Friday, June 3, 2011

School Year in Review: Part 2

Ready for another lengthy review of our school year? Don't worry, Part 2 is short and sweet (or at least compared to the previous post). In fact, that's how we go about doing our individual subjects -- short and sweet. Typically the kids spend about 15 - 20 minutes on each of their subjects.

So what did they accomplish for the year?


In the words of a Veggie Tales character I can't recall, Nothing, zilch, nada! *

It took me half the year to finally start watching my Institute for Excellence in Writing DVDs and then I still didn't really know how to get started. By the time I had a plan, the spring busy season started and it was too hard to add something new. Maybe writing wasn't a complete loss. Copywork and dictation were included in other subjects, and Grace completed Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Success. Her handwriting, both print and cursive, have improved by leaps and bounds this year.


Ryne completed All About Spelling Levels 1 and 2. Grace completed AAS Level 1 and a little more than half of Level 2. I keep reading on The Well-Trained Mind forums how five-year-olds are finishing these levels in a month or two, but we took our time. They both already knew how to spell 99.9% of the words, yet we focused on the why behind the spelling.

Ryne and Grace also participated in our homeschool spelling bee. Because I was coordinating the bee, it was really hard to find the extra time to help them prepare for the bee. So it was a very big surprise when Grace won the 2nd grade bee!


Ryne only got through half of Rod and Staff 5 English. This was one of the few subjects he was working at grade level, so it was disappointing to get behind. He understands the mechanics very well, but toward the end of the year I noticed he was having trouble with applying those mechanics in more analytical situations. But ultimately the reason we got behind is that if we were running behind for the day, this was the most likely subject to put off since I knew it wouldn't hurt him too much to get behind in this subject. We separated his poem memorization away from grammar, so he was still able to memorize six poems.

Grace finished First Language Lessons 1 & 2. We were able to skim many lessons because she had already memorized most of the definitions and lists from hearing Ryne recite them for years! Grace memorized several poems through FLL. She also completed Adventures in Phonics B.

Both kids practiced oral reading skills with Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers, and Grace completed a handful of Abeka readers too.


I've learned a hard lesson this year. Mastery is different from overkill.

Grace was struggling with subtraction facts, so we put aside Math U See Alpha to work on mastering her facts. We also worked on time, money, and Singapore's Challenging Word Problems.

Meanwhile, Ryne was struggling mightily with multiple digit multiplication in MUS Gamma. We spent over 6 months on the same lesson! At first I thought he had regressed and was having trouble with his multiplication facts because I found him skip counting on his fingers.

I had been inconsistent with math drill, usually letting the kids practice their facts on the computer. So I pulled out the good old fashioned flash cards for both kids and did daily drill for the rest of the year. It took more of my time, but I had a much better idea of what their struggles and strengths were.

For Ryne, I found out that he knew his facts pretty well. He just likes skip counting because he loves the MUS skip counting songs! The daily drill did help with his speed however.

The daily drill enabled Grace to finally able master those addition and subtraction facts, so in January we finally started her on Beta. But once she started Beta it was so easy, that I was kicking myself for not letting her start sooner.

Same with Ryne. We hung out in the same lesson of Gamma FOREVER, but he would still make silly mistakes. If we worked the problems out together he would do great. He could tell me exactly how to solve the problems. He understood the material, but just doesn't have the attention span to make it through those long problems. Since parking ourselves on the same lesson forever was not going to solve the attention problem, I finally let him move on and finish Gamma and now he's speeding through Delta, bragging about how easy it is. I'm sure we'll hit the same problem for long division, but I'm a wiser mom now.


Ryne finished the Map Skills for Today series, and Grace finished the 2nd grade book. They both also started doing Mind Benders logic puzzles.

Tomorrow I will wrap up our end of the year review with our favorite books of the year.

* Ryne refreshed my memory about the Veggie Tale quote (starting at 1:03).

What did we do for writing this year? Nothing. Zilch. Noodle! ; )


  1. Noodle:) But, I am sure your kids can communicate better this summer than last, and that is what counts.

  2. I think you're doing the right thing w/AAS. We want ours to understand the why's, too. I'm doing the same with many of my tutoring students.

    Don't be too hard on yourself about writing. I didn't start my boys in IEW until 5th and 6th grades. All in due time....

  3. I'm with you about AAS - and other things some parents think their kids can/should "breeze through" in order to get onto "harder" things. Is our goal to have them spit back bits of information or to really learn the hows and whys so they can apply that knowledge to new situations? Also, pushing young kids is a sure way to burn them out before 3rd grade. There is nothing wrong - and much right - with taking our time. Good for you!