Monday, March 16, 2009

Week 26 in Review

Maybe it's spring in the air, but we seem to be over our winter slump since we've had two good weeks in a row. Many of our books are nearing the end, and I think that gives us a little bit extra motivation to finish strong. This week I'm going to tackle our review by subject rather than child to sum up where we are and what we still hope to accomplish this school year.

Reading: Stay the course! I may not get to sell The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading at this year's used curriculum sale like I hoped, but that's okay. Grace may not be on The Well Trained Mind pace, but she is still doing a great job of reading. She seems to be following in her siblings' footsteps -- they both love to read. Having a love for reading is more important than finishing Ordinary Guide by June. Grace is also working on Adventures in Phonics A and is more than halfway through the book. I'll have to see how the later pages work out with OG, but so far AIP is serving as good review for concepts we cover in OG.

Another way I've departed from TWTM is that Ryne uses "readers," books of short stories to be used as reading exercises. Bauer and Wise feel reading texts turn reading into a chore, and I agree with them to a point. Anna had a reading textbooks at her second Christian school, and I thought they were awful. But her first school used books from Christian Liberty Press and Abeka that were very enjoyable, so I have used them with Ryne as well. The stories work very well with some reading strategies I have learned through RDI as well, so I think we will continue these readers for at least another year. He still has two of his Abeka readers left, which will carry us into next year.

We have read so many wonderful books this year for all our joint subjects, history, fine arts, science, etc. Anna also does a lot of independent reading for these subjects. At the end of the school year I will be posting a complete list of all the books we've read.

Math: We are not married to a complete a book-in-a-year schedule for math. Since Math U See is mastery based program, we just move on when we are ready. We will continue to do math a few times a week through our summer break. I am very happy with the progress they have all made this year.

Grammar: Ryne is on pace to finish First Language Lessons 3 in May, and Anna will finish Rod and Staff Grammar 5 sometime in June. Both are doing very well with this subject, and it is one of the easiest for me to teach because of the great materials (and maybe because I have a secret love for sentence diagramming).

Writing: Grace is still doing well with Handwriting Without Tears, and begs to learn cursive like her siblings. Ryne's writing is in the form of daily copywork passages and the occasional dictation exercises found in FLL 3. This seems to be working well for him, although I plan to take another look at Writing With Ease at the homeschool convention. Now this is where I get to confess I'm not doing so great with writing for Anna. Everything else she excels at, but she is a reluctant writer. Part of the problem is that I started homeschooling her in 3rd grade and I didn't understand how to start copywork and dictation for someone who was already stuck in her school ways. It's been a struggle ever since. So this year we have just done some exercises in Wordsmith Apprentice and in a week she will complete the second of her Outlining workbooks. My plan, not just for writing but homeschooling in general, is to incorporate more Charlotte Mason methods, so I am going to be paying special attention to this subject and coming up with a better plan for next year. You may see me in the coming months asking questions about writing on some of the homeschool forums!

Foreign Language: Can we skip this one? Anna is on Chapter 6 in Latin for Children B even though we started the book in the fall. I'm still sold on LFC, and we will continue to work on it through the summer, but our slow progress is an indication that Latin is not our highest priority. Even so, Anna continually amazes me with all the derivatives she notices in our reading and everyday language. Song School Latin, on the other hand, is going great and is a favorite part of the week for Ryne and Grace. Anna also recently started Rosetta Stone French and loves it. We'll see where that leads, since this was a sort of bonus subject for her.

Logic: Anna is about half done with Mind Benders B2, which I think puts her in good shape according to TWTM. We've also done several exercises from Red Herrings. Ryne has also been working through Building Thinking Skills Level 1 and loving it. It was a late addition to this year's curriculum, so it will take him well into next year.

Spelling: I never mention spelling in my posts, because we haven't really been following a formal plan. Anna is a natural speller, so we just work on practicing spelling bee words. For a while she had dreams of being a competitive speller, but once she read books on what kind of study habits were involved and developed other interests, that fell to the wayside. Plus, we were not able to find a bee to participate in this year that was linked to the Scripps program, so then she lost all motivation to work on spelling. We recently started preparing for our local homeschool bee, so we will see how that goes. She has won the last two years. The first was a nail-biter between her and a few other kids, but last year she won by default because no one else in her grade signed up. She's hoping for some competition this year, even though it makes her very nervous.

We've skipped spelling for Ryne this year, because I try to keep his academics at a minimum and I didn't think it was the best use of our time. He does better with a program like Spelling Power rather than a workbook, so it requires one-on-one time from me. At the beginning of the year he was above grade level for spelling, so it seemed like a good place to cut back. I will test him again this summer, and re-evaluate for next year. Grace won't start spelling for another year or two.

Bible: We are almost done with Discovering Jesus Through Genesis, and we will spend the rest of the year working on some additional memory work and reviewing some of the stories from this year. Our Bible plan may not look as detailed as some other homeschoolers, but that is because our church also requires a lot from the children in preparation for Sunday School and Catechism. And of course, one of the main benefits of homeschooling, is being able to weave the Bible through all our subjects.

History: We just have five more chapters in Story of the World 2. We have put the book aside the last few weeks to focus on the Reformation, but will still finish it in early April. What an amazing time we've had studying the Middle Ages. Some of you may be wondering how we finished this so quickly. Here is what we do: Monday we listen to a chapter of CD and do the mapwork (Grace will often do one of the coloring pages in this time), Tuesday we read books suggested usually in the Activity Guide or the Veritas Press catalog, and Wednesday we either continue to read or we start in on a new chapter and repeat the process. On Friday we finish up any extra reading, add figures to our timeline, and if there was a special project in the SOTW Activity Guide that caught our interest we do it then. We do a lot of reading, but not as many of the hands on projects. We do our history in the afternoon, so I guess by then we just prefer to curl up with a good book. So by not doing as many projects, and by doing history every day we are able to make good progress. This approach would not fit every family, but it works well for us.

Science: I did not get the science genes in my family -- those went to my rocket scientist sister (seriously-- she has a degree in aerospace engineering and even did a stint at NASA). So when we spend a little too much time reading history (my favorite and strenght), it usually comes at the expense of science and that is why we still have half of Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space left. The good news is that because we are finishing history early, we can replace that time with science (and fine arts, which I will get to next). Maybe I'm just making excuses, but I think this will be for the best anyway, because soon we will get into the astronomy portion and it will be much more enjoyable to look at the stars in the warmer weather! Grandpa gave us a nifty telescope for Christmas, and this week I'll be taking a class to learn how to use it, so we are looking forward to our stargazing sessions.

Fine Arts: We have been doing fairly well with composer studies, but terrible with artist studies. And as far as actual art's bad. My mom who passed away almost 4 years ago was an art teacher. She left us enough art supplies to open a Dick Blick store, and my art library would make any art teacher jealous. Moreover, my kids all love to draw and create. Yet this seems to be the biggest disappointment in our homeschool. I'm sad just writing about it.

And now I give myself the award for the most boring weekly review ever! But, wow, is it ever helpful for me to evaluate what we've accomplished this year and what we still have left to do. I've seen many homeschoolers posting their detailed lesson plans for next year, but I'm not there yet. I have some ideas of things I still want to look at, and I know some of the key things I need to buy at the convention next month, but I think the majority of my planning will take place over the summer. Last year I started my planning early and was looking forward to the fall a little too much and then wasn't as excited about what we were currently doing. Not that it's bad to plan early. This has just always been one of my personal weaknesses. As a college student I always was tempted during finals to spend my time studying the course catalog for the next sememster! So in a way I'm trying to guard myself against that temptation by focusing on finishing strong (and maybe even a little better).

Happy Homeschooling!

image from Microsoft clipart

1 comment:

  1. Next time you're here, plan a day or two for me to do science experiments & field trips with the kids! I would love to share science with them.

    - You're family rocket scientist