Friday, September 11, 2009


We finally started school this week. Wednesday was our first day, and so far things are going well. It's still a lot to juggle...the care and feeding of Evie, keeping Marc-Adam entertained, and squeezing in everything we want to get done. But we still get everything (or at least the important things) accomplished.

As much as I enjoyed the curriculum we used at the end of last year, I knew we'd have to do something different this year to better fit our needs. I just don't have the time to plan and go into lengthy projects right now. So we're sticking with the basics and hoping that next year we can dive in to curriculum that's a little more in depth (and fun!).

So, this year, we are sticking with Math-U-See for math. We're doing the Alpha book and plan to take it a lot more slowly than we did the Primer. Math-U-See teaches concepts to mastery, not the spiral approach like other curricula and public schools use. So, this year, we have to make sure that Stephen masters each concept before we move on. That wasn't so important last year. The Alpha level teaches single-digit addition and subtraction, skip counting by 2, 5, and 10 (which he's already pretty familiar with) and even has a lesson for "solving for the unknown". There's also some appendices for telling time, which I've been lazy about teaching. Stephen's concept of time is fantastic. He can tell time from a digital clock and gets that when it says 12:30 that it will be 1:00 in 30 minutes and he knows what time something will happen if I tell him "10 more minutes". There's really nothing else I need to teach him about time other than how to read an analog clock (with the arms and all that). He's actually been asking me to teach him that. I might take a few days to skip ahead to the appendices so that he can learn how to read a clock.

We're also sticking with Handwriting Without Tears for handwriting. This year, Igot Zachary the preschool book, which he's excited about. We didn't work much on handwriting over the summer, but I can already tell that Stephen is picking it up much better than he did last year. I think he just needed a little more time. I've read that some kids just can't write well until they are closer to 7 or 8 and I think that's the case with Stephen. It's too early to tell with Zachary.

For reading, I've worked in more independent reading time for Stephen while I'm working with one of the other boys. Then I ask him questions about the book or ask him to tell it back to me so that I can assure that a) he actually read it and b) he comprehends what he read. I personally have issues with comprehension sometimes, so I want to make sure that's not a problem with him. I'm also starting Scaredy Cat (our version is different than the one in the link) with Zachary. Actually we touched on it last year, but I intend to actually finish it with him. He's doing really well with it so far, and is reading many many "consonant-vowel-consonant" words and is fantastic at sounding words out. He's very excited because he gets to get a library card this year (our rule is that you have to be able to read before you get your own library card, before that you have to use Mom's). We also a couple of Explode the Code books, too, that they enjoy doing. We use those to take a break from our normal books and to enforce what they've already learned. In addition, I'm also using First Language Lessons to start learning grammar and parts of speech and such. Those are easy 5-15 minute lessons that we do a couple times a week.

This year, we're using a separate science curriculum. I found out about Apologia Science several weeks ago....I looked into it and thought that it might be good for us, since I didn't want to take the unit study approach this year. I gave the kids their choice of the different science subjects (they could have chosen from botany, zoology, astronomy....and something else I can't remember) and (of course) they chose Astronomy. We did a little bit of astronomy last year, and they loved it, so we're doing it again. For the whole. year. But this curriculum also has short lessons that we do a couple times a week, so it's just small bites of info. I was thinking about getting Stephen a telescope for Christmas (he's been asking for one), but a friend from church offered to let us borrow theirs. I think I'll take them up on it.

I e-mailed our Children's Director at our church and got a list of the bible verses the kids' are covering in Sunday School each week, and it's my intention to go along with those for our bible time each day. And I got Stephen an awesome devotional bible a couple weeks ago, so we've been reading out of that, too, the last couple of days.

As for Marc-Adam, well, he's welcome to sit in quietly on any of the lessons we're doing, but since nothing is quiet about Marc-Adam, he's usually playing, coloring or playing on the computer while I'm doing the other kids' lessons. He also insists on having a workbook of his own. Last year, I just sat down with him with a coloring book and a fat pencil and he was happy with that. But this year, I got him his own workbook about shapes and colors. I also intend on making sure we cover letters and letter sounds with him this year. But really, I think 3 is much too young for a formal curriculum and that kids that age should just be allowed to learn through daily play and interaction, so I don't want to do too much formal work with him yet. I just give him 5 minutes of "workbook" time, so he doesn't feel left out when the boys are working on their handwriting or math.

So. I guess that's it. Even with all that, we still have lots of time for free play and to play outside. I worked out a schedule for us that I wrote up and hung on a wall, and we have yet to stick to it, so I may have to re-work it. And Stephen (being the classic first child he is) is obsessed with it and gets a little upset if we aren't following it. I just did it so we would have an idea of what we should when and to make sure that we fit everything in. But it might be more trouble than it's worth.

I can't believe that we're starting our second year of homeschooling. I don't feel like such a newbie anymore. I think we're really finding our groove, and again, I'm so thankful that we live in a state that allows us to homeschool in the way we feel best and that Sweet Hubby and I can afford being able to to live on one income so that I can stay home and teach our kids. We are so blessed to live this lifestyle. And I can't imagine doing anything differently.


KatieBug said...

That sounds FANTASTIC!! I hope you guys have a great year! :)

We are doing the Apologia Swimming Creatures this year. You will have to tell us how you like the Astronomy.

Kate said...

I am so happy for you guys--it sounds like it's going really well!

Jana said...

Sounds like you guys are going to have a great year! Wish I had the patience to home school my kiddos!

P.S. Don't forget that I've moved to Blogspot!