Thursday, June 9, 2011

Year Four - DONE!

And so, my fellow homeschoolers...
... we just finished our fourth year of homeschooling.


I know this is probably oversharing, but this is record-keeping for me at this point.
If you've ever wondered what we've been doing, this is for you.
Not that interested?  Move along, nothing to see here.

By and large, it's been a GREAT year.  Though I'm sure we'll continually tweak and fine-tune, we've settled into a groove that is working for us.  For the most part, we've been able to get the vast majority of our academic work done in four days a week.  (Yay!)  Those days are probably numbered for Wyatt, at least, but we love our relaxed schedule.  And hurray for Gramma and Grampa Grasshopper, who have provided many wonderful PTO days.

Some folks are comfortable with a looser arrangement, but my family works best with structure, so this is what weve been doing.

Wyatt, Tate, and Gunnar

As the boys get older they'll have to do more of their work separately, but up until now we've done most of the heavy lifting all together.

We just finished our last chapter of a four year tour - the Story of the World.  We've made models of Viking boats, Chinese lanterns, Roman shields and spears, baked hard-tack, cooked n'shima, and ollie bollen, and even mummified a chicken.  We've mapped the world, over and over, and read countless stories of rulers, explorers, heroes, and ordinary people.  It's been quite a ride!  Good memories :D

This year we waded (in the shallow end) into physics, working our way through Janice VanCleave's experiments, backed up with Eyewitness books.  We LOVE experiments.

The boys and I have been memorizing Philippians 1 and 2.  Still working on it... and cruising through these books also.  Actually, we did the 21 Rules last year, and Rules for Young Friends and Uncommon Courtesy this year.  Though they're aimed at fairly young children, I modified them for our family.  Rules for Young Friends instigated some VERY appropriate and much needed discussion about the expectations I have for our kids as well as their guests.

Technically, only Wyatt and Tate were working through Words on the Vine (Greek and Latin work roots), but Gunnar listened in on all the discussion, so when he works through the book later he'll probably have pretty smooth sailing.

I had all three do journal writing a couple times a week, and our subjects varied widely.  Their favorite is when I pick five random words and they make up a story using all of them.  But we did have some more focused writing.  They had fun with some of the poetry, but other times it fell flat.  We tried.  We really enjoyed using The Mysteries of Harris Burdick as a jumping off point.  The premise of the book, by Chris Van Allsburg, is that a man named Harris Burdick appeared at a publisher's office with a stack of sketches with captions that were proposals for books.  He left them with the publisher but - mysteriously - never returned.  Of course, they're all in Chris Van Allsburg's wonderful style.  The boys had fun with these and would usually come up with wildly different stories.  I've also had them all using online resources for learning keyboarding.  We'll continue that through the summer.

Tate and Gunnar

While Wyatt worked independently, Tate and Gunnar and I worked through Draw, Write, Now and Sequential Spelling.  Gunnar tends to get frustrated very easily with himself when trying to draw, and I thought this might help.  They mostly enjoyed it.  Tate struggles mightily with spelling and this book has been the most helpful of anything we've tried yet.  We'll be doing Book 2 next year.


I can't believe how much Wyatt has grown this year, physically (looking quite the young man, and not the boy - even shaving) and personally.  He's able to take a lot more responsibility for himself when he wants to.  (However, motivating a 14 year old is no bed of roses.)  Still, he's making great strides.  He has fabulous drawing skills, and his coordination is unbelievable.  If we had the time and resources, I think he could succeed at any sport he cared to try.  Academically...

I had Wyatt start the year working through Lial's Basic College Mathematics, which was intended to be a review of everything he's learned previously.  My other goal was to encourage him to work more independently, which is very difficult for him.  Hard to know when to push and when to ease up, as he definitely has attention issues.  Over the years we've seen vast improvement.  He's not distracting others or misbehaving (as much), but sometimes struggles to get through his work.  Ugh.  When he finished with Lial's, we went right into Jacob's Elementary Algebra, and will finish that up next year.

For Language he's worked through all of these.  A Beka's Grammar and Composition is thorough, though very dull.  Vocabulary from Classical Roots is more Greek and Latin word roots.  I've seen this help the boys with understanding new words in their reading, so well worth doing.  Those 16 lessons balance out with 20 lessons of Wordly Wise to finish in an average school year.  I'll keep pairing these for at least a couple more years.  Editor in Chief is just what it says - practice in editing, something my boys can use, anyway.  And I love the Getty-Dubay Italic series for handwriting.


After all of Tate's medical surprises last year, we were very glad to have a "boring" year this time!  Tate's favorite subject is history, hands down, and I can usually count on him to supplement whatever we're covering with books and resources we have around the house.  Though he struggles with writing and spelling, all on his own he has decided to write a book, and is 70 or 80 pages in, last I heard.  Amazing.  He is tenacious and persistent.  And can think better if you rub his back ;D  Academically...

He cranked through Saxon 7/6 math.  He's pretty solid, so we'll skip 8/7 and go right into Pre-Algebra next year.

Tate's in his second year of doing A Beka grammar, this time Language B.  As with Wyatt's, it is rather dull and clunky, but good discipline.  Tate alternated Wordly Wise (vocabulary and comprehension) with Nonfiction Passages - practice reading, analyzing, and extracting information from non-fiction articles.  He faithfully churned through Spelling Workout D, but I think the Sequential Spelling works better for him, so we'll quit this series.  And, for handwriting, Italic D.  I may have him do that again next year.  All my boys could use more practice with their handwriting, but all making progress :D


Has really come a long way this year.  I have to remind myself to look back where we started the year to see how much progress we've made.  Gunnar doesn't like writing things down.  It takes way too long, and his brain (and usually his mouth) are going a mile a minute.  I'm always amazed at how much he understands and remembers - even his brothers' work!  He's my most cheerful worker, when Wyatt isn't provoking him.  Academically...

Gunnar is off-cycle for math, as we skipped Kindergarten math and jumped into first grade math midway through kindergarten.  Continuing that pattern, he finished his third grade math back in February and launched into 4th grade math.  Consequently, he has trouble remembering which grade he's in.

Together we skimmed through Paragraph Writing and Book Reports, while he worked (more) on his own through Daily Grams, Spelling Workout C, and Italic C.  It's hard, being the littlest, when everyone knows more than you.  And it's easy to get frustrated.  But he is doing GREAT.

And can you guess what his favorite color is? ;D


Felicity said...

It all looks great, Julie! I'm sure you cover more than we do even with our whole package that we bought...
I use (and enjoy) several of the books: Italic handwriting, Sequential Spelling (my favourite right now) and several others.
I'm still struggling with the whole 'working independently' thing with the middle two, while the older two amaze me. it makes me wonder what I did right with them that I haven't repeated properly with the next two... ;-)
Good going, enjoy the summer!

Anonymous said...

huge congratulations to the boys!! and mom an even bigger WELL DONE!

Anonymous said...

Whooo-eee! Congrats! Another year - now to prepare for the next. Blessings...

P.S. This last year was my first full year where I was not homeschooling. There is a part of me that is so sad mine have graduated... If you ever get the inkling to put them back in school for middle school/high school - email me. IMHO - don't. And I'm free with the advice as to why - grin.

tammy said...

Yippeee for another school year completed! This is the first year EVER I even remotely thought about homeschooling. I give a lot of credit to those who do it! So hats off to you and to your boys!

PS - when I taught in the schools, I used a lot of my own "stuff", which included Saxon math, Janice VanCleave experiments, and if you haven't tried her math experiments, Marilyn Burns is also amazing (which the same hands on lesson can be taught at multiple levels!)

Crystal in Lynden said...

Happy End of the Year! I enjoyed seeing the materials you use. I may borrow that idea for a post. :-)

melanie said...

Well done, Grasshoppers! I hope you are having some great lake weather to celebrate =)

Choate Family said...

I love seeing how others make homeschooling work for them - thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work!!!

h west said...

Saxon math makes me want to barf all my guts out. My Wyatt did Basic College Mathematics too and I am in love with that text. I'm going to make all my kids do that book in 8th and 12th grades. If you know all the math in there, you're set for life. How did you like that Latin Vocab Roots book? I've been wondering about that one. We do the Wordly Wise thing too and my kids do the happy dance at the end of the year when we pitch it in the recycling bin.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Saxon isn't for everyone, but it is thorough. And we don't do all of it. Honestly, just show me you've mastered the concept and we move on. I like it because it's WAAAAAY more straight-forward and sequential than the way they'd been taught math in public school, which was insane.

Vocab from Classical Roots - like it. 16 lessons per book. Less work than a week of Wordly Wise but similar exercises. I wouldn't do them both at once. But with 20 Wordly Wise lessons and 16 VCR lessons, it makes up a 36 week school year.

And to be clear (for everyone) we don't necessarily do every single thing in every single book I'm showing.

leah said...

I want to get that "21 rules" book! I don't homeschool, but we LOVE the Usborne books. Matt is at least one grade ahead of his classmates in reading and math (he's starting kindergarten in the fall and has about 500 sight words + decoding basic 3-letter words) - working out of a 1st grade math workbook for basic addition at home. I do a few extra things with him since he really loves to "play school" with our books at home!

Congratulations on being DONE for the year! I have a feeling your science experiments will continue through the summer, though, lol!