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Highlights of this year--share yours


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Since the school year is winding down I thought it might be nice to share our favorite things about the year. Curriculum, projects whatever. Maybe we will get ideas for next year.

 

Our most successful aspect was combining science and art and drawing atoms and molecule models, cell models and various human body organ systems

 

Our new favorite curriculum is Lightning Lit.

 

Draw. Write and Read was another success for my little one who has dysgraphia and FINALLY took some interest in her handwriting. I will be staying away from boring handwriting books and sticking with something she can write and draw about in the future.

 

We spent a lot of time talking about veterans and interviewed Grandpa on Veterans Day. We wrote letters to vets on the Honor Flight and will have a field trip to be part of a homecoming for an Honor Flight in a few weeks.

 

 

What were your highlights?

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Math was our most frustrating and most successful. Miquon was interesting at the beginning of the year, but he quickly worked through it. We spent the rest of the year trying one curriculum after another, but he quickly grew bored with them. We've settled on CSMP for now, although I think the spiral will get boring after a bit, but for now he is enamored with it and Khan Academy.

 

Visiting our new science museum often was an excellent idea. The science educator there has become a real mentor to DS, and his influence finally helped my boy get over his stubbornness and learn to read because he finally accepted that a scientist has to read.

 

DS really came out of his shell this year. He is making friends easily and his shyness around his age peers has disappeared. He's become very self confident. I think some of this is because his older brother really models confidence well.

 

I think our highlight is yet to come. Both my boys are on an Odyssey of the Mind team (our first year as a team), and they won in the state competition! We're on our way to Michigan State University in a couple of weeks to compete in World Finals. Both boys are excited, but DS8 is especially excited because NASA is a sponsor of the competition and they are hosting some activities for the competitors.

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For my DD, I really feel like she found her place this year. She did about 12 competitions in various areas-she didn't win all of them, or place at the highest levels (I think March really threw her), but she had a lot of successes, and perhaps more important, now has several other kids in the area who she recognizes and who recognize her who have similar interests. Having Mythology and Latin groups at our house was mixed-it worked well in some ways, not in others, but DD has another girl who wants to study with her for the NME next year, so they're making plans. She's also joined a history group and is enjoying it-they get together and discuss history topics (and eat pizza)-kind of with a "Horrible Histories" focus.

 

Between the contest stuff and the groups, she's starting to feel less alone socially and emotionally, and that's helping, especially since co-op has been less than wonderful and dance has been tough. I feel a lot better, looking back and recognizing the other social connections she's starting to make with more academic kids, about dropping the activities I've been pushing to "get her with other kids"-because while she may not have a lot of friends, or a lot of kids she sees on a regular basis, she is starting to find a handful of kindred spirits.

 

She's become very self-motivated and self-directed. Her plans for the summer are to "take it easy" and focus on mental math/improving speed and accuracy, especially with percents and decimals, vocabulary (She has at least 6 ACT/SAT vocabulary books in her room), and languages with Mango and DuoLingo. She also has multiple math books-I think the current one is on topology. Since that's her idea of "taking it easy", I'm inclined to let her do it! We finished up the last of the official school year curriculum last week, except for the Athena's classes that still have a few weeks to go, so she's setting her own schedule (she mostly was anyway) and enjoying it.

 

Big successes here:

 

Life of Fred Math-I think Fred has been the bridge she needed to a more "Adult-style" math book and copying from the text. A year ago, I didn't feel she was ready for AOPS. Now, I think she is. Key to Algebra was also good-it gave her a friendly format and let her feel successful.

 

Contests and competitions in general-I'm amazed at how much she's done for that purpose this year, and how motivated she's been to find the contests and figure out how to enter. I think we'll probably be adding more next year.

 

Music theory-she's really dived into that this year, and enjoyed doing it. I LOVE her piano teacher.

 

Nessy Fingers typing-that was actually last summer's project, and now that she can type, she's writing a LOT more.

 

Athena's Academy-having other kids online to discuss literature with has been heavenly for her-and very, very nice for me.

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The highlight of our year was a trip to Williamsburg to finish off our study of American history. We were at the Jamestown site on a weekday when the archaeologists were out working. One of them spent a great deal of time talking to the older kids and answering questions. Then he suddenly pulled aside one of the ropes and invited the kids to go out onto the dig to see the exact spot where they believe Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married. It was one of those magical moments where you just see the sparks of interests burst into a flame. The whole trip was like that.

 

For dd9, I've seen her writing really explode this year in terms of creativity and quality. It's her area of passion, so I've left her alone for a long time. It was the right thing when she was younger, because she didn't need basic instruction and she was so self-motivated. She's made some huge leaps with minimal involvement. We're looking at using some new resources in the fall, because she is so clearly ready for greater challenge and acceleration at this point. We've also seen her musical ability take off and move to the next level. She did very well at her first serious piano competition and she will be adding a second instrument in the fall.

 

For ds7, he has finally turned into a real bookworm. He has always devoured nonfiction, but he has finally discovered the magic of fiction. It is wonderful to see him curled up with a novel. I'm still struggling to accelerate him in math (using Singapore) and we haven't quite found the right spot yet, but his enthusiasm for math and science are a real highlight of our homeschool.

 

For dd5, she is reading. That's it. She is reading Bob books. The child who couldn't make herself understood to anyone outside our family a year ago can now converse easily with anyone . . . and she can read. If anything, her struggle with articulation (and the resulting therapy) has given her an increased awareness of sounds and language. The highlight of this year has been hearing her proudly read aloud or having her ask as we drive in the car, "Mommy, does star rhyme with car," and then smile smugly when she gets the affirmation she wants.

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We got a dog! I am so grateful for the little guy. He punctuates our already pretty fun learning days with even more fun and joy. DS is proving to be a great big brother. :)

 

DS is making strides with the piano. Playing longer, more difficult pieces and remembering to watch himself so that a piece meant to be played slowly doesn't suddenly become a super speedy remix.

 

He has discovered a love of amateur rocketry and really kicked up his love of Tolkien and Shakespeare by several notches.

 

Still. Won't. Write. Willingly. Bleh.

 

Perhaps the most highlight-y of them all...he seems less prone to anxiety (knocking on wood + fingers and toes crossed).

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Enrolling her in a private school was the best decision for 2013. DD really really wanted to mingle with her age peers and although I was worried about her adjusting to regimented school life, she has done better than I ever imagined.

 

Found a fantastic teacher for Violin and Dd has taken off. She practices everyday and enjoys it!

 

Sports, sports and more sports have helped tremendously in channeling her high energy.

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For some reason I just LOVE reading this thread. Feel good success stories and all...

..

 

I don't have much to add since my daughter is so young but in general I have found relaxing about trying to keep ahead of her challenge-wise has been good. She tells me loud and clear when she needs more. Mostly she just wants a playmate in her imaginary games!! :)

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Ds was accepted into The Summer Science Program. He is super excited and I am thrilled that he will be around peers as passionate about astronomy and physics as he is.

 

Dd's interests in languages keeps growing and she is spending a couple of weeks at an immersion camp. She loves literature and I really enjoy discussing things with her. Lit is my fav part of our day.

 

 

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This has been a tremendous year for us. I definitely could not say all this in the previous few years. The 9 to 10 year has been full of developmental leaps. My little guy is shaping up into a thoughtful young man with good friends. :wub: Well, he has 3 friends, and they are so precious to him :).

 

Suzuki violin has gone very well. He was stuck at bk 1 for over a year, but made great strides, moving up 3 books in a few short months this year. He's met his match with bk 4 and will stay here for awhile :). I've just been told he has perfect pitch and can sight sing, so that helps, in addition to solid practice. He loves practicing because of the beauty of the music but tells his teacher this is not his true passion. I'm so glad he has a strong idea of what he wants/not :). He likes his martial arts (TKD and aikido), and unlike previous years when he was doing a lot OT, I don't have to persuade/scold him to get ready, whew!

 

Ds continues to emerge from his LDs and is able to do more academics. He's really enjoying himself and laments there isn't enough hours in the day. Math was probably the greatest surprise. And, very important to me, he's willing to do writing exercises without (a lot of) grumbling. The exercises are not complicated or advanced, but he'll get to age level, eventually! He's also starting to take an interest in history.

 

What I do notice is an increase in forgetfulness. He's very absorbed in his thoughts and has been leaving water bottles behind everywhere. Well, I do hope this improves in the coming year. I shouldn't gripe, with all the positives coming through. Yup, we're really looking forward to the coming year :D.

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One of our biggest highlights was the ISEF regional science fair. Ds placed 2nd for his age and was thrilled to talk to other scientists and professors. He loved that one of the judges gave him a high five after explaining his project. He worked very hard and did so much writing. I didn't even realize until we arrived that parents could type the work - ds did all of it himself so hopefully it meant more to him.

 

Ds also just knocked it out of the park on his standardized reading test yesterday. I realize on this board that is usually a given, but for a 2E dyslexic, this is a major accomplishment that we have both worked SO hard on this year and to see those scores was such incredible validation. He also taken up a huge interest in many things historical and literary lately so those reading skills will be put to good use!

 

It is time to turn some attention to younger ds now and help him find some activities he excels at as well. :)

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It has been a great year for us.

DD's highlight has been volunteering as a peer tutor for calculus based engineering physics at the local STEM university. She LOVES it and considers it her favorite activity. She had a fabulous year, excelled in her dual enrollment classes and learned a lot about time management, endurance, performance under pressure. She is definitely ready for college!

 

DS - hard to pinpoint a single highlight. When I asked him, he said "probably something in math". He is doing great, enjoying math and history, reading great books, and doing a lot of creative writing. He found a sport he is passionate about (TKD) and has formed stronger friendships and become more social - not an academic achievement, but a personality development I am pleased to see.

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This was a tough year for me for many reasons so I'm glad to be checking the box on this one. That feels like enough accomplishment on it's own.

 

DD13 with dysgraphia is finally writing! It's still like pulling teeth sometimes and has take having someone else edit with her other than me, but she is writing.

 

Dd10's are working to overcome LD's and are making great strides in reading and math.

 

DS turned 8 last month and has realized that it is OK to make mistakes. He had such a perfectionist streak coming into this year, especially in math, but has worked hard to overcome it. He is expecting a book in the mail from his tutor in India for his hard work and can't wait. He has also discovered Chess.

 

DS5 memorized almost all of the CC work with his brother and sisters and now takes great pleasure in memorizing whole songs off the radio or his sisters mp3 players and surprising me. There is nothing like watching your little guy running around singing "Come on Barbie, Let's Go Party" to relieve the stress around here. Some days it's an accomplishment just to have everyone laughing.

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This is a hard one for me to answer. My gifted dd6 wasn't challenged at school and was too stubborn to take many of my suggestions for branching out. That said, she did improve a lot in her ability to sight-read and play piano, read hundreds of books just because, and developed writing skills. And she did learn how to do a cartwheel and land on her feet - part of the time. :)

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Any year I don't wish for a complete "do over" is a good year in my book ;)

 

13yo DS -- This was the year we really put him to the test. He's at "that age" where he was thinking that mom & dad were making stuff up, regarding the need to step it up for high school courses, that working diligently at school was more important than being smart, etc. So, I put him in 9th grade English (Abeka), enrolled him in Latin 1 (high-school level course) with Scholar's online, continued with Algebra & Geometry, and unfortunately, did not ride him hard enough in Science...so he's about a year behind where he *could* be. The outside courses and the increased challenge have helped him see that his mom & dad aren't making it up. Add to that, the rapid progress his sister has been making, and well...he now understands that it's working diligently that is of greatest importance. This doesn't mean he's working diligently on a consistent basis...but he's not complaining about the extra work that he needs to do because he's been slacking off. I call that progress. He still has the summer, and tells me he *will* be completely caught up by September.

 

11yo DD -- This was the year that she amazed me. Last year was the year I saw myself in my daughter's personality (a bit more intense than I was...but she has all of the drive) This is the year my husband and I realized how much, even our "good" schools, really held us back. She completed LoF Pre-Algebra (both books), AND AoPS Pre-Algebra in 7 months. She is now doing Foerster's Algebra w/ the Math w/o Borders DVD, and Teaching Textbooks Geometry (which I don't feel is enough...but is very solid with the proof aspect...assuming there are no issues that crop up, I'll have her do AoPS Geometry either alongside AoPS Algebra 1 or maybe I'll let her go forward with Algebra II using Lial's). She also ramped up her science and English levels...read Apologia's Marine Biology book for fun, and has been spending some of her computer free time exploring Marinebio.org, working through drawing lessons on-line. She also learned a bit about herself. She started off doing Wheelock's alongside her brother. After the first month, she felt it was just too hard...and just "pretended" to do the work...digging in...In January I let her go back to LfC and by February, she was telling me that it was just too easy...and boring. She regrets not sticking with Wheelock's (so, she learned that she was capable of more than she thought she was...and will hopefully be less likely to give up next time!)

 

My 9yo son fell in love with ornithology. Apologia's Zoology 1 book gets all of the credit...the other day, I went to chase him off the computer (I assumed he was playing games, but NO, he was at the bird website run by Cornell University o.O, where he was apparently so engrossed in reading that he couldn't hear his timer beeping) So, even though I have some "issues" with Apologia, anything that gets this child to voluntarily research birds on the internet is a good thing in my book! This child still struggles with written output (about 1-2 years behind). He could do more than his is...has to learn the lessons of working diligently...is finally learning that knowing his multiplication/division tables is worth while...and that doing his school work right away (without dawdling) means more free time.

 

My 6yo has been doing Abeka Academy. She's the first one of my children to use a program like this. And, while I feel a little guilty, I've been feeling spread too thin with everyone. She's "behind" where she could be, but having this child do her work consistently is better than where we were before. She would honestly rather play than anything. She has no "drive" to push her to do anything remotely academic, let alone do "more" academic. But, it's paying off. I don't regret that decision at all. It has been great for her (and a relief to me). I don't see us using this program long-term...but I can see us using it for next year (assuming we have the money for it!). After that, I'll hopefully go back to our "normal" plan, FLL/WWE/MCT Reading, VP History, and Apologia Science.

 

My 4yo has fallen in love with books, and demands a lot of time in learning to read. She enjoys the Leap Frog videos, unstructured play, play doh, coloring, etc. She wants to "do school" like her older sister does (the one in Abeka Academy). If there is money, I hope to put her in the 5yo K class next year.

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hmm, well we're actually about 1/3 of the way through our new year... what did we do last year?

 

My older DS learned to read and enjoy it. He also made some breakthroughs with violin (we were stuck on the suzuki twinkles for sooooooooo long :banghead: ). He is just a delight to teach most of the time. He adored LoF apples and now I have to find money in the budget for the rest of the series.

 

My DD has been drawing non-stop. Just yesterday she drew the most beautiful picture, one of her best of a superb fairy wren (she's into birds). She is thriving with Beast Academy and loves MCT - she keeps carrying these books off to work on when my back is turned! She added piano to violin this year, as well as a theory course, and is doing well with all of them. She may sit a violin exam later in the year, so we'll see how that goes.

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If everything goes to plan.... this will be our last homeschooling year.

 

All in all it went very well. Not exactly what I planned in September, but what we needed anyway. DS worked hard, gained a lot of independence and took resposibility where he needed to. He was challenged, and did very well. He'll be starting private high school next year. It's a good school, with a good reputation (teachers that care; strong academics and good athletics and arts programs, strong stance against bullying...) I'm optimistic. It's not the school I thought we'd fall in love with, but we really have. And what's more, it was the school that made me most feel like they really really wanted DS. Not that they'd condescend to accept him, but that they would be thrilled for him to be there.

 

Could we have done more this year? Almost certainly. I fell into a job in December (thinking if I just started looking something might come around by summer), and while I don't think it put too much of a dent in the academic side of things (DS works better, in fact, without me over his shoulder), I'm very very tired. Very tired. I haven't had as much time to be helpful, and the time I've had hasn't been my "best" time... and I do feel guilty for that. But really, DS has risen to the challenge. What I notice is that those things that he are entirely on his shoulders get done, well, and on time, even if his has to (literally!) run across town to meet a deadline. But our best work is done when we sit down at the beginning of a project, work out a plan, and then let him carry it out. He still needs some guidance to prevent those mad dashes at the last minute. So here, a few months into my job, I'm starting to get the hang of it all, just in time for the end of this school year. We'll call it early for next. ;)

 

I'm going to miss homeschooling. I already do. But DS is ready for something different and I think he'll do extremely well with the school we've chosen.

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I also love this thread. It's so encouraging to read about others' successes and challenges.

 

This is my first year, and I felt like it has gone well overall. I found a piece of paper where I had written goals for the year for each subject, and although I feel like we didn't do school as much as I would have liked, we still have met or exceeded those goals. Hooray!

 

Highlights:

DS6:

- fell in love with the audio version of Story of the World. He's listened to each volume multiple times and is a fount of tidbits about history. He even asked to learn more about how Angola gained independence from its colonial powers recently (we learned together with a library book).

- continued to progress in math - his strong suit so far. LOF is a great fit for him, and although he doesn't like BA as much as I thought he would, he doesn't complain about it.

- learned how to read! At the beginning of the year he was struggling with sounding words out. SWR's phonograms really helped, and he is now reading at least a 2nd grade level. Hooray! However, he still is a reluctant reader, and I have trouble empathizing since I have loved books for as long as I can remember.

 

DS3:

- We discovered he is quite a performer, and he is starting to ask to be taught how to read. Such fun to see him develop his strengths.

- Loves his preschool class twice a week and the Charlotte Mason co-op we attend.

 

I:

- learned a lot about DS6's learning styles.

- developed a basic routine.

- discovered I do like the classical/Charlotte Mason approach (thought the unit study approach was more my style at first).

- finally figured out how to homeschool and get dinner on the table most evenings! Yippee!

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Well ours would be that we've finally moved into our shed on a friend's farm.

 

A while ago there was a post about the best thing about HS and when I asked dd, she said, "Building sheds with mum".

We've just finished cementing a floor and moved in to our 'shack', which means we spend very little time in town now.

She has learnt with me lots of building as she's worked as my off-sider. She wants to start on her own rock house soon.

She's also become a great rock mover. These rocks are large and heavy, but determination helps.

Some of this building has happened around learning to write basic essays, learning decimals, etc.

 

She's currently doing practice tests for national testing in a few days, and even though lots of school work is hit and miss, she is doing really well in most sections.

 

This year we joined more groups that give talks, lectures etc and she loves them and is unfazed at being the only child. At a recent Science buffet, she sat with a retired Physics/Maths teacher and was locked in conversation all night. Last night at a Theology talk, she would looked up from her note taking every now and again to quietly correct the speaker ("He said earthquakes and tsunamis on Jupiter. Jupiter is a gas giant, so that wouldn't happen"). Or to quietly relate his comments to books we knew.

 

She'll always struggle with spelling, but is much more willing to write and attempt to spell independently now.

 

Some of this has occured because I've again taken a break from my studies so I've more time and less stress.

It's been a good healing year I guess.

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This is my first year and it has been so educational.

 

For the dd's

 

"The princess" has excelled at math and really enjoys it. She also loves to cook. It is fun to see passions coming out a young age. Reading and writing were much bumpier than I expected. She has excellent verbal skills so I didn't expect her to be so resistant. But the big blessing is we have discovered she likely needs vision therapy. I am excited to see her grow through this.

 

"The adventurer" I really didn't realize she would learn so much this year. I am delighted to find my just turned 4 y/o reading ( no vision issues there). It is a little scary to figure out where we are going with her next, since she pretty much has completed K. She has passions too, bugs and rocks. Her joy each time we get a new book about bugs is precious.

 

But I have learned so much. A lot of self realization has been going on. First as I investigated giftedness a lot of aspects of my personality and social behavior suddenly made sense. This has helped me to be a better friend and more accepting of myself. Second I was reminded how much I love to teach. And what could be better than teaching those I love. Third, I have started to develop a homeschooling style and philosophy that seems to be working. And my current self realization is my own vision issues. With researching vision therapy, I am beginning to understand my lack of depth perception, and have had a hint of the wonder of full 3D vision.

 

And a really big highlight, dh is not telling me to sign her up for 1st grade after this "trial year" :)

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