This school update is to mark our own progress and encourage my readers who want to learn what homeschooling looks like.
Aside from my illness last week, we have been in school regularly for about three weeks. We are settling into a nice routine. At first, I tried to do school in the morning, with Joshua at the table. But, I was not/am not capable of dividing my attention between all four children. And, the big kids were VERY distracted by the little ones. So, I experimented with doing school during Joshua's nap time (which is from about 12:30- 4:30) and that works VERY well! I keep Lydia at the table with the big kids for about an hour. In that time she does pre-writing worksheets and puzzles. She also likes pattern blocks and the geoboard. She sits quietly while the kids work on other subjects. I put her down to nap between 1:30 and 2:00.
Nelson and Rebecca are both in Saxon 1 Math. Rebecca seems bored, because she has done part of this program before. This time through she can read the worksheet directions for herself (a BIG breakthrough) and she would say she "loves" math. Nelson understands all the concepts within Saxon 1 so far. He is not writing all of his letters and numbers yet, but I will not push him in this. He practices handwriting daily, but his fine motor skills are simply not ready to write yet. I am perfectly ok with that! I know that he understands the concepts, and to me, that is the important thing. The writing will come in time!
I find a lot of extra math worksheets from Donna Young. With these worksheets I reinforce money concepts, clock reading, and more. Rebecca also learns a lot from playing cash register. I place price tags on school items and she buys them with play money.
Rebecca and Nelson are both in the Veritas Press Phonics Museum First Grade Book. I have said before that I do not like using VP's Phonic's Museum exclusively. I want to explain that more. At the kindergarten level, Rebecca loved the worksheets (as did I). And, she was very eager to begin reading primers! BUT, to read the primers you have to start memorizing some site words, the curriculum calls these "special exhibit words" (they are straight from the dolce words list of most commonly used/read words). Anyway, I love phonics, Becca was doing great with phonics, but this attempt to memorize whole words REALLY threw her off! She was never sure when to sound out a word, and when to try to guess at what it was.
I do, however, like the worksheets. But, I do not recommend buying the whole $190 kit for the worksheets! Wal-Mart sells books to reinforce phonics and writing, and they cost a whole lot less!
Anyway, I have the program, and I am trying to get my money's worth. So, we do the fun worksheets. Nelson likes these worksheets too. And, I find that the lesson progression goes along great with Ramalda Spaulding's Writing Road to Reading. I teach the kids phonics her way, and I use the VP Phonics worksheets as a supplement. I find that using both of these curriculums together has been great for us! Nelson and Rebecca are both doing very well with the first grade level lessons. As I dictate words, Rebecca writes them out and Nelson "puzzles" them out, using the VP Phonics puzzle pieces.
Rebecca is speeding along nicely in her cursive writing. She is learning a few letters a week, and practicing them till her hand hurts. I also write on the board to have her "decode" cursive. She seems to read it just as well as she writes it.
Lydia is doing so VERY well with pre-writing, that I think she is ready to begin kindergarten phonics and handwriting. (I get Lydia's pre-writing help and Rebecca's cursive worksheets from Donna Young) Her hand control is very steady and smooth. I think I will get the VP Phonics Museum K level workbook for her to practice writing letters and do some fun worksheets. I will NOT have Lydia memorize words to attempt to read one of the VP primers. When she knows enough phonic groupings to sound out the memorized words, THEN we will look at the books.... but at that point, she will be ready for real books.
Rebecca has been reading the Bible to us. At each family worship session, she reads one verse. She can sound out even long, hard words (last night, she sounded out "rejected" and "Bethlemhemite"!) Often in school, I will write phrases from the Psalter on the board and have her read those. While she can sound out the words and read these items, she cannot always understand what she has read. I think that is normal, and I am not at all concerned. This will all come together in time!
We are doing a few different geographical and historical studies (these often overlap). I am reading to them a True Relation by John Smith. Another book we are reading is called The Men Who Found America. And, I found a gem of a book called Home Geography, and we love the lessons in that book. I found all of these free book on the Old Fashioned Education website, which I love.
My only struggle with homeschooling, at this point, is that my printer/copier broke two weeks ago! We cannot afford to fix it, and I cannot afford to buy a new one. I am trying to make needed copies at the library, but I cannot print my free books off there, it would cost a fortune! So, we are at a standstill with John Smith, until I can get more printed (just when he was surrounded/ ambushed by 200 Indians, and all his men were dead!) Also, I rely on the printer to print off my weekly schedule (Donna Young has a lot of planner patterns to choose from!) I have GOT to get a new printer/copier soon! I am writing things sloppily in a notebook for now, but I much prefer to have a pretty planner, should I ever need it for proof of schooling.
I started reading the kids the Laura Ingalls' books this week. I read these to them in the morning, while Joshua and Lydia play quietly on the floor. So, I guess we do "do" school in the morning, just not at the table. Also, I have morning devotions with them daily. We are reading through the Gospel of John right now. And, I am having them memorize Psalm 3 from the Psalter. We are always memorizing Scripture verses and other songs as well.
I truly am not trying to paint a perfect portrait of our school session. Most of my readers know that I write things "as is," perhaps to a fault! School is going very well for now, and I hope that we are able to stay on track for some time!
(I am posting this at scheduled school time, but I already had it in draft form. Also, Paul is home today, and that throws a wrench in the schedule. AND, I need to copy my worksheets! Hopefully I can get to the library this afternoon!)