’08-’09 school’s almost over

We have just about a month of school left to do. Originally I had planned to be finished by now but with our unexpected long vacation, we got a bit behind. This post started as a comment on another blog, but I thought everyone may be interested in a wrap up of the year. I’ll probably do one more when we actually finish to let you know how the last few weeks went.

One of the biggest changes was switching from Abeka to Christian Light Education for language arts and reading. We started with just CLE Bible last year. Then we switched to CLE for reading and language arts this year and love it. CLE is a very thorough reading and LA program. I didn’t need to worry about spelling. I ordered another spelling program to supplement CLE but didn’t need it. CLE has 3 spelling lists per Lightunit workbook with 15 words each. Then each lesson has an activity they do using the spelling words.

So far we haven’t had the frequency of huge struggles to get him to do his work since using CLE. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have his bad days when it takes all day. We just have fewer of them. If he stays on task, he can usually have everything done in less than 3 hours. Sometimes he really zooms and gets it all done in less than one hour. Just getting started seems to be the biggest hurdle. Once he’s working diligently, he keeps going. He likes a 15 minute break between subjects if the lesson takes awhile.

CLE has a consistent work load. There’s enough variety from lesson to lesson to keep him engaged rather than just fill in the blanks like Abeka seemed to be. The major subjects are broken into 10 workbooks called Lightunits. Each Lightunit has 16 lessons, 2 quizzes, a unit test and a self check. We don’t do all the assessments though. We do one lesson in reading and language arts a day. This makes it easy to plan each day. We did this with Abeka too but their workload was less consistent.

I use MathUSee for math. I actually bought the CLE 2nd grade math to supplement MUS but didn’t use it. He’s making great progress with the MUS. He’ll do Gamma and my daughter will do Primer this fall. I like MUS because we don’t have to do math everyday for them to make progress and understand math. We usually do it Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I also added American Story 1 by WinterPromise for history/social studies. That was another great choice. He’s really enjoyed the books and activities. They’re challenging and engaging with enough variety to keep him interested. His favorite part is making 3D maps of what we’re learning. I’ve added and substituted few extra books but mostly use the ones from the program. The longer novels he usually takes a week or two to read. The shorter single topic books he reads in a day or two even though they are scheduled to take a week or more. He just loves to read and surprises himself when he gets to the end.

I wish I had kept on schedule better with the history. Toward the middle of the year we had many weeks when it just didn’t get done. As such we are only a little over halfway through. I’m not sure if we’ll finish over the summer or next fall. I want to get him American Story 2, which is another 36 week schedule program. It would be nice to finish American history at the end of 3rd grade.

Karen was doing preschool. She enjoyed listening to some of Richard’s read alouds. She finished the Beginners Activity Series and is working on the ABC series by Rod & Staff. This fall she’ll do kindergarten using CLE’s Learning to Read. Since they go from LTR into second grade we may take a year off from CLE after that for her and do literature then pick up CLE again as second grade the following year.

Science has been an on again-off again subject. Still, we have done enough to progress him into the third level this spring. This is where things get tougher. He starts to need to do more in depth investigations with write ups. I think the Real Science 4 Kids will continue to be a good fit. The biggest problem is I forget to document when we’ve done something so when it comes time to submit proof, we need to recreate it. I should try keeping a science folder for it.

Overall, this year has been great. The curriculum changes I made worked out well, with the exception of WinterPromise science: The World Around Me which was too easy. Starting RS4K got that back on track. I don’t plan any major curriculum changes for this fall. It’s going to be an adjustment enough having Karen doing kindergarten while Richard does third grade. I’m glad CLE is laid out to be fairly independent.

Teaching using CLE has been more fun for me too. Not only are there much fewer arguments for doing school work, it is easier to teach. The teacher’s guide is more clear. It doesn’t take an hour just to introduce every lesson like the Abeka did. It is fun seeing his enthusiasm for learning again. Giving him variety and seeing him catch on to the topic rather than just drill rules and memorization was just what we needed. Last week, my friend (who has several children she homeschools) confided to me that whenever she went looking at different curriculum, she kept coming back to CLE because she felt such peace about their materials. I would agree. I’m looking forward to starting Karen with CLE.

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5 Responses

  1. I was unimpressed with Abeka. The curriculum is too hard in the early years. They teach the same material each year especially in Science. There 8th grade Science book was 1/2 the size of the BJU text I taught. Plus it was a repeat of science from the previous 7 years with little new material.

  2. Dee,
    Yeah, I NEVER was even interested in Abeka’s science. It’s way too light with lots of glossy colorful pictures to fill in the gaps. There’s just no meat to it. We did Abeka for LA 2 years (kindergarten & 1st grade). By year’s end my son was so burnt out. Still, it was better than what was offered in public school for learning to read because it has consistent phonics. I’m so glad I switched to Christian Light. It not only has phonics, but so much more. Plus there’s a greater variety of activities in the lessons so he doesn’t get burnt out doing the same things. I know what you mean about doing the same material every year. We did mark the vowels, circle the special sounds every day for those 2 years. Blah!

  3. It wasn’t my choice to teach Abeka Science. I tried to get them to use a better curriculum.

    Personally, I believe the best way to teach reading is by simply reading. My mom always says reading is caught not taught.

  4. Dee,
    That’s one big thing the CLE training last summer stressed. I’d agree once they start really reading, it’s best just to provide them with quality books and let them read real books. I like the reading program because it uses reading to teach some language arts concepts and study skills. Plus, Richard really likes those moral stories. They aren’t just excerpts from regular books like many readers, but real short stories. We do a lot of living books with the history program.

  5. My general belief about reading is find anything the child will read and read. I’ve used Dr. Seuss with students with severe reading problems.

    I like the cross-curricular approach.

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