Friday, March 20, 2015

Mid-Year K5 Report

Well, it's officially Spring and my kids are already looking forward to the summer and warmer weather (not that it's been all that cold in South Carolina).  We headed to Rita's for our free Italian ices today and my kids were asking if we could swim and when we would go the beach... not yet, guys, not yet. :)

Ok so here is how our year has shaped up, where we are and where I hope to be by next Fall (2015):

Math:  We really find Saxon to work well for us-- we abbreviate & combine lessons, use our own manipulatives, as described here.  No stress, no mess, no need for me to prepare a lot ahead of time.  I didn't buy the Saxon 1 workbook 1 (though I did find book 2 for a good price), so we've used various workbooks to reinforce concepts each day, and plenty of play with our pattern block sets, manipulative and chalkboard.  I often do mini "worksheets" on the chalkboard for her, sometimes copying the Saxon workbook problems exactly.  Saves paper and the extra tactile input from writing with chalk seems good for her.  She still enjoys our Lentil Math set and is more and more able to work completely independently on it.  (Lil bro LOVES getting into the bean box which is an excellent sensory activity for him.  I am thrilled to say his last vestiges of sensory integration disorder have GONE!!!)

Language Arts:  We finished TYCTR around Christmas time and since then have done tons of reading from books on her level.  I personally have found the Step Into Reading graded readers to be the most accurately leveled, with a wide variety of topics.  Seems like TYCTR puts kids at a solid Level 2, able to stretch and read some of the Level 3s with a bit of help.  We also enjoy the Bob Books (Levels 4 & 5) and Elephant & Piggy books.  First Language Lessons 1 has been great for grammar.  I visited a homeschooling curriculum fair and was intrigued by All About Spelling so we bought it and have started it Level 1.  So far so good!  It's well-designed, not stressful and so far we are flying through it.  I'm hoping to start off with Level 2 in the fall.  (See Cathy Duffy's review of the curriculum here.)  E's discovered the joy of audiobooks and we get many from the library.  So far she's enjoyed multiple Magic Tree house stories, Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Redwall and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  She listens to them as she falls asleep and often when she first wakes up too!

History:  Our progress has been slow, and we've chosen to stay in the Revolutionary/Colonial era until now, and are just starting to get into the War of 1812 (Caroline books in the American Girls series).  However I'm confident that she does have a pretty good grasp on the Colonial Era-- the Felicity books & movie have been hits, and the PBS series Liberty Kids has been good too (our library has them all on DVD).  One thing I've noticed in the American Girls books is that the older versions of the books-- the 6-book series rather than the 2-volume series they sell now-- are much better for younger children.  They are illustrated, more manageable as shorter volumes, and have such helpful endnotes on the time period, complete with photos of actual places and artifacts.  So go for the older books if you can find them!  At her age I'm happy to linger in one "era" a while and just do rote memory of the History Sentences.  (Side note:  I've been amazed at how much WILLIAM loves the AG books, be they Kaya, Felicity or Caroline!  He begs to read them and sits fairly riveted while I read them.  I'm not sure if there's a comparable series with a male protagonist, but we may just use the AG books when he comes along too!  Moms of boys, any suggestions?)

Geography:  we've made less progress in this area than I expected, though I don't worry about it too much.  We are still working on the states and their capitals as well as US geography.
Science:  Eowyn LOVES the Magic Schoolbus experiment kit and asks to use it regularly.  Alas I haven't been able to get to it as much as I'd like.

Foreign Languages:  our friends MOVED unexpectedly in January and we miss them AND our Spanish classes!!!!!  We are learning John 1 in Latin in CC.

Fine Arts:  we enjoy what we do at CC (studying masters of painting last semester and orchestra this one), and do our share of painting, chalk art, and table time at Creating Artists for Tomorrow (thank you livingsocial again).  I also picked up this little drawing workbook last week: Things Girls Love and it's been quite the hit.  I will snag some more in the Watch Me Draw Series if I see them!

Bible:  BSF has been great to keep us moving through the Pentateuch and having really good discussions on sin, complaining, pride and faith.  I recently acquired the "Go to the Ant" chart from Doorposts and am so eager to use it in addressing current difficulties in both kiddos.  I love that the chart helps them ask themselves heart-probing questions which take the focus off of me, and make it clear that I'm NOT "getting onto them" for "something I don't like about them," but rather am helping them identify and correct an attitude that their Heavenly Father warns against.  I am so impressed with the Doorposts material and as soon as they come out with an ESV version of their charts (it's in the works!!) I hope to buy their "Parenting Essentials Package" to use in character training in my own home.  I love that their materials don't focus on the negatives of God's commands but help them read about examples of those in Scripture who both ignored and obeyed God's word, allowing them to see both the consequences of disobedience and the blessings of obedience.  It's far from moralistic, is Scripture-rich and very practically laid out.  Each time my kids see how far they fall from obeying (or even wanting to obey) God's word, it's a chance to remind them of the Gospel, their need for a Savior and of the One who is Able to strengthen and change them!

Last week we had a few days of very warm, very pleasant weather (high 70s!) and I had the pleasure of taking my kids to play in my parents' creek... not only did I have flash backs to happy memories of my own childhood-- largely spent in that creek with my sisters and cousins (when I wasn't reading a book)-- but I got to witness childhood unplugged.  For HOURS my 5 year old and 2.5 year old played completely contentedly with leaves, sand, rocks, water and a few toys-- a Lego pirate boat set and a cup.  They watched ducks paddle by, they dug and imagined and yes there was a short-lived episode of mud-slinging that ended with one of them crying and the other very apologetic.  I can't wait to have more days like this.  We brought our schoolwork outside and did "games" on the back porch, splashed and played, and only came in when it was time for a quick lunch and naps.

My little crafty Christmas elf, hard at work
It's been a great year for our family; I've loved watching Eowyn really "get" reading and start to pursue it on her own.  Recently her little bro was upset (of course during dinner prep so I was not very available) and all on her own, she consoled him and convinced him to sit and let her read to him.  Five books later his tears were forgotten and they were playing together happily.  I was amazed and so thankful for her initiative and compassionate heart!  I keep remembering Susan Wise Bauer's advice to new homeschooling parents to just start with math & grammar and then add one subject in at a time.  That has been so helpful!  I do feel like our math and grammar are solid, and so we've added in spelling as another area to emphasize.  Next year I'm not sure which subject I'll pick to make solid-- probably music or science-- and will continue to just memorize the CC sentences for Latin, science & history and take them slow.  I'm also determined to continue to pursue Scripture study & memory with my kids!! All the academic knowledge in the world is useless without a sturdy character underneath it... and how will they know of Whom they have not heard, and how will they hear without a preacher (me) and the Word itself, dividing soul and spirit?

PS- I've started a book club with some friends and I LOVE IT!!!!!

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