First of all let me start by saying to spell check, “Quit telling me I have spelled HOMESCHOOL wrong. You with your red zigzag underline mark. It’s a real word. Look it up!” Yes look it up.
This year has been a little trial and error. What once worked for child one and two doesn’t necessarily jive with daughter come lately. And what looks absolutely enthralling online, isn’t always all that interesting when you use it day to day. So we have made some adjustments along the way and sometimes adjusted the adjustments.
I have been reading quite a number of homeschool blogs and it occurred to me what a unique position I am in. I realize that a large percent of the mothers writing about homeschool are just starting out. True I have a 6th grader, no where near complete, but also have two grown children who successfully completed their homeschool programs and are now working and going to college. So I have a whole wealth of experience and knowledge under my belt. Yet still I feel like I am just learning as I go, a lot like I did those early years that seem so long ago.
So, as this year winds down, I have a few thoughts on what worked this year and what didn’t, partly to share our experience with other people, and partly to gain clarity for my own self, cause lord knows clarity would be a wonderful thing to have after a homeschool year. I think I’ll just go by subjects.
We started off with Bob Jones English 6. I have used Bob Jones before with the Olders and it worked out. Not this year though. It seemed very scattered. She really disliked that it had no flow and the lessons jumped around with no connect. Now I don’t remember it being like this and there are plenty of reviews that sing it’s praises. Child #3 just hated it so we put it aside. On a side note, if anyone would like to buy a barely used set of 6th grade Bob ones English books, I know a guy (gal).
Mid-year I bought Beyond Five in a Row Volume II (BFIAR).
It is a unit study which incorporates English, History, Science, and Social Studies. We also purchased a Language Arts workbook by Spectrum that is ok but not anything special. It’s mainly for those moments when I second guess myself and need some graded work to show for our efforts.
Close to the end of last year we needed a Math program so I bought LifePac Math 6 by Alpha Omega. I was going to finish out last year by getting ahead on 6th grade math and then complete the program this school year. As with Bob Jones, we have used Lifepacs (different subjects not math) before with some success. I’ll admit it’s not the most exciting thing, but not everything is, and it got the job done at the time. But alas, darling daughter come lately didn’t take a shine to it either. (Again, need math? I know a gal.)
So Saxon Math to the rescue. When in doubt use Saxon Math. I know, there are plenty of you shaking your heads, and I’ll admit we never used the early years with Saxon and all their manipulatives, but it’s a consistent, build on knowledge, practice practice practice, straightforward way of teaching math.
By now I’m sure you are seeing a pattern emerging. I could tell you what we DID like first but I’m in a set mold now. So the winner of this year’s thumbs down science program award goes to Switched On Schoolhouse (SOS) Science 6th grade. I just think that there is already so much screen time in our life that it was more of a chore than it was fun to do the science on the computer. I have never used SOS before, now that I know what it’s like we actually might use it in the future for another subject. I think it’s good and thorough, it just didn’t fly and after a few months science just fizzled. We really just filled in with documentaries and nature shows (Yes, I do realize that I just said SOS was too much screen time- don’t judge me.) and the science integrated in BFIAR. It included study of sea glass, weather in Maine, bears, and eyes and ears. That sounds like a convoluted bunch of randomness, but when you realize unit studies draw their science lessons based on what is being read about in the accompanying book, it all makes sense.
“The hail crunched and melted beneath our feet. It was white and gleaming for as far as we looked, like sun on glass. Like the sea.” Sarah Plain and Tall
It is probably obvious by now that BFIAR includes History, Art, and Geography in the curriculum. There were plenty of maps to draw, art projects, and periods in time to study deeper. Personal family history was highlighted and we were instructed to chart a family tree and dig through old family photos. We made use of an instructional book called You Can Draw in 30 Days
Okay, I admit this is not my girl as a 6th grader doing art but that photo is just so darn cute.
We went to the Tennessee Aquarium (hence the feature photo on this post). I want a jellyfish aquarium in my house, that would be better than any tv program! We went to the homeschool day at Six Flags Over Georgia and did some cooking and making of a quilt and numerous other things that if you homeschool you know they are too hard to list or quantify.
So that has been our year. We did end it gently (see HOW TO END YOUR HOMESCHOOL YEAR LIKE A HIPPIE), those last few days will slip away next week.