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Homeschool Mid-Year Update | Malachi & Eliana

We're half way through the school year and as it is for many homeschoolers, it's a good time to reflect on how our year is going.

Today, I'll focus on school with Malachi and Eliana both because I have homeschooled them together since the beginning.

Malachi will turn 12 in February and is in the 6th grade. Eliana will turn 10 within a week and is in the 4th grade. Oh my how these two are growing up so fast! I'm so thankful that I get to be just a mom to them and be here to experience them growing up.


Malachi read #1-#11 in the Nancy Drew series, four Hardy Boys books, and many non-ficiton books from a wide variety of topics - like gardening, self-sufficiency, rocks, birds, animals, drawing, history and more.

Eliana is on Lesson 38 out of 63, so a little over half way through All About Reading Level 4. I plan to finish up the last 25 lessons and then start All About Spelling 4. I originally thought I would do both at the same time, but we decided to finish AAR4 first since it is the last level of reading instruction. In her free time, she loves to read stories about animals.


We started out with BJU English Writing and Grammar but felt a pull towards IEW early in the year, so I decided to at least watch the Teaching Writing Structure and Style (TWSS) videos. I did and fell in love! We started Student Writing Intensive A (SWI A) and finished Lesson 10 today with 4 lessons to go. Since we are doing IEW for writing, the kids have just been doing the grammar chapters (every other chapter) in BJU English, but eventually I will drop BJU for good. They are learning how to apply grammar more effectively with IEW, and I will add Fix It! Grammar (link to my review) next school year for a fun way to practice grammar.

They are both where they need to be in their G&D Italic Handwriting, too.


Malachi - Malachi graduated Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLLE) last year, so I placed him in MUS Epsilon. I'm so glad I took a chance with Math U See for him! I'm amazed all that time at what I am learning myself, let alone what he is learning. I really think it will give him a solid foundation as he gets ready for pre-algebra, but I will confess I panic at times when I look at other math curricula and see things he "should" be learning and is not since MUS is an immersion approach. When I mapped it all out, he will take Pre-Algebra in the 8th grade and Algebra in the 9th if I continue with MUS. That's perfectly fine with me. Though, I go back and forth about whether or not I want to do MUS or Teaching Textbooks for Algebra and beyond.

Eliana - I had Math Lessons for a Living Education 4 planned, but bought Math U See Gamma at the last minute. I had her start with Gamma, and so far she has worked through 23 out of 30 lessons. She said it was getting too hard so I let her take a break and start MLLE, and she's happy with it so far. Hopefully, we'll finish Gamma before the end of the year since we are so close.

Veritas Press Self Paced History

Malachi begged me last spring to let him start as soon as I purchased 1815 to Present. I hesitated knowing he would want to take time off in the summer, but he promised me he would finish it before his subscription expired. Well, here we are and it expires March 8th, and he is only half way through. He has finished 82 of 160 lessons. He is doing 2 lessons a day and is confident that he'll finish with time to spare at that pace, but I calculated that he would need to do 2 lessons a day 6 days a week to finish in time. We'll see how that goes.

Prairie Primer

The Prairie Primer which consists of nine units - one corresponding to each of the nine "Little House" books, is our core curriculum this year. We started late spring last year, so we have completed 7 out of 9 books. Topics range from Bible, to History, to Music, and Science. See a complete list of topics here. I added extra science, but I mentioned in My Homeschool Journal that it was too much, so I dropped that early fall, and we are just doing the science in PP.

We have some hands on activities to complete for our last unit and plan to do that this week before moving on to The First Four Years, saving Farmer Boy for last since this unit has us cooking and doing a lot of extra projects. I'm hoping I'll have a little more energy by the time we get there! I'm ready to be done with PP, but I want to finish strong.

That said, we will likely be done with Prairie Primer by the end of February or early March. I will reflect more when we finish, but can say with certainty that we will NOT start a whole year long curriculum in the spring again this year - I need a break!


  1. I loved reading your update for these two. It brought a question to mind. With All About Reading - when in the AAR levels did your kids switch over to reading independently (meaning they could grab a short chapter book from the shelf and read it)? Why did you choose to continue AAR beyond that point? Right now Oliver is halfway through AAR2 and is close to independence. I'm trying to decide if we'll purchase level 3 for him and keep using it. I'm also starting Caleb is level 1 this week, I've loved AAR! Just not sure what the benefit is to continuing with later levels?

    We love MUS! It has been great for all the kids so far. Makayla is in Geometry this year and it's well laid out. Algebra 1 was also really well done, between the manual and the dvd, so I felt like I got the refresher and help I needed to teach her. She didn't love Alg1, but she doesn't like math, so that wasn't surprising. She has liked Geometry better. The other kids are currently in Zeta, Zeta, Delta, Beta, and Alpha and all the kids started with Alpha or Primer. It is a bit unnerving to go in a different sequence than traditional schools for the elementary years. Once they reach Pre-Algebra that sequence is pretty lockstep to a traditional course.

    Have a great second half of the school year!

  2. That's a good question, Tristan! Each child has been different. Malachi really took off in Level 2 and has literally sailed through all the other levels, while Eliana took off in Level 3 and started grabbing chapter books, but she was not as smooth sailing through each level. I feel continuing has been more beneficial for Eliana in the sense that she needed the fluency and decoding practice - especially for multi-syllable words. I probably could have stopped with Malachi after Level 3 when the majority of the phonograms have been taught by. I'm not even sure Malachi needs AAS now that he's been through all 4 levels of AAR - I keep going to reinforce what he's learned, I guess, but the spelling is really easy for him. Bo is already reading phonograms that aren't taught until Level 3 and he's only half way through Level 1 - so he may be able to move through them as easily as Malachi. I will probably still take him through each level - even if to reap the benefit of having him read aloud to me and having the discussion prompts in the manual and all the other things AAR sneaks in there about the elements of literature, vocabulary, etc.

    I'm happy that I'm not the only one who feels that way, but it is encouraging to hear how MUS has worked so well for your family - especially into high school!

  3. The prairie primer looks fantastic from the posts you have done. I applaud you for all you do for your children. Some days it's all I can do to get school completed. This is why I am so glad to be back to HOD for my three youngers and BJU for my two oldest.

  4. I am using MUS with 4 children right now, and will move my 3 younger ones into it at the Gamma level when they are ready. One thing I read when trying to figure out if we should do the MUS algebra or another company's, was that whatever company you decide to use for algebra, be sure to do their pre-algebra also. Each company presents topics in a different order (which I can attest to having used 3 different algebras now!) and the pre-algebra book sets up what the student needs for tackling the algebra book. It was good advice, so I thought I would mention it since you are wrestling with the topic.
    I really like the MUS algebra and plan on sticking with their highschool level math for the rest of my children. If my son gets stuck and my brain can't remember that part of algebra, I can watch the video myself, and the teacher's book covers the same thing. I have had a much easier time helping him with his algebra than I did with the other 2 algebras we used.

  5. Thank you, Megan! I hope the rest of your year is great!

    That's really good advice, Aimee, and makes perfect sense. I used Life of Fred with my older boys, but looking back I wished I had used Teaching Textbooks so that's why it's still hanging in there in the back of my mind. I do like MUS a lot and have been impressed with how they teach math so thank you for sharing your experience.

  6. Those are such great pictures of those two. Look how much you all have learned this year! I feel like I am learning so much with MUS as well. The one reason I stick with it is that I will continue to have to learn. I had thought about TT as well, but I knew I wouldn't be able to help them if they moved forward without me. I'm sticking with it until kingdom comes for #1. I am tempted to use it with #2 for ease of use. We shall see :)

  7. Thank you, Tara! and that does make sense - to be able to pop in the DVD and find the lesson I need is appealing to me. TT is similar in that there are lectures too - and practice problems, review built in, and tests, too - but it does ALL the grading for you (that seems like heaven to me right now). I know the younger levels seem to be a grade below level, but the high school levels seem to be more on target and have more credibility. Decisions, decisions!