Thursday, April 18, 2013

Looking Back Over Our School Year

Wow! I cannot believe that in a few short weeks, Addie will have completed Kindergarten. What a journey this year has been!

the good

Addie is a fast learner. She completed the majority of her subjects before Christmas break and we were left with reading and math. She has a memory beyond any other and can recite verbatim things that she has learned. Her Awana teacher has commented about her verse recitation and how well she memorizes. She has learned the basic rules of phonics and is able to do simple math problems in her head. She is amazing!

the not so good

I decided to go with the curriculum my parents used with me as a child because it was something I was familiar with and was fairly cost effective. Unfortunately, the subject of reading was very dull and boring. The pages were black and white and required a great deal of writing which I discovered is not Addie's favorite thing to do (considering that she was 4 at the beginning of the school year and turned 5 two months ago, it is understandable). Yes, she has to write because it is something she just has to learn how to do, but this book had so much writing it was not enjoyable for either of us.

Towards the half way point, I switched over to Abeka's reading handbook which involves no writing in the way that we are doing it, and only involves reading based on rules that make sense. Our other book threw in words that she had not yet been taught the rule for randomly throughout the book with no helps or clues.

This year, I also had the challenge of a crawler/toddler. I hadn't had someone else during our previous school times, so this was very different. Things were rolling along just fine until the morning nap was dropped (after Christmas), then I had to find a way to keep Ian from feeling ignored while I was working with Addie. I would bring his toys out into the living room so he could play near us while we worked. I gave him his own paper to learn a color and a crayon in that color. I would give him a snack and put on a Leap Frog video for him.

what we learned

We learned that being tied down to one curriculum is not for us and having to report back to a particular school with our work puts more pressure on us than is necessary. Our state (FL) only requires students who are not under a satellite school to take an end of the year test to prove that they have successfully learned their grade level's worth of material, and parents are to keep a portfolio with a sampling of their work, a list of books they have read, a list of field trips they have taken, and a roll of school days for the year. This will be our approach this coming year.

how things will change

Next year, we will not be ordering our curriculum from a satellite school. We will be using our Awana workbook as our Bible curriculum. Bible memorization and application are naturally a part of the program, and completing our books have been a goal for us anyway. Why reinvent the wheel or make our work load heavier by doing a separate Bible curriculum AND doing the Awana workbook that she would be doing anyway?

We plan on continuing Abeka's reading program. I have almost the complete set of Abeka 1st grade readers thanks to friends who have passed their readers along, ebay, and the used homeschool book sale. I think I have 3 more books and the teacher's plan book to get and I am set for reading. I also plan to get the Abeka math book and speed drill/test booklet.

We are also looking into a different approach to the other core subjects. It is more of a classical education which will include Ian in some of our learning time. I have a book coming to me in the mail (again ebay!) which I am looking forward to reading called A Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise which is the "how to" manual for our new approach to learning, much of which we were already doing.

our summer

This year, we will be taking our summer off from school. We will continue our library time and  reading together, but we will not be having designated school time. We have been having school time since Addie was 18 months old. Addie needs a break. I need a break.

Instead, we will be having 100 Days of Summertime! The ebook is to be released on May 1, 2013, and I am looking forward to doing something fun each day with the kids. I also have some fun things planned for us to do based on what is going on here in our neck of the woods.

We have much to look forward to!

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