Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finishing up our school year

Because we school almost year round, we are still in the midst of active school work here at Aquinas Academy Adventures. We'll be done with this "year" before the July 4th holiday, take a month or two off then start back in August/September sometime for next "year". Just thought I'd share what we're doing here in the last month or so of our school.

Let's start with A2. What a conundrum that boy is for me! He'll be 8 the end of July, and would *technically*, age-wise, be starting 3rd grade next fall. When I think about that it almost sends me into a panic cuz he's not even *close* to doing "3rd grade" work. He's more about in the middle of first grade work in most areas, quite honestly. He's doing pretty well in handwriting, and he loves religion. He learns quite a bit of history and science just through soaking up all our conversations, games, and real-life experiences. Math is mostly ok - he understands addition and subtraction, but he only likes to count things out, he refuses to memorize his math facts for the most part. He doesn't seem to get the "patterns" of math, either (as in - if you know 5+2 is 7, then you can guess that 5+3 is 8, cuz 3 is one greater than 2, and the answer 8 is one greater than 7, kwim?) I am planning on switching him over to Math-U-See next year. I have heard great things about it from everyone I know who uses it, and I think that it's really going to work well with my oh-so-visual child. Speaking of my visual child - I found these pages over at Apple Stars. They make me feel SO MUCH BETTER! Because, they describe my dear A2 perfectly. And it makes me want to just relax about his continued struggles with reading. He is making progress, and I truly believe if I just give him more time, teach to his way of thinking with the help of pages like this - my mommy instincts tell me it's going to work out just fine. We'll just keep plugging away, and I will continue to work on learning how best to teach him.

J1 is flying. He's done with all his history and science work for this year. He has just a few handwriting pages, he's continuing with his catechism study, and he's almost done with his US geography project. Other than that we've slowed down or stopped just about everything else but math. He's determined to finish Saxon 7/6 before our year ends. He began this year in Saxon 5/4. He finished that by mid-year and was bored out of his mind. So, we skipped a year and started Saxon 7/6 in February, I believe it was. He's going to finish it by the end of the month, and the faster we move through it, the better he does! I will detail my plans for next year here soon, but suffice it to say, we're planning some major acceleration for J1, completely at his request!

Next year I'll be "legal" with S3, too, and that is going to be interesting. He's reading quite well - he's almost completely taught himself. He can read a book like "Fire Cat" and read about 85% of the words and have almost perfect comprehension. Or at least he could. It was SO interesting to read that book with him. The first "chapter" he "read" it and understood the whole thing. But - he didn't accurately read each word. He skipped words here and there, used the pictures heavily to assist his comprehension, and sometimes substituted words for others. What fascinated me most was when the book would read, "She went to the house," and S3 would read, "Her went to the house." Now, my youngest 3 kids have *horrid* syntax. They regularly mix up their pronouns, use improper forms of past tense ("goed" instead of went, for example), that sort of thing. Dh and I have talked about how they almost have their own language sometimes. A3 is growing out of it to a large extent, and I expect the younger ones will, also, and we've been trying to be more diligent about correcting them. Anyway, I am fascinated by the fact that S3 *saw* the word "She", and he correctly substituted the word "Her". "She" and "Her" look nothing alike, how did he *know* to read "Her", the word that S3 uses for "She"? It's just utterly fascinating to me! Anyway, the more I read the book with him, and the more I made gentle corrections, the less and less he *could* read, and the less he was interested. It's like I completely got in his way by trying to make him properly read every single word. What does reading really mean, anyway? Is it comprehension? Reading every single last word? I know *I* don't read every single last word. What about every single letter? (Check out this page to see how you can read words if just the first and last letter are correct!) It's all just really interesting. At any rate, I think with a little bit of phonics instruction S3 is going to be off and running very quickly. He's a math whiz, too, I expect he'll be accelerating the way J1 is before too long. He's interested in everything - he just doesn't want to sit down at it for too long! He would definitely be my "project" kid. None of my other guys care one whit for projects, art, that sort of thing, but S3 will definitely do that.

It's been an interesting year, and next year promises to be even more interesting! I'll detail our plans for next year soon!

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