Curriculum, Reviews, Planning & Products, Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

Mid-Year Check In

Just a few short months ago, we were beginning our new school year. The freshness of new books, the brightness of new paper and notebooks, and the excitement of starting yet another amazing year! I carefully and purposefully planned, reviewed, and chose the best curriculum for my upcoming 7th and 9th grader. This was no-doubt going to be the best year ever! For the most part it has been. The only set back we’ve had was a major hurricane that hit 10 days into our new school year. We had to make some adjustments and change a few plans, but come through just fine.

It’s mid-January now. We are in what some call the “slump” of a homeschool year. In some ways it is. It’s cold, and has been raining for months here (or so it seems). Some of that well-thought out curriculum has turned out to be not all we had hoped for. The excitement of the holidays are over. This time of year can be rough. This time of year can also be a time of renewal. It’s a brand new year, and January is actually one of my favorite months of homeschooling! It’s when I do my mid-year evaluation on how our homeschool is doing. It’s when I decide what stays and what goes!

In August, I wrote a couple of posts on my 7th and 9th grade curriculum choices. Some we are loving, some we are leaving, and some we are tweaking, because not everything is a barrel of fun….. although I try!

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What We’re Loving

My 7th grader is enjoying Notgrass History From Adam to Us. We started this last year, but for only a couple days a week. We are now doing history 4 days/week and will complete it this year. He does this independently, along with the student workbook. I have to say, I do preview the upcoming units, and find them enjoyable to read myself.

One of my daughter’s favorites is BJU Cultural Geography. She also does this independently. She does well with the straight-forward textbook approach with a few projects mixed in. We have been users of BJU in some form or another for several years, and really like the format and thoroughness of this curriculum.

She is also really enjoying Health PACEs. She does this completely on her own. I would have never thought about using this type of curriculum, but decided we’d try it for this elective course. Turns out, she enjoys going at her own pace (as it is intended), has learned about time management, and has also retained the information well in these booklets.

What We’re Leaving

Math: This is where the brick wall part comes in. Algebra. We have been very happy with Teaching Textbooks for over five years. Last year, we had some struggles, but managed to get it done. With high hopes, I chose Teaching Textbooks again for my daughter’s 9th grade math. The first couple of months were going great for us. Then we hit a brick wall. I found where I thought the problem was, and went back to revisit those sections in last year’s TT book. We recently started where we left off in Algebra, and we were having the same problems. Reluctantly, I decided we needed a change. Not everything is easy, and that’s ok. My goal is not for her to get straight A’s, but to actually learn the content. I am a product of doing well enough “to get by” in my public school math classes, and as an adult, it is very frustrating. We will be trying something different over the next few weeks. On a positive note, my 7th grade son is doing very well with Teaching Textbooks, and we will continue to use this for him.

Spelling: Painless Spelling did not work out for us. We may keep it around as a reference book, but I did not find it very teachable. Although the kids are older, we continue to do spelling a couple times a week with Sequential Spelling. We have used this in the past, and I find it easy to teach both kids with it. It is a no-frills, unique approach to spelling, and works for us.

Art Lab: I can’t say we’re leaving it, because we never actually began it! We have been doing more Pinterest projects than having a formal art class. This is still a great book, and I intend to use it next year as an elective.

What We’re Tweaking

Apologia Physical and General Science. My first thoughts on my previous posts were correct. I am in the minority, but I do not love this curriculum. It has a lot of great information in it, so that’s why we will “tweak” this to finish the year. I feel it is too wordy, the experiments are just ok, and to be completely honest, I feel the author spends way too much time defending their stance on biblical things that I do not totally agree anyway. We will complete these, because I do like the layout and topics, but I will be looking for something else next year.

Fix-It-Grammar. This one was new and completely different for us. We are enjoying it, but starting at Book 1, it’s been a little slow. I was concerned that it might be, but since it was something totally new, I chose to start at the beginning, as recommended by the publisher. The only thing we are changing with this is just speeding it up a bit. I hope to complete the first two books by the end of the year. So far, we have found it very practical as well as enjoyable.

Both creative writing choices I made at the beginning are ok. It’s not their favorite subject. We are moving slow through both Wordsmith and Jump In, as this too often gets put on the back burner on busy days. The change I need to make is going through this more frequently than what we have been.

One of the many beautiful things about homeschooling is tailoring and using curriculum to teach each child as an individual.  When something is not working as planned, there are always options. Even with just two kids, it’s obvious they learn differently!  And what I have realized this year is that my teaching style and their learning style doesn’t always match! The good news is, I (and you too) have really not hit a brick wall. Sometimes what we’re doing just needs to just be re-evaluated and fine-tuned. So go ahead, push some of those bricks out of your way, and see what’s on the other side!

5 thoughts on “Mid-Year Check In”

  1. I am in the minority with you as I’ve tried hard to like apologia and just never could! We’ve reevaluated and gone in a whole new direction in lots areas! It’s nice to be able to stop and see what’s working, what’s Not and what needs to be tweaked.

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