Friday, January 15, 2010

Gillispie Christian Academy

I haven't given a homeschool update in a while. I've got time to night, so here we go!Samren: At the beginning of the year Samren could not write letters/words that others could read. It was really awful. Even his first grade teacher last year said "I don't know what to do. He's beyond me." He had a terrible time with very easy spelling words, and only an extremely basic understanding of phonics. I am so happy that after a semester of homeschooling he has improved greatly in all of these areas! Honestly, I don't think I did anything special with him. The biggest difference between home and public school is that at home I don't give up on him. I make him practice and practice and practice, even if he makes cute Sammy faces trying to get out of it! He has finally settled into a very tiny "engineer" -ish handwriting. Whatever. I can read it. He was having a terrible time with 2nd grade spelling words at the beginning of the year, but he's made perfect scores for the last several weeks. His reading is coming along beautifully, largely because he loves to read and always practices in his free time. =-) We have been working several weeks on carrying and borrowing in Math. It's been exhausting. FINALLY today he got 14 of 15 problems correct, so I'm hopeful that we've had a break through.

Taevy: One of Taevy's big challenges at the beginning of the year was writing a complete sentence. She would sit for hours and try over and over again to write complete sentences in order to complete her work. Now she is writing good sentences 95% of the time (subject and predicates, with proper punctuation). Just like Samren, all she needed was someone to REQUIRE her to do it right, without letting incomplete sentences be "good enough." Her other big challenge was reading comprehension. I don't know exactly what I've done to help with this or if she just "gets" it now, but she's finally able to remember what she's reading! Her biggest reading accomplishment has been "A Wrinkle in Time." After she was through with the book we rented the movie. She was just disgusted that the movie wasn't as good as the book. Yes! Finally! [I've been telling her movies are never as good as the book, but she didn't believe me until now!] Taevy has learned to multiply and do simple division. This week we introduced long division, which has been a frustration to her. After a LOT of hours I think she may have had a breakthrough today too. Nice to end the week in math with both of the big kids "getting it!"
Bright and Kendi: We don't do anything very formal with the two little ones yet, although I suppose Bright should be stepping it up soon. I'll be looking for a sort of real pre-k curriculum for him next year. Kendi will come along for the ride and absorb whatever she absorbs. Bright's newest challenge is for him to learn to spell and write his name. For Kendi, we're working on consistently counting to ten. Big stuff! LOL!

At the beginning of the school year we started with K-12, through our state (free and state supervised). In October we stopped that program because of too much "big brother" and not enough time given to learn the concept before we had to move on. It was the BEST thing I could have done. Now, the children and I actually ENJOY school time. Even on days when we work just as many hours as we would have with K-12, it doesn't feel like nearly as long a time. However, I have let Social Studies and Science fall to the wayside in order to catch the kids up on their reading, writing, and math. It was a conscious decision--one I don't regret--but next year that will definitely be more of a focus. It finally feels like we are above ground now--having fixed all of the bad habits that were learned in public school. At this point I think this will be at least a 3 year commitment (homeschooling). When the kids get to the point of middle school we'll re-evaluate and do what we feel is best.

One thing I've learned is that I absolutely hate teaching science. If you know of a science program that is very easy on the teacher but still effective, please let me know. My kids like science, so I feel bad about my own prejudice! As it stands, the daddy may take over science!

I really do like the K-12 Social Studies program. We may purchase that next year as an individual class. My kids learned a lot and looked at Social Studies as a treat.

We are doing Rod and Staff English, which I adore. It's no nonsense. It's Christian. It teaches the basics with just enough practice. And on top of all that good stuff, it's very inexpensive!

We're doing Singapore math, which I think is so-so. I love the price. I didn't buy the teacher's guides though, and regret that. I certainly know how to teach the concepts in the 2nd and 3rd grade books, but I don't know that I am teaching them in the way THEY would like. Sometimes the way I teach a concept is obviously different from what they are going for in the book. Something I think is kind of cool is all the Asian names in the books. That's a neat side-feature for my Asian kids! =-)



Julie 12:10 AM  

DEFINATELY get the TM for the Singapore. For sure. If you want a math that is more fun go with RightStart, but it's pricey. It has the same methodology as Singapore, but is hands-on. As far as a really fun science I would go with Sonlight science or Apologia. Both are very fun. Sonlight is scheduled for you and even has a DVD that shows the experiments if you have trouble with that. You can use the same Sonlight science for both children. Apologia is good, too, and cheap.

Kerry 9:38 AM  

Anita - have you ever read anything about Charlotte Mason educational philosophy? I think you would like it!

One thing emphasized in CM is "nature studies" for kids at the elementary level rather than "science" and living books for "social studies". Both these (nature studies and living books) make science and social studies just part of their everyday lives rather than treating them as "subjects" to be accomplished...a very natural fit for homeschooling.

Apologia's elementary science is Charlotte Mason-based, but a bit more traditional that might be a good fit. The experiments/activities are very simple and my kids have loved them!

I've used singapore with my two older kids through about 4th grade (my younger daughter still uses it she's in 2nd grade). Then their mode of teaching (while very good, but quite different from how we are taught in the US, which might be a good thing, LOL!) was too different for me and I just couldn't "get" where they were going which made it really hard to teach. :) So at that point I switched to Saxon.

Singapore gives instills a really great mathematical understanding (conceptual) ...I wish I'd been able to keep it using it. And the price is SO reasonable!

thecurryseven 9:42 AM  

We love Rod and Staff English. (I've learned so much!) One thing I've discovered in doing it for 6 years is that the books are dense (as in there is a lot in there). In order for us to really cover everything, I now take two years to cover one grade. When a child finishes a book, I then start them in the grade they are currently in. Essentially we end up doing every other grade. There is a lot of review in each book and I have not found that my children miss anything by not doing every grade.

Just some food for thought.