While I am always trying to evaluate how we are doing in school and how things could be better, I find a midyear review helpful. And, not surprisingly, I'm planning a few changes for the second half of the year.
Sometimes I think the workbooks have too much busy work but I'm not sure of a way around that yet aside from assigning alternating problems, so for the time being, we are sticking with what we have been doing, which is working more or less.
Writing (Handwriting, Typing, Spelling, English)
The only changes in this category are that I've let Cecilia stop doing her Spelling book. I was quizzing her on the words and she might get one wrong per lesson... she is beyond her level in Spelling and apparently some schools drop it as a subject by 4th grade. I would, however, like to begin giving her writing assignments and get her writing more. So, while Elizabeth will continue with her handwriting, spelling and english and Felicity will continue with these plus typing, I'm hoping to for Cecilia to do english and then type up book reports (see Reading) and write a journal (see Religion).
Reading (Vocabulary, Reading)
Cecilia enjoys reading and recently finished The Lord of the Rings after reading The Hobbit and is now 3 books into the Little House series. I'd like to start asking her to type up a book report after she reads a book, although I admit it has been so insanely long since I wrote one I might need to jog my memory on the proper way to do that. Felicity enjoys reading in spurts... she spends several days plowing through pages of a book and then drops it for several days. Repeat. Elizabeth's reading is more here and there. I'm thinking of implementing a "Sibling Reading" time when the older ones would read books to the younger ones, which would not only give Felicity and Elizabeth more reading time, but Teresa and Brigid more time being read to and maybe, just maybe, more sanity time for me! Cecilia and Felicity are continuing with their Vocabulary books but I don't think Elizabeth needs to finish her phonics book... she has been whizzing through it without a problem.
I really like the Faith and Life series but after going over salvation history 5 times in 5 years, Cecilia is getting bored. So while I plan to continue with it with Felicity and Elizabeth, I'm planning on doing something a little different for Cecilia. I want to begin introducing her to the early Church Fathers. I love one friend's suggestion of using the second reading from the Office of Readings which are often hearty but bite-sized morsels of writings of the early Church Fathers as well as my husband's suggestion to use Pope Benedict's general audiences as biographies on the Fathers but I'm not sure how to break that up or assign that. If I assign a reading for each week, the reading from which day? Or should I let her pick? I'd love for her to do a written journal reflecting on the readings but I haven't quite figured out how I'd organize this yet.
First of all, while I do like the Little Latin Readers and do hope to come back to them, one child loves them, one loves the verbal and hates the written and one simply refuses to acknowledge its existence and hides behind a chair. So I thought we'd take a break from them and I was inspired by Mass a couple weeks ago for a replacement. Our parish sings many of the parts of the Mass in Latin and while my oldest knows the Pater Noster, the others tend to use the excuse that it isn't in English so they can't do it. Well, no more. I've decided we are going to combine poetry, music and latin into one lesson and spend time with ALL of us, even the littles, learning the various parts of the Mass in Latin, or Greek for the Kyrie. They will memorize, sing and learn another language AND be better able to understand and participate in the Mass. I'm also hoping to schedule some piano lesson time with daddy for them. Cecilia continues to use Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish and quite enjoys it.
We finished a nice unit on archeology and I'm really looking forward to doing some astronomy with the girls. It won't be easy to do a lot of star-gazing between the cloudy nights and the amount of light pollution but we will do our best during these shorter days. I plan on doing sections on the solar system, the moon, stars and touch on comets, meteors, asteroids, galaxies, black holes and any other questions that come up. We will make a model of our solar system together and I'm hoping visit the Milwaukee Astronomy Observatory as well as a planetarium. In addition, I really want to spend more time in nature so I am planning on a trip to the Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) in February and the Wehr Nature Center beginning in March as well as Boerner Botanical Gardens after they reopen in April and the Bookworm Gardens beginning in May. I'm hoping we can do regular outings/walks/hikes at the Wehr center during the warmer weather and I will see if a membership at the Boerner gardens might be a worthwhile investment.
We will do two units to finish out the school year: Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. I wrote more about them at the beginning of the year and don't have anything to really change about them yet. All three girls will continue their geography books. We still haven't gotten to two museums I had hoped to get to but I'm still hoping maybe in the Spring that will happen.
Art, Home Economics
I am hoping to take the oldest three to the Milwaukee Ballet to see Alice in Wonderland in May as well as a local production of Antigone (my favorite of the Greek plays) in April. We will also do a second trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum. I still would love to get the girls a pottery class but I haven't figured out the logistics of that yet. And I am hoping we can do a cheese making tour at the Clock Shadow Creamery. I also hope we may get back to a few sewing projects and try a few new recipes as well.