What's Working and What's New? Mid-Year Curriculum Update for 2022-23 (with a 15yo and a 12yo)
Updated: May 18
Here's a peek into which curriculum resources are working well and not-so-well for my 15yo and 12yo, as well as our new curriculum and areas of focus for the coming semester.
Although I do the bulk of our homeschool planning in July, each January it is time for a mid-year review. The intent of our mid-year review is to look at the following with regards to our home school:
What has been working well?
What needs to be improved?
What needs to be removed from our curriculum?
Is there anything new to focus on?
What specific needs does each child have over the next few months?
The whole process of our mid-year review takes only 1-2 hours. For more info on how we do mid-year homeschooling planning, go here:
2022-23 Midyear Review: Things That Need to Be Changed
Math has been a struggle over the last semester. Both kids have had tears of frustration and been stressed out over math studies. After beating my head against this wall enough times, I finally realized that we need to change direction on our math studies for now. 😝
For our all-together school time, we were using Life of Fred: Fractions and it has been a struggle for my 12yo son Ian. I keep coming back to wise words from an experienced 7th grade teacher who said that "all kids lose their brain in 7th grade but they'll get it back in 8th grade." This is a natural and normal part of adolescent brain development, and it is okay that Ian is not ready to work much on learning new math concepts right now. So we're going to let go of Life of Fred for now and re-focus on game-based math fun.
My 15yo daughter Alina and I were working through Cliffs Study Solver Basic Math and Pre-Algebra. Here, too, I was seeing lots of struggles and tears and we finally remembered that Alina has done best in the past by using Danica McKellar's math books instead. McKellar's books come at math from a much more creative angle instead of the drill-and-kill method of the Cliffs Study Solver book. Alina switched to using McKellar's book just before the holidays and it is working much better with her naturally-creative brain.
Math resources we'll be focusing on for the coming semester include:
Math games that reinforce basic math facts including Farkle dice game and Bold card game
Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss by Danica McKellar
Yummy Math website for math explorations based around real-world application, seasonal changes, and current events
2022-23 Midyear Review: Things That Are Working Well
The following things have been working especially well over the last semester.
All together as a family, we are watching and discussing the Constitution 101 Course from Hillsdale College. We've worked through about half of this course thus far, and it has stimulated many important discussions about the principles our country was founded upon and how far we have strayed from those principles.
Both kids have determined that they want to improve their spelling skills, so we are using Spelling Works: New and Improved Lessons and Mazes to Help Students Master Spelling Rules and Spot Their Own Errors to work through spelling rules in a creative way.
Middle Ages History
We're still using a 4-year-cycle for history and we completed our 3rd iteration of Middle Ages history last semester. We used A Castle with Many Rooms as our history "spine" book alongside supplemental books from the Middle Ages Book List. Overall, we really enjoyed A Castle with Many Rooms as a nice change from Story of the World (which we used for our previous two iterations of Middle Ages history).
Both kids decided they wanted to learn cursive, so we've been working through free cursive writing lessons and worksheets from HEV project.
One thing that has made this more engaging for my kids is that, at the completion of each lesson, we watch a short video about an animal whose name starts with whichever letter the kids are practicing that day.
Brandon Sanderson's Creative Writing Course
Alina aspires to be an author, and Brandon Sanderson's college-level Creative Writing Course has been working well for her to learn from a successful author and hone her skills.
2022-23 Midyear Review: New Areas of Focus
Here are some new things we'll be focusing on for the coming semester.
Astronomy and Earth Science
We alternate studying history and science each semester. Now that we've completed our unit on Middle Ages history, we will shift our focus to Astronomy and Earth Science.
For Astronomy, we'll be using:
The Planets by Dava Sobel as a "spine" book
Great Astronomers audiobook by Robert Ball as a "spine" book
supplemental books and activities from the Astronomy Unit Study
For Earth Science, we'll be using:
Our Changing Earth unit study and experiments
The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks by Donald Prothero
supplemental books and activities from Earth Science Unit Study
Both kids have developed individual reading lists for the coming semester. Since Ian is still in Love of Learning Phase, his reading list is focused more on engaging books with a big goal of reading 18 books over the next semester.
Since Alina is in Scholar Phase, her overall plan for the semester is focused more on getting a well-rounded exposure to many subjects while also working on her writing skills as an aspiring author. A snapshot of Alina's reading list for this semester is below, and you can see her full Scholar Contract for this semester here:
I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for performing your own mid-year educational review with your children, whether they are homeschooled or attend school outside the home.
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