(Please note that I have linked to the book lists on the AO website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum which they offer for free. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on the AO website.)
It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.CHARLOTTE MASON (HOME EDUCATION)
June 10th was technically our last day of school, though we have a few things to finish. Last week both kids were at a local horse camp, so we waited for this week to do our exams, and then we’ll also be (hopefully) finishing math through the summer.
C is making wonderful progress in every area. She’s a whiz at math, for which I’m so thankful, as I struggled with math in school. Her narrations are also mostly thorough, though she sometimes struggles when there is a lot of dialog (as is Pilgrim’s Progress, which her brother also struggled with). She also had some trouble with her handwriting and letter formation at the beginning of the year, so we made some changes to help with that. Overall, the year went well, and she’s ready for Year 3 in the fall!
Here are my notes on Year 2….
About mid-way through the year, I decided to cut back on Morning Time again. I’ve done this in the past with good results, and when I found myself getting frustrated that our morning lesson time was ending later and later, I decided I needed to do it again. At some point earlier in the year, I had added a catechism reading, so I removed that and our daily Proverb reading. I really debated the latter but decided in the long run that it would be the best for us right now. However, I do hope to add it back in the future.
I was doing a weekly lesson from Laying Down the Rails, but based on a few things I read in Mason’s volumes and a comment from Nancy Kelly about habit training from this year’s Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat (mainly that they should be more subtle), I decided to drop that entirely. I also removed the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady readings, mainly because we’ve read them several times already, and replaced that with something from the Book of Virtues. When I read from the Book of Virtues, I don’t announce whatever virtue we’re reading about but simply read the story, and I like how that feels much better.
We also read through parts of Summer, In the Fall of the Year, Winter, and Spring (depending on what season we were in) for five minutes on Thursdays. I love these books, and both kids were very engaged with them.
I didn’t end up re-reading the J. Paterson Smyth commentaries. In hindsight, however, this probably would’ve been a good year to do it as I changed what I underlined and highlighted to share with B toward the end of Year 2 when I was going through it with him, so a lot of the stuff I had marked back then was not helpful with C this year. Next year will be better as I will have better highlights to share with her.
History & Biography
I did not end up using the map or the study guide for The Little Duke because I completely forgot about it. C ended up loving that book, though, and didn’t want the readings to end each week which is always a good thing!
I began writing down names for her on our tabletop whiteboard when we read Our Island Story toward the end of the year. That helped with her narrations as I understand that it’s challenging to remember all those Edwards, Henrys, and Richards. We’ll continue with that book through next year, but we also started This Country of Ours this year (I go with the Columbus readings from that book but definitely edit as I read), which was exciting. I really liked when we got to this point in history when I did this year with B, so I’m glad to do it again with his sister.
I read her Shakespeare selections from Nesbit just because they’re shorter and fit better with our schedule. She also listened when B and I were doing his “real” Shakespeare readings and especially liked Comedy of Errors.
We finished Understood Betsy in Term 1 (I think this is still my favorite book of all the ones we’ve read for AO so far) but were unable to finish Wind in the Willows in Term 2. Robin Hood, in Term 3, is not scheduled to be completed during the year, but we also fell behind in those readings because of scheduling challenges. We’ll finish both books over the summer, but I probably will not require narrations.
She struggled with the dialog portions of Pilgrim’s Progress which was also true for her brother. She enjoyed the “action” parts, which I think comprise more of the second part of the book (which we’ll read next year), so I hope that will be more engaging for her.
She enjoyed the dialect poetry of James Whitcombe Ruley and the shorter poems of Christina Rossetti. This is just a fun year in general for poetry!
In Term 3, I took the time at the beginning of the Term to read the short biography about the poets that AO has on their website, and I think that made the poetry more engaging as well.
This was probably the most significant change we made this year. I had initially planned to do all of the things I had planned with B in Year 2, which is when I introduced cursive. C, however, is quite a bit different than her brother and her handwriting wasn’t where I hoped it would be before we started cursive. I decided she needed a handwriting program that was a little more structured, so I found a full set of Getty-Dubay books on eBay and had her begin those. By the end of the year, she got through Book C doing one sheet per day, and there has been a significant improvement in her handwriting, so this was a good option for us. She still has quite a few books to get through, so I need to figure out how to do this along with traditional copywork for next year.
Reading-Literature: The Primer
Reading-Literature: First Reader
Reading-Literature: Second Reader
Bob Books Collection 2
Father Bear Comes Home
Little Bear’s Friend
Little Bear’s Visit
Little Bear and the Marco Polo
Frog and Toad Books
Henry and Mudge Books
C is following in her brother’s footsteps and has become a voracious reader. Really, reading any of the books listed above was more because I wanted her to take the same steps as her brother rather than needing any reading practice. It is good to have this intentional time each day when she’s reading aloud for me, even though these books are very easy for her as we can work on pronunciation and sounding things out. But she has made her way through several chapter books outside of our lesson time, and when she got through all of the Year 2 free reads that we own, I started giving her books from the Year 3 free reads list just to keep up with her reading habit. We still have the Reading-Literature: Third Reader, which I’ll probably have her read aloud to me next year, but I am very pleased with her reading level at this point.
I changed things from last year so that our Recitation (or Repetition) time comes at the end of our morning lessons. Because C is such a strong reader, partway through Term 1, I began having her read her own recitation pieces to me rather than reading them to her. Each kid takes turns standing in front of me to read the Old Testament selection on Mondays, New Testament on Tuesdays, Psalm on Wednesdays, and poem on Thursdays. Since the goal of Recitation isn’t necessarily memorization but instead being able to recite the selection beautifully, this part of our day felt much more relaxed this year. It was really wonderful and peaceful, and I see us continuing to do it this way into the future.
She also chose her own poem for Term 3 (Spring Morning by A. A. Milne), which made me very glad as I would love for them both to choose their own Recitation pieces.
We kept Spanish very simple this year, and she just watched one Salsa video per week. When we got to the second season on Salsa, she watched one episode split up over two weeks as these are longer. She does pick up quite a bit from these episodes, and it’s fun to hear her using her new Spanish skills in random situations at other times of the day. We ended up finishing the second season of Salsa as well as our folksong book, De Colores, so I need to think about what we can do for Spanish next year.
Geography is such a fun thing overall, but especially in Form I. We made our way through Tree in the Trail (and went down to Bent’s Old Fort after finishing it!) in the first part of the year, then finished Seabird in the second half. She enjoyed both books, but I think Tree in the Trail was more engaging for her.
We also finished the two companion maps from Beautiful Feet Books for these books, so I have two more to hang on our map wall in the basement.
Nature Study & Science
We were pretty good about having intentional time for nature study twice a week, following along with the Nature Study Hacking guides. I’m hoping this gets her into the habit of making entries in her nature notebook, as this is one of the activities we do through these books.
It also helped that these nature study topics went along with what her brother was learning for science, so she also participated in some of those activities.
For The Burgess Animal Book for Children, I found short videos for each animal on YouTube, which we watched after we read the lesson for each week, and this was a fun way actually to see the animals we read about in the book.
We did not finish RightStart Level C, but she is doing so, so well in math and making progress each week, so I’m fine with the pace at which we’re going. We’ll be working on the book through the summer and hopefully have it finished by the start of the next school year or soon after.
Term 1: Katsushika Hokusai
Term 2: Winslow Homer
Term 3: Mary Cassatt
Picture study went very well this year, and C enjoyed all of our artists. She was excited to narrate during picture study, which actually caused problems as she ended up being the “bolder child” who came “out with everything before the quieter” child had a chance to share his thoughts. We’ll work on that. I was also glad that we were able to go up to the Denver Art Museum in March to see the Whister to Cassatt exhibition that included Homer as well!
She hit the ground running with this book again and, unknown to me, did several lessons each week (instead of just one) at the beginning of the year. When I discovered this, I slowed her to one per week, but she still finished the book by the end of the year. I’m not sure if I’ll look for another drawing book for her to do next year or start her on brush drawing.
The Tillberry Table guides were perfect for us this year! I ended up switching to Handel in Term 2 as I received it as part of a bundle I was in last fall, and we were able to do Messian in December, which was neat. These were just the right amount of information for us, and I love that she has playlists already set up on YouTube, so there was literally nothing for me to do to prepare each week. I see us using these into the foreseeable future.
C was with her brother in really liking Handel and especially the Cuckoo and the Nightingale, but I think she also enjoyed the other composers as well.
Term 1: Ye Holy Angels Bright (Michaelmas – 29 September) & Hark the Sound of Holy Voices (All Saints Day – 1 November)
Term 2: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending (Advent) & As with Gladness Men of Old (Epiphany)
Term 3: The Glory of These Forty Days (Lent) & Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun (St. Mark – 25 April)
We went along with our hymns as scheduled at the beginning of the year and sang them twice a week during Morning Time. I was especially appreciative when they also happened to be selections that AO has scheduled in recent years, as we were able to use the beautiful recordings from the Folksongs and Hymns channel on YouTube.
Term 1: The Song of Roland (an 11th-century battle ballad) & Arkansas Traveler
Term 2: King John and the Abbot (C will be reading about John in Term 2) & Follow the Drinking Gourd (B will be reading about the Underground Railroad in Term 2 and we’ll be studying Astronomy)
Term 3: Can She Excuse My Wrongs? (we sang John Dowland last year and enjoyed his music) & Galway Bay (I wanted to at least mention the 19th-century Irish diaspora this year as well)
We stuck with our folksongs as scheduled as well. I think next year, I will probably try to match more to the Folksongs and Hymns channel as well because it’s just such a great resource! C especially liked The Song of Roland, which I think was my favorite as well.
We continued with Swedish Drill II this year and made it part way through the second routine in the book, so we didn’t end up getting to Swedish Drill III. We are slow as we usually do a review routine on Tuesdays (sometimes the kids call out the commands – C especially likes doing this) and then learn a new exercise and go through our new routine on Thursdays, but I think this is a good pace for us.
C does mostly well in Swedish Drill though sometimes she gets a little antsy or doesn’t stand at attention as long as she should, but I’m hoping she settles down with this as she gets older.
Handicrafts ended up being an epic failure on my part this year. I tried to start strong with beeswax in the fall, and we made candles but didn’t do much after that. The spring was a little easier as I switched us from their individual handicrafts of knots and sewing to gardening for all of us. We were very intentional about picking out plants, getting them in the ground, and getting into a good routine of watering and weeding. But I really need to be better about this next year.
And that was our year! Next year will be her last in Form II… it’s going so fast!