The Yearly Assessment

Year_End_AssessmentIt’s here. The ‘official’ end of another year of learning. The time to assess what worked, what didn’t, and what’s to come.

Over the course of our children’s learning, I’ve found it helpful to do a quick year-end review. With the kids adding input, we discuss what worked, what we hated, and what we’d like to do more often.

Language Arts

This is one subject we all agree upon: it works! We like the curriculum, we like the layout, and we like the pace. We are currently using aBeka and that will probably stand for our coming year.

Reading

While we all love reading, we found this subject to be a trial this year. Mommy had the brilliant idea to hand out reading lists with ‘required reads’ on them (I got the lists from The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer), to be completed by the end of the year. Unfortunately, Mommy forgot that what works for one child, isn’t necessarily going to work for another. Thus, two of our kids did really well finishing off the lists (the older ones), while the younger two really struggled with this.
For next year, I think we’re going to change this up a bit. I will have a short list of books I would like them to read, based on our history/science lessons. Other than that, they are free to read what they like. For my high schooler, her reading list is going to be slightly more challenging than her siblings’ and will include writing assignments as well.
While I’d love them to read the classics, forcing them to read what they don’t like will only kill their love of reading and this is not the goal. I will continue to encourage it, but take one day at a time.

Arithmetic

This is another subject, thankfully, which is working pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, my high schooler isn’t happy about doing algebra, but she’s learning tons and doing well with the aBeka curriculum.
I think we’ll be sticking with this until graduation, for all four of the kids.

History

This subject was a total bust. For the last two years we have been using aBeka for history and science, and, unfortunately, it isn’t working! Oh, they’re learning; a little. But, they hate it! The reading is long, boring, tedious, and repetitive. There are very few activities, and Mommy was constantly supplementing with her own activities. Even Pop thought the material was boring, including unimportant details while not mentioning others which should have been included.
Next year, we are going to be switching curriculum entirely. The base of our learning will be from The Story of the World. So far, just planning it out, I’m loving it! It’s short, to the point, has tons of activities, and leaves room for your own additions.
For our junior and senior high schoolers, we are going to be supplementing our family lessons with work from Western Civilization. I even found a helpful, online site which has tons of activities. We are all looking forward to the change.

Science

As I mentioned a moment ago, science was not working for us either. This subject, if possible, was even worse than history. While I like aBeka for their language and arithmetic, history and science just wasn’t working for our family.
Next year, we will be using Biology: A Self-Teaching Guide. Biology; even for the littles? Absolutely! As a family, we will be covering the basics of biology together. After a quick initial lesson, the children will each be given hands-on activities and reading at their level. This is going to be a fun, experimental year in our homeschooling. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Music

We all enjoy music, but the kids found this subject a bit of a trial this year. While they like classical music, they really wanted to branch out, learning to play more contemporary Yearbook #3 (2013-2014)songs.
After a little thought, we purchased/downloaded sheet music for them based on some of their favorite tunes. Classic Disney songs, music from Charlie Brown, and more are now being heard around the house. Frankly, I wish we’d done this sooner. They still play the classics, but it’s been fun hearing them play a few favorites as well.

Computer Tech

Our kids have always been encouraged to learn computer technology. We have quite a few art programs, editing apps, and devices on hand for them to use. This year, we took their lessons a step further. We brought in programming, animation, and drawing tablets.
Next year, we’re going to bump up their lessons just a bit more. We’ve invested in a camera, film equipment, film editing apps, and more. Our goal is to help our kiddos learn to make their own films (and help mommy make videos for this blog!), edit them, and upload them for others to see.

Home Ec.

While I’d love to tell you I have been on top of this one, I probably could have been doing more. We bake – on occasion – we cook, clean, and do a myriad of other activities, but nothing with a definitely goal outside of household maintenance.
Next year, I would like to make a point of finishing embroidery projects. I’d like to start and finish a quilt. We are going to be instituting “It’s Your Night”. (More on that later this week.) I’d like to use all those fancy cake baking tools I bought which never get used.

P.E.

Just one more area where we started off strong, but ended weak. Our kids are technically getting enough physical exercise to meet the required goals. However, they are probably not getting enough for what their bodies need. They aren’t overweight; they aren’t lazy, either. No, we just don’t get outside enough.
Next year, I need to make a point of finding fun ways to get ourselves outside and active. By nature, I am not a physical person. I don’t like running around. I like activity with a purpose. So, I need to find our purpose and get a move on. We could go hiking, biking, or… (See my problem?) I don’t really know what to do. It’s time to give it some thought. ‘Cause, I don’t really care to play sports and neither do my kids.

Spanish

We’ve tried several different programs, but, for us, Rosetta Stone is what is working best. The kids are free to work at their own pace and learning a lot. Until the Lord directs otherwise, we’re sticking with it.

Overall, the year went pretty well. There are a few changes which we need to make before starting the next ‘school year’, but nothing we can’t handle. Before we get started, we are going to spend a little time simplifying life; trimming off the excess, so we can focus on what’s truly important.

It’s interesting to note, while this might be the ‘end’ of our ‘official’ learning year (what we file on paper), our learning never stops. True to most homeschooling families, learning is an everyday event in our home; it’s only the filing of paperwork which changes. However, doing a quick assessment before moving forward is always of benefit.

🔔Time to Chime In: How is your year going so far; what’s working and what’s not?

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8 thoughts on “The Yearly Assessment

  1. My kindergartener had a major change this year. He started off in a public school, then we moved to another state in December and decided to homeschool. My husband and I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, so we have been focusing on learning to read and basic mathematics. Our “extras” revolve around story books and whatever related activities I can find. It seems to be working. He is interested in reading everything now, from books to boxes and signs.
    Our state doesn’t require paperwork or testing for homeschool students, but I still want to have a record of what we have completed in case we move again.
    I want to have some specific goals for this next year because it is too easy for us to take days off right now since I don’t have an end date or anything like that.
    Anyway- totally new territory here! The younger kids will want to participate too. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow; that’s a lot of change in one year! It certainly seems like everyone is enjoying the move and the decision to homeschool though.

      New territory can be exciting, if not a little scary! Keep up the awesome work. We love hearing about the adventure.

      Like

  2. I thought I’d share a few of the things with which we’ve had experience.

    Have you ever looked at TRISMS (Time Related Integrated Studies for Mastering Skills) for history? It was designed years ago by a couple of homeschool moms and incorporates reading and writing (based on the Institute for Excellence in Writing program) into a chronological history study. I’ve heard of people using The Story of the World as a spine to accompany this program, which is research-based rather than textbook-based. My daughter really enjoyed it for 7th-8th grade, and we are planning to dive into the more advanced lessons for high school this fall. It includes some science for middle school/jr high (though there is no lab), and it incorporates art, music, and architecture in the high school levels. You can learn more about it at http://trisms.com/.

    We have really enjoyed using the books from Bob Jones University for Science. Each class requires several books (for tests, teacher manuals, labs, etc) and is pretty expensive, though. What we did is make use of our local college library which is open to the public and takes book requests. They were kindly willing to purchase the books and let my husband and I take turns checking them out all year for my daughter’s homeschooling. They also purchased the IEW writing system DVDs for us. Yay! I saved close to $200 per year that way. So, don’t forget to utilize your local library for homeschooling!

    We fizzled on PE also, though we were enjoying it the first semester. I came across an idea to write activities on cards. I think I made over 50 cards with an activity listed on one side and a silly joke/comment on the other side. Each Friday we would draw cards and then plan what order we would do them in the next week. We had everything from volleyball to bowling, hiking, roller blading, circuit workouts, tennis, speed walking, disc golf, dancing to the radio, yoga, belly dancing, etc. Sometimes we planned the activities with other homeschoolers. My daughter’s favorite was the list I compiled of two-person / partner exercises involving stretchy bands and medicine balls. Those days turned into giggle-fests and she actually asked for those routines several times.

    For Spanish class, we used part of the free, online lessons from “Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool” (http://allinonehomeschool.com/). The site, designed by a homeschool mom, covers many topics for all ages. All the lessons utilize free videos, games, quizzes, and other resources on the internet. It’s quite thorough.

    Sorry this is so long…I just wanted to share things that have worked for us.

    Like

    • Wow; thanks for all the helpful advice!

      We hadn’t heard of TRISMS before. It might warrant a look. Thanks again for sharing that.

      We do tend to use the library quite a bit. In fact, we’re on a first name basis with everyone who works there. I think we’re the poster children for the city! (lol)

      I’ve looked at Bob Jones curriculum for language/arithmetic in the past, but didn’t care for their curriculum at the time. However, to be fair, I never really looked past those two subjects. What I really like about the self-teaching guides is their focused approach; I think it will be a great fit for our family.

      I like your ideas for PE. I might have to get the kids on board and start the year off with this idea. I think they might like it.

      I have a girlfriend who is currently using the all in one homeschool. She really likes it, and it fits her budget well. 🙂

      Never worry about long comments! We love the conversation. Again, thanks for tall the helpful advice; it helps having input.

      cg

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We LOVE Story of the World! I don’t always do the activities with them, but definitely the discussion after each section. Math I’m constantly struggling with, as my kids’ strengths are so different in this area. Teaching Textbooks worked great for a few of the kids.

    Liked by 1 person

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