October 01, 2010

The first four weeks

By: Heather
We made it!  We have completed four full weeks of homeschool.  It took us five weeks, but we figured that most college grads now fit four years into five so we are simply starting our kids out ahead.  We did school with Z last year, but it wasn't very formal.  But now he is in 1st grade and T is ready for most of Kindergarten so I needed to begin to plan ahead and buckle down.  I did not come from an upbringing with any homeschool experience.  Thus, the realization that homeschooling is a full-time job, was quite a new mindset for me. So, back in August I planned out the whole year in broad strokes, but planned each four weeks in specific charts to help me see where we were at.  So, we have completed to first chart!

There have been a lot of highlights and some lower points.  We are learning things about Z that we would have never guessed.  And I am attempting to discern between new curriculum that is an actual improvement over the more original homeschooling curriculums and when the more established companies really have something valuable.

The Lower Points:
Everyone was sick with some really persistent bug for about 10 days.  We learned: Trying to push through with more demanding subjects while they are sick is much more painful than making up extra when they are well.

Music has not really happened yet...I guess we have some time with that...I am learning to say that to myself.

We are going to have to switch math curriculum.  Memorization is not Z's strongest point and our current curriculum requires their facts to really be solid before going any further.  Also, the curriculum does not have enough rote rehersal.  Possibly more on this in another post.

The High Points:
T has started to blend her words and even figure out which letters make up a word that she hears!

J is really determined to learn her sounds! And I mean determined with a set jaw while jumping up and down!

M is...no, just kidding.

Z has surprised us with his enjoyment of art and desire to try it. The art book that came with our Adventures in My Father's World packet said it was for 6 and up but looked much too advanced to us when it arrived.  But we decided to give it a casual try and, wow, has he enjoyed it.

Within that same curriculum, the kids made some foil boats to pretend they were the wind blowing the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Z has blown me away with his eagerness to do his language arts and phonics books from Abeka.  He really enjoys them and is able to work quite independently!  His reading confidence is improving a lot, which is half the battle with him, and he is beginning to discover that reading is not just work!!! It is very fun to see the progression.  This curriculum is a little more 'old fashioned' rote workbook style, but he is flourishing.  Thus, the above comments about math.

Ryan has taken the role of science teacher which has been fun for all.  The hands-on learning that he has brought to the subject has been very fun for Z and T.  They made a small model of the solar system and pretended to be the earth and moon revolving and rotating around the sun and earth, respectively (this was hilarious to watch).  Result: Z can tell you the difference between rotating and revolving and which one does what around which one....follow all that?

I have also been shocked at how much the kids love being read to from longer chapter books.  We typically read a chapter or two out of Little House in the Big Woods about every other day (we are almost done with it).  But Z is begging me to read it every day! And they follow the storyline well.  

It has been a fun, challenging, enlightening, and blessed four weeks.  Now, off to revise the upcoming four week plan! As Ryan has recently said, "we don't have to teach them everything this year, we have 11 more years." 

1 comment:

Diana said...

Yeah! 4 weeks down! Enjoyed your pictures.

By the time you get to to your second year, you will see that in many curriculums there is a lot of repeat. So yes, "you do not have to teach them everything in one year!" :-)

The experts, when I was teaching said, "if they show interesting a subject than teach the subjects [math, reading, art...] around that interest.

When we started with math we used dominos... 9/0-8, and then all of the doubles 8+8= etc. We used the slap method - place the 9/8 on the table dots up, cover with your hand, than slap the table beside the domino, and recover with your hand. the child should be able to tell you what the total is.

Both of you keep up the good work [one year at a time]. The rewards are great and fun!