The homeschooling year is over at our house. We officially finished the Fifth Grade, and with it, the grammar school years. Here is a summary of how things went, and is based on the previous post about our Grade 5 Curriculum plan.
My guiding homeschool philosophy is definitely classical, and very much rooted in the Well-Trained Mind. This is was our third year homeschooling, and I feel like we are really getting into our groove. For fun, I asked my daughter how she liked each of her subjects. She was happy to oblige, and yes, she really does talk like this.
Co-op: Classically Catholic Memory
Once again, our bi-weekly CCM co-op was a delightful experience, and co-op really is the nexus of our social life. We completed the Delta year this year, and once again Trinity “went for the trophy,” meaning she memorized all the content from all 9 subjects. This is quite and accomplishment, and we really had to push to meet this goal this year, but I think it was worth it.
The student says: “I think co-op went really well. What I really liked most was the opportunity to exercise my memory muscle and push myself to memorize things.”
Religion: Seton Religion 5
This is our third year using Seton Religion, and it’s still working. It seems to cover just the right amount of content. The renaissance art images throughout the text are just beautiful. We also added TAN Homeschool The Story of the Bible, which was a big hit. We only used the text book and test book, which was more than enough, but TAN also offers a CD audio, DVD lecture, and activity book to go along with the course.
The student says: “The Seton book covers most topics very simply, and I like the crossword puzzles that remind me what I learned.”
Latin: Memoria Press
This year we started Second Form Latin from Memoria Press, and finished the year about half-way though the lessons. Memoria Press is the only Latin curriculum we have ever used. We use the DVDs each week, so I do not have to do any instructing (which is great, because I do not know much more Latin than a few prayers and songs.) My daughter was able to take the National Latin Exam Introduction Level this year, and scored quite well.
The student says: “I think Second Form Latin is, in a word, brilliant. I like the simple explanations in the video and the text book, and I like the format on the text books page. The derivatives help me remember Latin words using English. I also like how you can relate Latin to grammar.”
Math: Teaching Textbooks
This is our third year using Teaching Textbooks and we still love it. My daughter switched back and forth between using the computer lessons and the workbooks lessons, and the switch is pretty seamless. She just finished Math 6, and I feel like she is on track to being well prepared for Algebra in two years.
The student says: “I actually think it’s the best math curriculum we’ve used. Our old one was not quite at my level. Teaching Textbooks is like two pieces of a puzzle fitting together … click.”
English Arts: A Hodgepodge
We use a variety of curriculum bits for English: Spelling Power, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Jr. Analytical Grammar, and occasionally a writing mechanics lesson from IEW. We would try to do a little bit from each every week, depending on what seemed to need the most work. My daughter finds spelling and vocabulary pretty straightforward, and toward the end of the year we spent more time on parts of speech and diagramming sentences. I like that Jr. Analytical Grammar includes both labeling the parts of speech and sentence diagramming. This is one subject which is not intuitive for my daughter, and I enjoyed seeing her make progress in learning how to deconstruct a sentence. We did not spend a lot of time with IEW, mostly because it was a struggle to get her to write a single, well-constructed paragraph, but we’re getting there. I considered switching to a different writing program for middle grades, but I have not yet made up my mind. And I’m not in a rush.
The student says: “I liked Spelling Power, because I liked learning the words by reviewing and reading them. I like the exercises in the Vocabulary book, and I am excited for the next level books. This year we did a lot of sentence diagramming, which I had already learned in Latin, but this was more complicated because there are more parts of speech. I thought it was interesting.”
History and Literature: Well-Trained Mind and TAN Homeschool
We finally finished Story of the World, Volume 1 Ancient Times and added TAN Homeschool The Story of Civilization: Vol. 1 – The Ancient World as supplemental material. This went largely according to plan, and my biggest goal was to just get to the end of the Ancient Times, which we have been working on for quite a while. Using SOW as a spine for history and literature continues to work well. My daughter really seems to enjoy “diving into” a particular period in history and reading from a lot of different sources, including doing “research” from her various history encyclopediae (Kingfisher History Encyclopedia was a big hit this year) as well as reading related novels and picture books. This year we did fewer activities and narrations from the SOTW Activity Book, but continued to use that for map activities. I may add the SOTW Test Book for a comprehension check. A quick side note: we use a hard copy of the SOTW text book, which my daughter enjoys reading. But I buy the PDFs of the Activity Book and Test Book, which are easy for me to print on pre-punched paper for her history binders.
The student says: “These are two of my most favorite subjects. I liked learning about ancient peoples and cultures in Story of the World, and I liked adding The Story of Civilization, too. Reading about the same thing from different points of view is fun. I also liked the Story of the Bible that we added to religion this year. I did like reading the children’s version of the Odyssey. Reading about the ancient Egyptians interests me because I liked the pictures of sarcophagi and pharaohs. I liked learning about Roman entertainment, even through it was a bit gruesome.”
Science: Elemental Science
I was VERY excited about the new science curriculum from Elemental Science, Biology for the Logic Stage. For us, Elemental Science perfectly balances pre-planned book work, “research” using science encyclopediae, and experiments. We had hoped to do one lesson per week, but that didn’t happen. I would say we covered more than a third but less than half of the content. Which was fine, because she really learned what we covered. But we were able to hop around in the book and have our science lessons at align with co-op topics. I think we will continue with biology for next year. It will again align with our CCM co-op topics. We will probably move towards Earth science towards the end of next year.
The student says: “This one is a little more tough, but I like the sketches and looking up new words in the glossary. I also liked the experiments, except the dissections which were icky.”
Whole Year Summary
Overall, I am very, very pleased with how our curriculum plan worked out. I did not finish the year with an overwhelming urge to throw anything out. I was pleased with the pace and depth of coverage in each subject. Yes, the Type-A in me would have LOVED to finish every book to completion and start with a whole new set of books at the beginning of sixth grade. But, I am learning to be flexible and go at the pace of my student, and not the pace of the curriculum. Yes, a sign of personal growth.
The student says: “If I could sum up the whole year, it would be a joy of learning and experimenting. You’re darn right I like homeschooling!”
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