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Normally the school year flies by, but with a cross country move added into the mix, this school year dragged on. There is just something about thinking how we started in one state and finished in another to really stretch out the time.
At the end of every school year I like to reflect on what worked and what wasn’t a great fit for our family. It helps me narrow down my curriculum choices for the next school year.
What Worked: Homeschool Curriculum Review 2017-2018
Every year I choose the resources and curriculums that I think will best fit each of my kids. I have never tried an all-in-one-box curriculum because I prefer to choose each individual selection. That is the type A control freak in me.
The book lists I put together for each kid went over pretty well this year. They didn’t necessarily love every single book, but they did read them all.
I was pretty impressed that Hannah was able to keep up with the reading I assigned as well as reading most of the books for her Harry Potter co-op class. She has always been a voracious reader and shows no signs of slowing down. She seemed to like the responsibility of choosing when to read the titles on her 7th grade book list.
Ben finished all of the books on his 4th grade reading list and even read Ready Player One for fun. He has grown so much as a reader over the past two years. Out of the books I assigned, his favorite was The One and Only Ivan. He was surprised to learn the history behind the story.
We started off the year strong with plenty of tea with poetry sessions, but they kind of fell to the side once we started getting ready for our move. I finally unpacked our china just this week, so hopefully we get back on track with that this summer.
Verdict: Awesome! I will definitely put together new book lists for next year.
This was our first year using the WriteShop program and I thought it went really well. Both kids really improved in their writing ability. They learned to write in a variety of styles. I especially liked that the teacher’s manual gave good instructional advice. The assignments back fired a bit after Hannah wrote a paper on hedgehogs. Now she is obsessed and wants one as a pet!
Verdict: Worked great! We will move on to the next levels in the fall.
Related: How to Set Up WriteShop Junior
We continued using All About Spelling this year. This is the second year in a row that both kids have used this curriculum. I really like that it is rules based. Even I understand the spelling rules much better now.
Verdict: Still working. We will return to this in the fall.
Ben started out using the Easy Grammar program this year. Honestly, I didn’t love it. The book is large and covers a lot of grammatical territory, but there isn’t much review. He quickly forgot previous lessons…which tells me he wasn’t really learning the rules anyway. We have been reviewing Hake Publishing Grammar and Writing 3 program the last few weeks and it is so much better. I will have a full review on this curriculum soon. Stay tuned!
Hannah took a pretty intense grammar class through our co-op in 6th grade so this year she just used the Junior High/Senior High Daily Grams. It was a good daily review, but I think she will benefit from a little more instruction. I’m still considering options for 8th grade.
Verdict: We are switching it up next year. I think Ben will continue using Hake Grammar, but I’m not sure about Hannah.
Math felt pretty random this year.
Hannah was in a 7th grade math class through our co-op, but that we had to drop that for the move. I did find a math book that she really enjoyed, Interactive Notebooks Math. It is like a lapbook for math. It is a supplement, not a full curriculum, but that was perfect for the end of the year. It reinforced some things she learned in class and showed me other things to teach. I want to incorporate the 8th grade version into her math instruction next year.
Ben was also in a math co-op class, but his was only meant as a supplement. He started the year using Khan Academy as his complete math curriculum. This worked for him in the past, but by late-winter/early-spring he was tired of an online curriculum. He is my tech kid, so I was shocked that he would rather use a pencil and book. I value his input, so I quickly bought a 4th grade math workbook. I didn’t really follow along with his Khan Academy lessons and didn’t know what he still needed to learn for the year. This workbook has been fine for finishing out this school year, but it is just a workbook, not a curriculum.
Verdict: Not awesome. Send suggestions.
We continued using NOEO this year with the physics II curriculum. Let me first say that I love that they send all of the books, lesson plans, and experiments in one big box. I am much more likely to complete an experiment if all of the materials are already in my house. That being said, it didn’t really challenge my kids this year. Maybe because the subject matter was things they find interesting and had researched over the years on their own? By the end of the year we stopped doing the included experiments because my kids already knew how it would turn out. We did the reading and I found other activities.
Verdict: We have outgrown this curriculum and need to find a new one for the fall.
I am a big fan of Story of the World and that didn’t change with volume 4. The activity book lets me add fun hands on activities and engaging books to round out the lessons. We used Story of the World until we moved cross country. I expect we will complete the second half of the book next year. The book contains a lot of material for one year!
We started using the Silverdale White House unit studies after our move and I’m in love. So far we have completed in dept unit studies on Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I didn’t realize how little I knew about these holidays until I saw this program! I will have a full review next week, but for now, know that I will definitely be adding these unit studies in next year.
Verdict: Okay. We will definitely be adding in a few Silverdale unit studies as seasonally appropriate. We will likely continue using Story of the World unless I come across something that knocks my socks off.
On one hand I bombed teaching US geography this year. We got off to a strong start, but the momentum fizzled out fairly quickly into the school year. We did not last long on my homemade geography curriculum. I think it was a great plan, but we were overloaded with too many co-op classes.
On the other hand, my kids got a bunch of real life US geography experience over the past year. In the last 10 months they have been to Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia. They will add South Carolina to the list later this summer.
I had a bit of homeschool mom guilt about not sticking to my carefully crafted plan, but after playing the Professor Noggin’s USA geography card game with my kids, that guilt is gone.
It wasn’t a text book geography education, but honestly they probably learned more than if we had followed my original plan. One of the awesome benefits of homeschooling is being able to change directions. Nothing beats real life experiences.
Verdict: Didn’t go as planned, but everyone still learned.
How did your year go? Have a curriculum you love? Share it in the comments!
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