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! =-)