Our Year: What worked and didn’t work

I wanted to take a little time and wrap up our year, since we are about 2 weeks away from finishing K4 and some Toddler School. It’s been a great year of learning for me as much as for them, and has ended much better than it began.

A Beka K4

I started off with A Beka because that was what I was most familiar with and knew it had a great track record for teaching kids to read. When we began in the fall, I followed every lesson in detail and totally burned out by the end of the vowels–about 4 weeks in. What I discovered was that the curriculum and lesson plans for K4 are geared toward a classroom, not a homeschooler. This was rather a surprise for me and an obstacle I wasn’t sure how to overcome. So, I took a sabbatical until I could figure out what I was doing.

What didn’t work: illustrations and learning games for multiple players; too many workbook pages assigned one day, not enough the next; cursive instruction did not work AT ALL.

What DID work: the scope and sequence was very helpful, allowing me to see what I needed to cover; some of the explanations were helpful, especially for difficult letters like “b” vs. “d”; the workbook pages were fun, beautiful, and worked well when I assigned them at my own choosing.

Workboxes

When we started back in the spring, workboxes were the significant difference. We chose a space-saver version with hanging file pockets, and both the kids and I have loved them. Even on the days when I do give them several workbook pages, the variety I am able to add to our day with the workbox pockets and the structure/preparation that they provide have made homeschooling our little ones a real joy–all that I had dreamed it would be.

Letter of the Week

Another huge success for us was filling in our gaps with the resources from Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week. Not only are the activities bright and colorful, they are extremely varied and a fun way to teach. For each letter, there are a week’s worth of activities–handwriting pages, puzzles, games, letter hunts, scavenger hunts, counting cards, lacing cards, etc. I found the activities varied enough that I could assign half of them to my toddler-going-on-prek and to my K4 kiddo.

What didn’t work:¬†Again, the lesson plans just didn’t fit with what we were doing.

What DID work: All the variety! Each week I chose activities for each child that complemented the schedule I had set up based on the A Beka K4 scope and sequence. This way, I could still use the A Beka readers (which are awesome!) while adding the extra fun that needed to be incorporated into the routine of A Beka worksheets.

The result, in the words of my four-year-old: “We have done LOTS of fun stuff today, Mommy” (his words after nearly every day of school for the past four months).