Semester in Review

I suppose we finished our second semester, although we tend to do school year-round and just take breaks as we need them, so I don’t have a firm stopping point.  We’re easing into a summer schedule though, which is to say we’re taking a lot more breaks, having more play dates and fun field trip type things, and going on a few trips.  By age, Hannah completed Kindergarten this year and Jack completed Preschool, although the grade level of the work they did was more like 1st grade and Kindergarten.

This semester we finished Ambleside Online Year 1, and I printed out Year 2, but we haven’t really followed it except for book recommendations.  Subject detail is below:

Reading and Grammar

Hannah finished The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading as her phonics overview, and is now reading legit chapter books.  She reads alone during quiet time, and also reads aloud to me so I can be sure she is reading at the right level.  She has become really fluent at reading and it’s fun to see her grow in her love for books.  I had Hannah go through First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 1, which she did very quickly and is now working in Level 2.  I think it’s a good program, easy to use, and effective.

Jack got through lesson 130 or so of the OPG, but then I realized that he didn’t have much confidence in reading so decided to take a break and just have him read actual books for a while.  He has enjoyed reading the “I Can Read” type books like the Amelia Bedelia series and Frog and Toad and things like that, and is making lots of progress although he still has to work at it pretty hard.

Sarah is still working on learning the letter sounds.  She can put together two letter words, but I’m not pushing it, if only because I don’t have time.  That’s probably for the best.  She will probably turn out more laid back than the older two.


Hannah completed Saxon 1 and is halfway through Saxon 2.  Jack is about 60% of the way through Saxon 1.  Sarah still counts and sorts things and knows a lot of addition facts just from listening in on her big siblings.  We’ve really enjoyed reading the Life of Fred books lately, which adds additional math practice and thinking skills.


In addition to the science in Classical Conversations, we also began reading through Apologia Astronomy and have all learned a lot about the planets we’ve studied so far.  The kids are very enthused about planets and space, which should make my dad the aerospace engineer proud.  We finished the Burgess Bird Book and started the Burgess Flower Book for nature study reading, and also have been reading Pagoo by Hollis Clancy Holling, which is about sea life.


After looking over lots of options, I decided to go with Spelling Plus for a spelling curriculum.  Hannah finished the first grade word lists without much mishap, and Jack did the first five lists or so before getting overwhelmed by the amount of writing involved.  The program also includes dictation, which reinforces the spelling words as well as punctuation and capitalization rules.  We’ve done some copywork especially since starting First Language Lessons, but I completely dropped the ball on cursive.  Jack has started working in the Explode the Code books (he’s on book 4 now) for extra penmanship practice and to reinforce phonics rules.  Sarah likes to trace her name, and could write it herself if she wanted to, but mostly she prefers to write lots of H’s and R’s and L’s.  She works on tracing letters and puzzles and whatnot when the other kids are doing school work.

History and Geography

We’re still listening to Story of the World over and over again, and continue to read through Our Island Story, which is a fantastic book I highly recommend. We read several biographies including one on Joan of Arc that Sarah still hasn’t stopped talking about.  In addition to the Classical Conversations Cycle 3 memory work, I downloaded the Cycle 2 songs and recently got the new Cycle 1 songs and timeline song, so we’re learning all of that as well.  The CC songs make great pegs for the details we learn from other books.

I’m not sure how well the details of US geography sank in for the kids at CC this semester (lots of rivers and mountain ranges and so forth) but we worked on it some, and we also read a lot of good books about geography like Me on a Map and Maps and Legends.


We learned part of John 1 in Latin in CC, but I completely dropped the ball on Prima Latina this semester.  Prima is supposed to go through second grade so we’re in no rush.  We listened to the Song School Latin CD here and there.

Classical Studies and Literature

We continue to read an Aesop fable every day (and we notice how Aesop is used as a model for lots of other stories, which is really interesting!) and read from the Red Fairy Book (having finished the Blue one) and a book of tall tales and various Mother Goose collections.  We have read lots of chapter books together, and still read 10 or so great picture books a day because that’s important for Sarah and the other kids still love to hear them.  I love that reading aloud together has given us a shared set of references and a lot of anecdotes for our family culture.


We continued to read a selection of poetry every day, working our way through several children’s anthologies and memorizing some new poems.  First Language Lessons includes poetry memorization although the ones in the first book were pretty short and we already knew some of them, but that was OK.  My own appreciation of poetry has really grown through reading poems with the kids, and I like that they are growing up with an enjoyment of poetry.


Hannah began piano lessons this semester, and Jack clamors to play too, although he really desperately wants to play the cello.  We still can’t find a teacher on our side of town that will take small boys.  Maybe next year.  I’ve been more deliberate about playing classical music around the house, and we’ve read through some great books on music together, including a book on opera, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and a few others I may do a post on later.  In CC we studied the orchestra and visited an actual performance, which was great, and we also studied some composers.  We’ve instituted a weekly “family concert” where each child (and parent!) has to play or sing something.  It’s lots of fun.


First Language Lessons includes picture study, and we’ve read some good books about art together.  I’d like to do more, but for now I think it’s all right to just be exposing the kids to good art and starting the process of learning about different artists and styles.


We read the Bible together, read stories from the picture Bibles, sing hymns and psalms, and review the books of the Bible, memory verses, and catechism.  Next year we’re going to do Awana for more structure (and because it’s an awesome program that Josh and I both did as kids).  I’m looking at different devotional materials for kids to beef up our Bible studies now that the kids are getting older and understanding more.  I’m really glad that we memorized the children’s catechism, because that has been a great foundation and something that we can use to explain things and talk about things on their levels.

So that’s our semester in review.  I thought some aspects of it went really well, and some were really (probably unnecessarily) difficult.  Overall, I think we learned a lot and the kids are doing well for their ages.

2 thoughts on “Semester in Review

  1. Love your review. Your approach to homeschooling seems very similar to the one I plan to take. My oldest is only 4 1/2 so the only official thing we are doing right now is Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. Of course we are doing lots of read alouds, etc… I am finding so many book ideas from your site. Thanks for putting it out there!

  2. Pingback: | A Spirited Mind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

CommentLuv badge

A Spirited Mind HomeAboutReadingWritingParenting

Thank you for joining the conversation at A Spirited Mind! Please keep your comments kind and friendly, even if you're disagreeing with me or another commenter. Comments that use inappropriate language, or that are cruel, threatening, or violent will be deleted. I'm sure you understand!