Final Thoughts on What We Used

Cameron
Language Arts:
*Writing With Skill 1 – I love Writing With Skill! Cameron doesn’t love it, but, really, he doesn’t love anything that is school and especially nothing that involves writing. There were things I had to adjust for him due to the dysgraphia (such as reducing the number of words he was required to write and allowing him to dictate if he wanted to) and I had to be more hands-on than it really intends because of the dyslexia (I had to read the instructions to him to be sure he understood completely rather than him reading them himself for example). But the writing he produced this year is incredible. The writing process is taught step by step with lots of practice so he was able to really master the skills. He got very good at note-taking and outlining through the many assignments throughout the year. I am really looking forward to moving on to level 2 next year. My rating: 5/5 stars
*Reading various works listed in The Well-Trained Mind (comprehension questions written by me) – Cameron read quite a varied bunch of books over the course of the school year. The comprehension questions I wrote worked well. Cameron’s always had a high comprehension level in spite of his learning disabilities. He’s ready to move on from reading a chapter and answering questions, though, and next year he’ll just be reading for a set period of time and then narrating what he read. My rating: 5/5 stars for literature selections, 4/5 stars for comprehension questions
*Reading bios (written by me) of authors from the early modern period – Cameron seriously hated my bios. I don’t think they added anything to his education really. He’s one of those kids that if he’s interested in someone or something, he’ll go on YouTube or Google and find out what he wants to know. I’m not making bios for next year. My rating: 2/5 stars
*Spelling Power – This one is mixed. He has retained more about spelling words from Spelling Power than he has from any other spelling curriculum we’ve tried (and there have been many!). I know he’ll never be a great spelling (because of the orthographic processing thing), but I do want him to be the best he can. We’re not going to be continuing with this next year. I think it would be fine, but it’s not great for him (it worked WAY better for Cameron than Fritz as far as retention goes). My rating: 3/5 stars

Math:
*Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra – We started the year with AoPS and no matter how much people rave over it, it just didn’t work for Cameron. He was very stressed out and frustrated by it. He learned very little. My rating: 1/5 stars
*Math Mammoth Pre-Algebra – This one was okay, but there came a point where we had to switch because, although the second half of the year was supposed to be released months ago, it is still not out and won’t be released until this summer, way too late for us. He learned fine with what he had. My rating: 4/5
*Math-U-See Pre-Algebra – Cameron used MUS for his first couple years of math, but then we started using Calvert. MUS still works great for him. I think the combination of videos and paper is perfect for him. It’s also great that if he understands a concept immediately, he can just move on, but if he needs extra practice, there are three practice pages plus three review pages each lesson (plus more can be created on-line from the MUS website if necessary). We’re looking forward to moving on to Algebra I in the fall. My rating: 4/5 stars.

Fritz
Language Arts:
*First Language Lessons 3 – I loved First Language Lessons when I used it with his sister (no levels back then – just one book) and I still love it now. Fritz learned how to diagram sentences and since it’s taught bit by bit it really stuck in head and seemed easy for him. We’re looking forward to the doing the 4th level next year. My rating: 5/5 stars
*Writing With Ease 2 – I am really glad I went down a level of WWE for Fritz. I think the 2/3 of the year he did copywork once a week was very useful for him. He struggled a bit with narration, but got the hang of it by about halfway through the year. He’s still not a fan of dictation, but he’s getting better and better at focusing and remembering what he’s supposed to write. We’re looking forward to doing level 3 next year. My rating: 5/5 stars
Cursive Handwriting – First I tried writing things and having him copy them. Didn’t work. Then I bought something from Currclick. Also didn’t work. He has absolutely no retention of how to form the letters. We’re going to use New American Cursive next year. I hope it works better. My rating: 1/5 stars
*Spelling Workout – After Fritz switched from Spelling Power, which didn’t work at all for him as far as retention of how to spell words, he did Spelling Workout B. He sped through it and he remembered the spellings better with that one, but it still wasn’t perfect. We’re switching to Spelling You See next year. My rating: 3/5 stars
*Reading books selected from those used in Writing With Ease 2 (comprehension questions written by me) – Fritz read a bunch of great books during the school year. Reading a chapter and answering comprehension questions is perfect for him right now. My rating: 5/5 stars
*Brainy Acts – Fritz enjoyed most of the critical thinking exercises in Brainy Acts. He especially liked the math-based ones. My rating: 3/5 stars

Math:
*Beast Academy – This is another one that people rave over that was a flop here. Fritz loves math and math puzzles, but some of these frustrated him. He wasn’t really learning math, though, explanations were poor, and there was almost no review. My rating: 2/5 stars
*Math Mammoth Grade 4 – Another flop for Fritz. Even though it was labeled grade 4, it definitely felt more like grade 3. It would give multiple ways to solve the same thing several days in a row. This frustrated Fritz severely. He wanted to be taught one way and stick with it. Multiple ways just confused him. My rating: 1/5 stars
*Math-U-See Gamma – The updates to MUS’s “Greek” series are excellent. Fritz loves it. He quickly moved beyond using the blocks much, particularly as his multiplication problems got really big, but when he used them they really helped him “see” how the math works. He’s looking forward to learning division with Delta next year. My rating: 5/5 stars

Adrian
Language Arts:
*First Language Lessons 1 – It was fun to revisit some poems his older sister learned years ago. The gentle and slow introduction to grammar was absolutely perfect for Adrian. I’m excited to use level 2 with him next year. My rating: 4/5 stars
*Explode the Code – Adrian got through the first Explode the Code book by the end of the year. While the pictures sometimes leave a lot to be desired, overall EtC is great. He’ll continue with the rest of the books in the fall. My rating: 4/5 stars
*Reading Eggs – When we remember to use it, Adrian and I both love Reading Eggs! I don’t think we’ll renew when our subscription expires mainly because we forget about it. But, until February, he’ll use it when we think about it. My rating: 5/5 stars
*The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading – Adrian and I are slowly working our way through OPG. He doesn’t enjoy it and fights it a bit, but he’s gaining reading skills as he goes. We’re continuing with the lessons through the summer and on into next year. My rating: 3/5 stars

Math:
*Math Mammoth Grade 1 – Math Mammoth worked fine for Adrian. It was very easy. We really only switched because the older two boys were switching. My rating: 5/5 stars
*Math-U-See Alpha – Adrian loves the MUS blocks. He uses the blocks even when he doesn’t need to. It’s obvious he already knows the answers and just uses the blocks for fun sometimes. He’s excited to learn regrouping in Beta next year. My rating: 5/5 stars
MathSeeds – This, like Reading Eggs, we usually forget to use. He has learned a lot and loves it when we remember it. My rating: 5/5 stars

All Three Boys
Religion:
*Discover the Scriptures Hands-on Church History and Discover the Latter-day Prophets – I like DtS products a lot, but I don’t love the typos. I mean, really, if you are studying the Prophets, it would be nice if Wilford Woodruff’s name was always spelled correctly, for example (the second f was left off most of the time). The Hands-on Church History was fun, but it still says volume 2 will be available fall 2014. Here it is summer 2015 and it’s still not out. My rating: 3/5 stars
*Memorizing parts of the Doctrine & Covenants Scripture Mastery Verses – This didn’t work out so well. We kind of gave up partway through the school year. My rating: 2/5 stars

History:
*Pandia Press Early Modern History Level 1 – I love, love, love History Odyssey! We learned so incredibly much this year. We’re looking forward to doing the modern history era next year. My rating: 4/5 stars

Science:
*Pandia Press REAL Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1 – I don’t love REAL Science Odyssey quite as much as History Odyssey, but we still liked it. We did tons of experiments and learned a lot. We’re switching to Elemental Science next year, though, because Pandia didn’t announce they were going to be putting out physics until too late. My rating: 4/5 stars

Art and Music:
*Confessions of a Homeschooler World’s Greatest Artists and World’s Greatest Composers – We took it slow and only learned about a handful of artists, the orchestra, and one composer over the course of the year. They are adequate. I don’t love them, but they teach what I want. We’ll be continuing with these next year going a little faster so we’ll finish both by the end of the year. My rating: 3/5 stars

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