Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TIPsters: School Year Reflections

We're pleased to welcome a Guest T.I.P.ster this week!  Patti-Jean from Little Quiver will be sharing her School Year Reflections, along with the regular T.I.P.ster hosts, Allyson, Christy, and me.  Please click over to her blog to read about her reflections on the (home) school year ...and tell her we sent you. 


It is always interesting to look back on a school year and see how far we've strayed from our original plans...or how closely we have stuck to our goals. This year was a mix of both.  It was one of my favorite school years so far.  Though it wasn't easy homeschooling three students while also trying to entertain a toddler and a preschooler, we had a stimulating and fulfilling year.  (We even got in more 5-day school weeks than usual which helps us keep our momentum.) 

I've often been asked what I do with my two littlest (ages 3 and 1) during school time.  I don't have a magic answer.  I don't have a formula to keep them quiet and happy.  Most days they are with us at the table, often trying to grab the crayons or hide someone's pencil.  We've all learned to live with a little distraction and I offer my bedroom as a quiet spot to any child who needs more peace than the dining room is offering.  I think it is okay, and maybe even beneficial, to have a little noise in our learning environment because where else in life will you be provided total silence while you work? 

Along the way, we added a few things that I hadn't planned when I shared our back-to-(home)school plans last August.  Right before Christmas, we finished the Bible story bookwe had been using for the past year-and-a-half so we were on a quest for a new one.  I asked for suggestions and Jeanne suggested The Jesus Storybook Bible The kids love it!  It captures their attention and for the first time, Owen is able to remember and narrate long passages that are read to him.  I love that it is written in such a way that even the Old Testament stories allude to the fact that God was making a rescue plan for His lost people.  Our only complaint is that none of us care for the illustrations. 

We also added spelling to our subject roster mid-year.  When I realized that Gavin needed a bit of spelling help, I began my search.  I took some time during our January break to ask around for suggestions.  I try to keep curriculum costs down as much as possible so that was a factor.  Another factor is simplicity.  We try to keep learning simple and uncomplicated so I wasn't looking for a "busy-work" program.  We considered trying Rod and Staff's spelling program which is frugal and fun (or so I've heard), but my mom had a copy of Natural Speller she was willing to loan me so we went with that.  It is gloriously simple and it was free for me (though you can find it used on Amazon for $7.50 which is as inexpensive as any spelling program I've seen). 

We ended up scrapping Gavin's copywork folder for awhile.  I loved that it was cheap (less than a dollar) and that it was quick (less than 10 minutes a day), but Gavin hated it, dreaded it, and resisted it every day.  Lu suggested the Charlotte Mason-style Language Lessons for the Very Young, but it seemed a little pricey for a consumable workbook.  I stewed and fretted, but finally decided it was what we needed and found a reduced copy on Ebay.  Gavin loved it from the beginning and still loves it.  Each daily lesson is short (5-10 minutes) and focuses on one topic-- capital letters or predicates or copywork, etc.  I was afraid that it was so short and simple that he would not retain the information he learned, but that has not been the case so far. 

How closely did you school year follow your expectations?  And how do you handle all the little distractions that come with having small children?

As always...take a moment to visit my fellow T.I.P.sters,
AllysonChristy, and this week guest poster, Patty-Jean!

Coming Soon:

May 15: Summer Learning Plans
June 5: Feeding Picky Eaters
June 19: Television Viewing (What to Watch and How Often)
July 3: Quick and Easy Summer Meals
July 17: Taking Family Photos
August 7: Schooling Kids of Different Ages
August 21: Teaching Kids to Read

Want to write a guest post on one of these topics? 
Leave a comment or e-mail me and I'll tell you how to get started. 


  1. We also love The Jesus Storybook Bible! I love how all the stories point to Jesus.

  2. We have actually made some adjustments as the school year progressed. I stopped using CLE completely. It was NOT a good fit for us and we returned to Singapore for math and for grammar started using English for the Thoughtful Child. I added in Explode the Code in the late fall and I'm so glad I did and I'm a bit sad I never used the workbooks before this. Erin is pretty behind in spelling and so after much research purchased Apples and Pears Spelling. We're just in the beginning stages so I can't say if it's working or not.

    I'm still trying to wrap my head around next year. I'll be adding in Ada, who will start K and adding another little blessing to our family in early August so I'm not sure how next year is going to look.

  3. Our homeschool year went quite well, I had to move things around, when things happened, or when someone got sick, or coop field trip. Other than that we are almost right on target. We finished Science and Social Studies today. By the middle of the month we will be done with Language Arts, I think I will shut school down the 1st week of June.

  4. Your comment came up in my email but I can't find it here. With Erin, she can memorize and then the next day write her word from memory and she can read well above a 2nd grade level BUT when it comes to sounding out a word to write it down or say it out loud she really struggles with this. Even today, she had trouble with BUNNY b/c she wants to always use 1 N and add an EY so BUNEY...I considered buying All About Spelling but the price tag is just so much so I figured I would start with Apples and Pears. I found it from researching a thread for "special needs" and a lot of moms who had slow spellers raved about it. As we continue to use it I can keep you posted on the success!


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