Monday, March 3, 2008

School Days

Last summer, when I was planning this school year, I really had no idea how things would work. I was taking our "home school" in a totally different direction than I ever had in the past. I was following the 4Real Learning way and it was all new to me. I bought the book by Elizabeth Foss, went to the Real Learning Conference last summer at Seton High School here in Manassas and I was hooked. I knew the girls were learning the way I had been teaching them for years, but they weren't enjoying all. I know there are always subjects kids won't enjoy and that's just unavoidable, but my girls were enjoying nothing. So after all the inspiration I received over the summer at the conference and reading the book, I was ready for changes......big changes.
I have to say it has been a good year, though I know it's not over yet. We still have good and bad days. And I think Taylor sometimes misses just having a checklist to complete and be done with for the day. I am working on adapting that for her so she at least feels a little better about it. But even without the checklist, she says she has enjoyed this year much more than past years. This year was a lot more work for me as far as creating the lessons and pulling the right books together at the right time, but it's also far more rewarding. The book list I had made last summer as an outline for this year was pretty much thrown by the wayside. It was unrealistic and frustrating. And we followed some rabbit trails that led us off the beaten path and I'm happy about that. That's what "lighting the fire" is all about. One thing I learned is that I purchased far to many books for this year, which is actually a good thing because we'll have a lot to use for next year. We are building quite a nice library of books that I have no intention of getting rid of. We do need to get a much larger bookcase, though.
The girls are currently working on these things:

-learning to read using workbooks, flashcards, games, and stories
-using Math U See Primer supplemented with counting cats, games, flash cards and math stories
-printing practice on lots of surfaces (dry erase, workbooks, chalkboard, paint, flour in a pan etc.)
-narrating at least one story a week
-for religion, she joins us for stories based on Saints or whatever part of the liturgical year we are in and also she narrates her children's Bible

-reading a "reader" book, one chapter a day (currently The Littles) in addition to what she reads on her own
-Math U See Beta book (she's 2/3 of the way done)
-we read books together, too, either on a Saint or for History, etc. that she narrates
-for handwriting she's using Seton and she's almost finished with it
-for religion we are also doing lessons in the Catechism

-Taylor is reading The Long Winter and narrating it on the computer and she also reads so much else on her own.
-Math U See just starting Epsilon
-She does copywork daily. This past winter it has been Poems from The Flower Fairies of Winter.
-We also read books together for History, Science and about the Saints.
-She does weekly science experiments from Educational Insights like this one. This year she did Electricity and Color & Light. She does the experiment for her sisters and journals about it in her science notebook.
-For religion she joins Skylar and I for Catechism lessons and reading about saints.

For all the girls we do Science, History, Teatime and currently Grammar together (to varying degrees).

Right now we are studying the 1800's. This started by following Alexa's Rabbit Trail with the Little House books. That lead to reading about Kirsten from the American Girl Series and we are learning about Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller. This week I hope to have the girls "invent" something of their own (on paper at least). We will read stories of their lives, do drawings or coloring sheets, and read the 2nd Kirsten book. Although she is fictional, the stories give a lot of insight into the daily life and struggles of that era. It helps too, that Kirsten is 9 years old, so it is from a child's perspective. I also hope to review about St. Therese and Pierre August Renoir. We learned about them earlier this year and they, too, lived during the 1800's.
Next month I'm planning more of a Social Studies. I have some really neat books including this one (thanks so much, Mary Ann!), and this one, too, about people of other cultures all over the world. I also have a list of books I plan to check out from the library. I think this will interest them quite a bit.

We will be working on seasons, starting with Winter (hoping to catch the tail end of it). I have poetry, stories, and science books for all the seasons ready to go. We'll start next week.

We are still using the Merry-Go-Round book of nouns. So far the girls have illustrated and learned about common and proper, concrete and abstract in addition to just, "What is a noun?". This week it's plural nouns.

Memory Work:
All the girls have something they are memorizing all the time. It can be anything from poetry, to prayers to The Pledge of Allegiance. Skylar will be memorizing her Kenpo Karate "creed" this month.

This probably bored you to tears, but I partly wrote it for myself, to help organize my thoughts and to help me see that we are accomplishing things, even on the bad days.

Hope all are doing well!
Love to all!

1 comment:

Grandma Jo said...

Somehow, Teen, I missed this one before I came down. A lot of info here - and it's like journaling for you - a way not just to organize your thoughts as you said but also as a record summary of what you've been doing. And thanks for sharing! I love to hear all that the girls are doing. We don't always have time for that when I come down because we are so busy then. You did show me a few things that you were doing esp the books Mary Ann sent. I know you have a busy week although you weren't sure how much you could get done the week before Easter, but I'm sure you will be doing some things. I know you did the tea time yesterday and making the dinner for Mary Beth was a real life lesson for the girls (religion, science, math, grammer, etc.). Hope all went well there. You are doing such a great job with the girls - and Evan, too. He gets lessons everyday just from living with all of you e.g. seeing birds at the birdfeeder, all the hugs and kisses he gets, etc.). Have a great day! Looking forward to pics of the tea time (hope you got some). Love ya all!