Curriculum Hits and Misses for 2015-2016

This year has been a year of growth for us.  We spent less time doing our “enrichment” subjects (social studies/science/art) and more time focusing on the 3 R’s.  You wouldn’t know that from this blog, though, since I tend to post our unit studies almost exclusively.  I guess that’s because they are more fun and get more pictures and seem to have a definitive beginning and end.  Our other subjects are mostly continuous.

You can see our curriculum choices that I posted for last year, here.  Conner started the year at 8 years old, and Logan was 6.

Hits:

Math-U-See   The biggest and most exciting win of all would have to be Math-U-See.  After a year and a half of trying at least 6 different math curriculums, I can definitely say that Math-U-See is a good fit for us.  Conner flew through the Beta level and is already several lessons into Gamma.  Logan is finishing up Alpha this week and will be moving right into Beta.  Getting into a good place with math feels like our best accomplishment for the year.  I’m glad we kept searching until we found a good fit.

Spelling You See   Early in the school year we decided to give the sister program to Math-U-See, Spelling You See, a try.  My original motivation for purchasing Spelling You See was that I decided to put a hold on our Handwriting Without Tears lessons for a year, for both Conner and Logan, and I wanted something that they could use to at least continue practicing their penmanship for the year.  I didn’t think Conner was ready to start learning cursive yet, and Logan was already a year ahead, anyways, in the HWOT program.  I was skeptical about Spelling You See at first, because it seemed so…simple, but was pleasantly surprised when it helped them both with their progress in reading (especially for Conner)!   We started the program from the beginning, using the Listen and Write level at double-speed.  Now they are both working through Jack and Jill.

All About Reading  (sort of)  We’ve been using this program for years now, starting with Level 1 and moving into Level 2, where we are now.  They definitely both had a lot of growth with reading this year, but I can’t decide if it had more to do with beginning Spelling You See (as mentioned above) or with All About Reading itself.  Logan is a natural reader and has been cruising right along, but Conner’s progress has been SO. VERY. SLOW.  I know that a lot of it has to do with the fact that he is just personally not a natural at learning phonics, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s ever going to take off with this program.

Five in a Row  (sort of)  My heart just gets all warm and fuzzy when I think of or hear about Five in a Row.  It was the first curriculum we ever used and we have lots of great memories from all of the different “rows” we’ve done.  We really only average about 12 rows per year, though.  I’m an overachiever by nature, so even though Five in a Row is meant to be done easily by following the manuals and keeping it simple (which is the method which many moms adhere to and find success from), I just can’t seem to do that.  I don’t want to miss anything, so I spend way too much time planning and executing our rows.  The problem with this is that young kids can only learn so much from these experiences, so I leave each row feeling like my effort far exceeded what they actually got out of each study.  Then I feel burnt out and it takes me a few weeks to work up the energy for another row.  I still want to do some rows here and there, but it can’t be our main curriculum anymore, especially as Conner gets older.

Piano Lessons   Conner, Logan, and I all started taking piano lessons from a local lady.  I wouldn’t say the boys love it, but I love it and we’re learning tons and we’re going to stick with it!  There are many different schools of thought on this topic.  After much deliberation on my part, I decided that if we started this, it was going to be something we stuck with come hell or high water.  They may not be excited about it now, but they’ll be glad they know it when they’re older and we’ve found a great teacher.  In a few years, I may let them choose a different instrument if they’d rather, but only after they have a good foundation in piano.

Misses:

Spanish   We just didn’t even get into that workbook at all.  After a few weeks of half-hearted attempts, I shelved it.  I’m hoping to really get started with spanish next year, though.

Handwriting Without Tears   As mentioned above, I decided to set these books aside for a year.

All About Spelling   For some reason, I can’t seem to wrap my brain (or schedule) around the idea of doing two different programs with tiles and word cards and phonics rules simultaneously, every single day.  I feel like I can either do All About Reading or All About Spelling, but not both at the same time.  Or at least not both on the same day.  Since we are still focusing so much on reading, All About Spelling took the backseat this year.

In conclusion, next year is likely going to look quite a bit different than the past several years have, as we look for a new program to use as our main spine for all of our enrichment subjects.  There will likely also either be a new reading program and/or a reading tutor for Conner.

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