Homeschool: Midyear review


We’re halfway through the school year so I’m going to do a review of everybody’s progress.  In other words, long post alert!

When I asked the kids’ opinion over Christmas break, they said things are good but they would like more field trips, science experiments, and glitter glue.  We’ve been on a bunch of field trips the last two months, Papa has promised to bring more experiments home from school, and I reminded them that projects with glitter glue make their mama mean.  We can do one, but be forewarned.

Each year I like to pick one subject to focus on with each child, and William’s this year is writing.  He has learned how to write in cursive and narrate (homeschoolspeak for the ability to orally summarize what he reads), so he’s ready to write a paragraph on his own.  We tried Sonlight’s Language Arts and Writing Strands, and neither program was clear enough for him.  Dry-as-a-bone Saxon Grammar and Writing 5 has turned out to be just what he needs.  The program is very straightforward, although I do let him choose his own topics.

It turns out all those years of copying good literature and writing from dictation paid off.  His writing style is emerging “fully formed” and it’s excellent.  (He still doesn’t enjoy writing, but he can tell he’s doing a good job).

He’s reading books from Sonlight Core D about early American history.  The spine is The Landmark History of the American People for Young People, which I enjoy reading with him.


Here’s his schedule (he’s in 5th grade):

Every day…

Practice memory work (a Bible verse, a poem, and a few other things)

Practice piano

Listen to the gospel for daily Mass

Copywork or dictation and work on his current paragraph

One or two math lessons from Saxon 6/5 (usually just Lesson Practice)

Division facts on my phone

Grammar (Mon/Wed) or Latin (Tues/Thurs)

Read American History (Mon/Wed) or Old Testament (Tues/Thurs)

Read Literature

Exercise and sunshine

Some kind of science–I don’t have to schedule this for William as he spends his free time following the weather all over the U.S., cultivating plants, and studying field guides.  We do have a biography/ activity book about Isaac Newton that we are slowly reading through (maybe a few times a month).

Louis (2nd grade)


Memory work (same as William)

All About Spelling (just finishing Level 1)

Explode the Code phonics workbook

Singapore Math Level 2A


Reading The Beginner’s Bible aloud

The Beginner's Bible -- Timeless Children's Stories

Listening to the day’s gospel reading, an Old Testament story, and a read aloud

Subtraction facts on my phone

Piano practice

First Communion prep with the First Communion Catechism

 (unless I win Kendra’s new book today!)

Insert my review of All About Spelling: if your child needs the Orton-Gillingham approach, this program is engaging, requires almost no planning, and is completely reusable for another child. (yea!)  It is fairly time consuming if used according to the lesson plans, but you could easily omit activities if your child is a natural speller. It’s perfect for a non-workbook approach to spelling.

Ben and Marie (Kinder)


Memory work (Bible verse and poem–they listen in on the older boys’ things too)

Explode the Code phonics workbook


Math facts drill

Reading Sonlight’s I Can Read It! books aloud

Listening to the Bible and read-alouds

The focus for Ben & Marie this year is handwriting, because they taught themselves to write the last few years while I was teaching the older boys, and they began the year forming most of their letters incorrectly.  Oops–a minor homeschooling fail there.  Then they whipped through their kindergarten handwriting book in a few months while I was teaching the older boys so now I’m trying to carefully watch their few words worth of copywork and I think they will be fine.

Their seatwork only takes about 30 minutes, and so they spend a lot of the morning playing outside or with Legos.  This is the age where the craziness of infant twins really begins to pay off.  Now they’ve got a built-in classmate and playmate, or if I need them to play with Teddy, they can take turns playing something little with him and playing with their own things.

What else?

Weekly goals (we don’t always do all this, of course–we don’t always do all the daily goals either, obviously!)

Nature walk by the bayou down the street

One weekday Mass

William did wrestling in the fall and L, M, & B take gymnastics

Soccer starts in a week for all of them


Marie’s American Heritage Girls troop


Co-op at our parish (we study one sacrament a month)

Lab class at the science museum

“Kids Book Club” and park day with our homeschool group (we missed this last semester but are glad to be back in!)


Since we quit Cub Scouts, and this was the year William was going to start camping every month, we thought we’d try for a family, or at least father/son, campout every month.  We’ve been once.  But we have plans to go again soon.

I also wanted to get us doing some kind of volunteer work every month.  So far some friends and I have taken our kids to help at a food pantry a few times this year.  We make sandwiches and sack lunches that are delivered to families with preschool age children.  We might get to start delivering the lunches soon.  Making this a monthly thing might be a project for Lent.

Have a happy weekend!

This is Post 5 of 7 posts in 7 days.


6 thoughts on “Homeschool: Midyear review

  1. My kids LOVE their Beginner’s Bible – I’m trying to incorporate reading more Bible stories with them because they love them so much 🙂

    • It’s definitely our favorite children’s Bible. Have you seen all the activities at I just found the website today, but it looks like a great resource.

  2. Linda

    I just wanted to mention to you, since you have kids in the perfect age group, that you might find Science4Us helpful. There are lessons for K-2nd, with the potential to use as review thru 5th grade. You might find worksheets to go with the museum science experiements, or other hands on science there. I would also recommend Vocabulary and Spelling City for penmanship pages/copy pages.

    My daughter is somewhat like your oldest son. After years of not writing, but doing lots of grammar, listening to many audio books, and lots of reading, her writing style emerged fully formed, too. It is so rewarding to know that all the work ahead of time produced great results! Happy homeschooling!

    • Thank you so much for your science suggestion! I’ll definitely check it out.

      We do use the Spelling City website and it’s very helpful. It’s a nice change when the hands-on activities start to feel tedious. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Claire

    Hi Catherine! I enjoyed reading this post, and the one about the twins’ birth–I never heard the story before, I realized! I am supposed to be doing homeschooling planning and I got distracted by your blog, but hey, this will help in my planning, right? 🙂 I can tell that I have way too much planned for a single day already, so it is time to pare back a bit…
    I picked up Real Learning (finally) and it is very interesting…It seems like for Science, at least, you don’t need to “plan” anything for William, and I think that’s what Elizabeth means about how she teaches most subjects. I am looking forward to reading more, but I know I will have more guided schooling than she does, and at the moment that’s the way I like it. I think. But I won’t know until I get started, I guess…

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