Friday, June 4, 2010

School Year Wrap Up 2009/2010

As the school year winds down, I always try to write myself a few paragraphs summarizing what we have studied the past year and the kids accomplishments, as well as the things still needing work.  Usually, this is for my eyes only but I thought this year I would share here.  I am always amazed when I write the summary, it is usually much more than I realized as we worked through the year.

The big accomplishment for this year is my oldest daughter finishing up her studies and graduating a year early.  When she approached me with the idea, I was unsure if it would work.  Once I sat down and looked at her transcript, I was surprised to find she only needed three more credits to graduate!  This is the girl who started Kindergarten at three years old, along with her big brother, and just kept going.  Her official year of Kindergarten was actually her third year of school.  She kept up with him throughout the years and when she was working at high school level along with him, that went on her transcript.  Finishing a year early was easy for her and she's making the transition into adulthood a little early according to her age, but right on time for who she is and where she is at in life.  I am proud of where she is right now.

The five youngest began the year with Sonlight Core 6.  This covered Ancient History, literature, etc.  We used the Sonlight pretty much as written for the first section on Egypt and then my bossy nature took over and I could no longer follow someone else's lesson plans.  We decided to try block scheduling and concentrated on one subject per month for the second half of the year.  I picked up inexpensive assignment books and wrote a weekly list of independent work for each student.  They had until Saturday morning to complete their list and if it wasn't done, then Saturday would be spent finishing up.  It only took two occurrences of this for all the kids to realize finishing by Saturday morning was wise. 

One month was spent continuing through Greece by piecing together bits from the Sonlight guide and TruthQuest History.  Another month we focused on music, using portions of The Young Scholar's Guide to the Composers.  We had received this for review and I really liked it.  Once we really dug into though, it was not a great match for us.  It was a little more academic than hands on and we tend to prefer the hands on.  Still, a good program.  We tried spending a month on science and discovered that you really need to use science kits when you purchase them.  All those old kits in the back of the closet, just toss 'em.  Our experiments proved dismal, our caterpillars were unfortunately eaten by the cats before they could transform into butterflies (and yes, they were up high and "out of reach"), and our science month was one big failure.  Yet, I believe this was one month where we still learned a lot.  Maybe more than if everything had been successful.  Funny, life is like that sometimes too.

As the year came to an end, we did a short wrap-up study of Rome while Kevin (my 9th grader) went more in depth with the TruthQuest guide and several videos on Roman history.  Feeling the effects of Spring Fever, we decided to end the year with a lapbook based on the video game, Eternal Sonata.  This game takes place in the dreams of Chopin as he is on his death bed.  The characters have musical names, such as Beat and Allegretto and the music of Chopin plays throughout the game.  It seemed perfect to lapbook.  We're planning to finish this next week and I hope to post photos.  And then summer vacation will officially begin.

Individual highlights for the year: Kevin survived his first year of high school at home.  We decided to keep him participating in the same unit study with us for one last year, but he had more independent work than anyone else.  Sometimes it became a little too much and some we'll be finishing up in the fall.  Apologia Biology was not a hit with any of my three oldest children so far, and I think we will try something else with the upcoming high schoolers.  One Year Adventure Novel was a hit, but it was the product we put to the side when we became too busy.  We'll continue with that in the fall as well and rename it Two Year Adventure Novel.  GRIN. 

My reluctant reader, Nathan, became a reader this year.  I read aloud the first book in the Percy Jackson series and then purchased the rest of the set.  He devoured these.  Suddenly, I have a reader.  Thank you, Rick Riordian!  My three youngest were struggling readers at the beginning of the year.  The end of the year finds Bre reading Anne of Green Gables, Nicole finishing up Stuart Little, and Ryan working through an abridged Treasure Island.  As this was my main academic goal for this year, I am pleased!

We do have a couple subject areas to work on through the summer, but I think I'll save those for my summer plans post.  There are always more goals to meet, always things that need work and improvement, but all in all, I think it was a successful year.  When I add in all of the review products you see on this site, we had a very full year and learned quite a bit.  And we all still like each other.  Yep, success.


Heather said...

Thanks for sharing! I always have such a hard time wrapping things up, myself--it is fun to read yours:)Sounds like a fun year, overall! I am considering Sonlight for my 5 year old--Nick, going into 10th, will be more eclectic. Have you used sonlight for many years? Pluses/minuses? No rush, I'm just curious. I also really loved Illuminations this year, but Nick needs to focus more on Biology/Math next year and Em seems too little...Whoops. This is all planning for next year. Meanwhile, you just wrapped up! (grin) Love your blog, as always, Heather from TOS crew

Debra said...

Hey, Lori-- I want info on the Percy Jackson series... I just don't have time to be doing a lot of pre-reading right now. What should I know about this series before handing it to my 11 year old?

Pragmatic Mom said...

Child First put together a great list of Tips for Stuggling Readers that I wanted to share with you at

Pragmatic Mom
Type A Parenting for the Modern World

I blog on children's lit, parenting and education

Lori said...

@Heather: We used Sonlight for a couple of years many years ago, back when I only had two school age kids. Last year I thought I wanted a more structured lesson plan and went with the Sonlight 6. My oldest daughter looked through the catalog and asked to do Sonlight Core 300, for what turned out to be her senior year. My upcoming 10th grader will also use the Core 300 in the fall.

Pluses- Lots of living books, most of them really good. You can combine grades and use as a unit study if you prefer. Language arts is interwoven (if you order the language arts guide).

Minuses- Too structured for my taste, I need more freedom. This would be a plus for many and is a plus for my 10th grader, who will be working through it mostly on his own. The books are sometimes hit or miss but this would be the case with any literature based study, as personal taste is so subjective. I prefer the TruthQuest commentary and combine the two.

Not sure if that was helpful. I'd be glad to answer any specific questions too! Bottom line- I think it's a good curriculum, although it doesn't suit us as a family unit study. I think it will be a good fit for my 10th grader on his own though, along with the TQ commentary. If you are looking for a 5 year old, I would recommend SL if adapted. There's a potential for too much work for a 5 year old but the core itself would be great with all the yummy books.

@Debra: I only read the first book myself. The only thing really to be aware of is that the storyline does revolve around Greek mythology. If your son is old enough to know the difference between mythology and reality, then I'd recommend the book (My 8 year old got tired of me reminding him of this. He was like, " I KNOW Mom!" GRIN.). There is romance between Ares and...Aphrodite, I think, and they talk about them getting caught by Zeus in the Tunnel of Love but there is no "yucky love stuff" that I can recall. I think I remember some "junior high humor" regarding bodily functions that most eleven year old boys will appreciate, but it wasn't over the top, in my opinion. There is good character growth in Percy and I loved the story.

The movie completely changed the story, made Percy older, added romance, turned Grover into a girl crazy lech, and rewarded disobedience. This was NOT in the book and I'd hate to see the book judged by the movie, 'cause they pretty much ruined it.

Hope this was helpful!

Lori said...

@Pragmatic Mom: Those are great tips! Thanks for sharing. :-)


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