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The “school” year comes to a close

I breathe a deep sigh of relief as the year comes to a close for us.  It’s been a tough one.  Between food allergies and trying to teach 2 kids, it’s been interesting to say the least!  All of the focus on health, the cooking, and the lost sleep as a result of reactions was draining, and made it very difficult to stay on task this year.  But — we did it!!!  

I had really thought we’d love it, but in reality, I will be very happy when someone purchases our copy of Winterpromise American Story 1 off the trading post online.   I wound up really disliking it.  Many of the books were way over Lilli’s head to the point of tears of frustration (and I was the one reading them out loud, not her!) and the whole thing left a lot to be desired.  We wound up having a really great time studying American history this year despite it though!  We snuggled up in my bed every night and read oodles of books, reliving everything from Columbus’ journey, to Squanto and the Pilgrims, to a great escape of a Native American girl from another tribe, to a family’s journey the revolutionary war, and more.  We had a blast!  And being able to go relive so man of these stories in real life around here in VA made it all the better.  We can’t wait to go to MA and see more!

Mickade did a TON of work this year in math.  We got a little behind our goals with all the moving last year, so he had some extra do this year, and he did great.  We started with Math Mammoth which, quite honestly, brought tears, so we moved to the ever-popular Singapore Math 3A.  He had a few holes so we backtracked to 2B, moving through it quickly, then back into 3A.  He did great with the work, but, quite honestly, the way this program teaches math was too spiral for him and we had tears on a daily basis.  I pushed and pushed him through it, when I finally decided this was NOT the vision I had for homeschooling.  Never once did I picture us screaming and crying every day when math came out, nor was it EVER this way before us.  I’m not sure why it took so long for the lightbulb to go off in my head, but it finally did and we made one more change, this time to Math-U-See.  It is mastery based, and different from other curricula in that it focuses on one thing each year.  I put Mickade in Gamma, which is multiplication, and he took off!  It has been absolutely fantastic for him.  He watches a dvd lesson, then does worksheets until he understands it. The program has a whole set of unit blocks that goes with it, and they are used to help the child quite literally see math.  He loves it (well, “loves” may be a strong word, but I can say we have not had fighting and tears since we switched.)  Because he had background in multiplication but the old program didn’t really allow him to get mastery, we were able to go through most of the year’s work quite quickly.  Out of 30 lessons, we are now on 24 I think, and he will finish it up over the summer.  The way it’s set up is great, because there are 3 pages for each lesson that focus on the new material, then 3 more that include that plus systematic review of everything from the past. The system makes it easy to customize to each child, since we can do less of the worksheets on topics he gets quickly, and more on the ones he doesn’t.  There is even a worksheet generator on the website if you need still more.  Long story short, he took his first standardized test since VA requires them, and though I don’t have the results yet, he kicked butt in math. 🙂  A little hard work goes a long way!

Lillian did great this year.  We tend to keep things laid back in K and 1.  Lillian is a go-getter though, and even though I had started her with Rightstart Math, she had to have workbooks like Mickade, so she wound up completing Singapore Math 1A & most of 1B, all on her own.  Seriously.  I barely discussed and answer with her at all.  I’ve learned this year that she is very independent (well, I knew that, but not in regard to learning lol) and hardly wants me in the equation at all!  I’m making some curriculum changes for next year, even from what I used with Mickade at this age.  I still really like First Language Lessons, but I can tell already she is going to fight me all the way with too much mom-lead work.  Since I don’t really like Singapore Math, Lillian will move on to Math Mammoth 2 in the fall, since it is an excellent program similar in rigor to Singapore but written to the student, so she can retain her independence and use me when needed!  That girl will argue something to death, and never admit she was wrong.  She “doesn’t need” me to teach her.  If she makes a mistake, she finds a way to back out of it as if she knew the real answer, she just wrote that one for fun.  Ah, these will be interesting times with her! 

Summer is here though, and so is the fun!  Our neighborhood is jumping with new kids, they are out playing all the time, and they have a few weeks of camp starting tomorrow (read: mommy vacation time.)  We’re going to spend most of our time hanging out and having fun this summer, but I’ll be slipping in Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry, Pre-Level, over the summer.  They’ve been asking for chemistry and this actually looks FUN, so who am I to deny them?  I’ve never seen a chemistry book explain things to kids in such an amazing way, maybe my kids will have a chance at making it through college chemistry if they need it to achieve their dreams!