an ongoing process throughout the year. I try to minimize huge changes (since too much of that is disruptive to my kids) but I’m always adjusting things as we go.
Some plans and curricula are working well, some need tweaking or supplementing and others have been a total flop. A couple resources I was sure my kids would LOVE have been disastrous while others have come out of nowhere and become new family favorites!
To show you what I mean, I thought I’d give you a front-row seat for my semi-formal, mid-year review. So, hold on to your hat because you’re about to get a peek into the mind of a homeschool mom. Yikes, scary!
If you haven’t already, check out Our Curriculum Choices – Year 5 to see the original plan for this year.
Ready? OK, here we go!
Year 5 Homeschool Progress Report
Part One: The Good
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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Here are the areas that are going well. We’ll keep these the same for the second half of the year.
Bible & Character
- AWANA memory verses – We’re on track with these! (Outside accountability works wonders!)
- Personal Bible reading – The boys generally do 10 min. of personal Bible reading each day and it’s going well as long as I let them change up the routine from time to time. Of course there’s no substitute for the actual Bible (we’ve liked this one and this one for kids) but I do let them read from storybook Bibles and other devotional-type books, too. They’ve used Journeys Through Bible Lands, The Children’s Illustrated Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible and I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God among others.
- Math-U-See (MUS) Beta – My 1st grader is doing well with MUS Beta (he loves Mr. Demme’s sense of humor). He also likes using Kahn Academy for fun from time to time. Phew. No changes needed here! I wish I could say the same about my oldest but you’ll find out more about that in the next post…
- Toddler math – My 2 year old has been picking up so much from our day-to-day lives. Counting how many forks to put on the table, talking about how many cups of flour I’m adding to the mixing bowl, scooping water with measuring cups, playing with shape puzzles – plenty of teachable moments in every day. Nothing formal is needed for these youngest kiddos – just encourage them and answer their questions!
- Daily silent reading – I’m so grateful that both my boys love to read! My biggest issue is keeping up with their demand for new books. Their favorite series right now are The Imagination Station, The Boxcar Children, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Magic Treehouse. As a family we’ve also really enjoyed Mrs. Frisby & The Rats of NIMH, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, and The Tale of Despereaux.
- All About Spelling Level 1 & Level 4 – I’m so glad I found All About Spelling early on in our homeschool career! My boys both really seem to appreciate the straightforward, logical approach. My 4th grader is progressing well with Level 4 (even though it’s getting noticeably harder) and my 1st grader, who just started formal spelling this year, seems to be doing well with Level 1 so far.
** 2021 Update: We’ve now finished through Level 6 of All About Spelling and still love it! Check out my All About Spelling review for more details. **
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), Student Writing Intensive Level A – I wasn’t sure what to expect with my 4th grader for writing this year. We’d never tried a formal “here’s-how-to-write-a-paper” kind of curriculum before. But so far it’s been going great! This is a boy who really (I mean REALLY) dislikes writing so the fact that he’s now writing three paragraph reports and papers (usually without even complaining!!) says a LOT!
- Quick-n-Fun Writing Activities Just for Young Learners – My 1st grader has been doing well with this program. He likes the A-Z theme and the different writing exercises each week (they change things up so it doesn’t get repetitious). And I like it, too, since it covers a wide range of writing styles in a fun, gentle and easy-for-mom kind of way.
- IEW & Copywork – For my oldest, the outlines, rough drafts, and final copies he does for IEW have provided plenty of handwriting practice. And both of my boys seem to do well with copywork (usually selections from poetry books or their AWANA verses) so I’ll be mixing in more of that in the second half of the year.
- AIG God’s Design for the Physical World (Machines & Motion and Inventions & Technology) – We loved the Machines & Motion book and just began using the Inventions & Technology book. The switch I made to doing science 2 days a week (instead of 3 or 4) was a good thing for us. We can go more in depth and I don’t feel like we’re rushing through too many subjects every day. We’ll definitely continue to use this series but with a few tweaks I’ll mention in my next post.
History & Geography
- Story of the World (SotW) Vol. 2: The Middle Ages (with SotW Activity Book Vol. 2) – We’ve consistently loved the narrative approach of SotW and we all really enjoy the read-alouds, maps and activities in the activity book. They’ve loved using our timeline along with SotW, too. This has become one of their favorite subjects (which is so funny to me since it’s by far my weakest subject)!
- Math Analogies Book 2 – My 4th grader really likes logic puzzles and games and most days he likes this book. Sometimes the problems refer to math he hasn’t learned yet which frustrates him but we talk through those and we’ll still continue with it for the rest of the year.
- Lollipop Logic Book 3 – It’s been kind of the opposite with my 1st grader using Lollipop Logic – it’s probably a bit too easy for him. But I think we’ll continue with it anyway since it’s building his confidence and getting him to think critically.
- No formal curriculum – If there was any doubt in my mind about not doing any formal work for toddlers, it’s been totally erased this year! Two year-olds are learning ALL. THE. TIME. All we really need to do is love them, interact with them, and not squash their curiosity! Daily life and a little intentional interaction has been more than adequate to get her counting, learning letters and sounds, recognizing colors and shapes and even sounding out and blending her first words.
- Educational DVD’s – Our youngest has LOVED Leapfrog Letter Factory, just like both my boys. Cedarmont’s 100 Singalong Songs for Kids, Scholastic’s Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics and Baby Einstein: Baby MacDonald (she calls it “farm show”) are some of her other favorites.
- I’m so happy to report that our extracurricular activities are working really well this year! I was afraid it would be too much but I think it’s just about right. Our co-op has added more field trips which has been awesome and the boys are loving AWANA and open gym, as usual. My oldest is really getting into percussion in our local homeschool band and now his younger brother is excited to join, too! I love it when that happens!
So, that was a look at the good news… Check out the next post for a behind-the-scenes peek at the flip side of the coin.
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