Monthly Archives: July 2011

Year One in Review (July 2010-July 2011)

Trite as it sounds, I can hardly believe it was a year ago that I sat down at the kitchen table and began teaching Henry how to read, which was the advent of our home schooling. All things considered, we’ve had a wonderful ride on the home schooling roller coaster this year. All of us have learned much!

Perspective is a wonderful thing, really. When I take into consideration the fact that none of my kids knew the sounds the letters in the alphabet make a mere 365 days ago, it is a marvelous feeling of accomplishment to know that today, all four of them can tell me the sound any letter makes. Not only that, but Henry—and Samuel—and even Kate and Becca (if you count the capital letter magnets) can read. A lot can happen in a year.

What began as Henry’s Kindergarten year in July found us adding the start of Samuel’s Kindergarten year in January, and Kate and Becca’s preschool in April. We’ve gone from putting the girls down for afternoon naps and having two hours to quietly work on school to having Mom tutor each child in turn for most of the morning. We’ve gone from two kids with library cards to four kids with library cards…at two different libraries.

So yes, looking back, the feeling of achievement is terrific. Did we accomplish anything in a year? Here’s the list, in brief:


  • Completed “Hooked on Phonics,” Kindergarten level
  • Is nearly done with RightStart Math Level A (will finish before we start our next school year in October)
  • Completed Getty-Dubay Italics Handwriting Book A; is making good headway in Book B
  • Completed “Explode the Code” Book 1 and 2; is halfway through Book 3
  • On Lesson 62 (of 231) in “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”
  • Completed numerous science and art projects
  • Completed “Hooked on Spanish”
  • Nearly finished our social studies book (“Children Just Like Me”)
  • Memorized three poems and several Articles of Faith
  • Logged HOURS of reading time, including 8 classic read-alouds
  • Began piano lessons


  • Learned his alphabet and the sounds the letters make
  • Read through the first set of BOB books
  • On Lesson 51 (of 231) in “Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading”
  • Completed “Explode the Code” Book 1; is halfway through Book 2
  • Halfway through Getty-Dubay Italics Handwriting Book A
  • Completed “Hooked on Spanish”
  • Completed numerous science and art projects
  • Nearly finished our social studies book (“Children Just Like Me”)
  • Memorized three poems and several Articles of Faith
  • Logged HOURS of reading time, including 8 classic read-alouds
  • Is begging to start math and piano lessons

Kate and Becca:

  • Learned their alphabet and the sounds the letters make
  • Completed a workbook on shapes
  • Completed a few art projects
  • Memorized two poems
  • Logged HOURS of reading time

I’ve learned a few things along the way, as well, no surprise. Mostly, I’ve been pleased to discover that the reasons we gravitated toward the home education option are better in reality than in theory. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility home schooling gives us. Flexibility to start and stop as needed. Flexibility to try new curriculae or approaches or even put something away until the time is right for that student. We love being able to do school in the morning or the afternoon as the day requires. We love traveling in the off-season, and schooling during the blasted hot summer. I’ve loved discovering how much I enjoy teaching things to my kids and am excited to keep learning things right along with them. I’ve been surprised at how frequently questions or problems I’ve encountered have taken me to my knees. And I’ve been really grateful for the answers I’m led to. I’m grateful for growth.

All in all, I’ll call our first year a grand success. It’s been a good one. Sign us up for another year!

Personality Embedded in Schoolwork

I have always delighted in the reality that each of my children are individuals (even my identical twins). That said, it has been an absolute pleasure to see that individuality come through the boys’ schoolwork.

Henry is an oldest child. Thus, it was no problem for this oldest child to recognize the need for order, neatness, and–dare I say it–perfection in his workbooks. Here are Exhibit A and Exhibit B.

Samuel, on the other hand, is combination engineer/artist. He is constantly drawing and creating. Thus, it was no surprise to see all of the doodling and embellishing take form while he’d wait for me to help him with something in his workbook. Here are some of my favorites:

(The giant climbing up the hill)

(The man so freakishly happy that he needed arms to express just how happy he was)

Evidence that Mom was taking too long explaining something to Henry.

(My favorite, the robber who needed legs to be able to get away with the cash)

In his defense, Sam is developing some nice handwriting and can make it through a page without doodles, if need be.












I knew it wasn’t just me!

In browsing the lovely interwebs for ideas for summertime fun, I stumbled on the ol’ grow a sugar crystal idea. You probably don’t remember, but we attempted this as a science project once. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for the crystal part.) What I failed to record here on the blog was that six weeks later, we still didn’t have crystals, just a two-inch layer of sugar at the top of our cups with sugar solution below that. I dumped the contents down the sink and chalked it up to not having a saturated-enough sugar solution. But I was still curious enough that I tried the experiment again on my own. Still no go. Four weeks and it looked pretty much the same, only this time, it was growing mold, too. In much the same way that making a good chocolate chip cookie eludes me, I figured this was one science project I’d never succeed at.

I still read this article, though, just in case there was something I’d missed. The only note-worthy piece of information was the 3 cups sugar to 1 cup water ratio (another vague detail in Mudpies to Magnets). But right below that were some troubleshooting links. Of course I clicked on those! And discovered….HUMIDITY is a project killer! That, and it’s likely that our solution cooled too quickly. Now I know for next time.

Meanwhile, I’m still really glad it wasn’t just me being a doofus and messing up an easy science project. Because I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities.