Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

The Ditch List or the Mid-Year Eval

Homeschooling can be a bit of a crap shoot. You can carefully research all of your choices. You can try and match up descriptions and reviews with what you know about your children, but you’ll never really know if what you pick will be a good choice until you actually use it.

I typically begin planning out the next school year starting in January which gives me roughly six to eight months to mull things over and second guess myself. The good news is that when it comes time to use what I’ve chosen, I have a really good track record of getting it right just about all of the time.

This year we’ve been using:

Phonics – “The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading” by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington

This one is a keeper. While I don’t like it for complete beginners (I don’t think you could find a more boring and discouraging way to teach letter sounds to children), I love it for the remaining three-quarters of the book. My son has taken to this quite well and looks forward to using it.

Language Arts – “The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease” and “First Language Lessons, Level 1

Ugh! I gave these two the old college try. We used them for several weeks before I gave up. I *really* wanted to like these because I think the premise behind them is wonderful. In the end, while my son could repeat the definition of a noun verbatim he couldn’t identify one in a sentence to save his own life. He had no comprehension in spite of his stellar memorization skills and the copywork/narration was less than inspiring.

I try to hold on to resources, even if they don’t work for my son, because I anticipate that one of the girls might find they’re a good fit. I hated these so much I think I’ll take advantage of Amazon’s buy-back program instead.

We’ve switched to Scott Foresman’s Online Grammar with McGraw-Hill’s Treasures Workbook which is also gentle, but seems to be a much better fit.

Spelling – “Spelling Workout, Level A

We love this, but I really should have gotten Level B. This is far too easy for my son.

Handwriting – “Pentime 2

It’s an Amish curriculum which means there is a certain religious flavor, but I’ve found it to be rather unobtrusive. Plain-jane and perfect for my aesthetics.

Science – Intellego Unit Studies’ Astronomy

Really, I can’t say enough about this one. We love this and have found it needs very little supplementation. On the other hand, there are so many wonderful videos out there on Netflix that we have ended up supplementing it quite a bit. I think so far I’ve only added two read-alouds (the DK Eyewitness “Universe” and a really good picture book on the Big Bang whose title has escaped me).

History – The Ancients – Mosaic Curriculum with “The Story of the World” and “The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History

We got far too bogged down in the pre-history section. In hind-sight, I should have skipped pre-history since we’ll cover so much of that in Science. Too much duplication which means we’re now way behind. I am also skipping all of the chapters in the book that are solely based upon the Bible. While I think that it’s important for our children to be exposed to a variety of religious beliefs, we’ll tackle these topics when they’re older.

Most of the read-alouds that are included with the Mosaic Curriculum have been big hits for our family, but I’ve found the list is likely too short to cover an entire school year. Next year we’re going to go with History Odyssey and come up with our own read-alouds instead.

Math – Singapore 1B

This is a continuation of last year, though we’ve dropped Miquon. It’s really just about perfect for us.

Art & Music – Harmony Fine Arts, Grade 1

I really wanted to like this, but the more I read it, the more clear the author’s Christian perspective becomes, and the less I find it appropriate for our family. The entire discussion about nudity in artwork and the censorship of the same was a big issue for me. I found myself wanting to find out what resources she eliminated rather than continuing on with the ones she recommends.

Though I appreciate the links to the composer playlists on YouTube and her selection of “Lives of the Musicians” by Kathleen Krull, I would not recommend purchasing her curriculum. I found a series of books by Joyce Raimondo that should give me at least a couple of years before I need to go searching for something else. For music we’re listening to the public radio classical station and pick up beginning recorder lessons this Spring.


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