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Wondering about trying again with Memoria Press - First and Second Grader

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    Wondering about trying again with Memoria Press - First and Second Grader

    Hello, this is the first time that I have posted and not sure how to give an adequate background for my question, or I guess request for advice might be a better way to put it. I have quite a messy homeschool background, switching and switching curriculum and being won over again and again by differing homeschool philosophies. My poor children have dabbled in so many curricula and ideas and ways of homeschooling. Even 3-4 weeks may be some of my longest stretches of consistency!

    This past Fall, around October, I convinced my husband that I should buy MP cores for my first and second grader, and preschooler to end this cycle of dollars spent and time wasted searching and searching for the right fit. I was sure that I could do it, if I just at least had the direction of the lesson plans, even if I wasn't sure that this was the best possible path in all of the world. I like a lot about MP, but have not been sold on every piece.

    Well, I was wrong. I had a new baby and we were spending a lot of time trying to find a new home last fall, but that isn't everything that kept me from doing it. I felt lost in a sea of teachers manuals and enrichment materials for every tiny topic. I couldn't tell what exercises were mandatory and which were suggestions for a classroom. My kids were not remembering the recitation we practiced, and every week the list grew longer. If we ever finished most of a day, enrichment was always what got cut, and the enrichment program, which brought in all of the little pieces I didn't want to leave out, was one of the biggest attractions I had to MP in the first place. I would also give my first grader the dictation words for spelling, and he wouldn't know them, and so he would be wildly discouraged and so would I. I started trying to cut corners... Latin first... (I know! This is a Latin-centered curriculum, so obviously countering the entire program!). I switched back to Math Mammoth so I wasn't jumping around with so many review pages. I kept switching more and more little pieces until MP wasn't even part of our day any more at all.

    Towards the end of this school year I have so many questions for myself. If it had not been such a stressful Fall, might I have succeeded? If I had persevered, would I have fell in love with MP, as so many members on here seem to have done? Would I have been sold on the importance of Latin? How do I get past those issues of my son just not picking up the spelling words, even after having written them so many times? How can I add more work, or more practice, to an already overwhelming workload for us as a family? Do I have too many kids to give them this sort of education? Do I need less work for us as a family? Or do I need to reprioritize our family culture in order to make this manageable?

    I will say, just for some more insight into us as a family, the kids are doing very well reading, though lacking some phonics skills and spelling skills. They love to read and spend hours a week doing it. They are also managing math mammoth very well and almost independently. Also, my husband and I are very much sold on liberal arts and the importance of literature and beauty and philosophy and culture. This is at the heart of who we are, loving who God is, what He has done, and how humanity has responded. Latin, though we appreciate it and would like them to learn eventually, isn't something we talk passionately in the evenings about.

    Lastly, I wonder if I did decide to make another attempt at MP, how I would even move forward. So much of the appeal of this curriculum is that I would have a track to be on and to stick to, so when I have seen advice about just starting where they are, this is hard for me to hear, because if I do not have a deadline and I can just progress at our own pace, then there will always be too many sick days, special event days, park days, catch up days, rest days, deal with family and life days.... to motivate me to move forward as I should! At the same time, a huge part of why we struggled this past fall was because my kids were not ready for the exact level I was trying to put them on. Now, I think they both can probably read to keep up with the MP reading, but neither know cursive, and my second grader does not know Latin. I have thought about having them both work on cursive in the summer, and for my daughter to work on Latin, so that they would be ready for second and third grade, though I wonder if this is realistic. I have been thinking about using the MP I still have and doing the last five weeks for this end of the school year as a sort of trying on MP again when life is a little less insane as it was in the fall, and giving it one last attempt! Obviously it wouldn't be exactly the same, because of Latin and such, but the spelling and the reading and of course enrichment, I am pretty confident they can jump in and learn something well, and maybe just trying to do a little bit of the Latin with my second grader.

    Thank you for any feedback and I hope that none of this seems like a bashing on MP! I definitely don't mean anything to sound critical of the program. Obviously, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't really have a desire for it to work for our family! Any advice or shared experiences would be so much appreciated!

    Just to add... I have five kids... 8,7,4,2, and baby, and we are open to more, so new baby season is a probability for the future as well!!


      Can you pick up where you left off with MP? Or start over? Use it for a month or so and see how it goes. That’s the only way you’ll be able to know for sure.
      We did the kindergarten core but dropped FSR because my son was young and not ready for that speed. I bought the 1st grade core and sold most of it, which I regretted. I think my son was basically a semester behind. So I’ve bought most of 2nd grade now to start in September. I’m already uneasy about it, but I’m committed to trying it so I can know for sure.


        You are not alone. This is our first year using MP materials, and it is overwhelming to implement all of the different pieces. And I'm only trying to teach two children this year!

        I like the Rod and Staff math curriculum, but I don't use the MP lesson plans for math. I personally dislike how the first grade math book (and now the second grade math book) is split over more than one year. Maybe I've missed something of value in the MP method, but it seems unnecessary. I've been using the first grade math for just kindergarten and plan to start the second grade math with the first grade MP core. I just take the math one lesson at a time.

        We don't do all of the enrichment. The read-aloud books have become bedtime stories. If you're willing and able to lengthen your school year, I've heard other MP users suggest doing four days of core subjects per week and then use the fifth day for just enrichment.


          Oh mama! Please let go of any mom guilt!! You are in a very hard spot with many people under the age of 10. You need to do MANY things to just keep the house moving. We have been avid MP users since my oldest was in the 1st grade (except she had to do the K program). After her K year, we ended up switching to the "Special Needs" line of MP and. both of my oldest two have followed this path. My oldest moved over to the "regular" MP now, just this year. She did the 4th grade core as a 5th grader (with grade appropriate math and she is doing First Form). My second child, will move over to 4th as well (as a 4th grader!). My youngest did VERY well with MP1 (as a 2nd grader). My point is your children are in fact, very young. Doing MP1 and 2 with your "2nd and "3rd" graders will really not put them "behind". It will place them where YOU can meet them. If you can do MP1 and 2 this year very well, it's possible they could move from MP2 to MP 4th for new users, so don't worry too much. So, what can you do to "consolidate"? I would only worry about the 2nd and 3rd grader at this point, for formal school. So, think about this plan:

          1) it sounds like you found a math program you stayed with consistently. Don't give this another thought, stick with it! You can easily delete math from the MP core (hit customize and there is an option for "no" math)

          2) next, prioritize math/spelling/literature (phonics). Right after lunch, put younger kids down for a nap. Do a little cursive with the older two. (5-10 min). Do these things consistently. Get this down. Do you feel like you have a rhythm? Add the Bible story. Work on the memory verse orally. Once they have memorized it, they can use the copybook to copy it. Then, add ONE fo the enrichments (either 1st or 2nd). Focus on the read aloud, do it while the kids eat breakfast, lunch or as a bedtime story. Read it every day. Every day ask 5 of the vocabulary words/questions. Now, are things feeling more consistent? Add in the music/art. For the "science/history/culture", I had the books in a basket and the kids "read" them while they were waiting for me. My very neglectful approach has resulted in some very educated children. "How do you know that????" - oh I read about it in x book. ?. Now, if you have a little more of a routine/rhythm, work with your 4 year old on some pre-reading skills (get the Pre-k workbooks). Now, are things going well? Add in the Prima Latina. If you can get through 5 lesson, you can move onto LC the next year!! YEAH!!!!
          Last edited by howiecram; 05-02-2021, 06:48 PM.

          DD1 8/23/09 -Mix of MP 6/7
          DS2 9/1/11 - Mix of SC 7/8 and SC 9/10 (R&S 5, FFL)
          DD3 2/9/13 -SC 5/6

          Previous Years
          DD 1 (MPK, SC2 (with AAR), SC3, SC4, Mix of MP3/4, Mix MP5/6
          DS2 (SCB, SCC, MPK, AAR/Storytime Treasures), CLE Math, Mix of MP3/4, MP5 (literature mix of SC 7/8/MP5)
          DD3 (SCA, SCB, Jr. K workbooks, soaking up from the others, MPK, AAR), MP1, MP2


            I love Latin, but you most definitely do not have to start Latin in second grade to do MP. You have your hands full. You could wait and start Prima in 3rd or even wait and start right in with LC in 4th. Also, if your 4-year-old is in his/her 3/4 school year, you do not need to be doing any formal schooling at all.
            9th year homeschooling, 3rd year with MP
            Girl 6M
            Girl 3M
            Girl MPK
            Girl toddler

            Levels we have completed: Preschool, Jr. K, 1, 2, 4NU, 5


              New baby makes everything hard. It sound like this year could be more well-regulated, and MP could definitely give you the "do this now" guidance you need. From my experience, you don't have too many children to make this work :-) although the little ones will require you to take breaks from book work during the day of course!

              I would do nothing formal for school with the younger-than-5 kids, except your 4 year old could benefit from some of the pre-k workbooks if you find a little time to squeeze that in. But that would be gravy in my opinion.

              So you have a rising 2nd grader and 3rd grader. If you're happy with your math program, stick with that and ignore the math section of the curriculum guide. Look at everything else that's listed. Ask yourself, is my child ready for this? Can we do it well (enough) this year? Since you said your children struggle with spelling, perhaps consider swapping out for a lower level of spelling. For the enrichment part of 2nd grade, focus on the read aloud each week, even if you don't ask all the questions in the teacher guide. Add the rest any week that you're able, but don't worry if you don't get to all of it. Just go on to the next week's read aloud and include as much of questions, art, music, etc. as you have time for. For Latin, if you think you can do it as scheduled, great. If not, leave it out. They could both start Latina Christiana next year (in 3rd and 4th) and be perfectly fine (and still "on track" for MP...they will cover everything from LC again in First Form Latin in 5th grade!)

              Once you have decided what pieces of the curriculum you can realistically use, make a plan for your days. Even if you can't stick to it perfectly, it will help so much to know that your goal is (for example) to teach math, phonics, spelling, reading/literature, and possibly Latin between, say, 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. each day. Guard this time as much as you can by not scheduling outside commitments and by setting up your 4- and 2-year-olds with some independent activities if possible. Of course baby will interrupt your teaching as needed, but that's okay!

              In the afternoon, you can have your older kids practice cursive and do the once-or-twice-a-week subjects (Christian Studies, science, geography, Greek Myths) with your 3rd grader. If the writing load with these is difficult, answer some questions orally.

              I use the curriculum guide to track progress and keep us accountable for keeping a consistent routine of learning. But a couple times during the year, when we have gotten behind or off track, I will take a "catch up" week to simply work on things that need more work.

              Hope this helps!

              Fall 2022:
              DS 14 9th
              DD 12 7th
              DS 10 5th
              DD 7 2nd
              DS 5 K
              DS 2


                It's so true that it can be quite overwhelming - all your feelings and reactions are quite normal and understandable! My advice would be first of all to limit yourself to the truly basic, doing things like enrichment only as pleasure, not considering it "school". I would also encourage you to take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the various teacher guides - I know you're already feeling awfully "behind" and this seems like a waste of time, but it's only when you have understood how MP works that you can make things truly work within your own family's context. We all adapt, customize, rework - I expect it's only a tiny minority that takes out the curriculum guide in the morning, checks the various boxes as they come, and close it in the afternoon with a contented sigh. In your situation that's not going to happen, but not because you're "doing MP wrong"! You could also browse the videos from past MP conferences, and see if something inspires you - beside explaining the curriculum, there are lots of talks with good, mom-tested tips: they may not work exactly the same way for you, but they may give you good insight anyway. Big hugs to you!
                DS (16)
                DD (15)
                DS (7)


                  I forgot to leave the link to the videos from past conferences:
                  DS (16)
                  DD (15)
                  DS (7)


                    Wow, thank you all so much for taking the time to read and respond to my post! There is so much wisdom and encouragement here—I am overwhelmed, in a good way! I have a lot of unpacking and praying and evaluating to do, but I think the best gift you have given me is some hope and some direction. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


                      8,7,4,2, and baby

                      That's a lot. Truly, 4,2, and baby take up a lot of time and distraction and,. like others, I would stress for you to be gentle with yourself here.

                      I cannot stress this enough - Do the Teacher Training in July. Sit home, with some headphones, and listen to how each and every class is taught by people who have done it for hundreds of students. You'll be shocked what they "don't" do and inspired by what they do. I felt great relief and incredible direction after doing it. My poor kids - I had them writing out every single answer in the guides.

                      I've done these grades a few times now. Let's break them down.

                      Latin. Prima Latina was a course that was created for 2nd graders because at the Highlands Latin School, the cute 2nd graders were pleading for it. So, it was made to dip their toe into it. The best part - it comes with a DVD. She is fabulous and more "excited" than I can muster and perfect for this age range. I played this DVD for the kids (all of them) over breakfast. I did dishes. I did make the kids repeat after her. I listened too and it helped me get a grasp on the lesson. We would watch the DVD for 2 mornings, then do some of the work in the work book. You do not have to do all of it. These kids are little, and a lot of writing is challenging. You do not have to make them do all of it, and not all at once. You can spread it over 2 weeks if you like. It really is a great step into Latin, and a great introduction to grammar concepts in English by introducing the parts of speech. Again, start where you are. I was chicken about it, and didn't try until the middle of the year and went through the summer. When I realized it wasn't so bad, I felt a little silly. Those DVDs will save your bacon.

                      Math. If you've found a path, stick to it. I've heard good things from Math Mammoth. Only guess again if they are not strongly committing to memory their basic arithmetic facts. R&S stresses this, and I get why. There are a lot to memorize and many programs won't force it, which makes higher math hard. Even now, my kids are still struggling to pull some math facts quickly and it slows down their ability to do more difficult math. Math becomes ridiculously hard if you do not have basic arithmetic calculations hard coded into your brain. All addition/subtraction to 20, multiplication and division to 12's. It takes so much to get those in kid brains - but future math will be miserable without it. if MM will do that, keep it.

                      Spelling. I thought spelling could be more "fun" and tried to go another way. Fail. Big Fail. Should have stuck with the program. Traditional spelling is, in itself, a phonics trainer too. It focuses on a concept or two each lesson. This phonics training will not stop in TS1 and 2 - it will continue into Spelling Workout later. It's worth 15 minutes of traditional teaching at a whiteboard to present the concept and the lessons will usually be done without a lot of "you" time afterwards. The Teacher Training will help big time here.

                      Literature. This one is a bit like Math- it needs your attention more than others. Even Story Time Treasures is going to introduce parts of speech, literature elements, and gently begin making children write out complete sentences - and there aren't many, and they are usually spread over 2 days. I would definitely watch the Teacher Training for Literature before you make the kids write out every sentence in the guides for 2nd grade.

                      Bible - all together, one day a week.

                      Enrichment Music - while they eat lunch one day a week.
                      Enrichment Reading - some of these books are read aloud on Youtube. (You have to save your voice where you can). Others are on Audible. Again - use lunch time if you can.
                      Go with one Enrichment with your kids so close and even the younger ones will sit in.

                      I've actually moved to a new system. I do all Enrichment stuff, Science, History/Geography, Classical Studies, Bible to Monday. That's all that we do on Mondays. No Latin/Lit/Spelling/Math/Cursive. We do it all on Mondays which is a great way to start the week. Everyone loves Mondays, funny twist on the rest of life. It's so easy to fast review these subjects the rest of the week with recitation questions.

                      This has opened up the rest of the week to just focus on the other subjects Tue-Fri - Latin, Literature, Spelling/Grammar, Math, Cursive. We do Cursive (15 min tops) Latin, then Spelling/Grammar and break, then come back for Math. Break for lunch, then afternoon in Literature. This system works for me, even if I lose a day for the 5 day a week classes. We go year around, but this has loosened the collar for getting it all done. We will just finish up in the summer.

                      Hope this helps.

                      DS (MP4M) - 10
                      DS (MP3A) - 8
                      DS (1) - 7
                      DD (Adorable distraction) 4


                        First of all, cut yourself some slack. If everyone is fed, clothed, and learning how to be civil, then you are doing better than a large segment of the population.

                        You may be in that toddler/baby phase for many years to come. Excellent. You will be amazed at what your children will learn if you stick to the basics and get them all reading, one by one. Our absolute essentials during the "here comes another baby" years were Math, Latin, reading aloud (and independent readers reading on their own), and writing. The writing was done without a curriculum for several years. I had a great reading list, and my kids stayed curious. As the little ones got older, we added in more things (Greek, Classical Writing, literature and history guides). But during relocations, illnesses, and life invading, we always had the option to drop down to the essentials. I still don't do spelling tests, flash cards, or quizzes. They learned anyway, and turned into pretty interesting people.



                          MBentley or others who might know, are previous years Teacher Trainings recorded/posted somewhere?
                          ​​​​​​1 (with some K work still to finish)
                          ​With a 4 and 1 year old tag along


                            Originally posted by Ect876 View Post
                            MBentley or others who might know, are previous years Teacher Trainings recorded/posted somewhere?
                            See my post above with the link. Don't forget there's a new conference each year
                            DS (16)
                            DD (15)
                            DS (7)


                              Originally posted by Ect876 View Post
                              MBentley or others who might know, are previous years Teacher Trainings recorded/posted somewhere?
                              The actual grade-level teacher trainings aren’t available after the Teacher Conference (only the plenary talks), but there are TONS of wonderful videos from Sodalitas, MP’s homeschool conference. Mrs. Bee’s link will take you to those. They will give you practical tips and insights from other homeschool moms as well as the overall vision behind each level and study.
                              Blog: [url][/url]

                              DS18: Graduated and living his dream in the automotive trades
                              DS17: MP, MPOA, headed to his favorite liberal arts college this fall
                              DS15: MP, MPOA
                              DS13: Mix of SC 5/6 & SC 7/8
                              DD11: Mix of 5M and SC7/8
                              DD10: SC3
                              DD7: MPK