Hey friends! This is it. We have knocked another year out of the park (time absolutely flies, so don't blink) and finished out our curriculum. My boys are 9, 7, and 5 or roughly finished 3rd, 1st, and preschool this year.
In many ways, we are year round homeschoolers, meaning that when I do a curriculum review, we have often already jumped right into the next thing. You can check out our choices for this year (2022-2023) soon in another blog post so be sure and check back in.
I will do my best to go through this in a methodical and coherent manner!
A Gentle Feast was our spine.
So, if you have been here a while, you know we began using AGF back in 2019. It has truly been an excellent fit for us. A Gentle Feast is a Charlotte Mason based curriculum, and as someone who has read all of Miss Mason's volumes (some three times), I can attest that AGF truly holds fast to her principles. As with anything you purchase that is made up for you, there are places we adjust. Here is my rundown of how we used Cycle 3 this year.
History cycle 3 focuses on the Civil War era as well as Westward Expansion. The book selections worked so well for our family. As we have been narrating our lessons for 4 years now, my boys really took off this year! It was a blessing to see. We also use Morning Time from AGF and I appreciate how the poet, hymn, composer, and artist all are from the time period we study all year. This helps making connections easy.
We use AGF for Language Arts as well as Reading lessons. My 3rd grader enjoys the gentle approach of the Language Arts which correlates to our readings. Each week has the same rhthym, which helps students know what is expected. Day 1 is copywork and spelling works for dictation at the end of the week, Day 2 is an illustrated narration, Day 3 is a few sentences written, Day 4 is a grammar lesson, and Day 5 is French Dictation. I saw progress as we moved forward in our year.
For Reading lessons, my 1st grader loved 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound. He is not a fluent reader yet, but is following big brother's path of slow and steady.
I would not say I noted any significant cons with the AGF curriculum. We are genuinely happy with our choice of curriculum. That said, we do make some minor changes and adjustments. Here are a few adjustments we made:
Nature Study - Treehouse Schoolhouse
Geography & Black History - Sweet Tea and Cookies by Heritage Mom Blog
Artist Study - Simply Charlotte Mason
Geography through Literature - Beautiful Feet Books
Math curriculum review
We began our year using The Good and The Beautiful math with both my 3rd and 1st grader. We had enjoyed their original math series since we began using it back in 2018. However, they made some changes this year and sadly, after our first term, we realized it was no longer a great fit for our family. In Term 2 we switched to the Charlotte Mason Arithmetic Series.
This math is straight forward. There are example problems and a heavy focus on mental math skills. It uses real life examples that kids can relate to. Also, you don't need more than things you can find around your home as manipulatives.
My 3rd grader has not mastered his multiplication tables yet. In order to help solidify these we have added in Kate Snow's Multiplication Facts that Stick.
Exams are fun!
This year is the second year we implemented "exam dates". Instead of exams at home, one child and I go off on a "date" together and assess our term. It has been a wonderful way to connect and really determine how they are doing as well as facilitate their exams in a way where I get to celebrate them as a person. I am pretty sure Miss Mason approves!
Some of our "extras".
During our year, we often implement special studies, or extras not written into our general curriculums. Here are a few we enjoyed immensely this year.
Swedish Drill from The Schoolyard - they have taken an antiquated PE and brain break resource and brought it into the 21st century! We use this daily as well as in a group setting at our co-op.
Biblical Feasts - these are our very own studies written for my children and shared with you as well! We loved our learning with picture books, handcrafts, and much more this year.
Happy Hymnody - during the past five years, we have sung along with April and her crew as she provides FREE printables and youtube videos to support hymn study.
Gathered - another of our own studies that we loved using for a second year. It included so many ways to connect with the local community, build on family togetherness, and learn history during the month preceding Thanksgiving.
A Connected Christmas - Treehouse Schoolhouse brought so much to the table with this resource. It was perfect for the ages of my sons and easily adaptable during the busy season.
A little independence.
One last section to remark on home educating two children together and how I facilitated some independence with my eldest. I began handing off small things like copywork, spelling, and Language Arts to my eldest when he was in second grade. I felt this was important as I want him to take ownership of his learning as well as be able to continue his lessons when I work directly with my first grader. This did work well. I made a checklist for him and added to it again for his third grade year. He learned to manage the things he was responsible for quite well. This was encouraging as in 2022-23 I will begin the same process with my incoming second grader and middle son since we will add in a third student the following year.
I hope this review was helpful to you! If you'd like to follow along with us this year, you can find us on Instagram and sign up for our email list so you never miss a recommendation or adventure!