Sunday, November 18, 2012

Homeschool First Trimester Progress Report

I cannot believe that Hunter and I are wrapping up our first 12-week trimester of homeschool. It has blown right by! This is the point where, if he was still in public school, we would have conferences with the teacher and get his report card. Since that won't be happening this year, I thought I would provide myself with a little progress report for the sake of posterity. Plus, it's nice to see what we have accomplished so far. There are many moments when I panic and think, "am I doing enough? is he hopelessly far behind his peers?" Seeing it in black and white gives me the concrete evidence I need to know that we are getting somewhere!
Just to catch you up, this is our first year homeschooling. Hunter previously attended our local public school as part of a Chinese language immersion program. It wasn't a good fit for him {you can read more about the details here} so we decided to make a drastic change and try homeschool for 3rd grade.
I am happy to report that things are going better than I dared to even hope. 
Hunter and his sugar cube model of Egypt's Great Pyramid
Here's a little breakdown of what we've been up to. We {more-or-less} follow the classical education curriculum laid out in Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind.  
Our favorite portion of the day is definitely reading. Hunter reads independently for 30-60+ minutes every school-day (and lots more on his own time). So far, he has finished Mr. Popper's Penguins, Dr. Doolittle, the first five Harry Potter books, and dozens of Magic Tree House and Dragon Slayer Academy books. He also reads lots of books that correspond with whatever we are studying in history. We spend another 30-60 minutes reading aloud every day. Together, we read The Hobbit, Farmer Boy, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and we just finished The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Hunter started Prince Caspian last week and is loving it so far. 
Trying the trick from Farmer Boy, where you put a cup full of popcorn into a cup full of milk and it doesn't overflow.
It really works!
For history, we are using Story of the World, Volume 1. We just finished studying the Phoenicians and the Assyrian's return to power. History has been the biggest surprise for me; Hunter loves it! I am floored by his interest, curiosity, and desire to explore more and deeper into the time periods and cultures we read about. 
Moses and The Red Sea Diorama
 One of the things I really like about SOTW is the suggestions for projects, crafts, and additional readings that are provided for each chapter. It gives you the freedom to do as much or as little as you like.
Hunter loved studying the Egyptians, so we did lots of projects related to that. 
Egyptian Death Mask
For math, I have been using Saxon 2... which was a mistake. I way underestimated Hunter in regard to math. He did all the stuff in this level in school last year, and I knew that, but went with what the Saxon placement test said. We have been doing 2-4 lessons a day, easily, and will finish the book before Christmas. It was good review, but he definitely could've handled level 3 from the get-go. So now I have to buy 2 sets of math books in one year. Live and learn, I guess.
Language Arts has been another steep learning curve for us. We started with Spelling Workout B, and have been cruising through it quite quickly. Once we finish, I don't think I will purchase book C. Instead, I will have Hunter work online with Spelling City. He loves any chance to work on the computer, and it corresponds with what our district is teaching. I like having that measuring stick at this point to compare his progress with his public school peers.
For grammar, we are using First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 2, and so far I do like it. Hunter has learned a lot already. He knows the basic parts of speech and can reliably identify them in a sentence. He has memorized lists of various verb types and can identify different sentence types as well. Having taught first-year English and developmental writing classes at a local university for the last few years, I can honestly say that is more than most incoming freshmen can do.
For writing, we are using Writing With Ease, Level 2. Hunter doesn't love it, but I can see that he is making progress. It is slow and can be tedious, but he has come a long way since the start of the year. I supplement WWE with daily journaling (sometimes I provide a prompt, sometimes he free-writes), and weekly letter writing assignments. 
Memory work is one area that Hunter grumbles about, but secretly I think he is rather proud of himself.  He has memorized The Goops by Gelett Burgess, The Wind by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Christening by A.A. Milne, All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Francis Alexander, and The Year by Sarah Coleridge. He has also learned a timeline of the major historical and biblical events through the Exodus, and  has mastered 3/4 of the states and capitals. 
We are studying astronomy in science, which is another one of Hunter's favorites. We are using Elemental Science and I really like it. It follows the classical model and is very clear and easy to use. We should be moving on to earth science after the holidays, and Hunter is stoked to make a volcano!
As for all the rest, I try to incorporate art into our other subjects, so we don't really have a separate art curriculum. Hunter plays hockey 3-4 days a week, so that covers phys. ed. And he works with a Chinese tutor for 2 hours a week, so that covers foreign languages. 
The one glaring hole in our course of study is music. We have done some very informal composer-studies; really just reading a few biographies and listening to their music. Does letting Hunter play with Garage Band count as music?
If you made it through this epically long post, pat yourself on the back! It took me forever to write it!
Although I have my moments of frustration, overall, homeschooling has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. My son is thriving, he is happy, and his enthusiasm for learning has not only been rekindled, it is raging out of control. I pray I can keep up!
I'm linking up here:
Weekly Wrap Up
Hip Homeschool Hop Button 


  1. YEAH!! I'm so proud of you! How do you do it all? Love he is thriving and it sounds like YOU are too. You are ONE awesome mama!

  2. I love Story of the World. I learned right along with my kids and book one is super interesting. My kids still talk about it. I homeschooled for a year and pretty much used the same curriculum as you, except in spelling. Honestly, I forgot what I did for that. My kids hated Writing with Ease, so we did a lot of creative writing and they really enjoyed that. Because of the grammar we learned in homeschool, my daughter is still way ahead of her class. It's surprising how little grammar they learn in school.

    Glad things are going so well for the two of you.

  3. This looks pretty amazing. Seeing firsthand how public school works, I think I would strongly consider homeschooling my children as well whenever I have some. On average, how much time does it take you to plan a lesson? And does your 'homeschool' day last the same amount of time as a regular school day. Just curious!

  4. Love the Diorama, I bet he had fun making it. Both of my daughters love using spelling city. Thanks for sharing!


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