An Overview of our 2022-2023 school year, the curriculum we used, an honest homeschool curriculum review, what I’ve learned this year, and our plans for the year ahead. Grab a coffee and let’s chat homeschool and curriculum!
I honestly cannot believe it is already time to review this year!
It feels like just yesterday we were planning this school year, and now it is almost over!
On the other hand, a lot changed this year. I pulled Iris out of our homeschool and decided to wait until she was six to start her.
This will be how we do all of our children from now on. (I will explain more on that later!)
We also added a new baby.
Rafael has taken on new endeavors, and we have both embraced new callings.
It was a crazy year, but I am so thankful for homeschool and so blessed to do life with this precious little crew.
If you missed our blog at the start of the year- going over this year’s curriculum- you can read it here!
Truth be told though, I changed a lot from my original plans for this year. It can be really hard to admit when a curriculum isn’t a good fit after investing a lot of time and money into it, but as I have found out- holding on to something that isn’t working is more trouble than it is worth!
In this blog I hope to do a thorough homeschool curriculum review- what worked and what didn’t– and share a few lessons I have learned this year along the way! Plus, our curriculum choices for the upcoming year!
Our Homeschool Philosophy
When it comes to homeschooling, nothing is one size fits all.
Learning varies child to child, so how could we- as Mamas and educators– expect our homeschool to look like anyone else’s.
We take a slow approach to education in our home.
We embrace childhood and organic learning a bit longer than most. The result of that is that my children won’t read as early as others.
Honestly, that bothers me sometimes.
People seem to think that homeschooling means teaching your three year old phonics. Not in our home though. I fully believe the research backs a later start to formal education.
They have their whole lives to balance checkbooks and read Charles Dickens. But there is only a short season that they get to spend jumping in mud puddles, being read to in my lap, and living outside the boundaries of schedules and workloads. I hope to make the most of that time.
Our number one goal with homeschool is to raise children who love Jesus with all their heart for all their lives.
Secondly, we want to raise children who love literature. Children who view their favorite books as their best friends- who travel the whole world, time, and space from the comfort of their own living room.
And lastly, we aim to raise lifelong learners.
I started homeschooling with the idea that my children would leave home with no gaps in their education. I believed they would indulge in every classic book, memorize all of human history, and be so advanced in math they wouldn’t need a college course. The truth is that is impossible.
So rather than trying to teach them all of that- I hope to raise them with the desire to simply never stop learning.
For more on how our homeschool operates check out our blog, 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts to apply to your Homeschool
Starting (and stopping) Kindergarten
This was to be my first year homeschooling two kids, rather than one. At least it started that way.
The first couple of months Iris did Kindergarten at home.
I had already been wrestling with whether or not to start her this year.
Isaiah started homeschool at five and I have always regretted not waiting another year. He was five his entire first year of school and turned six right at the end of the school year.
My thought process was more in line with public schooling here- typically children start school at age five.
Academically, they both excelled, but there is more to homeschool than academics.
For one, I would rather my children have an extra year at the start of their school career- an extra year of childhood rather than to graduate early.
Of course most homeschool kids can graduate early if they choose to get ahead. What I have found in our own homeschooling experience is that while my children may excel in academics, they also tend to take a step back in listening, responsibilities, habits, and character when we begin at age five.
Iris is little Mama in our house.
She is great at cleaning, helping, diapering, and taking initiative.
Those qualities somehow disappeared when we introduced “A says ah.” If I said do this page in your math workbook, she would scribble in her spelling book.
If I said “Let’s play a game with syllables”, she would stand on her head in the corner and ignore me.
She knew and could do everything I asked her to do- but it took coaxing, begging, and sometimes punishing.
So, I pulled her from school- and I am so glad I did!
She spent this year playing, learning life skills, growing in her character, and excelling in different ways. She has matured so much and been such a beautiful little helper with new baby brother.
Not only that but her handwriting has improved drastically without any instruction. I’m amazed how much she has learned simply from life.
So, from now on, our children will start school at six!
I was so excited about some of this curriculum choices we had made this year, but a lot of it just didn’t work for us. That doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else though, so I will do my best to give an honest homeschool curriculum review with the pros and cons of each.
Charlotte Mason Enrichment Studies
I had such a love/hate relationship with this choice.
This is a beautiful way to introduce composers, poets, and artists to your children.
It is filled with wonderful living books, group discussions, and wonder for the whole family.
When it comes to the actual Poet, Artist, and Composer studies– they are unbeatable.
We have fallen in love with Rembrandt! The Simply Charlotte Mason book, Enjoy the Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson- should be in every homeschool! I have a few books of his poems already, but this one gives an introduction to him and his childhood that is so beautiful and enlightening!
So now the downside– it is just too much- especially for littles.
This curriculum is meant to be open and go with everything laid out for you, but it was taking us almost 2 hours at times to get through it the way the book outlines.
I think the individual pieces on their own are worth their weight in gold, but following their outline with elementary age students is a lot in a normal school day.
I just love Math-U-See.
I think when it comes to a math curriculum the main thing is just to stick with it and not bounce around since math builds on itself.
Math-u-see is designed to help your child truly master each lesson. The blocks are fun, but honestly we don’t use them very often. They are great for teaching a lesson or laying something out if someone isn’t understanding.
And the workbook pages are short and sweet.
Isaiah has really amazed me with his math skills this year. One thing I love about Math-u-see is that it lays out problems in many different ways. Because of that I have seen Isaiah figure out lots of things I haven’t even taught him yet.
We will be sticking with this for our math curriculum this year, and Iris will be starting it this year as well.
If you read my blog at the start of the school year I had grabbed a Primary Mathematics workbook for her. While we weren’t in it long, I didn’t care for it.
This time around we are going straight to Math-u-see and sticking with it!
This year Isaiah went back to our original handwriting curriculum- Getty Dubay. We did book A in Kindergarten and then moved to Handwriting Without Tears in 1st grade.
This year we went back for Book B.
Little boys and handwriting just don’t mix.
Iris loves to write and naturally has beautiful penmanship, but boys (at least in my experience) would rather hammer nails and tie knots.
So I say, “Just let them!” The Getty Dubay books are great for children who don’t like writing. The are relatively small beautiful letters and the pages are short and simple!
For the full review on Handwriting Without Tears, check out our blog: Homeschool Year End Review
All About Reading
I want to share more here, but we honestly didn’t use All About Reading much this year.
Isaiah spent most of his reading time actually reading simple books- which I suppose is the best way to learn to read!
I do plan to use all about reading with Iris some this year because I think it is a great and fun way to introduce early reading concepts. For our full review on AAR, click here.
I will share down below my curriculum choice for Isaiah for next year because we will be moving away from this curriculum choice for him.
Charlotte Mason History, Geography, and the Bible
Again, I so wanted to love this, but really my complaint about this one is the same as my complaint with the Enrichment Studies.
It is simply too much at once.
It is very well thought out and perhaps for older grades it may be a great asset, but it was so long I couldn’t keep everyone interested.
Bible study is the main component of our homeschool, and my goal is to reach the heart of all of my children with it. That is difficult when you have 2nd graders down to 2 year olds listening, but it is possible.
We ended up laying aside the CM History, Geography, and the Bible and resorting back to our favorite: The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos.
Isaiah and I also did a one on one Not Consumed Bible study on prayer called- In The Garden.
(I highly recommend the Not Consumed Bible studies! They are also pretty inexpensive!)
For the Upcoming Year
The year ahead will no doubt be a busy year.
We have some big upcoming plans and we have 5 little kids.
As bad as I want to be the Pinterest mom and plan everything myself, I know I would be setting myself up to fail. I need something open and go. So this upcoming year we will be doing The Good and The Beautiful Language Arts, Science (Fields and Flowers), Handwriting, and History.
Now before I start getting rude messages because I always hear them when it comes to The Good and The Beautiful- I realize this is a Mormon curriculum. However- I cannot find anything embedded in it that goes off the rails from common Christian doctrine. I take my job as gatekeeper and teacher of my children very seriously so I will be mindful to keep an eye out as we use it, but I am not worried about it at this point.
(If you have a personal conviction not to use it, I completely respect that!)
Between TGTB and Math-U-See most of our school year is pretty well laid out for us. I hope to incorporate some unit studies along the way, and I will try and share those with you guys as we go!
Am I Qualified to teach my children?
I know a lot of people are making the transition over to homeschool or preparing to begin homeschool for the first time. Over and over again I hear the same concern, and it is the same one I had in the beginning- can I do this?
Somewhere along the way Mothers have been told they aren’t fit to do the jobs they are innately designed to do. Like giving birth, for example. We’ve been taught not to trust God’s design for our body, but rather to trust the doctor or midwife. And the same has become true for schooling our children. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we have teachers, midwives, and doctors, but their degrees don’t disqualify us from fulfilling these roles.
God made you, and He made you their Mama.
I promise you, God did not give you your children on the pretense that you would never teach them anything. He didn’t look at you and shrug and say “This one is bad at math, so probably best if she doesn’t have any academic influence over her children.”
Even if you don’t homeschool, you’re still the one chosen to help your child with homework and to teach your children about Jesus- what subject is more important than that?
Mama, you were made for this.
Before there were schoolhouses, hospitals, or even roads- there were Mothers.
Generations upon generations of Moms and Dads who taught their children about God and the world around them.
This is how Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob learned.
Many of our founding fathers here in America were taught at home by their mothers as well.
No one is more qualified to teach your child than you because no one loves them more than you.
Whatever choice you make for school this year, just know that only you, your husband, and God are able to make that choice. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Shop This Post
Note: Math-u-see curriculum may be cheaper through Rainbow Resource Center, compare and save!
The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Curriculum (There are also free printable downloads of the language arts curriculum available!)
This blog contains Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small commission off of the purchases made through the links on our website. This is at no additional cost to you, but helps out our family!
Happy Schooling, or Homeschooling- whichever you choose!
And Happy Aiming (because we all do that)!
If you have a favorite curriculum or have a curriculum review you would like to share, leave it in the comments down below to help out me and other Mamas planning for the year ahead! ❤️
Want more homeschooling inspiration? Check out our full library of homeschool blogs here!