It’s mid May and we are starting to wind down on Hailey’s 4th grade year and Kaitlyn’s 2nd grade year. I had to pause for a second writing that because we’ve officially reached the stage of homeschooling where we are so immersed that I don’t think in terms of grade levels. I also no longer google “what my xyz-grader needs to know” like I did so often our first few years. It feels good to have finally reached that place of being that comfortable with our path.
I planned their end of year testing for early June to keep us motivated to continue with full lessons through May, but I feel the natural winding down of things over the past few days. Swim team is in full effect, we have park meet-ups planned, and the weather is just so gorgeous that we all want to be outside now that the pollen is finally starting to clear and we aren’t hacking anymore.
I’ve already been looking ahead at what I want to do for next school year. I’m going to see how the summer goes, but I imagine we’ll kick things off again in mid-July when we are all over the excessive heat and humidity. For now, we are looking forward to the relaxed pace of summer which includes an easy daily line up of math, piano, and reading. Before moving ahead with planning though, I wanted to take a look back on this 2021/2022 homeschool year.
What Worked For Us This Homeschool Year
- IEW Structure and Style for Students. I need to do a full review on this writing program I used for Hailey because I found it all a little confusing at first. We’ve taken our time with the program and will continue it into next year, but I’ve fallen in love with how they teach writing. I watch the instructional videos (they have a great teacher) with Hailey so I can guide her through the assignments and it’s been an enjoyable learning experience for us both. We will definitely be sticking with this!
- Beautiful Feet Early American History. Learning through living books is our family’s jam. We stretched this program out and are on our last few lessons now, as we finish the Civil War period. We have learned so much and have been so engaged; we will all be sad to see this come to an end, but I’m using it as a catalyst for understanding what kind of learning works best for us and it has me looking into Gather Round as an option for next year, as we enjoy learning together so much.
- Co-op. What a blessing it’s been for us this past year. Not only for the Spanish teaching (though the kids loved it), but for the people. You can read about a day at our co-op here. We have park playdates and a cookout planned with the community over summer and are looking forward to everyone returning in fall, and welcoming a few new friends, too.
- E-Singapore Math. Switching to this math has been a gamechanger for us. It might not be a great fit for everyone because the program is still working through some technological bugs, but we went from a family that fought every math lesson to having two kids that truly enjoy the lessons (because they are simple, direct, and SHORT), grasp the concepts, and don’t struggle and roll eyes every time math is mentioned. For us, a tiny bit of math consistently works well. It’s less than 15 minutes a day, but doing that consistently has made Hailey more confident and less opposed to lessons and Kaitlyn has thrived and is flying through levels.
What Didn’t Work For Us This Homeschool Year
- First Language Lessons. I actually love this program for it’s easy open and go nature and it’s direct teaching style. It’s clear and concise. However I got our levels wrong this year and both girls’ books were too easy for them, and thus they were bored with it most of the time. I tried switching them up a level but never got into a good rhythm with it. I might try to start Kaitlyn fresh with it for her 3rd grade year, but Hailey is aging out of it and finding Fix It Grammar to be a much better fit for her.
- Spelling. This is all on me. I haven’t taught any spelling curriculum because I don’t care much about it and it all sounds so dry, but I know I need to get my kids up to a certain level, so I’m going to check out Spelling Connections, which was recommended to me. They are both fine readers so I thought the spelling part would come more naturally, but I’ve reached the point that I can’t stand seeing “wellcome!” written anymore. I’m open to suggestions here.
- Adding piano lessons in has been incredible. I have no musical talent and watching the kids learn to read music, practice pieces, and perform in recitals has made me so proud.
- Read aloud time is still sacred and we are savoring every moment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I dread being done with Harry Potter because it’s been such a magical shared experience, but at the same time I look forward to diving into other books together that we’ve neglected in favor of going all in on Harry Potter.
- Some extras that have been fun and educational for us this year include Tinker Crates, Reading Eggs, Epic, Synthesis for Hailey (full review coming really soon; I’m finishing it up now), and Mystery Science.
I always feel a little guilty that there is no ceremonious end to our homeschool years. We typically just fade into summer as we finish up curricula. But again, that is what I love about taking a more year round approach; we just ebb and flow with the seasons. For now, bring on feeding the baby ducks, making cooking videos on iPads, reading HP while eating chocolate caramels, after dinner walks, and all the sun-kissed goodness this season brings. We’re ready for it!