We are now halfway through our homeschool year.
This has been one of my best years for homeschool. I really feel like things are going well, for the most part. Of course there are still areas where I feel like I am not doing enough, but I am always going to want to do more than I can.
Let's talk about Roo and Rabbit together, since they mostly do the same things.
Math: I just love Teaching Textbooks. They are both doing well with math without me having to do anything. How awesome is that? The Rabbit sometimes gets behind, but then she will catch up. Right now she is only two lessons short of being halfway through the book.
Language: The Good and the Beautiful has been fabulous. I am so grateful for it. Both Roo and Rabbit are challenged without being overwhelmed. I am finding that I really do need to check on Roo's progress. Her grade is designed to be done mostly independently, but Roo has a tendency to not come to me when she needs help. Also, she hasn't followed through on the larger writing assignments. She will just skip stuff sometimes. But for the most part she works well on her own. She loves the watercolor painting assignments. The Rabbit needs me to do language with her every day, or at least get her started, but it hasn't taken a whole lot of my time, or hers for that matter.
I don't know if The Good and the Beautiful would have worked well for Bean and Fish when they were young. But it's perfect for the girls.
I also bought them each a handwriting book from The Good and the Beautiful. Oh, they love those handwriting books! In addition to handwriting practice, they contain lots of darling little drawing exercises, and the girls adore these. They both love to draw.
I try to encourage them to work on these while listening to educational audio recordings. This year I just couldn't get a handle on a history curriculum. I ended up just assigning them to listen to a bunch of audio recordings of history stuff that we already have. We have a bunch of Jim Hodges recordings of American history and the lives of great Americans and that the best I can do for history this year.
Despite the fact that The Good and the Beautiful does spelling, I am still working with the All About Spelling books. Then I just skip the spelling stuff in the other books. Roo and Rabbit are both naturally good spellers, so spelling is pretty easy and doesn't take much time. Whatever words they miss I enter into Spelling City online for extra practice. I really love Spelling City. It's another pillar of my homeschool that I wouldn't want to do without.
Oh, and I must say this. My favorite thing about All About Spelling is the sentences for dictation. They are brilliantly designed for the practice of the concepts learned, but they are also silly and they make us laugh. "Who taught your cat how to do long division?" "The walrus demanded a place on the fishing committee." "Our neighbors are always hiding in the cactus patch." They really add a welcome spot of humor to our homeschool day.
I mentioned before that I am really trying to focus on science this year. That's why history got downgraded. I couldn't seem to get a handle on both of them. But I am glad we are really working on science.
I have them doing Discover the Scriptures. Honestly, I don't really know how that's going because I haven't been checking their work, but they periodically ask me to print more pages, so I think they're reading it at least.
Piano practice is another main thing we do, and that is going tons better since I hired a piano teacher that isn't me. I have been wanting to do that for years, and I finally bit the bullet and did it. Honestly, I probably spend as much time working with them on piano as I did on a good day before, but now the girls are motivated to complete whatever assignments the teacher has given them and that means I have to help them. They are really going to progress quickly now and I am excited about that.
Those are all our main subjects, our "big rocks." Then there are lots of "little rocks" that we do once or twice a week. They do typing software (Typer Island: they love it!) I am still having them read from the Pathway Readers... not sure how well that's going, but I am not too worried. Sometimes we do logic puzzles. There is copywork and journal writing and thinking skills workbooks.
I also try to have an assigned book they have to read or listen to every week, but that hasn't been going well. We do go to the library freqently and they do read a lot, so I guess that will have to be good enough for now. But there are so many books they ought to read at this age that I can't seem to get them to read. Sigh.
We have a very light schedule on Fridays so we can take some time to do field trips, outings, or other extra activities. I wanted to do this for the last couple of years, but it never seemed to work because I had so many students needing to do so many things. Now that I only have six kids to juggle instead of eight, this easy day on Friday is possible. It makes a huge difference for me. If there's nothing going on, it's sometimes nice to just have a day when I don't have to do hardly anything school-related and I can just catch my breath.
That's the difference between this year and last year... last year I could hardly ever catch my breath. This year is still very full and demanding, but it's doable. Last year was just insane. I knew it was too much and I could not continue indefinitely, and in time God opened a way for our family to make things better for all of us. I am so thankful for the way God has been shepherding my family, and I am grateful for this relatively peaceful homeschool year.