Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Back to school stuff...

Ok, I have been woefully negligent in talking about the main subject of this blog - our homeschooling! Quite honestly, we've been so busy doing stuff I haven't had time to write about it all! Any ideas on how to make time for blogging? Any ideas on how to make time for stuff like laundry and housework? ;-)

Anyway, I thought I'd start with J1, since he's our oldest. He is 10 years old, and traditionally, he'd be in the last part of fourth grade. For my own record-keeping, let me just list what we've been doing the last couple of months:

Religion: We read and discuss one chapter from the Baltimore Catechism and one chapter from Faith and Life each week. This is a big "dinner table" school topic. Dinner table school is my inner moniker for the great discussions we have around the dinner table. History, current events, religion, and even science are big dinner table school subjects around here.

Math: J1 continues to do well in Saxon 7/6. We are accelerating quite a bit, he's more than half way through the book and we've only been working on it for about 2 months. We only work about half the problems in each lesson (odds or evens, usually), and about once every 10 lessons or so, I assign no review problems ("Mixed practice", for those of you familiar with Saxon) but two lessons of new concepts ("lesson practice") only.

A side note: One thing that J1 has always struggled with is carelessness in his work. For the most part, I've ignored it. As a homeschool mom, I know that he understands the concept, even though he made 6 careless mistakes, know what I mean? It got marginally better when we skipped ahead a year in math back after our Christmas break. I thought, correctly, that part of the problem was that he was just so bored. However, the last few weeks things got pretty bad again. The day he scored just a 75% on test (all but 5% was careless mistakes), I got kind of upset. I have a whole other post running through my brain about this sort of thing - should we use school to address character issues, like diligence and patience, etc? I'm not sure of the answer, though I have lots of thoughts I'll share soon. For now, I'll simply tell you what we did. I considered slowing down, making him do all the problems in every lesson for awhile...but I just didn't think that would help. He was consistently getting all the "Lesson practice"/new concept problems all correct, just getting careless in his review work. So I didn't think that assigning *more* problems would neccessarily help. I talked it over with him, and he admitted that he was very distracted while he was doing his work. Thinking about games, and fiction books, and his own imaginary goings-on. Dh said that was pretty typical for a 10 year old boy. So we talked about the importance of what he was doing, and we came to an agreement. He no longer gets to play any computer or board games in the morning before school (I know, bad habit, huh?), and if he doesn't get at least 85% on his work that day (at mom's discretion - I would let up a bit over honest mistakes that he learns from), he doesn't get to play computer or board games after schoolwork, either. I don't think I would do this with every child, or a struggling child, but I know that J1 is capable of this work. In fact, even though he's almost 2 full years "ahead" in math, he is still only barely challenged. To prove my point, after our agreement, he is now averaging 93% on all his work.

Handwriting: He's on track to finish Seton Handwriting 4. I have a funny anecdote about why his handwriting has suddenly gotten better over the last week or so, but I'll save that for it's own post. Handwriting continues to be one of his weakest subjects. Again, pretty typical for a 10 year old boy!

Spelling/vocabularly: We started the Seton 7 spelling book a few weeks ago, and it seems to be a good fit for him. Because he is such a voracious reader, spelling and vocab come very easily to him. In fact, he told me last night that he still finds spelling easy and boring (he's only gotten 3 spelling words wrong in the first 4 lessons). He says he knows almost all the words already. We'll keep going, though, because I want to reinforce his good spelling, and he enjoys the stories and artwork in the book.

Science: We've completed our study of the human body, and starting, ever so slowly, on our survival skills unit (more on that soon over at dh's blog). J1 admits that he has been really bored with our science this year. He's always had a love for science, and in making sure the basics are covered, I have bored him to tears this year. Poor kid! Hopefully we can remedy that next year.

History: We're on track to finish our first run-through of American History. J1 tells me he loves history, and we're both satisfied with what he's learning, though J1 craves even more depth and detail. We're using "How American Grew" as our spine, and lots of living books (He just finished "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry", then he'll read "The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson" and "Tom Sawyer") to flesh things out.

Art: We're using CHC's "Learning to Appreciate Art", which is an *awesome* introduction to art and art history. J1 is really enjoying it, and I think we'll expand our art history study next year. We continue to do not so well with the actual *doing* art - drawing, etc. I am going to look into what we can do next year to get some basic drawing skills.

Music: He's started piano lessons with me, and we've done some music appreciation - it's a whole other post, but we're having a *great* time and it's going really well.

Latin: We started using "Our Roman Roots", as Henle Latin was just a touch too advanced for him (primarily because he needed a lot of input from me or dh, and we weren't being diligent about making time for it). I like Our Roman Roots, it seems like it will be a good intermediary step for him. He loves Latin, and it helps that we hear it every week at our Latin Mass parish.

Geography: We're going through CHC's US Catholic Geography Bee program, and it's going well. J1 enjoys doing his assingments, and I think he'll have a good grasp of US geography by the time we're through.

Which leaves us, I believe with the subject we're struggling most with this year.

Grammar/English: We are really struggling with this subject. Which is funny, because J1 has always been *such* a verbal kid, he really has an amazing facility with language (he is *definitely* my dh's son in that regard, as anyone who knows dh can attest! :-) So I'm not sure why he struggles so much with grammar and writing. I think that I just haven't found the right approach. Intermediate Language Lessons was a dismal failure - many tears, which distresses me, because I don't want him to cry over learning! So, we're dropping it for now, going back and skimming over CHC's 4th grade grammar to cover some basics. But, we're in discussions about what we're going to do next year to further our study of the English language. My main concern is to get him writing. He has such a wonderful "voice" when he tells stories out loud, but he struggles to get it down on paper. I haven't had much success with anything we've done so far, though I might re-visit Bravewriter. I might actually get the book if finances allow for it, and I might even try to sign him up for an on-line class next spring (again, depending on finances!) We've had some good discussions about this, and I think next year we'll be able to improve - more details soon!

I feel like I've forgotten something, but I think I'm going to go ahead and hit "publish" now, just to get this out there. Soon I'll write about A2!

1 comment:

Megan said...


I must say I am very excited your dh started a blog for dads. Kent was just asking if I knew of any dad blogs and poof, there it was. Love the survival skills idea, that could be tons of fun to do w/boys. We may have to copy that one!