Jun 21, 2013

End of the Year

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We have one more week of school left to finish. That is four days, since we leave Fridays open for co-op and errands. There are many subjects that we have already completed. Mostly, we are down to math, handwriting, history, reading for the little kids and spelling for the big ones. Abbie is finished with her handwriting book, and she and Daniel only have one more math sheet and a test. We are all quite excited to be wrapping everything up. I do believe this is the first year ever that we haven't crashed and burned in any of our core subjects, but actually finished them ALL up! I am very proud of that, and am taking that as proof that this was a very good year for us.
I think the thing I liked the most about this year is how easy it was to do school here versus the old house. Even though we kind of lost our schoolroom, this set up of having a tiny room to store things out of sight and then doing our actual work at the dining room table honestly worked better for us. The table was big enough for all the kids to spread out. I could move from end to end depending on who needed my help. The laptop was in the other room so I didn't get distracted. And at the end of the day, we had a place to put everything away.

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The second thing that really made this year a success, I believe, was our schedules.

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Just the simple fact that they had an easily-accessible list of what they had to do each day and when it needed to be done made our whole day go better! There was no more lost time waiting on me to tell them what to do. If they finished a task, or needed my help and I was assisting someone else, they could just move on down their list. Also, any paper that they needed was in their binder waiting for them. It was truly awesome and they loved it, too! Especially Kaytie and Nate. 

Other things that worked:
Math. The more we use Math U See, the more I like it. I am just so amazed at how different (BETTER) Daniel and Abbie's "math story" is than Kaytie and Nate's. They like math. They learn it easily and simply. Kaytie and Nate are just now getting to that place after the damage done by our first math curriculum. I can not envision us doing anything different for math. Ever. 
Bible. Bible Study Guide for All Ages is just a perfect fit for my kids. I love that it is pure Bible and that they retain everything they learn. They love the stories and the coloring and the humor. I love that they get excited when it is time to do Bible. 
Working on handwriting every. single. day. I know this is a no-brainer, but it honestly took us this long to get to this point. This is one of those things I should never have tried to re-invent the wheel for. Happy Scribe worked great for just having the kids write every day. Everyone's handwriting improved dramatically.
History. We love learning history through reading. We don't confine ourselves to just fiction, but read whatever strikes our fancy about the subject. And the kids remember it! Not all of it, of course, but enough. Enough that they have a peg in their brains to hang more information on when they cross this path again later in life.
Science. As much as I love Apologia, Christian Kids Explore just worked better for our learning styles. I still intend to buy the rest of Apologia's Elementary curriculum, but having more experiments and less reading was honestly what we needed this year.

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What didn't work:
Health. It didn't last a week. It was pretty pitiful.
Spanish. We tried very hard. I don't know what to do next. I really want them to learn to speak Spanish. I just don't know... Maybe I'll spend some time this summer compiling all our resources into one open-and-go guide? 
Art. I just feel like all of our art resources require some sort of knowledge that I just don't have. I have high hopes for our co-op classes this fall!
Doing Spelling twice a week instead of every day. Doing it less often made it too easy to skip. When we moved it to a daily thing, it got done. Weird but true.
Kaytie's creative writing. It lasted a little bit longer than health but not as long as art. But. Now we have IEW's SWI (review coming soon) and a new day has dawned. We are all (including Nate, my creative-anything hater) loving IEW and learning a lot from it. 
P.E. The kids love to go outside and play. They love riding bikes, climbing trees, running races. They love soccer. They don't, however, love structured P.E. time that Mom creates for them. It was a dismal but definite flop. 

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Over at Clothesline Musings I found this short list of questions to ask your kids at the end of the year. Just, you know, to get their take on the success/failure of the school-year. Of course we tweaked it a bit, but I thought this would be a good place to post my kids' answers.

What is your most memorable moment from this past year?
Kaytie: When we made the edible model of the earth.
Nate: The parrot blowing away in Pedro's Journal
Daniel: The baking powder and the different colored vinegar thing. It was good. It was FUN!
Abbie: Learning that Turkey has lots of sheep.

What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?
Kaytie: Getting better at my multiplication tables
Nate: Division
Daniel: Getting into Beta!
Abbie: Writing from 0 to 100

What was your favorite book this year?
Kaytie: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Abbie: Ben and Me
(every single one of these was a history book, even though I told them they could choose from ANY book we had read this year, they all picked a history book... methinks two little boys didn't dislike history as much as they think they do [see below])

What five (or three or two) adjectives would you use to describe this year?
Kaytie: fun; interesting (I liked learning about all the stuff we learned about); 
Nate: fun; exciting; super; awesome; and sometimes, boring!
Daniel: fun; cool;
Abbie: fun; amazing; awesome; 

What, in your opinion, is the most important thing you learned this year? Or your favorite thing you learned this year?
Kaytie: Both my favorite and the most important one was when we studied the Bible [with Bible Study Guide for All Ages;] 
Nate: I'll go with favorite, and it was: multiplying!
Daniel: how to learn minuses;
Abbie: Benjamin Franklin

What was your favorite subject?
Kaytie: science
Nate: science
Daniel: geography
Abbie: handwriting

What was your least favorite subject?
Kaytie: math
Nate: history
Daniel: history
Abbie: math

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