Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our last couple of terms...

Holy guacamole, am I glad that we made it to break! I could tell in this last week especially that we all need some time out of the normal routine and into the sunshine (although the clouds aren't lettin' much of that through yet).

Every time we get to a break, I can't believe how much we accomplished and how much we learned! So I've got to break it down so I can have a reminder (and encouragement for the next time I need a break, huh?) but it won't be too interesting for anyone else - sorry.


Math - He is slowly but surely learning how to turn his skip counting into multiplication, enjoying working with shapes and symmetry, becoming quicker and quicker with his mental addition and subtraction. His favorite activity over the last terms, however, was learning to use his T-square and 30-60-90 triangle to draw interesting geometric shapes. He still loves the card games too, of course. I am trying to continue to strengthen his ability to put his thought process into words, however, so that I can tell whether he fully understands a concept or not. This also helps him to see math as more than just numbers, but something that is part of life. I can see that he still struggles with this, as word problems still slow him down.

Phonics - This year we have been slowly working through Christ Centered Curriculum, the program we used with him in Kindergarten and half of 1st grade. It's a very thorough and is doing a good job of broadening his vocabulary, strengthening his spelling and reviewing the grammar he's already learned from FLL. However, this is his least favorite subject since it almost always involves having to sit through 2 fussy younger brothers, 1 on-the-verge-of-tired mommy, and a grumbly tummy before lunch. Also, just as I did when we used this program in K, I still find the lessons to be too long and hard for me to shorten. I have to remind myself to keep them light so he doesn't hate them too much.

Grammar - Jefferson is finally getting the idea behind this subject and looks forward to showing me that he can diagram a sentence without my help. As always here - repetition and more repetition. But - he is enjoying it more now that he is more confident (and it helps that I'm working harder to keep the lessons shorter). We are on track to finish FLL but I am learning that I will not be using this book with Reagan.

Spelling - We cover this in our phonics lessons and review weekly.

Reading - What fun I am having this year to see Jefferson read, read and read! I can hardly keep up with the books for him. He always gets his required 45 minutes finished before breakfast. But in January, dh and I found something else vying for his attention - computer games. Since dh makes his living with computers, there's no outlawing them from the house - lol! So we decided that he could earn up to 2 hours of computer time (to be spent only on weekends) by reading 3 minutes for 1 minute of game time. This cut out all badgering and begging during the schooldays as well as any whining when game time was over. And the added benefit is the way he is constantly using addition and multiplication to figure out his minutes. All in all, he's reading at least 1.5 hours each day (minimum) and loving it. He tells me his favorites are the "Millers" series from Rod & Staff and our read alouds - the missionary stories of Nate Saint, Rachel Saint, and Amy Charmichael. He finished "The Tale of Desperaux" and "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh" each in one day (not that the motivation of a movie didn't help). He is writing one narration sheet each week, but I need to work on getting him to narrate to me more often than I currently do. This skill needs more polishing but often gets skipped in the chaos around here.

Spanish - Such inconsistency here! Half the time Jefferson goes to do his computer lesson, dh has done something to the computer that makes the headset not work. And this is the lesson that always gets skipped if we run out of time. So I've asked him to spend some extra time on the foundational lessons and review as he needs to. I need to spend some time catching up with his in the lessons so I can incorporate some of the language around the house.....

History - SOTW2 is dragging on for us this year. I just am not diggin' it and I don't really think it's holding Jefferson's attention either. I just think that we aren't using enough living books or activities to dig deeper - I just don't have enough time. We are only on chpater 27 of 42. But I'm trying not to get to perturbed about it since we are at least learning something each week.

Science - We are STILL not finished with our Astronomy book! Again, this is what gets skipped if we just can't fit it into the afternoon. Jefferson does enjoy learning about outer space and seems to retain the info very well because of this. He likes the little projects and has made some nice narration/illustration sheets for each planet. He was able to do a small lapbook at homeschool co-op as well. But just these past couple of weeks, astronomy has again been set aside for us to concentrate on learning about gardening and he and Reagan are REALLY enjoying it. Photos are posted in our last gardening posts..... Maybe we will get to geology and weather sometime this year?? :-/


Phonics - We have finally gotten into a groove with the CCC program. Reagan is more than used to it and is confident that she is doing well. She is VERY perfectionistic about her penmanship and I often have to push her to keep moving instead of getting upset over minor mistakes. She was excited to complete her first copywork sheet and I often find her trying to write something on her own on her other papers. However, we have forgone these lessons for the last month as I started using Phonics Pathways to get her reading (I never felt like CCC got Jefferson reading when he was ready but slowed him down with other tedious work instead). She is able to read short sentences and has finally started her little readers. I can tell that she is getting excited about what she's learning since she is always trying to sound out words that she sees around her! I can't wait until she can start reading short books!

Math - Reagan really enjoys math but I'm finding that it's easier for me to fit in her phonics or reading lesson into our daily chaos. We are behind in this subject, but she is confident is what she's learning (partitioning 10, counting to 100, learning to group, looking for patterns, copying shapes, writing her numbers) and is enjoying it so I am happy.

So over this break, I hope to prepare for the coming homeschool convention as well as the next term. Don't know where there will be time to rest, but hopefully the sun will come out and we'll all get some much needed fresh air! The kids have been enjoying some nice pre-Easter activities at home church and are looking forward to heading to church next weekend for Easter.