Third Quarter Evaluation

Midieval_School_March18_2011Here we are; the end of yet another quarter and the beginning of our final stretch. Now that three-fourths of our official learning year is under our belts, it’s time to take stock of our routine and start planning next year’s learning.

I think all of us can see the curriculum we’ve chosen is working well. The children are progressing nicely in their lessons and learning much. No; I don’t think we’ll change the company we’re currently working with. All the same, there are one or two changes which will be instituted next year.

Science and history seem to be the two areas which need adjusting first and foremost. In previous years, we’d done unit studies to cover both these subjects, but this year was the first we’d made a change. (You can read about our switch HERE.) I made a solid attempt to stager our book learning with active lessons, but half of these activities never panned out. I admit I am completely to blame; when it came to implementing most of the activities, I realized I just didn’t have the energy or the desire to do them. Realistically, I’d penciled in ideas which were either far too grand for a morning lesson or I had failed to gather necessary materials.

As I begin to start evaluating next year’s lessons, I am going to make a point of being more down-to-earth. Are these ideas which we are going to be interested in? Will I be able to put these together with sufficient time? Will I remember to purchase all the materials needed? While I am typing up our routine and tentative schedule, I want to make sure I am taking all of this into account.

Learning Fun 2

Usually, we spend our afternoons handling elective “rotations”; one child covers Spanish, another typing, a third reads, while yet another is practicing piano. They spend a portion of time at their ‘station’ and then rotate when mommy calls out. Unfortunately, our keyboard called it quits this quarter. While I am sorry to see it go, my man has decided it might be time to invest in an actual piano. (Hooray!) This is going to be a welcome change for next year’s routine! We are also going to introduce our son to the awesome world of Spanish lessons. He usually spends two rotation times reading, but next year that is going to change. Before we know it, we’ll be a bi-lingual family. Β‘Excelente!

Besides re-evaluating a few subjects, we are also going to be reducing our outside responsibilities. This year, we noted how little we missed participating in our PSP’s Spring Co-op session, so we will not be resuming those in the fall session. I’ve also begun to notice how tired I have become; not physically, as much as mentally. There are several activities which we are going to be dropping permanently once May is complete. It’s amazing how just letting go of a few things eases the mind and creates more time. Plus, I’ve been able to clear out much-needed space which was dedicated to these activities, which will be put to good use.

On a smaller scale, we’ve decided to start a few new things as well. We are going to be investing in a few items for our kitchen; namely, candy making items and baking tools. We’ll be making a point of spending more time together in the kitchen, having fun and being creative. Sewing will also be a big part of our coming year. There will be lots of sewing practice, with projects beginning in the fall. Perhaps we’ll get to that quilt the girls keep mentioning. It can’t be too hard, right?

Learning Fun 4The third quarter might be finished, but we’ve still got another nine weeks to go. I pray we finish well; enjoying each day and creating new memories. This year will be done before I know it and we’ll be diving head first into summer.

What changes doΒ you plan to implement next year?

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19 thoughts on “Third Quarter Evaluation

  1. I’m the same when it comes to Science projects. I am a book learner, and I seem to avoid the hands-on activities. Oh, we’ll just skip that for now, and get to it later. But my children, particularly my second son, learns best with the hands-on stuff. So I get to about half as much as I should, and leave some of the more fun projects for my husband to do on Saturdays. He enjoys that, and it brings homeschool and family life together, which is nice for all of us.

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  2. I tried to have projects with science and history last year and could never get the materials together in proper time. This past year I purchased kits for science and history and we have managed to get most of them done. It is a bit more expensive to use these kits with everything you need in the box but the kids love the hands on learning. I will be purchasing kits again for next year. Maybe this is something that you might like to try?

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    • Thanks for the suggestion. I’m curious… when you did the boxed kits, did they align with what you were learning through a text or did you skip the text entirely and do only kit work? I would be interested in hearing more.

      If I could find kits that match up to our science book (which has built in experiments, but we didn’t really do any), that might work. I didn’t always care for the experiments that were in our book; some were too boring and others more observation than experiment.

      I really want to make a point of doing more though AND including more active ideas for history. I just need to be more dedicated about making them happen.

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      • You could check Home Science Tools to see if they have kits for the science you use…I’m not sure what you use. Amazon is another good site to browse for science kits. Next year we are going to use Thames and Kosmos Milestones in Science kit that I found on Amazon and use it with Beautiful Feet Books History of science course (mostly biographies). The kit is set up by subject and would be very easy to use as a unit study style. I am going to use it chronologically and pull the experiments to match our current scientist. The set also comes with a nice experiment guide and short biographies of each scientist. Well do a science history time line and some map-work to go along with it.

        The science kits I used went along with the curriculum we used (Apologia and REAL Science Odyssey) very well. We haven’t done most of the Botany experiments because of winter but will fit them in this spring and summer as we grow our garden.

        I wanted to use the classical method in our approach to science but could not find a good science curriculum to match. My kids all love science and we had to abandon REAL Science Odyssey because it was too easy for them. So I ended up going to Apologia. We’ve done two books from Apologia and they are ok just not the classical approach. This coming year we are going more literature based style since my kids love to learn that way.

        History kit ideas:

        http://handsnhearts.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1

        I’ve used Hands and Hearts and was happy with all the crafts except for the ones using beads. Their beads were to small for some of the materials. But did encourage my kids to get a bit creative in solving their problems.

        https://www.artinhistory.com/

        Haven’t used them yet but I have already budgeted them in for next school year.

        I’ve found a few ideas on The Well Trained Mind Message Boards too.

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  3. You are in one of the most fun seasons of homeschooling. I sort of miss it. They grow up and sometimes want to do other things, and they are part of the selection process. It can look very different when they are older. πŸ™‚

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      • Yes, it will! πŸ˜‰ And you will love it for different reasons, probably. My boys were eager to use some online learning, so I went with it. They love it, and the lessons are at the appropriate level. I get to teach to my strengths. They get things I might not be able to do quite as well.

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  4. It’s great to see you and your family “creating”. I just posted something on the importance of our young minds creating versus recreating what’s been done. Sounds like you and your family have a great year ahead. Look forward to the pictures of the sewing and baking.

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  5. Congrats! It’s awesome when you get that feeling of accomplishment and that things are moving along…We use Sonlight’s science and the activities, books, and DVD are all “synced”, so it follows through…..It also comes with supplies for the experiments, and I do have to supply some others, but overall its excellent. Hope I can get that feeling sometime in October…

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  6. We also are reevaluating for next year at this time. My daugher will be in 4th grade. We will continue to use the Guided Reading of readinga-z.com as well as beloved literature/chapter books. Language arts activities are included in each reading a-z lesson plan. I also just improvise a lot but being a former full-time school teacher, I really enjoy planning literature units.
    This past year, for science, I used sciencea-z.com and supplemented with activities from AIMS. If you’re not familiar with them you should really check them out. (Activities Integrating Math and Science). They have tons of activities and experiments for a wide variety of math and science concepts. If you don’t want to buy a whole book you can buy e-versions of the experiments for like $2 each. Then you can pick and choose what you want to do and keep it cheap.
    I am eyeing Singapore Science as a possibility for next year. Has anyone used them? I LOVE the Singapore Math and Trin has flown through 2 years worth of math in just over one year. (The math program in her school was abysmal…one of the many reasons we pulled her out.).
    We use the “What your ___ Grader Needs to Know” series for history, which we have really loved. World History is introduced from the very beginning of their education which makes this “third culture kid” mommy particularly happy. πŸ˜€ I’ve gone a little lap-book crazy this year to supplement activities to go along with our history lessons and she has really loved that. The BBC also has a GREAT primary grades website for Greek, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and Viking history. And it’s FREE.
    You may already know about it but teacherspayteachers.com has teacher created resources for every subject out there. I enjoy picking and choosing supplemental materials from them. As you can tell, we piece-meal our curriculum as I was not totally enamored with any of the “total package” curriculum available. I didn’t want to shell out a ton of money and then only use 40-50% of it. What I am most looking to ramp up next year is our writing. I want to hit it a lot heavier and have had a hard time finding a GOOD curriculum that is for elementary level. My daughter loves to write and I want to help her flourish. We use Rosetta Stone for Spanish. I’ve made a few pathetic attempts to include music in our curriculum but it is largely lacking if anyone has a recommendation for a musically-challenged mommy!
    Sorry this turned into a really long stream-of-consciousness post, but its all on my mind a lot as I look toward next year.

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      • Yeah, sorry, that’s the teacher in me. I come from a long line of teachers. πŸ˜‰ I’m constantly planning and reevaluating as we go. I hope it helps. I always enjoy finding more resources to check out! If you want an excellent bible curriculum we use the “What we Believe” series published by Apologia. I think it’s designed by Summit Ministries. It is fantastic. I can’t remember how old your kids are but it starts around 3rd grade and they have a series that goes all the way through high-school.

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  7. PS I really hope none of this came off the wrong way! I taught full time for 5 years and I think I really miss the collaboration with other teachers. Not having a HS group here, and not even knowing anyone here who Homeschools, I miss out on sharing and getting ideas from others. Thanks for being a place to get those thoughts out and to hear from others what they’ve done that worked and what didn’t work.

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    • Again; no worries! Your thoughts were kind and generous. I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to share with us your wisdom and findings. It’s very helpful! πŸ™‚

      I can appreciate not always having someone to talk to. Being at home with four kiddos all day long, sometimes I just want to talk to another grown lady! I’m glad this is a forum in which we can do that.

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