I have hit the mid-winter slump in our homeschool year. All the whining and moping about having to do school is starting to drive me nuts. I really need to change my attitude so I'm a better example to my boys. ;-)
Seriously though, this is a tough time of the year for me. I don't want to do school any more. It is a struggle to work on it each day. To all those out there who have said to me, "Homeschool must be hard." You are absolutely right!
However, now is the time of year where I start to look at next year. I need something to get me excited again about teaching. My boys are doing well & the progress they are showing is great. I know what we are doing is working.
My six year old is blowing through the Explode the Code books this year. He is almost done with book 2 and he is reading extremely well at this point. He's also already completed the MUS Primer book we started out with in October. He finished that in December. I'll be getting him Alpha very soon. Right now we are doing extra math worksheets I'm printing off the web from The Math Worksheet Site. To round out his education we also work on his AWANA verses. Last year he really struggled with this & I wasn't always consistent with helping him. This year he is just blowing me away with what he is retaining. He still working on his first book, but he is almost done with his last red jewel. There are typically six steps to each jewel for him to earn. Then we'll work on finishing up his last two green jewels (more arts/crafty/behavior ones). Once we finish this, he can jump right in to his next book since he's technically behind.
I am also working through read alouds better this year. Right now we are reading The Bronze Bow. I'm really enjoying it. My oldest son could sit & listen all day if I could read that long. N & J aren't in to it that much, but we are working on growing that joy for them. Along with that I am also currently going through an Lent/Easter devotional book that I bought a few years ago & keep forgetting to pull out in time. The book is called Family Devotions: Celebrate Jesus! At Easter by Kimberly Ingalls Reese. I love the set-up as it as it has a prayer at the beginning and ending of each chapter. Then there is a list of verses to read followed by a "Thinking About" it section which discusses what the verses were about. Plus there is a hymn to sing (including the notes & sheet music!!!) and an activity/craft.
As for my oldest son, his schedule is slightly different. He is also doing AWANA as part of his Bible study. He is in the older group called T&T or Truth & Training. He did not finish his first book last year either but he is close to finish it this year. He is doing a phenomenal job on memorizing his verses this year. Sometimes he does 2-4 sections a week which is huge for him. A great motivator for him are the AWANA bucks he earns for each section he completes. He gets to use them in the AWANA store once a month. He also gets a set of AWANA trading cards for each "discovery" that he finishes (which is about 6-8 verses if I remember correctly).
He is also doing MUS, but this is our first year using it. I backed him way up to help boost his confidence. Math is not his strong suite. We started him out in Alpha even though could have probably done well in Beta. I think it was a good call. He finished the book in just a couple of months. I'll be ordering the new student books this week. Until then, I am making him worksheets using the MUS Worksheet Generator to continue to reinforce what we have learned.
For language arts, we started out the year using Character Quality Language Arts or CQLA. Due to some of the deficits in B's education, I didn't feel it really fit. I want to bump up his writing skills, but his spelling & grammar skills are higher than his writing. However, I started him with the PreA level which is more of a 2nd-3rd grade level. I found it way too frustrating to continue to fight him on the writing aspects at this point so we went back to what we were using last year. We are using Easy Grammar 3/4 for grammar & he does well with that. By the way, if you use this as well, they are highly discounting their books as they are in the process of revamping them. If you click here, you can see the new costs. You do have to call in your order to get this special price. I just bought the remaining teacher editions (three total) plus a workbook for my 11th grade niece for $40. I love that! For spelling I've gone back to The WISE Guide which is part of the Spell to Write and Read program. When I did a placement test for him before we restarted in January he tested out almost a full grade level higher than he did last year & he seems to really be retaining it better. I was so happy to learn that. So I've gone back to what is working.
For science we are sticking with Apologia elementary science books. This year we are going through the Zoology 2 book which is all about ocean animals. Science is one of B's favorite subjects in past years I have always made time for this in our day. This year we have been so hit or miss & I know he misses it as do I. We worked on it today & learned all kinds of neat things about sea turtles. Did you realize just how BIG a leatherback turtle can be?? Oh my! Do a Google image search on it. There are some really neat photos there with people in them to show the scale. It's just amazing.
Another favorite subject for B is history. This year we tried Diana Waring's History Alive! program. We started at the beginning with Ancient Civilizations and the Bible. While I love the whole concept of this series and I find Diana a wonderful author & engaging person (she's very active on the sharingdwaring Yahoo group), I'm finding it hard to fit this in to our daily tasks. I really like how she has incorporated all the different learning styles in to the book. It's very thorough. It's a complete series which is really important to me. I've tried some other history programs in the past that were not complete & it always bothered me. I didn't want to have to switch to something else. I really like the audio extras that go along with it. I just need to make time for this to happen every day.
So now that I have listed everything we've been doing this year, I'm going to try something new. Go figure right? It seems that is what many of us do at this point in the year - evaluate what is working and what isn't & see where the changes need to be made.
Many of the ladies on my large homeschool Yahoo group use a curriculum called Tapestry of Grace. It is a complete unit study. I would need to add in math & science and everything else would be covered well with TOG. They offer a free three week unit study of Ancient Egypt so you can get a feel for the program. So I have spent some time tonight printing out the teacher notes and lesson plans so I can give this a try. We need something to shake things up around here and perhaps this will be a good fit. At least I can find it out before I invest the money in to it or trying to find a used copy at our state's used curriculum sale this summer.
I'll certainly keep you all posted on my progress.