Monday, August 23, 2010

2010-2011 School Year

We have made it through 3 weeks of our new school year and are getting used to all the newness of it. Still need to update my sidebars but here's what's going on around HA....

First big change: Jefferson is at home again! I really can't explain how nice that is - we just love having him home and watching him learn so much! He loved his time away school last year and did very well among the students as well as academically. But by the middle of the year we became aware that God was using the year more as a lesson for us than for him. We were reminded of His calling to homeschool our children and that He is always faithful to meet our needs.

Second big change: we are a little past four months pregnant with our fifth (yup - I counted correctly) baby! We are excited but feeling a bit of pressure due to my lack of energy and first year of accountability with the school district plus the special GAPS diet we are trying to keep implemented around here.  This baby may well just get shoved in box in a white onsie when he/she arrives since I can't yet fathom the prep for it - lol! We only have one child rootin' for a girl while the rest would like another brother but I'm sure that January 23rd will arrive sooner than we all expect! Definitely considering a good baby sling this time if we want to finish the school year...

Third big change: the two littlest boys, Adam (4.5) and Lincoln (2.5) will both be headed to a local preschool, giving me some much, much needed focus on my 4th and 2nd grade students.  So far, I've been shoving them outside or down into our basement play area for a few lessons. That was...until Adam decided it would be fun to peepee on everything in the basement!  Sheesh...what they will think of when noone is looking. September is when they start so, on every day of the week, at least one of them will be in school so that Jefferson & Reagan will have less screaming and fighting to endure from them while trying to concentrate. The boys are both excited and I know they will love it (but not more than I will!!!! as I weep when dropping them off)!

Our plan for Jefferson (4th grade) and Reagan (2nd grade) is working nicely so far though!

4th Grade:
Bible - Kay Arthur inductive study kids series (Jonah)
Sonlight Core 4 History (1850's to the World Wars)
Sonlight Core 4 LA (plus MCP vocabulary and cursive but with no grammar)
Spelling Power
Saxon 5/4 Math (plus DVD teacher)
Chemistry with Answers In Genesis
Rosetta Stone (beginning at year 1 again by his choice)

All reading, read-aloud, geography, grammar, dictation, writing, timeline work, memory work, vocabulary is included in the Sonlight program. He is old enough to study his bible independently now (with my checking his conclusions) and we already enjoy the Kay Arthur inductive studies. We have yet to find any other children's program that isn't just fluff or summarized Bible reading and are seeing progress with him in this study on Jonah already. 

Spelling Power is a program that works for 3rd through 12th grade and only takes us 15 minutes each day. We'll see how it improves his spelling or not by the end of the year.

Having used Saxon math at away school last year, Jefferson requested it for homeschool this year. Aaaaaand then he whined and fussed about it for the last three weeks we've used it!  Oy - a momma sometimes can't win - lol! I think it works well for the way that he thinks but he was just having trouble adjusting to all his different lessons (SL breaks things into little pieces which then makes math feel like it takes too long). Today he decided that he'd have a better attitude about it, thankfully!

 He is already enjoying chemistry and I am relieved to see that the AIG is not too far above his head.  Although we don't always get 3 lessons in, he really likes the experiments so far.  We are using a marble notebook to teach him to record the scientific method to the extent that he can (including any photos, data charts, and drawing). Below he was testing to see whether yeast grow better with sugar or honey as their food source.

2nd Grade
Writing with Excellence Phonetic Zoo (Level A) (phonics based auditory spelling)
MCP Plaid Phonics Level C
AL Right Start Math Level C
Reading to me
Simply Grammar (Karen Andreola)
The Story of the World (finish v1 & start vol2)
Sonlight Core 2 Science

With Reagan, I am always looking for something....anything....that will work with the way she processes.  She's just not a left-to-right, fit-in-a-box, do-what-everyone-else-does kind of learner.  The Christ Centered Curriculum phonics program that we used for the last 2 years, just doesn't seem to velcro the info into her head nor does it interest her - at all.  So this year, I purchased Phonetic Zoo in the hope that it would help her to develop her auditory processing as well as improving her spelling.  We are taking it slowly, but I hope to have her grab the headphones and complete lessons on her own by Jan. In the meantime, she is really enjoying MCP phonics workbook because she can read the instructions herself, complete 2 pages in a short amount of time, and it's full of color and varying excercises which hold her attention.

For math, we continue with the Right Start program that I love so much and that gave Jefferson such a strong math foundation.  I have found that the only difference in her learning is that she requires more practice (which in this program comes in the form of card games mostly but also much abacus work) than he did in order to deepen her understanding of an algorithm.  I have been pleasantly surprised so far this year at her memory of what she previously learned (she had about 8 weeks summer break due to the pregnancy!) as well as her willingness to talk through her solution process with me.  I think she is finally understanding that I expect her to show me what's going on in her brain so that I can help her to become better! 

Reading outloud is something that Reagan finds to be laborious, except on the rare occasion where she is reading to the little boys.  And yet she needs it more than she realizes since she still doesn't sound out difficult words very well (she just isn't willing to slow down and try - just wants to know or else skip it).  So I have to be careful what we choose for her to read, so that she finds more success than frustration.  We only spend about 15 minutes each day and I hope that this is enough?  Currently, we are enjoying the "Millers" series of readers by Christian Light Publications but I will use anything that I see holds her attention.

Read aloud is just as tough for me to figure out for her.  I am not able to read something like "Jason & the Argonauts" or "Moccasin Trail" and expect any comprehension out of her. So instead of reading from the same things I did for Jefferson (mostly based on where we were in history), I'm just grabbing at straws.  She liked the adaptation of the Odyssey that I found and has enjoyed the last two Magic Tree House books (Ancient Greece & Ancient Rome) but I really want to move into harder works or have her listen to the stuff I'm reading to J. But maybe later - we'll see.

I am hoping to be more diligent in The Story of the World this year, as we barely worked through half of it last year.  This would have stressed me a few years ago, but I have figured out that she needs more in depth study or sources in order to really connect with history (coloring pages, maps, Usborne, DK Eyewitness, Magic Tree House, etc).  And with her slowness to read and write, I could not concetrate much on history last year. I do enjoy SOTW however, and will not be trying to incorporate Mystery of History this year as it does not suite her learning style. My goal is to stay on top of adding living books to her history, so that she starts to get a real feel for the ancient peoples and places.

Science definitely interests her if I can keep it short and to the point. We are using SL Core 2, which is a combination of different studies.  She finally has enough penmanship and reading skills to handle these short lessons.  Plus, I am trying to keep her in the loop on the experiments that Jefferson is doing (below is our lactic acid fermented veggies/pickles).  I find it interesting that she will often be sitting in her own time, reading a Magic School Bus book or some other books from our science shelf!  We will continue to incorporate nature sketches when we can, as she is finding that she loves to draw and she loves to look at Creation. It's so exciting for me to see her interested in something!

Right now we are still in the exciting, new part of the year and are just finding our groove.  Summer keeps interrupting us, but pool time, rollerskating, and bike riding all count as P.E. around here and the weather and camp must be enjoyed as we have it.  The house seems particularly messy (as the 'littles' get more unsupervised time) but the structure is definitely doing us all good and is feeling comfortable again.  I am surprised at what God has done with my teaching style in the 5 years since I started J in Kindergarden! I hope that Jefferson and Reagan will  both learn this year, that above all, I just want them to put in their best effort and be diligent in working through any frustrations they may have.  Reagan needs to learn to accept my correction, no matter how small, with no rebellion (depending on her mood, she can have a major breakdown if I even ask her to erase a word and put it somewhere else on the page!).  And Jefferson needs to get himself out of "I'm being graded" mode and more into "I need to learn/remember something about this for my own benefit" mode (I can already see him starting to motivate himself  better each day and I'm hoping it continues!).

So this may be it for awhile around this blog, as this pregnant momma just can't do everything (this garden shot was 3 months ago - before it turned into an inaccessible jungle)!  I'll try to get some photos or updates in along the way this fall!



Teacher/Mom said...

Congrats on number five! I pray that the LORD will give you strength and energy in the second half, and that you are able to plan for how this little one will work into your plans (or work you into new plans.)

Monica said...

Looks like great things are ahead for this school year! I'm so interested to hear how the Phonics Zoo works for your daughter. I've never heard first hand how it has been. We are doing Sequential Spelling this year. Hoping I've found something that will finally work. *sigh*

Mrs. Edwards said...

Congratulations! Hopefully you perk up a little now that the first trimester is just a memory. Being pregnant with our fifth last school year was definitely an exhausting experience. I just said a prayer for your little one, that he or she would grow just as God ordains and that His grace would be upon you and your family.

Kellie said...

Congratulations!!!!!!!! You are all in my prayers. What a post too! It really wonderful to hear what you've been up to and have planned. I'm sure it's wonderful having Jefferson at home again and if I could do preschool over, I would have probably sent Grace off a few days a week too. : ) Blessings for a great school year!