This year has been a total clusterf*ck.
Science has been an issue for the whole year and any secular homeschooler knows finding a good homeschool science curriculum can be a challenge! We started the year with Elemental Science because that’s what Build Your Library used. It was fine but the kids *HATED* it with the fire of a thousand suns, not that I blame them, it IS pretty damn dry.
Then we found out Build Your Library was changing over science to utilize REAL Science Odyssey and I was super excited because it’s a truly secular science (unlike Elemental that does things like tell you to go ahead and skip teaching the Big Bang if that’s not inline with your beliefs, GAG).
So while we waited for that (changes don’t happen overnight!) we worked on Mystery Science because they had free lessons to try out in certain areas. It was set up well and the kids liked it, but then suddenly they started only offering the first lesson in each area for free, and locked the others so you had to buy a membership. I knew we weren’t planning on using it for the rest of the year, and honestly at 9 and 11 years old, the kids were starting to age out of it anyway so we were left to figure out what to use, again, while we waited for the updated science in grade 6 of BYL.
I decided we would try the science for grade 5 of Oak Meadow. It’s another truly secular science curriculum and I’ve heard good things, so I purchased it and looked it over. We did the first couple of lessons…and just fizzled out. For some reason it doesn’t hold the kids’ attention and *I* am completely incapable of “grasping” the Waldorf method of things. I can’t for the life of my figure out WHY but it just doesn’t click for me. I can go through the motions and the material is good but it doesn’t bring about any passion or excitement for me (or my kids, as it happens).
So after all that, we decided to go back to Build Your Library and I picked the Darwin and Evolution Unit Study. This is a great unit study and has some awesome history AND science in it. I was very impressed with the material and the kids were engaged and interested, so that was a plus. We did several weeks of that and then, for some reason (I can’t remember why?) we fizzled out for a bit.
By the time we were ready to get back into it, Emily from Build Your Library had completed the updated 6th grade! It was time to start using RSO Astronomy 2. I was SUPER excited because stars and space are awesome, duh. We got the RSO course and did 3 or 4 weeks of it. The material is fantastic. It’s colorful and engaging and the experiments are neat….but it is *WAY* over the head of my 4th grader (which makes sense since it’s targeted for grades 6-10) and while my 6th grader could and did do it, it became obvious to me that he would get a LOT more out of it in a year or two. There are some pretty advanced, truly high school, concepts brought up.
So then I sat there for a few weeks. Trying to decide if I should get the Earth and Space level one from RSO for my 4th grader and keep trucking along in Astronomy 2 with my oldest or just change things up *COMPLETELY*.
In the end, I decided to take advantage of the Pandia Press Black Friday sale that’s 35% off and picked Physics Level One for them to complete together this year. It’s aimed at grades 3-6, so it should be the “right” sweet spot for both of them, hopefully. We have done the first week (thanks to their try before you buy page!). So far, it seems like it should work. I am hopeful that this is the “magic” thing we will use for this year and it will get us solid science lessons.
And that’s just part one of the clusterf*ck. And it’s not even December yet!
We are having issues with math too, which has become a sticking point for both my big kids. They seem burnt out on Math Mammoth but it’s just SO MUCH better than the other programs out there, IMO. We tried IXL (middle was crying within 5 minutes). We tried Khan, and while the content is great, I am not smart enough to figure out how to assign lessons plus we need printed out worksheets anyway for documentation in the state we homeschool in. Then we did Prodigy for a bit. They really enjoyed it and I could assign lessons easily enough, but the oldest has pretty much aged out of it and again, there’s nothing to print out. I also felt like that without setting the number of problems way higher than suggested, that there wasn’t enough practice on the concepts that they needed help with. We have also gotten Math-U-See and have been using that for a week now, just having the kids do the end of lesson tests until we figure out where they each need to be in the books, since it doesn’t even SORT OF follow the same method/pattern as Math Mammoth. MUS has made math not a fight anymore *BUT* we also haven’t gotten to the material they don’t know yet…so I am trying to decide if we are going to keep going until we figure out where we need to be OR if we are just gonna go back to doing Math Mammoth and only having them do 1-2 pages of math each day. Or maybe setting a timer for 30-45 minutes and having them just do whatever they can do in that time.
On top of ALL OF THAT we have also been having trouble with routine due to the full day art program they are in. They like the full day art program well enough but being that it’s on Wednesday it sort of throws a monkey wrench into our routine/schedule. The last day they are in that is December 20th and we aren’t doing the spring semester so I am betting that makes a huge difference in our rhythm. Even just last week (Thanksgiving week) we had no art and no anything else and things went SO SMOOTHLY. We were done with school before lunch each day. It was amazing and how things used to be.
So here’s to continuing on, to adjusting things, and to being able to change things up due to the flexibility of homeschooling so you can find what works best for your kid(s). It’s awfully nice to be able to change things around as needed! I am hoping for a much smoother time for the rest of this year thanks to the changes.