Last year, I explained how I evaluate our homeschool year using Hits and Misses. This method is very simple (on purpose – I like simple!) and is adaptable to any grade, age, or stage you might be teaching.
You can read more about my super easy method here: How I Evaluate Our Homeschool Year
I love to read about how other homeschool mamas do school – what methods they use, what their schedules are like, tips and tricks that make their days smoother, and the like.
So I hope you enjoying reading about the things that worked in our homeschool this year (the hits) and the things that did not (the misses).
Feel free to leave your own hits and misses in the comments below! They would be helpful for all of us to read!
➡ I have all of my homeschool curriculum posts (honest reviews and what we use each year) in one spot. Just click here → Homeschool Curriculum
Hits: What Worked for Us this Homeschool Year
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If you jumped over to read how I evaluate our homeschool year, you know that it involves much more than just evaluating our curriculum choices. It involves every aspect of our year – schedule, curriculum, free time, extra curriculars, spiritual, family life … All The Things.
Here is a look at many of our Hits from this year:
1.) Break time
I’m laughing that I listed our morning Break Time as a the first Hit (because it’s break time not school time), but it definitely worked well this year! Each morning around 10:30, I took my son outside to ride his bike, jump on the trampoline, or do something very active. My 5 year old is a BOY boy, so he needs to get up and move around more than some other children. None of my other 4 children have had the need to move as this child does. 🙂
We spent 20-30 minutes outside, depending on how frigid or roasting it was, and came back in for me to do school with the big kids.
Yes, it cut into “teaching time” with my bigger kids, but this was a great treat for both my boy and me. The fresh air and activity did us a world of good each morning.
2.) Memoria Press Junior Kindergarten
While I’m on the subject of my youngest, I’ll mention that his Jr. Kindergarten curriculum was just right for him! I chose the 5-day version (there’s also a 2-day version), and that was a good fit for us. Even though I’m not a stickler for 5-day a week school at this age, it gave us a variety of activities from which to choose.
The book selections were excellent and the crafts were just right. Of course we didn’t do the curriculum completely as written and just bent it to fit as we needed. As a result, there were chunks that we didn’t do and parts that I did in addition to.
I would give my boy a 9 out of 10 for his Junior Kindergarten year!
➡ You can read about our homeschool year here: Early Kindergarten Homeschool Plans for 2021-2022
3.) Attention Challenges
A couple of my children have trouble with focusing and attention. This has only become more pronounced during the teenage years when more intense and longer periods of concentration are needed to do hard high school level work.
My children have never been tested for attention issues so there are no formal diagnoses in place. However, this year I researched these attention challenges quite a bit, looking for non-medical solutions.
Through much research and prayer, I found some solutions and we implemented them consistently. While there are no drastic and miraculous changes to report, my children have seen significant changes in ability to focus for longer periods of time.
Things are far, far from perfect in this area but I feel encouraged at the end of this school year that the situation is not as debilitating as it seemed before.
4.) Latin with my Little Girls
I call them my “Little Girls” and they always will be, of course. For reference, my Little Girls just finished 5th and 7th grades at the time of this writing.
Latin worked so well this year! I am so tickled with our year.
My 5th grader completed First Form Latin and my 7th grader finished 3/4 of Third Form Latin. We had some review sections of Second Form, so we didn’t get as far in Third Form, and I am completely fine with that. Third Form Latin is definitely a step harder!
I continued to teach my girls using Powerpoint each week, and I think that is the main contributing factor to their success – besides their hard work, of course. Treating Latin as a real class with a real instructor (me) leads to success. While there are some subjects that I expect to be done independently, Latin is not one of them. I tried it for years, and it just didn’t work.
While I am sure there are many families that can do Latin just fine with independent children, that doesn’t work for us. I have found that my children do much better and retain more if they have an interested, engaged, and knowledgeable teacher. In this case, that teacher is me.
5.) Memoria Press Online Academy Classes
My children, especially my Big Kids, took quite a few Memoria Press Online Academy classes this year – Composition, Political Philosophy, Ancient Rome and Aeneid, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Material Logic.
It looks as if I outsourced a lot, which I did, however there are many classes that they now drastically outpace me and I can’t keep up. While that hurts my Homeschool Mama’s Heart quite a bit, I have to set aside my pride and choose the path that is most beneficial for them.
That being said, our Memoria Press Online Classes are worth every (expensive) cent. The leaps and bounds my children have made in thinking and writing, critical thought regarding an issue, and being exposed to a variety of Thinkers is massive.
Thankfully, my Big Kids had excellent professors who encourage assessment and thought. These teachers provide a frame of reference in Classical Education that I cannot currently give them.
The fruit from these classes thrills my soul and makes me feel hopeful about their futures.
My 7th grader took her first MPOA class this year in Composition. This same child is pencil-phobic and isn’t one to want to sit around and think about big ideas. Or at least she’s not yet like that. 🙂
This child grew exponentially in her ability to put a sentence and paragraph together. The confidence that she gained in her writing class is difficult to articulate. She went from a girl that hates to write any sentence to a girl that feels confident to turn in her paragraph or paper.
Having a different teacher explain things in a different way PLUS the different environment of a classroom with peers was invaluable for her.
6.) BJU Math
I cannot say how pleased I have been with our BJU math this year. My 9th grader worked through a lot of Algebra I and my 7th grader worked through most of Fundamentals of Math.
Neither of my girls love math and need quite a bit of repetition of teaching and review. BJU math provided copious amounts of teaching helps for me, which is one of the main reasons I chose it in the first place.
BJU is intense in my experience, but very solid. It is certainly teacher-intensive and took up much of my teaching time this year. However, there were several math holes that needed filling, and BJU did a great job of that.
➡ You might be interested in: How We Use BJU Algebra I in Our Homeschool
Misses: What Did Not Work for Us This Homeschool Year
1.) High School Credits
My Big Kids just finished 11th and 9th grades, and I still have much to learn about high school credits. My Big Kids are very much guinea pigs in a variety of ways, but especially when it comes to assigning high school classes and then assigning credits.
All high school credits are not equal – some are very heavy and some are quite light. I fall to the ‘heavy’ side when assigning high school classes and I finally understand that there is a need for balance between the heavy and the light.
Not everything can require intense mental thought. Not every class can involve loads of work. Doing something “light” is not a bad thing in some circumstances, and what’s fascinating, is that those ‘circumstances’ change from child to child.
What one child needs to be light, another child can live up to the heavy version and vice versa. Some children desire the heavy version, in fact!
I am sorry it took me so long to understand this about light versus heavy high school credits, as I could have saved us all some heartache!
2.) My 11th Grader’s Math and Science Curricula
Last year I mentioned that my son’s math and science were all online when they were supposed to be in person. It was a huge letdown.
This year didn’t go so well either and that was completely my fault.
However, the problem was our start to the year. I had never used a Distance Learning Option from BJU, so I knew nothing about how it worked. I ran out of preparation time at the beginning of the school year, so I didn’t zero prep work for these subjects. I expected to be completely hands-off.
What an utter mistake this was.
On the first day of school, I handed the books to my 11th grader with the shrink wrap still on them, told him to figure out how to create a BJU student account, and off he should go.
I didn’t understand the pacing, the amount of questions required, or how the quizzes and tests worked.
Major Mama Fail.
3.) Finding Teaching & Discussion and Reading Time
I have 5 children that have various interests and intensities. There is only one of me. I have a distinct and detailed vision of how I believe our homeschool should go.
Most days, I wildly underestimate how much time and energy and I have to dedicate to schoolwork. My children need to discuss their literature or history reading in order to better understand it. Latin recitation is much easier (for homeschool mom and student) when done aloud rather than independently. Math and science – especially at the high school levels – need a teacher in our house. Junior Kindergarten requires energy and creativity from an excited mother.
These things take all of my time and energy and then some.
Each year, I try desperately to figure out what I can do or rearrange or plan to make the most successful learning environment for my children. I want to give them the best, but I recognize I am only one person.
While I feel like I was able to organize my time and efforts more productively this year, there is still much room for improvement.
I just finished up Homeschool Year #12. Maybe I’ll find the “answer” in Homeschool Year #13!
You can read through all of our Homeschool Curriculum that we have used through the years in our (mostly) classical homeschool. It’s organized by grade so you can easily find ideas for your children’s current age/stage.
What are your Hits and Misses? I’d love to read them!