Now that our school year has ended, I’ve been looking over our year in an attempt to make some final decisions about what we’ll do next year. Things that worked will be kept, and the things that didn’t work will be tossed, though there may be a few exceptions. Sometimes something will work great one year, but when your child is a little older it may not be such a great fit. Conversely, just because something didn’t work well for you now doesn’t mean it won’t be good in the future. Before you get rid of something—especially if you spent a lot of money on it—try to figure out why it didn’t work for you. You might want to keep it around for a while and give it another try in a year or two, and hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised to find that it is perfect for you now!
What Worked for Us
- Unit Studies: We’ve used Five In A Row and Homeschool Share since the beginning—almost five years now!–and they have been a great match for my son’s learning style. Next year we’ll move into Volume 4 of FIAR and choose some Homeschool Share studies, too. This is how we have covered almost all of our social studies and science topics in the past, but next year we will be adding in some separate units in those areas.
- Presidents: We’ve been learning about one president a week since January and we’ve had a fun time! It has been a challenge to remember to request the library books on time, but we have enjoyed learning about each president and trying his favorite foods. I think this has worked well because it’s very short each week and it is always changing, so that cuts down on the boredom.
- Artist Studies: Each month we learned about a different famous artist and tried projects in that artist’s style. Originally I had planned to do artists for half the months and composers for the others, but my son enjoyed our first artist study so much, he asked if we could just do artists. I think this was such a success because we had a set time each week where we would read our story, have a special snack, and do the art project. I find that I am much more likely to keep up with something new if I have a designated time for it. If I’m just going to fit it in somewhere, it’s probably not going to get done consistently!
- Bible: We read through the Jesus Storybook Bible together over the course of the year. Sometimes we did a special craft and sometimes we just talked, but we all enjoyed it!
- PE Class: This is the first time my son has been in an activity that he’s never asked to skip for a day at least once. He goes to PE twice a week for a two hour class and absolutely loves it. I love the price (less for the semester than what I was paying for one month of gymnastics) and my son has discovered a love for dodgeball.
What Didn’t Work
- Math: Obviously I’m not going to get rid of math altogether, but I do need to make some changes. We are currently using Math on the Level, and while I love the concept, I’m struggling to keep up with what I need to do on my own for it. I think that once I am also planning school activities for my daughter on a regular basis, it’s just going to be too overwhelming.
- Writing: My son is a great storyteller, but I was planning to work more on mechanics this year. I found some great writing activities, but we didn’t get to them nearly as often as I had hoped to, mostly because I didn’t set a designated time for them. I went to several Andrew Pudewa workshops at the homeschool convention this year and am planning to use IEW next year.
- Outside Classes: When we started PE in August, class was only once a week. At the semester, the teacher added another day. Over the summer, I had enrolled him in a twice a month geography class a friend was teaching. And then in September, we started speech therapy twice a week. What started out as a few times a month for my son to get together with other kids turned into up to seven hours a week of waiting for me and my daughter. All of the classes were great—and in the case of speech, necessary—but it was just too much for us and sometimes we weren’t able to participate in other things because we were already committed to a class. Thankfully, my son is done with speech now and next year we will just keep PE, which is a pretty flexible class.
Overall, I think we had a pretty successful second grade year. We’re looking forward to third grade (and preschool!), but not until we’ve had a good break!