We are done with school! We have five glorious weeks off! Ok, so we do have a little history and state study to finish off, but that's fun.
I am gathering items for the boys' portfolio, which is always a good reminder of how much work was actually done, and that they indeed did progress. Some days, especially during the long, dark winter, it feels as if all is a failure.
So, how did the year pan out?
Miss Z turned three in December, but she pestered me all year to "do school." Really. I am all for letting preschool kids play and read, but she wanted more. In the midst of everything else, I did a few book and activity themes (like this), which she loved, and was fun, but also a lot of work for me (or it felt like it was). After Easter, I started her along the alphabet path, thinking to take a month per letter, but I found that a month was too long, so we are using two weeks for one letter. She constantly amazes me at what she grasps and remembers. Each child is so unique.
With turning 5 last June, and having the attention span of a puppy, I kept Miss L's kindergarten routine simple and light, and here she is catching on relatively easily to math and reading. I had her jump onto other "fun" subjects, but for her main schooling, it was all about our faith, reading, handwriting, and math.
For math, she used MCP Math level K, which is a simple book. Honestly, I feel at this age, anything that gets the child understanding numbers, recognizing numbers, direction (like over/under/in/below), grouping, patterns, writing numbers, coins, and beginning addition and subtraction is sufficient.
For reading, Hooked on Phonics is working for her to get started with reading. She still tries to guess at many words, but in the past two weeks alone, I have seen a difference in her reading. And that's how reading goes... you can only do so much and then it just clicks. At least, for my kids, that is how it's been.
For handwriting, Miss L used Memoria Press and Handwriting without Tears. I wanted to like Memoria Press, but I keep coming back to Handwriting without Tears. The kids like the layout and they seem to respond better to it.
For religion, we spent time praying, reading a kid's Bible, and doing Liturgical activities. Of course, her answer now for any question that involves, "Who?" is "God."
What a fun year with Mr. D! He went from barely reading to reading chapter books, from basic math to beginning multiplication and division, and his creativity is really starting to open up. He loves to draw, and seems to have a natural talent for it. In short, he seems to be one of those lucky kids that has a knack for school and skills. Don't worry, it's not all roses and sunshine with him. He is very stubborn. Very. That's all I will say about that.
For math, he continued on with MCP Math (level B). The book worked just fine for us for this year. He did well with it. Each new concept he would look at it, tell me it was too hard to do, refuse to do it, and then (being stubborn myself) he would do it, ace it, and ace the rest of the concept. He rarely missed a problem. Occasionally he would refuse to do work because he felt the publisher laid out the page wrong or could have done a concept a different way. Yeah. He's going to be fun as he grows.
For reading, he read out loud from Seton's Faith and Freedom readers, which he really enjoys. Once he was able to read more independently (this spring), I had him do both oral and silent reading. He is enjoying the Magic Tree House series at the moment. After each book, he goes online to answer questions about the book and earn a sticker for his passport.
For handwriting, it was about perfecting his cursive handwriting, using a mix of Memoria Press and Handwriting without Tears.
Now that he is reading, I had him pick up additional language arts -- spelling (CHC spelling), language (CHC's Language of God), and Handwriting with Ease 1. We also used Playful Poems as a supplement which he enjoyed. It utilized listening skills, comprehension, drawing, rhyming, and word "puzzle" games.
Of course, he did plenty of "fun" stuff throughout the year: creating art, playing music (learning the recorder), put together circuit boards, etc.
Finally, throughout the year, he prepared for his first confession and First Holy Communion. He made a notebook, went through the St. Joseph catechism (no.0), and used Faith and Life (grade 2).
This year was a pretty good year for Mr. A. Outside of regular (if prolonged) illness, he suffered few headaches and other weird days, which helped immensely with school.
For faith study, he used Faith and Life 4 and I had him do a basic saint study each month. He used this basic form to gather information. This next year he will take another step and put info together to start the writing process. Handwriting, language, and now writing has a been a long, slow process for Mr. A. I see his younger siblings taking steps that Mr. A took so much longer to take. He is a lesson for me in patience, in faith, and to take each child as he or she is, to challenge at his or her level, and not to compare. It is a tough lesson!
He worked on Math-U-See Gamma (multiplication). He originally started off with Teaching Textbooks, but the spiral format just does not work for him. I'm sticking with Math-U-See for him for the long haul.
For reading, he read books he chose and I chose. I also had him work on comprehension using CHC's Rare Catholic Stories (and study guide) and the Father Brown Readers (and study guide).
Handwriting was perfecting cursive, just like his brother. Both boys seem to enjoy cursive handwriting.
Other language arts... spelling (CHC), language - CHC's Language of God plus a side track to bolster his skills with Funny Fairy Tale Grammar, and Handwriting with Ease 2. He also studied common Latin and Greek roots the first half of the year, followed by Vocabulary from Classical Roots (in perusing this series, I did find some anti-Catholic statements in the higher-stage books).
Mr. A may have to work harder at school than his brother, but he has a big heart, loves to read and play piano, is eager to learn about our faith (and the saints), helps out when I need him, and likes to be in charge.
Both boys worked on map skills (this, at their level) alongside history, which covered the Crusades through the Protestant Revolt and Catholic Reformation in the 16th century (we used RC history as our starting point). For science, we finished off our insect study started last spring and did a bird study this winter and spring.
As much I ranted against the checklist, it works for my boys. It helps them work independently, and some days competitively. While I prefer hands-on fun, it isn't always possible, and you know, school is work. It isn't always fun. And that's ok.
But for now, I am closing the books and taking a break.