Are you close to finishing your school year? We are scrambling here to try and finish our school year. We have a big summer project planned and so we really need to be done. We are all looking forward to putting the books away for awhile!

A look back on how our homeschool year went for the 2016-2017 year.

I find that it’s best to stop and take a look back on how the school year went at the end, and decide what was successful and what was a total flop. If I wait until the new school year my brain has gone fuzzy over how the school year truly went.

So stop right now. Sit down on the couch, grab a few books and a pen and paper, and write down what did and did not work for you!

I haven’t mentioned in detail how our school year was going this year.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been disappointed?

I had another year where I felt like I just wasn’t doing enough.

But…we had a few successes in our year, and so I need to dwell on those!

I feel like my life changed when our youngest was born. Dramatically. My blogging has slowed down, my weight has never gone back to what it was, my patience has been tested so many different times. And she has definitely affected our school years. But she is only two, and so very worth it all!

So here is the list of the good, the bad, and the terrible. 🙂

What Did Not Work For Us

Let’s start with this sad list. Remember, every family is totally different, just because something is on my list that didn’t work does not mean it won’t work for you!

Tapestry of Grace is a homeschooling curriculum that can work for a large family!

Tapestry of Grace – this was the biggest blow because it was our main curriculum. After writing a review that was so gushing and favorable, we have had to stop using it. I have unique challenges of being a homeschooling mom that not everyone has. It’s hard to balance running a business and homeschooling, and the lesson planning time required for Tapestry of Grace was just greater than what I could give.

There were a few other problems we ran into. The amount of books it requires is amazing (you don’t use every book listed, they are suggestions) but there were weeks I couldn’t find any at the library and I couldn’t afford to buy all the books. This could have been worked around if it wasn’t for the last problem…

I realized Tapestry of Grace is more of a classical curriculum than what I feel comfortable with. Obviously classical education is huge in the homeschool world, but I lean towards Charlotte Mason/good literature and not classical literature. Some of the selections I just don’t agree with.

All of these things combined is what made me decide to stop. I still think it’s a great program, it just isn’t the perfect fit for us right now.

Fix It Grammar – I meant for this to be a super strong year in grammar. I wanted us to go through the Fix It Grammar from IEW, but it just didn’t happen. We did some of it, but it seemed to be the thing that went out of the lofty schedule first. I’ve recognized why that is, and I have a different grammar picked out already for the new year. It’s an excellent program, again it just didn’t work for our family.

IEW Writing – I hate to put this on the list of what didn’t work. It really needs to be on both lists. It did work, I liked the program, we just didn’t make it all the way through. I keep thinking maybe we could pick it up and finish this summer, but we have a really busy summer ahead (more on that coming later!).

What Did Work for us

Notgrass History, From Adam To Us – we were using this along with Tapestry of Grace, so when we stopped mid year this became our main history curriculum for the 2 boys (7th and 5th). Our oldest has now used all three of the elementary versions and has loved going through it. We don’t do every single assignment in the book, but we do most of them. They did the creative writing, which one boy enjoyed more than the other. 🙂 We also used the literature books, and they loved every book but one of them.

Apologia Science – Our oldest has used the General Science this year, which is a big jump up from the Elementary series. It took him a few weeks to get used to it, but he seems to have really enjoyed it. We really struggled taking the tests though, so I ended up having him use the notebook, verbally tell me things he learned and we skipped the tests for 7th grade. I’m going to work with him next year on how to take tests and prepare for them.

Israel (5th) and Carrianna (3rd) did the elementary Apologia this year and they both really enjoyed it. We do science every day so they get through two Apologia books in a school year. That works out great since we don’t start science until 3rd grade.

Teaching Textbooks – The three oldest used this and I can’t begin to tell you what a load it takes of me each day. I just ask them at the end of their lesson what grade they got, and I can tell if I might need to help the next day based on what grade they told me. I do have regrets about not putting my 3rd grader in the 4th grade. She panicked when I mentioned going a grade level above, but she had used Horizons math up to that point and it feels slightly above grade level. She gets 95% to 100% on her math every day, so I really think she could have handled going up one grade level. At least she is confident in where she is at, which is important.

The best thing we did this year was hire a math tutor for our oldest. He has been consistently “behind”  a grade level, and I’ve worked with him for several years to try and get caught back up. Math is not my strong subject, and finally I wanted to get some outside help. We hired a homeschool mom who tutors math on the side, and she was so amazing! She was able to explain things so well and he is really thriving in math. I’m so excited!! It was a big stress on me, and it just feels amazing to see him doing well in math. He is finishing the 6th grade Teaching Textbooks and we will start the 7th grade right away and not take a break over the summer in math. At least that’s the plan. 🙂

All About Reading Level 1. This is an awesome reading curriculum for Kindergarten age!

All About Reading – Our first grader has been using level 1 and I’ve seen some big progress this year. Reading has not come easily for her and we are still finishing level 1, but I’ve learned to not stress. They seem to just take off in their own time. I love using All About Reading and can’t imagine ever using a different reading program!

Rod & Staff Grammar 2nd Grade – A good friend advise me to use the Rod and Staff grammar that is a year behind the current grade level we are in. Carrianna has expressed a lot of interest in writing and I really want her to be solid in grammar skills, so we went through the Rod and Staff grade 2 book (she is in 3rd grade). It went SO well! We are almost done with the book and she has enjoyed it, and learned a lot! I’m thrilled with how the year went for her!

The Fight For Freedom History Set – This is a brand new history curriculum by Rick and Marilyn Boyer, designed for 3rd-6th grade. I originally bought it thinking we would use it for history in 4th grade. Carrianna saw it and just started in on in, and loved it! She didn’t know the answer to every single question in the student book which makes me think this still would have been better in 4th grade, but she kept coming to me all excited about all the new people in history she was learning about. I call that a success! It’s more important to me that they are excited and learning, than they know the answer to every single question.

Latin For Children Primer A – We have never studied Latin before but it’s always been high on my list to actually do. We used this curriculum for the older two boys and I think they enjoyed it! The videos are very engaging and easy to follow. If you are looking for a solid Latin program this is one I highly recommend.

And I can’t forget to mention our homeschool planner! We have received some pretty awesome reviews on this planner, and ladies love how much space they have to write on in this planner. We cut out some of the frills that make it look fancy, to give you plenty of room to write. That’s what we really need, right?

That is quite the list! I adore talking about homeschool curriculum, so I want to hear what has worked for you this year, or what you will never use again. 🙂







19 Comments on A Look At How Our 2016-2017 Homeschool Year Went

  1. We are trying hard to finish school before our fifth child is born soon. We are using Abeka. My oldest who is in first grade uses the Abeka videos. She’s apart of the academy. But sending in tests and reading samples has gotten tiresome. She likes seeing the kids in her class and participating with them. But not going to do the videos anymore. I think it worked well at first because I wanted to make sure she was getting a solid foundation in phonics and other subjects. And she has, but she has a hard time sitting for the videos, especially because I am teaching her brother. So, we are still going to be using Abeka. I like just using one curriculum. I think it makes things easier. My children do fine with it, and are learning alot. The hardest thing is the cursive.
    So, I will be teaching them without the videos and just the curriculum. I like the traditional school style, and adjust it some to fit homeschool.

  2. This Freedom history set looks great! I’m definitely looking into this! I appreciate your recommendations. We now use TT math cds because of a review you did and really like it better than other curriculums we’ve tried. Thanks so much!

  3. Thanks for your insight on these curriculums. I have used some of the elementary and high school Notgrass books and really liked those. I was curious about From Adam to us. Thanks for the info. I have used almost all of the Apologia elementary and high school books. I highly recommend using Quizlet and doing the module summary until he gets used to the different style of teaching. Physical science is not nearly as daunting as General was. I really like IEW Writing. Don’t be discouraged that you didn’t get through with it. Just finish it in the next school year. It offers a great foundation for writing. I was not such a fan of Fix-It either. I tried it 2 different times with 2 different students and never could make it work for us. It’s good to look back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Thanks for reminding me to do that! You are such an encouragement to us all!!!

    • What exactly is Quizlet? Thanks for the encouragement that Physical science will be better! And we will keep persevering and finish IEW! 🙂

      • Quizlet is an online study resource. You can create your study sets or use what someone else has created. That’s what I do. Why do the work when someone else already has:) The study sets use different types of activities to study the info, like the questions beside the answers with or without pictures, flashcards, matching, and even practice tests. It is available for IOS or android. The website is I hope it will be as helpful for you as it has been for us.

  4. I wonder if you would be able to elaborate on why some of the “classical” books used in TOG are something you don’t agree with? My oldest is going into 2nd grade, and I’ve discovered that I definitely don’t agree with having her do some of the Greek mythology and other such things that well-trained mind, sonlight, and veritas press promote. That was a big disappointment to me, and I was seriously considering doing Tapestry of Grace in a few years. ( I knew I probably didn’t want to do it in the early years.) I have really enjoyed your reviews of all sorts of things. Maybe you could at least direct us to someone else’s review or article, if you can’t elaborate further at this time. As a newbie homeschooler, I read as much as I can on all sorts of opinions. I’ve appreciated reading YOUR opinions for several years now! Thanks for being such a great blogger!

    I’m also wondering if it is at all possible to show more pictures of your homeschool planner? I’m really interested in it, but I just love to be able to SEE exactly what I’m getting. . . Also, could you post some of the reviews sometime? Thanks!

    • I didn’t have any problems until the upper grades. Beowulf was one book I’m just not comfortable letting my son read yet. I think Tapestry of Grace can easily be used and tweaked to make it work for your family, I just don’t have the time. :/ It’s a great program if you have more time to lesson plan!

  5. Thanks for your reviews. We have been using Teaching Textbooks for my oldest (5th grade) and it has been working great! I will also just ask about her math grades to see if we need to go over anything. Usually we don’t. I will start my 3rd grader with that next fall and I hope it will work for her as well. 🙂 I also can’t wait for our summer break to start but we are scheduled to not be done until mid July. We started mid September last year and then took almost a month off for Christmas time.

  6. I’m happy to hear how you like AAR! My son taught himself to read and is gifted, so I have no experience teaching reading LOL I know my daughter will need some sort of curriculum. She’ll be 4.5 for the upcoming school year so I’m debating AAR pre-reading.

    On the Apologia – what do you think of the notebooks? We are going to do Zoology 1 and I’m unsure if we need the notebook to go with it, and how to decide if we should get Junior or regular. I hear mixed thoughts from several friends and I don’t have a way to get my hands on any copies to figure it out. My son will turn 7 in October and technically we are doing 1st grade, but he’s a great reader (Magic Treehouse is his favorite right now) and a decent storyteller. He’s just not a fan of writing those stories down.

    • I personally think the notebooks are great! It helps them be able to get their thoughts down, color the pages, do the handwriting, crossword puzzles, etc. It also gives me something physical to keep for records at the end of the school year. I don’t have my children start the notebooks until 3rd grade though. 🙂

      • Thanks 🙂 I found a deal on the textbook and junior notebook so we will see what we feel like using from the notebook.

  7. I am currently trying to figure out how to teach my eldest german. My Husband and I migrated to the US in 2010 after his mine closed down, so we are german native speakers. But since we tried the immersive method we never really spoke german at home. There are no good books for teaching german based on english language. So I will most likely work with my old storybooks and work from there. I was never a fan of “tapestry of grace” – too many historical inaccuracies for someone who studied history at university.

  8. Great post, Caroline! Thanks for sharing. My oldest was also a 7th grader this year and she’s used Rod and Staff grammar since 2nd grade. She also loves to write and it’s given her a solid grammar foundation. She also loves Rod and Staff grammar. I love how affordable it is. It’s gotten very in-depth at the middle school level and my daughter has needed some extra explanation from me, which was easy with the teacher’s manual. It’s not a subject I enjoy and I’d rather not cover it at all, ? but I know it’s important and Rod and Staff has made it work for us.

    We used apologia general science this year without the tests as well. I probably won’t add them or the notebooks until high school. I think it’s a great curriculum!

    We used Notgrass for the first time this year with their America the Beautiful set and loved that as well. My kindergartener especially loved it, sometimes even asking me to read it on Saturdays. ?

    We used IEW TWSS for the first time this year and I love it! It is teacher intensive at first, but I think it’s fabulous! The stylistic techniques have helped me improve my own writing. I also have the Student Writing Intensive B, which helps by explaining the new units to your kids for you.

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