2020-21 Mid-Year Homeschool Review

So I guess last weeks Takes just aren’t happening. Might as well get to this weeks latest, which is a mid-year school progress report! WOOT! (Oh, and of course- AFFILIATE LINKS!)

I can’t believe we’ve made it halfway through our year. Knowing we’re on the downward slope will make it easier as we meander through a slow, cold, home-bound February- my favorite month of the homeschool year!

Overall, things are going well. The hardest thing right now is that the cold weather means we can’t be outside, and other activities are limited (mostly for the younger three). I might be going a bit stir crazy personally, but no one else in the house seems to be complaining.

Family Subjects

We’ve made good progress through all our morning meeting subjects (Prayers, Latin, Shakespeare, Art Appreciation, Music Theory and Appreciation, French, Religion). I’ve started using these art cards for art appreciation (vs simply pulling the paintings up online), and I’m using Curwin Music to help with music theory. We’re currently reading Twelfth Night for Shakespeare and we’ve read/ watched Midsummer Night’s Dream, Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, and King Lear.

Byron, 11th Grade

Byron did well with his fall classes. I had him all signed up for three spring courses when I realized that the college was back to offering some in-person classes and of course I’d signed him up for three in person courses. Addie chose all online options, meaning that Byron would need a lift to the college (which is 30 min. away). Given the times of his classes, my homeschooling schedule, Tony’s work schedule, and Addie’s class schedule, there was no way we were getting him there so, he dropped two classes, and transferred another to an online section. There were no more online sections of the writing courses he needed to take, so I enrolled him in Time4Learning and Time4Writing for his junior year English needs. Thankfully, he can start midyear with these programs and a teacher will correct all his writing. We used Time4Writing YEARS ago and it worked well, so thankfully I didn’t need to start from scratch to locate a complete 11th grade English program. French is still going well (he’s got a great Duo streak going, as well as enjoying the Duo French podcast episodes) but I admittedly need to get better with checking work with him. My initial goal was to get together twice a week and review assignments, but it’s usually become once a week or once every other week. The high school level religion class at our parish has not restarted, but thankfully Byron has been able to keep working at McDonald’s, run his scout patrol, and attend classes at a local MMA gym.

Edie, 9th grade

Edie’s classes are all going well and despite some technical glitches with Teaching Textbooks (they’ve been updating their courses now that Flash is no longer supported on most browsers), I’m pleased with how she’s doing. The hardest thing is making sure I have all her assignments uploaded in her Google classes, and that I’m promptly correcting work. In August, I uploaded tons of assignments, quizzes, etc. but once we worked through the first quarter, I didn’t have a large chunk of time to upload lots of assignments all at once again and it became something I was rushing to do every Sunday night (or Monday morning). I got lots of her classes updated over Christmas break, the trick will be to not get behind again. Ideally, all the work I’m putting into these classes will be useful when Teddy is in high school and can retake the same courses. All I’ll need to do is update due dates and correct his work. (For more info on the benefits to using Google Classroom as a homeschooler, check out my e-book.) Edie continues to fence (with Addie) via online classes.

Fulton, 7th grade

We used Reading Horizons until the second quarter when Fulton became pretty frustrated due to technical issues, as well as his desire to review concepts offline. Right now he’s happier, and making progress, without Reading Horizons, but I’m open to restarting it again in the spring. (I still think it’s a great program and highly recommend it for struggling readers, especially older students.) He’s started doing copywork that reviews reading concepts and simple sentence structure based on Writing With Ease, and using the Notebook app on his tablet. He also uses the app to record, or dictate his own stories. We started taking pictures of his math workbook pages so he could work on them independently for 15-20 min. at a time using the SnapType Pro app. I’m happy with how Fulton is doing, and so far I feel like homeschooling him this year has been a good choice.

Teddy, 4th grade

We went with mostly Catholic Heritage Curriculum for Teddy and it’s working out fine. He’s not a fan of some of the literature selections, and I don’t think I’ll use the program in fifth grade, but it’s fine and getting the job done. One of my favorite online sites, SpellingCity.com merged with another learning website and I’m not impressed. Teddy does his spelling tests on their app, but we don’t use any of the other games or activities. Once my paid access on this site runs out, I think I will need to find a new spelling site (if one exists). He continues to do plenty of reading on his own, he still has an interest in chess that he pursues on ChessKids.com, and he and Fulton have followed football with a fiery passion this year (for competing teams which makes things extra fun!). And whenever I get frustrated I just remind myself: It’s fourth grade! It’s no big deal! He’s already mastered long division and he’s working with fractions like a pro; my work is done.

Fulton and Teddy – Specials

We covered the human body in science and made a pretty cool lapbook in the process. We also did get some nature study in by studying birds in our backyard, and through a couple hikes. Nothing too amazing, but it was something and a good excuse to get outside together. For science right now we’re doing Marine Biology from the The Good and the Beautiful. It’s a free unit on their site, but I wound up purchasing a printed copy. Nature study will tie into science since it’s too cold to go out, but we can at least study shells indoors, and maybe on a not freezing day we’ll have an excuse to visit Ocean City.

History is going well, and our timeline is slowly creeping around the dining room walls. We’ve made lots of fun history-based arts and crafts, and even managed to keep up with map work. We also got Disney + and the access to all the National Geographic specials has been a great way to supplement whatever topic we’re covering.

We’ve also managed to keep up with daily stretches and at their last clinic appointment, both boys had good ranges of motion so yay for persistence! Some of the audio books we’ve listened to during stretches were The Illiad for Boys and Girls, The Odyssey for Boys and Girls, The Cat of Bubastes, The Book of Dragons, and we’re currently listening to Pinocchio (all are free on LibriVox). Both boys CCD teachers have been sending work via email for us to complete.

I’ll admit to missing the free time I had during the day when both boys were in school. I felt it most acutely in the few weeks before Christmas, and recently I’ve found myself daydreaming about those few quiet hours between bus pick up and drop off. I miss them, I really do. On the days when it feels like I’ve done nothing but sit and help the boys with school while my personal hygiene and the housework falls by the wayside, I try to remember to be grateful for this opportunity to stay home and educate my kids, and forgive myself for not being as productive as I once was. And while there are challenging days, I still feel like this is the best path for us right now, and frankly, except for a few tweaks here and there, all my planning this summer really paid off. The only area that needs work is making sure I check Edie and Byron’s work more frequently (and that’s always been my Achilles heel).

So that’s an update on schooling here. I hope everyone else’s home education is going as tolerably well as mine. Next week I thought I would do a day in the life post for posterity’s sake. If you need some blogging inspiration, I invite you to do a day in the life post as well and link it up next Friday. Today, you can just link up your regular ol’ Takes below. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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  1. Glad you’re getting through the year, one way or another! Thanks for your advice and encouragement with homeschooling my oldest. I definitely don’t think it would work for some of my other kids, but for her it’s just right. We seem to have gotten a rhythm down that works and I love dual enrollment. Having her be more in charge of her schedule has been really nice practice for college, too, when absolutely no one cares if you go to class or do your homework except you.

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