We wrapped up our school year this week, which means we officially have a Fifth Grader and a First Grader. One more year of elementary school is just crazy to me!
I'm going to do Ansley's end of the year wrap up and then Christian's next. Because I like to be all orderly and topical, but mostly because I took a picture of Ansley at the end of the year, but haven't been able to get a (normal) one of Christian yet. Really it has nothing to do with being orderly. Orderly left me years ago, or quite possibly she was never here to begin with.
Ansley had a great Fourth Grade year! I always love to see the areas of interest for my kids, watch what they really enjoy doing, see what they struggle with, and observe when things all come together. It's such a joy! It's not without many challenges and some heartache, but overall, there's joy. For now, I can't imagine not homeschooling, because it is a great fit for our family, and it isn't something I am burdended by. I enjoy teaching my kids. (I am burdened by my two year old, but that's not what this post is about.)
By far, Ansley's favorite subjects are Spelling and Language Arts. They always have been. She loves them, and they seem to come naturally for her. She consistently does well in both these areas. This year, we used A Beka for Language Arts, which is very thorough. Ansley learned all about subjects and predicates, nouns, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, diagramming sentences......to name a few. It was a lot, but she kept up and did a great job. We use BJU for Spelling, and Ansley loves it. We play games with spelling words during the week, and this combined with the work from her spelling book is all she needs to almost always get a 100 on her spelling tests. She loves spelling!
Ansley has always loved to read, so while we don't necessarily have Reading as one of our official subjects, Ansley reads a LOT. She also did several book reports this year, as well as research papers.
Next on her list of favorites would be Science. This year we did Apologia's Astronomy course, and the kids LOVED it. Christian listened in on most of the lessons, and they both could be overheard discussing the planets, how far away the sun is, how the moon controls the tides, and lots of other interesting facts. This was a super fun curriculum for us. We really enjoyed it!
(Ansley in July 2012 and May 2013.)
Not so high on Ansley's list would be math. She has struggled to find her groove in math, and as a result, I struggle, too. We use Teaching Textbooks because it is an online program (I can bake some mean cookies and pogo ten times in a row on a good day, but I cannot teach math). I sympathize with her, because I am a fellow math-struggler, although my struggles came later, and not in elementary school.
We started out the year using Winter Promise's Children Around the World program. I had such high hopes for it, and I still think it will probably be a fun curriculum to use, perhaps in a few years when everyone can get into it. I really want to love Winter Promise, but their customer service is just so terrible that I have been forced to stop using them. I didn't receive the full curriculum until January of this year, so we had to stop using it halfway through the year. I am still holding on to it (now that I finally have it all) but we were unable to complete it. Instead, I found some printables online on various geography subjects, we discovered a wonderful Stack the States app (and Stack the Countries) that has been really great for Ansley, and we read a TON of books on some great Americans from history.
Ansley also does a co-op through our church one day a week, on Tuesdays. We absolutely love it. It's been so good for her to get some extra enrichment classes that build her knowledge, boost her self esteem, and allow her to develop sweet friendships with girls whose families we already know.
She takes three classes, so she is at the co-op from 9 am to 2 pm. Each class is an hour and a half, with lunch in between. Her first class is art. (Christian is also in this class with her.) I love art! It has been so fun to see their projects, and hear what all they have learned each week. They learn about different artists, and then copy their styles with their own artwork. So fun and creative, and she loves it! We enjoyed seeing her favorite projects at the art show this week.
I love the pink flower! I'm going to frame that one.
Her next class is Writing. Ansley loves to write, but towards the end of this year, she really started dreading her writing class. It was a good lesson for her to persevere even when things aren't going well, and I was proud of her for sticking with it. This writing class uses this writing program, and it's more formulaic that Ansley prefers. She loves to write creatively, and will often write her own stories, letters, and poems. But in this class, she had to follow a certain structure, and add, say, an adverb or adjective, in a particular spot, and she just wasn't digging that.
She did really well in the class, and she became very quick with distinguishing the parts of speech as a result!
Her third class was Science, and she really loves Science, so it was a great class for her! She would come home with all kinds of knowledge to share on the weather or atmosphere, and often have different experiments to do together. Now that I'm writing this, I really wish I had taken some pictures of her with her teachers. It really is such a great co-op, and she had such great teachers. It's also a fun day for Ansley to look forward to each week!
All in all, a really great year. Lots of learning, lots of fun, new friendships, growth, and maturity. I can see so much growth in Ansley this year. When she loves a certain subject, she is a delightful learner. She throws herself into those subjects, wanting to learn more and know more and immerse herself in that subject.(I'm talking to you, insects and animals.)
When she doesn't love something, she really.doesn't.love.it, and it can be quite challenging. There have been many tears, pencils thrown, harsh words, and stomping off over math this year. There has also been much prayer. Every day, I learn more about my kids, but I also learn a bit more about myself. I grow in love and grace and know that His mercies really are new every morning. The most frustrating day can sometimes lead to the best conversations, and the struggles that we face (such as division) are great lessons for my kids to learn to lean on Him more.
These are such sweet days. They can certainly be frustrating, and when Avery is throwing a tantrum and my house is a mess, I can lose it. I don't want to paint this completely rosy picture of our days together. But after the tantrums are gone, and the house is cleaned (with effort by all), and we bake cookies together and snuggle on the couch with a book, I think these are good days. And most of the time, they really are. Learning together about God's grace is so much more important than math facts.
So that's my Fourth Grade wrap-up. I will do Christian's next, if I can ever get him to sit still long enough for a decent picture. We are going to soak in these lazy, do-nothing days of summer, because I know before I know it, school will be back in session!