Whew

We made it to the end of school, yes, even with me working on a trial during the last two weeks. And, as eager as I am to start planning next year, I want to stop and take a look at what we did *this* year.

Language Arts: I feel like Deux made solid progress in handwriting this year, though he still doth protest too much. Duchess continues to have flawless handwriting, but I do wish she could go a little faster. Spelling (word building) remained one of the favorite lessons, but I’m still thinking about dropping it and just doing copywork (dictation for Duchess). They do spell well for their ages. Narrations didn’t improve that much, but at least we had fewer protests–I really think they need to be reading on their own for me to see real improvement. I made less progress handing books off to them than I had hoped–mostly we just got as far as taking turns reading them aloud.

Math: We made good math progress, so that they can now do all four operations with multi-digit numbers and are beginning to learn the written algorithms. They got bored with Frank Hall toward the end of the year and we began the switch to MEP; the downside to that is that we don’t have as much extra time for games and puzzles. Deux still doesn’t write much of his, which is partly a problem because it annoys me and partly because it is harder to make sure he and Duchess are working separately. However, it does seem like much of MEP is meant to be worked as a class, so that may work well for us for now.

History: We had a lot of fun with history this year, both the biographies and the history books. The Little Duke was a huge hit, and Joan of Arc was much admired. We didn’t do as much in the timeline notebook as I might have envisioned, but we kept pegging away at it and I think we are beginning to make it a habit. There were a lot of kings of England. It was something of a relief to me to arrive at Columbus. The comic book was a nice way to wind up the year.

Geography: Our plan was simple–just filling in a blank map of Europe each week, as much as possible from memory, then a few more items from the atlas. Now at the end of the year they know the 12-15 largest or best-known countries and the principle bodies of water. Tree in the Trail did not make much of an impression, I fear. We enjoyed Seabird more but did not tie it in to geography particularly well.

Science: We did manage to do a little more regular nature study this year. The science lessons were also slightly more frequent. Not quite frequent enough on either, but a modest improvement. The Burgess Animal Book was not one of our favorites, but I do think they have learned a good bit from it. They applied some of it in the RPG we made up set in the Olympic Forest (they insisted in strict accuracy on what their characters ate, no matter how much it distressed DOB that they were eating small, cute creatures).

Bible: The notebook got kind of old and our lessons tended to trail off to just read and narrate. Still, it was good. I really liked going through one book slowly–I think we got a much better feel for the themes and focus of each book this way.

Art: We actually stayed on schedule here and did the picture studies. It still seems very simple, but I do think it adds up over time.

Music: Thanks to Grooveshark, we also managed to stay on schedule with this. Opera was a mixed bag (they did like Rossini better than Puccini).

Spanish: I’m starting to see some real progress in this, where they will actually speak and respond. They’ve watched all the Salsa and Muzzy videos multiple times now, and they memorize the songs readily.

Literature: Most of these were favorites. Understood Betsy, Wind in the Willows, Otto of the Silver Hand. (We will be reading Robin Hood for fun over the summer.) I guess Parables from Nature is a literature selection, though it’s rather hard to quantify–it’s almost like an apologetics book, except unlike most apologetics books, it’s not presumptuous, arrogant, preachy or dull. Rather it gives some quite thought-provoking stories that address some deep questions. I was not too fond of it at first, and the kids even yet seem to ask for it in the spirit of “getting it over with,” but our discussions have gotten deeper at it. Pilgrim’s Progress also has been hard going at times, but they have enjoyed looking up where we are in the adapted versions and it has sparked some valuable thoughts. Oh, and I forgot Shakespeare. We settled on Lamb’s and it continued to be a hit, especially with Duchess.

Free Reads: I’m kind of perturbed by how many of these remain–on the other hand, thanks to library audio books, they have listened to many from future years, so hopefully it will all even out.

All in all, a good, full, rich year with lots of learning and progress in spite of a lot of interruptions.

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