Homeschool Year Wrap Up…. Hits and Misses

We are DONE with school for the year. Like early-done. Like totally-done. Like didn’t-have-to-leave-anything-off-done…. WHAAA????? What planet am I living on? This. NEVER. Happens. LIKE EVER. (Are you already sick of the work “like” in just the first paragraph of this blog?…I am like sorry!

So, what better time to do a wrap up on of the school year than when it’s fresh in my mind and I haven’t invaded my limited brain space to start FREAKING OUT ABOUT working on next year’s plans.

This year I taught 8th grade (using Classical Conversations Challenge A curriculum), 6th grade, 4th grade, 3rd grade, and 1st grade.

Let’s just start with what went really well!

History – I just love Story of the World. Wholeheartedly. We like the books it recommends, the short segments and the map work. The ONLY problem I have with SOTW is their 4th book… Uggggh, I am not sure what we are going to do when we get back around to that one, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there. We used the Homeschooling in the Woods timeline figures that I bought years ago (I use them SOOOO much and I am so glad I made the investment in the whole set!)

Science – I only did 2 books when I normally do 3 per year. It worked out really well this year and the kids still got a lot out of them. We notebooked our way through them and that is always an easy yet effective way to retain information. You get to use all the different parts of your brain doing sketch journaling and it is fun; what’s not to love.

English – Grouping Michael and Faith together has been really advantageous. It allows me to teach one thing and have both utilize it. Also, Michael struggles a bit in this area, they are only a year apart in school and there is so much repetition and review in all grades you can easily lump kids together that are close in age. Last year I did 6th grade with my 5th and 7th grader (splitting the difference).

Spelling – I think we will be continuing to use the Spelling Workout Books I really like the format and the how each year it stays the same (just harder and more words). It enforces vocabulary and by the 6th grade Maddie was spelling words that I usually rely on spellcheck to figure out, but then again, I am not a strong speller, so take that as you will.

Math – Teaching Textbooks is probably what we will be sticking with although I always fall short of drilling multiplication tables and that SHOWS!!! I really need to get better at this. Anyone have a great way of having kids memorize their math facts? Flash cards, ipad drills and repetition are all I come up with. Math fact memorization is just boring. Plain and simple. But it has to be mastered so let’s put on our big girl panties and start a flash card frenzy this summer, eh?

Classical Conversations– We really loved this program for our oldest and plan to use it for our other kids as well. I am in the middle of deciding whether or not Maddie will start Challenge A this year or next, as she will have JUST turned 12 at the beginning of the school year.  AJ learned SO much, but I am afraid Latin may be a bit much for a just turned 12 year old (AJ was 13 at the start of his Challenge A year) with NO background in Latin. If we do start her next year we will be doing a summer Latin study so she at least has a little bit of experience with it. AJ struggled hard with his Latin final, although he knows SOOOO much more than he did at the beginning of the year.  He is looking forward to Challenge B next year I am I am looking forward to starting again with a bit better feel of how Classical Conversations looks and blindly trying to figure it out as we go (but that is me to a tee… #learnasido

Things that need improvement

Writing– While I LOVE Institute for Excellence in Writing I slacked at teaching it consistently. It was the subject that I tended to leave by the wayside on the days when we had too much on our plates (remember we had a baby last year… #thebabyismyexcuse!) I am planning on starting it next year with Michael (5th) and Faith (4th) although I am not sure how that will look as, like I said before, this is where Michael struggles the most. I have thought about having him keep a summer journal just to get him used to writing more and hopefully get him enjoying it.

Typing – we fell off the typing bandwagon, but I am not horribly concerned about this as most of the kids are proficient at keyboarding skills and use a computer daily for some of their school work.

Accountability – I hoping next year I am able to be a bit more organized about checking completed work thoroughly so that I can hold the kids more accountable for certain things. Accountability for them means accountability for me and last year was a tough year to keep my eye on every ball I was juggling. I think I did very well considering we had my oldest in brand new structure, I was still homeschooling my other 4, I had 2 toddlers, a newborn baby with tongue tie as well starting my new doTERRA business. Phew…

Handwriting – I LOVED having printable, renewable and super simple handwriting sheets. I DID NOT love the fact that I didn’t just PRINT THEM ALL OUT AHEAD OF TIME! But that was partly because I wasn’t done creating them. Which let me to slapping them together the morning of school that week which took more time then I had at the moment. NOTE TO SELF: I will print out a year worth of handwriting BEFORE the school year next year. I promise.

Favorite family read aloud this year: Call it Courage

Least favorite family read aloud: Samurai Tale (we didn’t even make it halfway through)

How was your year?







19 thoughts on “Homeschool Year Wrap Up…. Hits and Misses

  1. For math fact drills I suggest using base 10 blocks. Build and say. It’s interactive and really helps mental math. I use the rather expensive blocks from mortonson math (similar to MUS) because I also have their multiten blocks with the same color coding which make it easy and fast to grab and build. There are other much cheaper ones I’m sure. You can print out a sheet of problems from the MathUSee website for free that is specific to the facts you most need to drill.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I am a “Charlotte Mason” style mama starting my 19th year of homeschooling this fall. Three have now graduated and I only have two left. (This is going by WAY too fast.) Anyway, I am all about encouraging my boys to LOVE learning, but have found that there is NO better way to drill those facts than the old fashioned “fact sheet a day methodical” approach. It’s boring and tedious, but (IMHO) it gets the job done better than ALL the other colorful methods out there! And I do supplement with those colorful methods, mind you! Anyway, my first son now has a mechanical engineering degree with a math minor. My second is in his junior year of college working on the exact same degrees. I often seek their advice when choosing curriculum for their younger brothers, especially when it comes to math and science (my weak areas). They consistently tell me to drill those facts into their heads! They tell me it is THE essential building block that must not be neglected (which I am guilty of at times with my last-Ugh!) when it comes to mathematics. I usually try to do the fact sheets first thing to get them out of the way. I also love SOTW! I thought your idea of pasting the timeline figures right into their journals was a great idea! I never thought of that! I always say that you can teach an ol’ dog new tricks! Thank you!

    • I love hearing from “been there, done that” mommas who have gradated kids! Thanks for the encouragement! Drilling those facts is a big part of this year’s math approach!

  3. Reading this you sound JUST like me :). We love all the same things and struggled in all the same areas. I will say that XTRA math app was a life savor for me this year! It is the best app I have seen for drilling. It finds their weaknesses and drills drills drills. My kids have grown leaps and bounds this year with using that app 10 min a day. I like that they can get in so many more problems in 10 minutes than they would if I gave them worksheets for drill (bc it is timed to beat a clock/teacher on each problem so they don’t skip count or use fingers) but also bc it takes out the writing element. My kids have really like that app. As for Story of the world. We bought the audio Cd’s read by Jim Weiss and the kids LOVE it. They ask to listen to it on their own as well. They each have the cheap little ipod shuffle (no screen just play and volume button) and I load it with books they want to listen to, SOTW and their CC memory work for the week. SOTW is also a great car audio option but if you are like me the toddlers tend to drown out audio books in the car (hence the reason we got the older ones their own shuffles). Thanks so much for all of your tips, tricks and videos! I am always learning and gleaning from you!

  4. I love watching your videos. I am trying to get everything ready for August when we start homeschooling. My daughter who just finished K doesn’t want to leave public school, but the 7th grader really wants to leave. So besides this hiccup in our plans, we are anxious to homeschool. I am also looking forward to your handwriting curriculum that you had mentioned in a couple of your videos. Thanks for everything that you do. <3

  5. Go you!!! We still have another 7 weeks of homeschool left (since we start in September and take frequent breaks!).

    We love story of the world too! My husband has read all of the volumes just because they are great books in and of themselves!

    I’ve been doing Writing with Ease with my 9 year old but have been slack to go through it with her as she likes to plough through all her work independently. Which I guess is a good thing (but then I’m really rubbish at marking work and have mountains of paper to mark sitting on my desk – yikes!!). Accountability? Not so great for me! And I’ve only got 3 kids (9, 5 and 1!). I vow to do better at that going forward too!

    Classical conversations sounds interesting and I will definitely look into that for the future.

    Thanks so much for your review and enjoy your summer break!

  6. Hi! I’m a homeschooling mom from southwest Montana. We have seven kiddos, from ages 17 on down to 4 months, and homeschooled five of them this year. I am so encouraged by what you share! Thank you for the time you take to share you and your family with the rest of us. 🙂 You had asked for ideas for memorizing math facts. For my older two, I laminated those Calculadders (then they could use erasable board markers on them), and they had to make it through all of those before they could be “done” officially working on math facts. The next two completed their math facts this year using Xtra Math (an online program); I preferred doing it online this year with so many kids schooling. The Xtra Math site sends a weekly report to your inbox so that you can see how each student is doing. The Calculadders were excellent, but had to be checked by me everyday, which adds one more thing to an already busy day…as you know. 🙂 That’s just my two cents…

  7. I always feel like I have “left overs” for the year. Do you normally go until all are done? The kids are definitely needing the break. But I was looking into the teaching text and wondering, can you reuse them each year? I too have a large family (mom of 7) and would happily make that investment knowing all the others coming up will use the same product.

    • YES!!! You can reuse TT!! I just have the kids work their problems on paper and not use the workbook that comes with it, but rather a blank notebook.

  8. Hey Nikki! I love you and your sweet family! I usually watch you guys on YouTube. It’s sooo amazing that you finished early, congrats! I’m curious as to what books you use for science as well as English? I’m a mom to 5 kiddos, 2 graduated, 3 still homeschooling ages 12, 9, and 5 1/2. I also happen to suffer several autoimmune diseases that result in chronic fatigue. It stinks, but I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me. He has impressed upon me (once again, uh hem) that I need to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetheart) every possible aspect of my life. Homeschooling is a doozy for me to simplify, ugh. Perhaps what you have done this year will give me some hopeful, practical ideas for next year.

    Keep up the awesome videos and blog. I have been blessed by you for sure!

    May YHUH bless you and keep you, may His light shine upon you all of your days! In Yahusha’s sweet name, amein.

    • We use Rod and Staff for English and Real Science for kids, Answers in Genesis and living books for science. Homeschooling is NO JOKE, especially when you’re struggling with your health. Let me know if you’d be interested in trying out some oils/supplements! I’d be happy to send you some.

      • Thank you, Nikki! My pocket book is rather slim these days, but I’ll keep your offer in mind for when we’re doing better financiallly.
        The way you do science seems like it could be a good fit for us. I love to read to my kiddos and discuss the content. It’s neat to see their “little wheels” turning
        Y’all have a blessed weekend! Shalom!

  9. U definitely r one busy momma
    Is it extremely difficult homeschooling ur children in subjects u personally struggled with yourself?

    • I was a pretty decent student. I got straight A’s and high school was pretty easy for me (National Honor Society, graduated early), but history was always a BORE to me. It is funny now because it is one of the most fascinating subjects to me! #perspective. Math is sometimes a struggle because since I haven’t used things like plotting x/y coordinates since then I am a little rusty, but it comes back once I freshen up by reading and learning along with them when they ask a question. You only have to stay ONE step ahead!

  10. We like Xtra math for math drills. Yep it’s boring, but it’s simple to use and just add to their accountability sheets. I set each child up for an addition or subtraction account and a multiplication account. so they actually have to do it twice a day. They do the first quiz and then the “race the teacher” it literally takes all of 5 minutes!
    Oh and did I mention it’s free, and they also send weekly reports to my email- so I know where everyone is.
    We are going to have a sundae party this summer. Everyone who masters their muliplication facts over the summer gets a sundae party! There’s cute printables for this, super easy and fun!

  11. This was one of those survival years. Life was full force and school suffered. Time to reign back the extras and the calendar. How do you make sure your calendar doesn’t get out of control?

    • To be honest sometimes it does and we realize it is a season. We try not to overdo the outside commitments though. I have learned to say “no” politely, yet firmly.

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