It’s hard to believe, but another school year has flown by!
Homeschool Year in Review
We wrapped up our school year a few weeks ago, and I wanted to make sure to come back and document what worked, what didn’t, and our favorite resources this year. I had ambitious plans this year, and to be honest, a lot of those plans didn’t happen.
When I make my curriculum plans for the school year, I always make them loosely, fully expecting that we will follow the wind and make our own path in some cases. In this first year of getting back to “normal” after a pandemic, it was tough to find balance between our activities and school lessons. I was also juggling three kids and teaching one child to read which is a huge time investment. I was also learning to adjust plans and resources to fit different children as my children are each unique individuals with their own learning styles.
Overall, we had an amazing year filled with lots of learning and magical memories.
I’ve got a video recap of some of our favorite things from this school year. This video also features some of my children’s narrations from our final exam.
For those who want the nitty-gritty of what we covered and what resources we used, read on!
We struggled through math for several years. I know there shouldn’t be tears in homeschooling, but unfortunately my oldest and I shed lots of them about math. After trying several different curriculums, we landed on Simply Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic which we used and loved for three years. Unfortunately, Book 4 was not yet published when we started the school year so we had to switch to something else.
We decided on the using The Good and the Beautiful’s Simply Good and Beautiful Math 4, and it was a great fit. My 10 year old was able to complete almost all of the lessons independently. Math 4 includes video lessons, a workbook, times table practice using the Musical Multiplication books and songs, and mental math practice. My daughter consistently says math is one of her favorite subjects now, which is a huge win!
We started the year using Simply Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Arithmetic Book 2 for my 7-year-old 2nd grader, but lost steam very quickly. The first half of the book is all review of the first book which he had just finished. I skipped a lot of the book, but still we couldn’t get into a groove. My daughter had been older when we did Book 2 and had flown through it. My son needed more practice and was desperately bored with the consistent format of the lessons. Pretty quickly, I decided to also switch him to The Good and the Beautiful’s math. Math 2 was a great fit for us!
Math 2 requires parent teaching, especially if a child is not reading yet. Each lesson required about 15 minutes of my time for teaching and help with practicing new skills. Then there was about 10 minutes of additional review work at the end of each lesson.
I mostly loved Math 2 and will definitely use it again for my youngest. But there were a few things I didn’t love. Math 2 spends a lot of time and teaching a child how to tell time on a clock and with a calendar. This is something my kids have just learned naturally. I came to loathe all of the calendar and elapsed time work. About halfway through the book, I just started crossing out those problems so we didn’t waste time with them.
For youngest who was 4 and turned 5 in the fall, we continued using Preschool Math at Home. This book is full of simple ideas about how to begin teaching math concepts in a natural, easy-going way. My daughter loved getting one-on-one time with me and loved all of the hands on ideas like this sweet tea party where we counted out cups, saucers, and spoons for all of her stuffy guests.
My 7 year old continued reading lessons as we worked toward learning to read. I taught my oldest to read easily using the Charlotte Mason method, and didn’t realize that some kids require much more effort to teach them to read.
We started the year using the Delightful Reading kits from Simply Charlotte Mason. These kits take educational philosopher Charlotte Mason’s ideas and put them in an easy-to-use kit with tons of hands-on activities that introduce reading in a sweet and gentle way. We used Level 1 for my son’s first grade year and loved it. He was making progress with Level 2, but as he wasn’t progressing as fast as my daughter did, I started to do more research on the science of reading.
The science of reading is the collective body of research and expert theories compiled over the years about how children learn to read and how they learn best. There are five elements that are key to reading success:
- Phonemic Awareness
While I loved the heart behind Delightful Reading, I knew it was missing the mark big time. Charlotte Mason didn’t have 100+ years of research back in the 1800s. But we do! Why would I stick with an approach that might work for some kids, but definitely wouldn’t work for all kids.
My conclusion was that every child would benefit from a systematic, explicit approach to teaching phonics. I ordered Logic of English Foundations, and I have been so happy with our decision to switch.
Logic of English has a lot of moving parts. It was a bit overwhelming, but my friend Megan at theschoolnest.com got on the phone with me to hold my hand while I decided and figured out where to start and how to organize everything. There are also tons of YouTube videos with helpful advice on organizing and presenting the material.
We started with Foundations A even though my son already knew all of the basic letter sounds from Delightful Reading. But I am SO GLAD that we started with Level A! We went through each letter of the alphabet and learned not just “A is for apple” but alllll the sounds of each letter. To be honest, *I* learned so much from Foundations A, and will never ever teach reading any other way again.
We finished Level A within a few weeks and had a letter party to celebrate!
We then moved onto Level B which took about 3 months to finish. We ended the year about halfway through Level C, and more importantly, he is reading!
Not only is reading well, but he is also writing and spelling at the level of his reading. This is important to me because of the challenges we have had to catch up my oldest’s writing ability with her reading ability. I am so happy that Logic of English works reading, spelling, and writing all into one program.
My youngest started to show interest in learning letters also. After dabbling with the Delightful Reading kits at the beginning of the year, we quickly switched to Foundations A. We made it about halfway through the book this year. We are taking it very slow with lessons only upon her request since she is only 5. She definitely needs the games and hands-on activities more than my son did.
Spelling & Grammar
We had planned to continue using the writing workshop from The Good and the Beautiful for my 10 year old, but she was getting very bored with the workbook. In January, we switched to Logic of English Essentials. We completed units 1-7 (Level C) with each unit taking two weeks.
Logic of English Essentials is a very thorough spelling and grammar curriculum. My daughter loved exploring words, and it was great for her to learn the same phonics rules my son was learning. Her spelling and her confidence in spelling improved so much!
Overall though, we both became pretty bored with the format of Essentials. It felt like work for both of us as it is very teacher-intensive. We opted not to continue with the other Essentials units.
Copywork & Writing
Each of my kids made it almost all the way through a level of Handwriting Without Tears. My 10 year old continued with cursive, and the younger two did print.
We also did several note booking pages to practice copywork.
I saw a jump this year where my oldest was doing a lot more original writing on her notebooking pages.
We had planned to read King Arthur this year along with some other planned reading, and none of this actually happened. My kids were not interested in King Arthur at all, and several of the books we started lost steam quickly.
We read many good books as a family, but they happened more organically.
A few of our favorite read aloud books from this year:
- Anne of Green Gables
- Sign of the Beaver
- Johnny Tremain
This is an area that needs some improvement next year for sure!
We started the year trying to use The Dart from Brave Writer. I’ve decided that we prefer to read and enjoy our books and not turn them into lessons. We do several projects from Jot It Down and Partnership Writing this year that my kids thoroughly enjoyed!
My 10 year old also did a Brave Writer online class in January that was fantastic as usual. These classes are intensive, require a good amount of work, and stretch her capabilities. Plus they are a lot of fun!
We covered early American History from European exploration up to the Louisiana Purchase. We mostly used books I already had on had from Beautiful Feet Books. This book was a fantastic addition for hands-on activities:
Our trip to New England including Boston in October was a fantastic learning opportunity to bring some of that learning to life. Highlights were seeing Plymouth Rock, the Boston Tea Party Museum, and the walking tour of Boston to see all of the important sights.
We also studied Henry David Thoreau and got to visit a replica of his cabin at Walden Pond.
We loved using this book to explore his life with hands-on activities.
This was our second year trying ad failing at British History. We tried new resources this year and still couldn’t get into it. I gave it up mid-fall. I never learned any British History, and my kids might not either! I’m OK with that.
We had a lot of fun learning about ancient history this year using A Child’s History of the World as a spine with the study guide from A Mind in the Light.
Our read aloud book Boy of the Pyramids which was a favorite book for all of the kids. We also did a lot of hands-on projects including making cave drawings on paper bags, carving cuneiform clay tablets, and mummifying a hot dog. A lot of our projects came from Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt for Kids: Her Life and World with 21 Activities.
We finished Charlotte Mason’s first geography book this year. I love that it’s full of simple explanations about basic geography ideas with some hands-on activities.
We also used our Pin It Maps quite a bit this year. These are great for reviewing locations we’ve heard mentioned in other readings.
Our favorite geography resource is still this landform unit study from Stephanie Hathaway Designs. Whenever we encounter a new landform, my kids build it in sand and then we explore real life examples and compare and contrast it with other landforms we know.
We used the Energy unit from Sabbath Mood to start the year and loved it! It outlined all of the reading as well as hands-on experiments. We all learned a lot from this unit! It has been a nice way to ease into more complex science topics outside of nature study for my oldest.
We also used the year 2 science from Blossom & Root. This was my first time using Blossom & Root, and I was impressed! The science curriculum gives so many options to make the resource work for your unique family. It has options for “book basket” families who want to do a lot of extra reading, plus options for crafty families who love arts and craft projects. There are also simple labs for each week that my kids loved and learned a lot from.
We ended up taking two or three weeks on each “wonder” so we didn’t even make it halfway through our study of plants. We will continue this study next school year.
Our co-op ended up doing quite a bit of science this year. Each family took turns designing a science experiment, and each week we got to do the experiment as a group. This was a lot of fun!
We also documented a lot of our in-person nature observations in our nature journals.
We also enjoyed the Kids Moon Club and followed the cycles of the moon with special celebrations each month.
We started out the year using Beautiful Mundo Volume 1 with our co-op. This resource is fantastic to use as a group or as a family resource. I love that it has a theme for each week along with poetry, songs, vocabulary, and picture books to check out from the library.
We fizzled out with using it just because Spanish easily gets pushed to the bottom of the list for us, but I plan to pick it back up next year.
My oldest and I took one-on-one Spanish classes (gifted to us, but absolutely worth the money!) with a tutor through Homeschool Spanish Academy this year. I cannot recommend this amazing resource enough!
HSA has their own curriculum for students and one for adults. You meet with a teacher for 25-minute classes via video chat to practice conversation, go through the lessons, and review. My 10 year old did a class on her own and made fantastic progress this school year. I also took a class separately so that I could learn and practice material to teach my two younger kids.
We will definitely continue classes next year. Once my son is reading fluently, he will start classes as well.
I had planned to use A Manual of Clay Modeling and Paper Sloyd for Primary Grades this year. We did work through a few clay models and several paper sloyd models, but lost steam a couple months into the year.
Honestly, we have created an atmosphere of handicrafts in our home that mean my kids are creating ALL the time. I think we will do paper sloyd next year because my kids did enjoy it. The skills are so practical and applicable across many artistic disciplines.
But other than that, I think I will stop trying to fore handicrafts as a subject unless there is something my kids take an interest in and want to go deeper in.
I’ll share a few highlights from this year for each of my kids to give you an idea of what they were interested in:
10 year old girl:
- crochet stuffed animals
- polymer clay fairy houses
- latch hook
- loom knitting hats
- sewing- made a cape and a drawstring LEGO bag for sibling Christmas gifts
- quilting- made a lap quilt and several other projects from Sewing School Quilts
7 year old boy:
- latch hook
- finger knitting
- loom knitting hats
- carving sticks into a point
- simple sewing on a machine
- wire art- made wire name bookmarks for sibling gifts
5 year old girl:
- knitting with a lucet fork
- sewing buttons on burlap
- making bookmarks
We tend to tie handicrafts in with other subjects a lot. One of our favorite projects this year was our family memory book inspired by modern artist Louise Bourgeois.
Poetry, Art, & Music
We used and loved Morning Virtues this year for our poetry, artist study, and composer study. Morning Virtues is a collaboration between myself, Ashley from Meaningful Menus, and Erin from Gentle + Classical Press. This is truly a resource that I love and use with my own family!
Each edition focuses on one virtue and includes read alouds, hymns, poetry, artist study, composer study, handicrafts, and so much more. The print editions are gorgeous and so easy to use, but it also comes as an affordable PDF version.
You can try the Courage edition absolutely FREE!
We used Philosophy for Kids as a springboard for discussing philosophy this year. It’s designed for grades 4-12 and the concepts are deep, even for me!
There are 40 questions that are really conversation starters. The author presents the questions and then uses arguments from great philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle along with a guided activity to help children begin to form their own thoughts on the subject.
We really enjoyed our discussions that came out of this resource!
We didn’t get to studying world religions this year as I had planned. It was one subject we didn’t find time for, and that’s OK.
My oldest started the year doing Waldorfish Geometry. We have used and LOVE Waldorfish for art for several years. I thought this would bring a little fun into our math study, but it turned out to be a little too…Waldorfish for us. My daughter couldn’t get into it and after a couple of lessons with tears involved, we gave it up.
I had big plans to use Bestowing the Brush and Waldorfish for art this year, but we actually didn’t end up using either of them.
My 7 and 10 year olds were beyond the basic skills in Bestowing the Brush and got bored with it quickly. I do plan to use this resource with my youngest when she is 6 though!
My 10 year old had already gone through Waldorfish Weekly Art and was going to go through it again, but the lessons were a bit too advanced for my 7 year old. We’ll save them for next year!
We ended up doing several kits from Let’s Make Art. The supplies were really high quality, and my kids loved all of the projects we did. I loved that there were enough supplies for all three of my kids and me to play and explore. Each box had enough guidance to do a few projects, but also enough creative freedom to customize projects with personal touches.
There were a few things I didn’t love about Let’s Make Art, including the price. It was nice to get boxes delivered, but not really sustainable all year long. Also, I found there were a lot of extra supplies and clutter that came with the boxes that I didn’t want to deal with.
Toward the end of the school year, we started some (gifted) lessons through The Masterpiece Society. You can try a lesson FREE and paint your own sweet bluebird.
And we LOVE them!!!
The Masterpiece Society has a monthly membership where you get access to TONS of lessons- mostly videos taught by th wonderful Alisha. And while I love having so many options, I am also easily overwhelmed.
Alisha takes care of that by setting up a list of recommended lessons to do each month. This recommended list is grouped by age which means each of my kids gets to do lessons that are just for them, which they love.
There are themed lessons that go along with the season, mixed media projects, drawing lessons, lessons tied into literature and Shakespeare- so much fun stuff!
You can try a FREE lesson through my affiliate link here. Use code ROOTED for 25% off any purchases!
Both of my older kids continued private piano lessons this year. They made such great progress and more importantly, had wonderful fun playing and learning.
We also had fun learning some handbells this year. We played some seasonal songs with our co-op and did some on our own as a family as well.
One thing I’ve learned about myself this year is that if it takes work to prepare, we won’t do it. This is one area where we did end up doing a few recitation pieces, but I have plans to be much better this year. I’m going to pre-plan pieces for the year and put them all in a binder now so that they are done!
My 10 year old memorized several passages from Shakespeare, the Gettysburg Address, Paul Revere’s Ride, and the preamble to the Constitution. My 7 year old memorized many nursery rhymes as well as the months of the year and lots of other practical info.
We continued using How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare this year, which is a fantastic resource for getting started.
We studied “As You Like It” and got to see a live Shakespeare in the Park performance of the play which was really special.
We also read “A Winter’s Tale” as a family over our winter break.
My daughter finished the first level of typing from The Good and the Beautiful.
After trying a few other programs, I love the simplicity of their typing program. It’s not an online program so I don’t have to worry about ads or online safety. All the child needs is a computer keyboard and a word processing document to complete the lessons. She can do these lessons completely independently.
We also got her an email account this year. Once a week, she practices her typing by sending emails to friends and family. I felt like that was a good introduction to the power of the Internet in a safe environment.
Figuring out how to give my youngest the preschool experience she deserves while schooling two older children has been a real challenge.
I ended up hiring a teacher to come and do a preschool nature group at my house for her and several other children once a week from 9am to 1pm. This was an amazing way for her to get dedicated time for learning and playing. It was so special!
We did math and reading lessons a couple times a week, but other than that, she just played!
One of the perks of homeschooling is that we get to travel throughout the year, and it doesn’t mean we have to miss school. To us, traveling is an amazing way to learn!
We started the year traveling a few hours to the beach to see a sea turtle hatchling release. I’ve always wanted to do this, and it was so amazing to get to do it with my kids.
This school year, we traveled to New England for a two-week road trip through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
We traveled through so many adorable towns. Visiting Acadia National Park was incredible. Spending time in Vermont and diving into the local culture was so wonderful. And getting to bring the history of the American Revolution to life in Boston was better than I could have imagined.
We also spent 10 days in Utah exploring mountains and the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
We spent a week in Orlando visiting family and of course, going to see the Mouse!
Our last trip of the year was a long weekend out in West Texas. We stayed at Indian Lodge in Fort Davis so that we could do a star party at the McDonald Observatory. This was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Part of homeschooling is involving the children in every aspect of life. For us, that means they get to help manage our 7-acre homestead.
All of the kids help in the garden.
We added four goats to the family this year. The kids got to help with putting up fences, building enclosures, and of course bottle feeding!
A Year in Review
Overall, we had the best school year I could have imagined.
One of my goals this year was to focus on being consistent with reading and math. We definitely accomplished that!
My 10 year old gained a lot of independence this year which helped me be able to focus on the high task of teaching my middle kiddo to read.
I feel like we got into a great rhythm of doing our lessons each morning and had a great balance between work and fun.
I’m feeling so good going into our next year, which will be our 7th year of homeschooling!
Any questions? Leave a comment or shoot me an email!
Leave a Reply