Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Long Days

I haven't done much with 13yo the past few days, and this is already making for some long days. Can I blame it on my desire to check items off of my homeschool list? I bought Rod & Staff Science and Geography/History books for 11yo last fall starting with the 3rd grade level. We read through the 3rd grade level books and now we are half way through the 4th grade level. It is bugging me to have a "5th" grader using 4th grade books. Those lessons keep screaming at me to get them done and out of the way, so we can move up to the 5th grade books. I can't push her forward in English and Math (also using 4th grade), but science and geo./hist. aren't as dependent on development. We've already read through two science lessons, a review, and a geography lesson this week. With two more days, I'm sure I'll attempt to check off a couple more lessons from my list.

As much as I'm enjoying reading about vaccinations, disease prevention, and Switzerland, I know it is taking me away from other important subjects. By the time 11yo and I finish her schooling, I have to force myself to do school with 7yo. There is just no speeding this kid along either which makes me more tired. 13yo gets the short end of the stick, because I'm ready for a long break before I need to begin supper.

Enough whining.

The good news? I've decided that 13yo and 11yo know their phonograms well enough that we should move on with the All About Spelling lessons/steps. Today we did step 2 and I have a feeling that tomorrow we'll easily complete steps 3 and 4. With only 24 steps in level one, I can see us finishing in a month.

Also, 7yo is exceeding my expectations. She definitely has some challenges, no doubt, but I have found that she isn't going to be as slow as I had worried she might be. She is moving through the Bible Nurture and Reader Series more quickly than I thought she was capable of. Is it easy for her? No. But, she is doing it! She is sounding out words and blending them nicely. She is memorizing sight words so she can start reading now before knowing all of the phonograms. And her handwriting is nice when she puts forth the effort.

My biggest concern? I need to spend time with 13yo!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Goals Apr. 27 - May 2

Math, All About Spelling, Reading(7yo) and handwriting every day.


13yo - Perfect! Loves to read. Working through some Andrew Lang fairy books ... again.

11yo - Reading isn't her favorite. She practices every day when we read her science and/or history texts. She recently read Homer Price and picked up the sequel, Centerburg Tales, from the library. I was pleasantly surprised.

7yo - Needs reading instruction every day. Working through Rod & Staff's Bible Nurture and Reader Series Grade 1. We are trying to do the two phonics workbook pages, use the reader, and do the two reading workbook pages each day. I don't think we'll be able to keep up this pace. Sight words are being introduced faster than she can memorize them. BUT, she is doing so much better than I thought she would. I'm amazed that she is sounding out a list of up to 28 words each lesson (ex: bass, buck, fib).


Yep, another one of those areas. In trying to be a nice mom, I haven't required much written work from my children. If we can do a grammar lesson orally, why not? If we can do math mentally, why not? If we can do an assignment on the computer, why not? Unfortunately this has led to handwriting that is at times barely legible.

We started out learning print using Handwriting Without Tears. Honestly, I'm not that wild about HWT's cursive. At this point I don't feel like changing to another program. I think what we need is more practice and practical application. Their handwriting looks beautiful in their workbooks, but it doesn't seem to be transferring over to their everyday handwriting.

The older girls - both are working through Cursive Handwriting. I want them to finish the books so they understand how to connect the letters (ex. tow truck letters). Once the workbooks are finished, I plan to assign memory work or passages from their favorite books for them to copy for a designated amount of time (5-10 mins./day).

7yo - She doesn't know how to write her full name. Anything will be an improvement. The plan is something daily. We have a partially used "Letters & Numbers for Me"(K) and an unsued "My Printing Book" (1st).


** We will continue to do math through the summer. Too much ground was lost last summer.

Math is one of those subjects that is easier to keep up with. You just do the next lesson in the book. We've been the most consistent with math because of this.

7yo - The mistake I've made with 7yo is thinking she needed to be able to count through the teens before starting her math book. In January I gave up on the idea of her counting to 20 without leaving out something. She is now working through Rod & Staff's Counting with Numbers (preschool workbook) and R&S's Math 1. The preschool book is for fun practice. R&S focuses heavily on memorizing the math facts and starts teaching them after a short review of the numbers 1-9. We've been using the workbooks only, but I think I need to start using the teacher's manual to help me remember to review.

11yo - R&S Math 4 (finished lessons 135/170). She has made great strides in the past year! Last spring she was struggling to learn her math facts (addition and multiplication) and now she is studying fractions and decimals. Technically one would expect her to be in the 5th grade book, but I've found that the 4th grade level is right for her in most subjects. We will finish the book and go directly into Math 5 during the summer.

13yo - It has been a year of bouncing around for her. After using R&S since 5th grade, she was overwhelmed with the amount of problems in a lesson and most likely bored too. Instead of making her continue with Math 8 (pre-algebra), we tried to start Algebra. We briefly tried Lial's Intro. to Algebra (comm. college workbook/text) and then moved to Teaching Textbook's Algebra I. It didn't seem that she was retaining, so she is currently taking a break from TT's. I had her read through Math Doesn't Suck. I tried having her work through the last chapter (all review lessons) of R&S Math 8. She couldn't remember how to do much of the basic math. Soooo, she is currently working through "Key to..." curriculum's online Key to Tracker spot check lessons for fractions, decimals, and percentages. Once she is finished with standardized testing in May, I hope to retry Algebra with the help of Kiss My Math and the Key to Algebra workbook series (with Key to Tracker online).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Confidence and Spelling

I never realized how important spelling is or how it can affect one's self-esteem.

13yo learned to read at home. Using phonics based readers was tongue twister torture. She couldn't get past the 5th BOB Book, but she could read Frog and Toad are Friends. She was closer to the sight word end of the spectrum than the phonics end. I decided to work with her strength and we ditched all phonics study. She learned to read by reading books from the library.

I thought that someone who enjoyed reading would automatically be a good speller. Nope. DD would read all day but would panic if anyone asked her to write. Why? Because she knew she could barely spell.

What was I doing about it? We used words from her writing and then very briefly tried Sequential Spelling. She used Rod & Staff spelling workbooks for awhile but my lack of follow through meant that we didn't keep up with that either.

Last year she started writing a book. Even the spell checker couldn't help her. I would go through her work and change words for her. Eventually she saw the words modeled correctly and learned that way. Plus she began using Level A of Phonetic Zoo.

Her spelling has improved, but she still lacks confidence. I believe she is haunted by the fact that someone might ask her to spell something in public. It is only recently that I've realized what a handicap this has become.

Thankfully, I think I've found a program that will give her the background knowledge that she needs to become a more confident speller - All About Spelling. The step-by-step lessons are scripted, so I'll know what I'm doing and what I need to do in the near future. No more guessing and wondering.

The biggest drawback? It will take time. I won't be able to hand over a workbook or CD for independent spelling work. I'm going to be teaching a lesson or reviewing with her every day.

Once we learn the sounds for the phonograms a-z, we'll be able to dive into the program. I'll update once we are farther along in Level 1.

BTW, don't be shocked that we don't know all of the sounds of the alphabet. The five vowels plus "y" have 19 sounds total. Even Mom is finding it challenging memorizing the vowel sounds in their correct order.

What Our Homeschool Needs

I'm a homeschool mom who struggles mightily when it comes to being consistent. I feel like I've failed my kids. Not being consistent means that they are behind in many subjects. Yes, they have their individual quirks and time lines, but honestly, I know that most of this is my fault. I'm not only the Mom, I'm the teacher too. It is my responsibility to move them forward as far as they are developmentally capable. This blog is to hold me accountable in that endeavor.

I wannabe a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race!