Monday, April 7, 2014

School Year Update RTR

If you read about our school update with BLHFHG, then you know that we tried to tackle a few more things in the fall than we should have, but we are surviving!  This spring we still have a lot going on (probably too much) but we are managing our days much better.  We have reading tutoring on Monday's, Chess on Tuesdays, normal school day on Wednesday, Co-op on Thursday, and PE on Friday but only for 8 weeks.  Still a busy week but Thursday is the only day we don't do our normal school routine. 

My oldest son has been using the curriculum by Heart of Dakota RTR (Resurrection to Reformation) for a 12 yr old 7th grader.  This program has been a good fit for him this year.  He started out very early doing almost all of his work on his own.  I marked the sections in the Teacher Manual (TM) that I wanted him to complete and this worked very well.  In the beginning I would mark about 1/2 the boxes on the two page spread.  After about a quarter of the year went by we switched to doing a full days work.  This history portion has been wonderful!  Many good read, and some that were kind of boring and I must admit we skipped a few.  Even still with our busy schedule, I choose to skip a few weeks all together so we could cover as much of the book as possible and hit on the topics I thought important.  I did not want to drag this out into 2 years, though you easily could if you wanted to or needed to for financial reasons.  The map/geography lessons were great and I loved that my son got to research a new city each week.  He enjoyed learning about the cities also, but I don't think he enjoyed writing about them.  (LOL!)

Was there anything we did not enjoy about HOD RTR?  Yes there were a few things.  The art section was a bit lacking and we didn't really enjoy the "Looking at Pictures" book that was required.  The assignment was basically the same week after week and got a bit old.  If there is one negative about this whole program it would be the repetition to the whole thing.  Each week you read a portion of history and do an oral narration.  Another day you do a history project ( many of these my son found too childish) and map work.  Then you research a city and write a "post card" about the city.  Next you read some more history and do a written narration, and then there is a story time book you are suppose to read each day as well.  Don't get me wrong my son and I both learned a lot about history this year and some interesting people.  I certainly don't remember many of them from my school days, but having to do the same format week after week got to be really mundane. 

Here we are in our last quarter of school and we have made a few changes.  We have dropped much of the required written and oral narration.  Instead I ask my son questions about what he has read.  If he can answer them great, if he can not then I make him go back and read the material again and provide either a written or oral report.  And I only chose story time books that I knew he would enjoy reading.  I started the year reading them to him, but he becomes very distracted during oral reading time and said he remembers better if he reads it himself.  So now he reads the books in addition to all the other history readings.  We dropped the looking at pictures art section and the history projects as well.  He wasn't getting much from them and they were becoming a struggle to get him to complete with a joyful attitude. 

We are continuing with Math U See and have just started Algebra 1.  For science we have been working on Microbiology as well as finishing up our Exploring Creation with General Science curriculum.  He really enjoyed learning about how the body works.  It will be hard to move on to a different subject in science next year, but I know in High School we will come back to biology and it will be even more fun. 

Overall we have had a good time with HOD, this history portion of the program is their strong point.  That's what I enjoyed most about RTR and BLHFHG.  The other subjects I could do without.  I would love for them to have an option to purchase a history only teacher manual with the appropriate books. 

School Year Update BLHFHG

If your a homeschooler you know life happens, and sometimes things we wanted to accomplish fall to the wayside.  That's what seems to have happened to my blogging.  Sorry for not posting much content.  I was not very organized this year and after a few months everything just started to slide.  We are still homeschooling and surviving, but we tackled a few too many "extras" this year. 

In the fall when we started this year in addition to our school curriculum, we had chess class, 2 different PE classes, and our homeschool co-op classes.  So you guessed it, 4 out of 5 days a week we had something going on.  Then in October, we started speech language therapy for my youngest to help with reading, so no we had commitment every day of the week.  It was rough!

After Thanksgiving both PE classes ended and soon after co-op ended, it was such a relief to have this break.  We were actually getting normal amounts of school work finished.  If you think your child needs lots of "extras" think again or plan them to fit into your afternoons when your own school work is over or you will never survive.

So how is HOD (Heart of Dakota) going this year?  Average, would be my answer.  Lets looks at BLHFHG (Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory), which I am using for my 2/3rd grader who is 8 yrs old and a struggling reader.  I had reservations at the start of the year that this program was not going to be beefy enough and I was right.  Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful program!  However, we have ad to tweak many things and in the end I'm not sure we will be continuing with it next year.  My biggest problem is with the science.  I love science and I want my children to get a very enriching science education.  HOD uses the book "God's Wonderful Works by Eric D Bristley & Edward J Shewan".  In my humble opinion (and I'm no expert) this is about a K-1st grade level book.  Which is probably right for BLHFHG, but not right for us.  The lessons are short and HOD does not use the book in order.  Since this book is teaching about the six days of creation, I found it confusing to talk about how God created animals one day, and water the next week. 

Another thing that didn't work for us was the Language Arts portion of HOD BLHFHG.  It is wonderfully written, but my child is a struggling reader.  If your child does not have any learning disabilities then it may work great for you.  After much searching we finally ended up using Stevenson Learning Skills, which we love.  It is geared more toward the dyslexic student, and my son has made wonderful progress in his spelling and reading skills.  We are also using Language Lessons for the Elementary Child by Sandi Queen, which is a Charlotte Mason style book.  Its also a book my son can work on completely on his own, now that he is reading! (I am so glad he is finally reading!)

But back to HOD, we are loving the history portion of the program which is what I think draws most people to their curriculum.  While it does tend to jump from book to book and back again, we have enjoyed learning about the Pilgrims and early settlers in depth.  The art projects are good and age appropriate as well.  We also added in a few drawings from Draw Write Now.  Overall if you have a normal average child who is 1st to 2nd grade level then HOD is a wonderful program to choose.