We’re in the process of getting ready for second grade here at L’ Ecole Pencils and Eyelashes. And by “getting ready for second grade” I mean a lot of swimming lessons and Irish dance and glancing at the calendar every week or so and exclaiming, “It’s June/July/August already?!!?!”

You know, because I like to be prepared.

I have done some real prep work though, and ordered all of her books for the coming year. This is our second year of doing real elementary school, and I’ve definitely figured out some things that I liked and disliked from last year.

I loved the A Beka Math program, and we’ll continue to use it this year. This is an amazing basic math program. I like it a lot more than other companies’ offerings because they have so much in the way of engagement. The pages are bright and colorful and they do a really good job of explaining the concepts to seven-and-eight-year-olds. It’s amazing. And at $22, you can copy the work pages and use it for other kids. Personally, for us, I found the Speed Drills and Tests unnecessary. But that’s just us.

Same company, same amount of love. We also kept the A Beka English program around. They have separate Phonics (Letters and Sounds) and Language texts but they complement each other perfectly and are easy to finish both in a year. Again, I didn’t use the unit tests. Maybe for higher grades.

We loved our religion seat text from Seton. If you want a Catholic homeschooling curriculum, you can’t go wrong with Seton. I loved that this was laid out daily and in language my kid could understand without watering down the theological concepts. Mortal sin is still mortal sin, even for a seven-year-old. She needs to understand that appropriately and I love that Seton helped give me the language to do it. The artwork is also amazing. The text isn’t meant to be written in, so you can use it for multiple children.

We are changing some things though. I had a rough time with the Latin text we selected for last year. I think it would work great for some kids at some ages, but not my kid at this age. It was too intense and I got too hung up on trying to get her to finish the pages without really learning anything. Not helpful.  So like I wrote about here, we kind of went with a laid-back approach of literally just teaching her Latin. I made her recite prayers and sing songs and practice her cursive in Latin. We started praying in Latin as a family. I made her “teach” her dad some things. It was cobbled together, but it really worked well. In keeping with that concept, we ditched the original text and switched to a primer reader (which my husband remembers from high school hahaha) and decided to use the rest of the stuff we did last year too. I’ll be teaching her more songs and prayers and I’m making it my goal to have her saying the rosary in Latin by the time of her First Holy Communion.

That’s another thing that’s necessarily different. It’s second grade, y’all. Sacrament central. She’ll be making her first confession in September and her first Holy Communion in April or May. So obviously we have to focus on preparation for that. Since we don’t do any organized religion classes through the parish, I have the responsibility to make sure that she’s well prepared and covered in the fundamentals of the faith.

This year we’re using a combination of things. St. Joseph Catechism First Reconciliation and First Communion texts, as well as the Baltimore Catechism I are forming the backbone of our texts. I’ve also ordered Matthew Kelly’s Blessed series, which I will be getting in September and January for the sacraments respectively. I have no idea if I’m going to like it, but I like the idea that it’s made for parish work so I can make sure my bases are covered in her preparation.

Finally, I’m switching planners. I know, I know. If you know me, that’s a huge thing. Last year I bought the Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner, and I did love it. It was gorgeous and the material was so high quality and the accessories were adorable but it just was like eight thousand percent more than I needed. I don’t need to keep track of grades (yet.) I don’t need to keep track of attendance. I need weekly lesson plans, monthly goals, and pages for lists. That’s what I need. That’s pretty much it. So this year I saved like two hundred dollars (I love me some accessories) and bought a pretty binder and found printables.

I found one I love and I can’t find it again to link to it. I’ll work on that. I love that it has the Jeremiah quote from, well, my life on it. I love that it will help center me every week. I love all of that. Mostly I love that it was free and simple and exactly what I need. Five days with six or seven subjects and that’s it.

I created my own list of weeks for the yearly schedule, just using Google Drive. I laminate these and put them in the front of the binder so I can tell what week we’re on at all times. I’m really looking forward to making it mine.

(And my husband is looking forward to not getting another $200 bill from Erin Condren.)

(I’m basically sending Erin’s kids to college with how much I love her stuff.)

(My own kids should look into ROTC.)

So tell me- what are you doing differently this year? What did you hate about last year? What did you love?