Thursday, August 29, 2013

What We've Learned: August 2013

We’ve been ‘back to school’ for the past three weeks now, so I thought I was time to check in with how things are going as we’ve gotten back into our groove…
Michelle – Age-Almost-8 – “Grade 2”
We came to AO partway through the school year last year, so we are continuing on with Year 1.   We have worked our way through weeks 15-17 since we started again and all is going well.  Dangerous Journey and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare continue to be highlights for us (although I don’t think there is anything that we are reading that we DON’T like!)
We started Math-U-See Beta and have already completed Lesson 5 (we sped through the first three since they were all review).   Taking our time learning our basic facts with Alpha really paid off because she has been flying through Beta easily so far.  We are also continuing to use portions of MEP as enrichment – focusing on those exercises that emphasize different ways of playing around with numbers and problem solving skills.  (This was my husband’s brilliant solution to my quandary of wanting to somehow do both of these math programs without overwhelming anyone.  We are only spending about 30 minutes on math per day, in two 15-ish minute chunks, which is very reasonable.  And she enjoys both programs, so no complaints from the peanut gallery.  A word to the wise, even if your husband tends to be kind of ‘hands-off’ in your homeschool, as mine usually is, don’t be afraid to ask his opinion every once and while – he’s solved several of my niggling quandaries like this one.)
Nature study has focused a lot on plants lately, as we finally discovered a guidebook (Tropical Plants Around the World) that has helped us be able to identify some of the things growing around our yard.  We are also continuing with a weekly drawing period using Drawing with Children which we began over the summer.   Something new we have added is Jay Wile’s new elementary science book Science in the Beginning.  We are taking it at a very slow pace – only 1 lesson per week as opposed to the suggested 2-3 so it will take us a couple of years to finish.   I didn’t want a formal science program to squeeze nature study and living books (the true foundations of any science study) out of our school days, so this is a ‘bonus’ for us.   The focus of the book is on God’s Creation and therefore dovetails nicely with nature study (and goes deeper on some topics that might not come up naturally via nature study – for example, in the first unit we are studying some of the properties of light.)   We have completed 3 lessons so far and are all enjoying it, especially the hands-on portions of it.
A fun bonus: during our mission’s co-op session these past three weeks, Michelle got to participate in a ballet class!  She loved it, and I was really impressed with how well they did given that nearly all of the kids in the class really had no previous experience, and they only had 6 classes!   One the one hand it’s sad that she’s unable to continue, on the other, I’m glad to be reclaiming my afternoons.
Michelle's ballet performance - she is in the front right in the red and white dress.

James – Age 5 – “Unofficial Kindergarten”
So, we decided that officially we would hold James back a year and not *really* start him in kindergarten until next year when he is 6.   He has a summer birthday and is very ‘young’ for his age in some ways.  So, on paper, he’s still in preschool.   However, he has taught himself how to write his letters and numbers…and he is trying to figure out how to read and spell.  We did do a bit of three and four letter word building last spring, but left that off when he grew resistant to it.   But now he seems ready and eager to give things another go, so we are.  We are doing some simple Charlotte Mason style reading lessons based off the McGuffey Primer and a little bit of copywork related to that (he has amazing handwriting skills!).    I also started MEP 1A with him for math…very, very slowly (like 2-4 days for each lesson).    Our time together takes about 20 minutes total and we are thoroughly enjoying it.   He also sits in and participates in nature study, drawing lessons, and much of our teatime.  He especially loves reading and memorizing poems.  (More on our ‘kindergarten’ lessons and teatime coming soon!)
Who says Papas can't help with homeschooling?  Someone asked how helicopters could fly and they got an answer complete with YouTube videos!

Elizabeth – Age 3 – Tagging Along
Elizabeth is learning how to sit still and not interrupt everyone during teatime. J  
Budding Reader...

Mama – Because you should never stop learning!
Yes, this Mama has gone back to school too!  In addition to following along with the Charlotte Mason 20 Principles study, I have also started AO Year 4!  More coming on that soon, too.  (If only there was more time for all the books I would LIKE to read….)

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