Year in Review: 2016-2017 School Year

How’d it go?

I feel like I must have done something right this year, because I am SO EXCITED for next year already! How is that possible? We’re supposed to be all burnt out and hanging by a thread this time of year.

Not me.

I’m already buying stuff for next September! It’s gonna be awesome.

Even though my kids have officially gone crazy the last 3 days (I think it finally hit them that it is almost summer break) we are still loving this homeschooling gig up to the very last day.

Which was today! Hooray!

I separately asked my 4th and 2nd grader about each subject and what they thought about how things went this year. (I didn’t ask my kindergartener because I’m pretty sure his answers would all be “I hate reading. I didn’t really like school very much,” even though I know he had a lot of fun and has learned a lot. I’ve just got to figure out a way to to get less resistance from him (a.k.a. figure out what intrinsically motivates him.)

Anyway, lets’ begin.


4th grader: I liked that I could do a lot of the math on my own without having to have help. I learned a lot of new things that I didn’t know before. It was better when I only had to do the odd problems in my Mixed Practice sets because having so many problems to do is overwhelming for me and then I can’t do it.

(Mom perspective: Yes and yes. As long as he was still getting good grades on his tests and was getting the vast majority of problems correct on his daily assignments, I didn’t worry about him only doing half the actual workload. This made a HUGE difference for us this year. Imagine that! I don’t have to do what the book says (make sure your child does every single problem!), I can make up my own rules! The main issue for this child was lack of focus and distraction issues – which I guess are the same thing. I’m hoping this is something he grows out of. If not, I will have to look into other ways to help him. (He has improved actually a lot on focusing this year, too, so I am not overly worried.) Saxon Math 6/5

2nd grader: I liked math. It wasn’t too hard. I learned a lot of new things like division and multiplication and long division.

(Mom Perspective: Agreed. I’m really excited to have her on the next level next year, though, because there is less hands on activities. Does that sound horrible? I don’t mind manipulatives, but with math I really just don’t want to go upstairs and fill water containers with different volumes or bake brownies. It doesn’t fit my neat little conception of “doing math” even though it is obviously worthwhile. Saxon only has you do stuff like that for grades 1, 2, and 3. And probably kindergarten. We start with level 2. But level 5/4, which is where she will be next year, is more of the self directed format like what my older son was working on. It’s math more my style. She did awesome, though. Math, although not her favorite subject, is not a problem for her and that is a great blessing!) Saxon Math 3


4th grader: I like it when I just sit down and do it. But sometimes it takes a long time. It’s not my favorite subject.

2nd grader: Grammar was good. It’s not my favorite subject.

(MP: I love this grammar. I admit it gets a little boring and redundant, but they actually learn grammar rules! Also, although the lessons in level 4 can take some time, level 2 is usually only a 5 to 10 minute time commitment.) First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 4 and 2


4th grader: Uh, it was fine. But I don’t like to write.

2nd grader: I don’t like handwriting. But I do want to learn cursive better.

(MP: Agreed. What the 2nd grader means is she doesn’t like doing her handwriting workbook. We had a major blow up a few weeks ago. But we both learned valuable information from it. One, if she knows she is doing something incorrectly but doesn’t know how to fix it, she needs to come and ask for help. Two, I need to supervise her handwriting much closer to make sure she understands what she is supposed to be doing. I neglected to actually teach her anything and just assumed the workbook would do it. I was even prompted – yes prompted by the Holy Ghost – to check on her regularly throughout the year with her handwriting. But I didn’t listen. Because I was lazy. And it resulted in a blow up that made her cry – a lot – and gave me great reason to apologize. the majority of the fault was mine. But we are friends again and know what to do better for next year. I guess there were three lessons learned. Three, listen to the Holy Ghost, even if he is just helping you with your handwriting lessons.) Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Level 4 and 2C


4th grader: I liked this WAY better than last year when I had to do the workbooks. But I don’t really know if I’ve learned to spell any better.

2nd grader: I don’t really have anything to compare it to because I never used a spelling workbook. I don’t really know if I am better at spelling. But it was ok.

(MP: The previous years we have used Spelling Workout workbooks and I felt like they were a huge waste of time. I attended a conference workshop wherein the presenter said to not waste our money on the expensive spelling programs down at the curriculum fair but to instead use McGuffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book ($10) and some phonogram cards (If you really want to know, ask, and I’ll go downstairs and dig them out to tell you which ones I bought). She suggested just practicing a list of words from the book 4 days of the week, quizzing the words on Friday, and going through the phonogram cards every day (which we stopped doing because I was in a hurry, I think.) I like this system better also. But it is kind of hard to tell if their spelling is getting better because of the quizzes or because they read all the time. I think I just learned to spell by reading a lot…. and spellcheck.) Mcguffey’s Eclectic Spelling Book.

Writing and Rhetoric:

4th grader: I really, really liked writing the stories at the end of each lesson. I really liked this book this year.

2nd grader: N/A until 4th grade

(MP: First time using this. Love it. And this is the kid who doesn’t like to write! Ha!) Classical Academic Press Writing and Rhetoric Books 1 and 2


4th grader: Um…. Latin is kind of hard. It is a lot of work. But I like that I am learning Latin because I think it is cool to learn Latin. Even if it is hard.

2nd grader: N/A until 3rd grade

(MP: I think so, too. It is hard. It is a lot of work. But what the heck the kid is learning Latin? That’s just awesome. I like the curriculum we use because it teaches actual grammar. I haven’t enjoyed other language programs for kids because they just had you memorize vocab or stock phrases. We could do a lot to improve our study, though. Like better use of flash cards, listening to the chant/song CDs in the car sometime, maybe even  watching the DVD every day instead of just on Monday. Also we stopped doing the translations in the little “reader,” after a few weeks, too. We did them all last year. Maybe next year with Primer C we will start up again.) Classical Academic Press Latin for Children Primer B


4th grader: Oh, I LOVED history!! I liked doing the projects, especially the lap books. Except I didn’t like it when you would say we had to hurry up and finish. I would like history better if I had more time to do everything. I think I would like to do more lap books. I liked it when you read out loud to us, too. I like to listen to the books, especially the little book.

2nd grader: I really liked history. But I didn’t like doing the lap books. I mean, I didn’t like having to write things in the lap books. I liked the cutting and glueing part. I mostly just liked when you read aloud to us. I like that A LOT!

(MP: The 4th grader is referring to our “textbook.” I liked history, too, although modern history is so hard to teach. I think it turned out pretty well. I tried to focus on less, but more. As in less projects, but bigger projects. The Civil War (and here) and WWI got the biggest emphasis as far as projects go. Near the end we did less projects and more just out loud reading. I guess we were going “Charlotte Mason” by doing the “living books” thing. I think really I was just a little burnt out on big projects. Next year we are back to ancient history and I think we will mention the “littler” stuff, but then just do big projects for the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Old Testament history.) Story of the World: Volume 4 Modern Times


4th grader: I liked physics. I liked to fun projects. I liked learning about all of those things. But I didn’t like writing out all those papers. It was better when you stopped making copies of the worksheets and you just read to us and then we did the experiments.

2nd grader: We learned a lot of really cool things but science isn’t my favorite subject.

(MP: Science – for the last 2 years – has driven me nuts!! Not because I don’t like the curriculum (I really REALLY like it, actually) but because I can’t seem to get the kids to sit nicely in their chairs like robots and answer me politely and seriously. Nor can I get them to keep their hands off the science lab equipment until we are ready. Or to stop mixing things. Or stop messing around and being goofy. Basically, doing actual really cool hands-on science experiments is just too fun and exciting and tempting, and I am just not good at NOT being in control of everything all the time. I think if I cared less about making messes or things not turning out right, and just let the kids take more of a lead (and took more deep breaths) science would not raise my blood pressure as much. And I stopped photocopying the lab sheets for the last month because I got lazy and I forgot. But, really, I thought they were beneficial.) Pandia Press Real Science Odyssey: Physics Level 1


4th grader: I liked playing with the Engino blocks at first, but then after a while I got used to them and they weren’t as fun. I didn’t really like engineering.

2nd grader: I didn’t really like engineering. It’s just not really interesting to me.

(MP: I didn’t like engineering either. In fact, I didn’t even like the Engino blocks! They were so frustrating. And the little booklets that go with them were way above elementary age level. I only added this class because I had to have a tech/entrepreneurship/engineering class for a program I signed us up for. And it was pretty obvious to me – and in return probably obvious to all the kids, too – that we were just doing this because we had too, not because we really wanted to. I’ve noticed that even though a subject might not be a certain child’s passion, because I am passionate about it, they have a better attitude. I guess they figure if mom loves it there must be something worthwhile to it. We just never felt the love for engineering. Also, I didn’t realize until a third of the way into the year that our physics book had an entire unit on simple machines!!! If I had realized that I would have structured the class completely differently and I think we would have endured it better.) Engino Simple Machines kit.


4th grader: I really liked symposium!!

2nd grader: I forgot her response! Oops!

(MP: Me too!! I’m so glad we started this! I’ll have another post just for our symposium experience and what we plan to do next year. But for here and now I’ll just say, this was the best addition to our homeschool this year. Minimum added stress, maximum added value. My only hang up is that my kids were supposed to sit quietly and draw/color/write/rest as they listened to each piece every morning. But for goodness sakes, with some music you just have to MOVE! The problem is once you accept a lot of wild movement, you get a lot of wild noise, and then symposium becomes less of an enriching experience and more of a wild and noisy experience with awesome music in the background. I’ve got to come up with a better way to balance our physical enthusiasm for classical music!) no textbook.

Gosh, that has got to be the most boring blog post in the history of homeschooling! But I felt it had to be done. Technically my 4th grader has a week left of Latin review, I’m making the 4th and 2nd grader finish out their handwriting books – even though it will take them into the summer, and yes, you poor, poor kindergartener-going-on-first-grader, I’m gonna make you read a book every single day this summer. The Library summer reading program sign up is next Monday and we are going to be first in line!

But because today was the official last day of “school” for us I felt like I needed a little end-of-year closure.


Check! Check!

The school year is now officially OVER!

If someone would just let the weather know it is supposed to be WARM now, that would be awesome, too. 🙂