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Archive for the ‘Home School’ category

Recently I discovered Raymond & Dorothy Moore’s books, Better Late Than Early and Home Grown Kids. These books have really revolutionized the way I think about education, school, child development… well, many things! Because they are so similar, I am going to review them together. One spends more time on the research and the other spends more time on the various years of child development and how you should deal with children at various ages, but other than that, they are nearly identical.

Both books start out reviewing research that has been done on childhood development, showing that delaying education has benefits for kids. The reason is that, while they may appear bright in certain areas, they need to reach a certain level of maturity in various areas, including emotional, physical (including especially eyesight and fine motor skills), and intellectual (reasoning ability), before they are ready for the classroom and formal academics. They call reaching an appropriate level of maturity in all these areas the “Integrated Maturity Level” (IML), and they say that most children usually reach this level around the ages of 8-10.

They say that starting a child before they are ready will cause them to burn out early. There is much evidence for this even in recent research (everything in their books is a few decades old—their books were published in the early 80’s). For instance, this article that discusses the benefits of delaying academic training in math, and studies have shown that delaying entrance into school by one year actually reduces inattention and hyperactivity even years later.

Though not specifically mentioned in the books, the Moore Formula, as it is called, is very possibly the ideal way to homeschool. I would encourage you to check out that link, but in a nutshell, the formula is that your child’s education should include 3 things: Work, Service, and Academics. We usually think of education in terms of academics, but learning how to work and serving others develop character, and character training is even more important than academics.

A Mennonite school teacher friend of ours said that he would rather graduate a student who was poor academically but had a strong moral character, than an academically bright child who had a weak moral character, and I heartily agree. One of my favorite authors said in a book on child rearing, “True education means more than taking a certain course of study. It is broad. It includes the harmonious development of all the physical powers and the mental faculties. It teaches the love and fear of God and is a preparation for the faithful discharge of life’s duties.” Child Guidance, page 293.

I did not understand the principles I am learning from these books when I started homeschooling my daughter. She was 5, and she learned to read before she turned 6. But she never really did well with reading until this past summer, when she was going on 8. She has decided that she doesn’t like school, and I have backed off on how much I expect her to do. I am going to spend the rest of the school year focusing on the 3 R’s, keeping her formal work to less than two hours a day, four days per week, even though she is 9 and would traditionally be expected to do more than that. We will also explore areas of interest. Currently that means learning about horses. And letting her draw lots of them, since she loves drawing. As you can see, she is quite talented for 9 years old!

Horse Drawing

by Gislaine Reynoso, December 2015

I attempted twice to teach my son, who had just turned 6, to read, but now I have backed off again. He knows almost all the letter sounds now, as well as many of their names (I taught him sounds first), but he hated when I called him for school, although he did okay once we got started. So after trying twice, I backed off again, and now he is starting to sound out words on his own, even learning to get to a few (safe) places online with a little coaching, writing letters of the alphabet on his pictures, and in general getting comfortable with letters and words on his own terms. He’s going to be 7 this month, but I’m not going to push him. He has plenty of time to learn before Oregon requires him to be tested (in 3rd grade; he’ll be 10 by then), and I expect he will excel by the time he is required to sit down for the test. He is definitely bright.

Anyhow, I wish I had had these books before I started homeschooling—indeed, before I had children! The principles are so simple, yet so practical. They go through each stage of a child’s development and show what you can expect and what you can teach and how to do it.

Another thing the Moores teach in their books is that once a child is ready for school, he should be started in the same grade as his peers, especially if you put him into regular school. So if he is 8, he could start second or third grade, instead of starting with first grade. If he is 10, he would start fourth or fifth. They say that kids who have delayed starting formal education will catch up to their peers by the end of the school year, but that putting them in a lower grade will cause problems, because the work will be too easy. It is easier for them to learn new concepts at an older age, so the things that younger children spend a couple of years leaning, they will learn in a couple of months. This is a great advantage, because they will spend fewer years in formal school, thus drastically reducing the risk of burnout (something I experienced around the age of 16—an age that I could have finished school, I think, if I had been allowed to accelerate; but that is a whole other topic!).

All in all, these books have revolutionized my perspective on education and how I conduct our homeschool. They are currently my favorite books to recommend!

What experiences have you had with early schooling or delaying schooling?

Disclaimer: Contains Affiliate Links

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I began reading books about homeschooling. Gifted, Raising Children Intentionally; The Brainy Bunch; The Self-Propelled Advantage; and now, The Well-Trained Mind. Each book is different. Each one espouses a different philosophy or method of  education. Each one has had some influence on my thinking, some more than others. I am glad I have read them all, but I certainly will not apply myself exclusively to any of them.

But this review isn’t about different views of education; it is about a specific book. The Well-Trained Mind is a book on what is known as Classical Education. I had heard of this philosophy, but didn’t really know much about it. I have been using My Father’s World, and I’m pretty happy with most of their options, so I’m not really looking to change what I do as much as just to get new ideas. I want to know how I can give my children the best education possible.

This book is a rather ponderous tome. I wasn’t expecting a 2″ thick book when I reserved at the library! But I soon found that it was basically a complete 13-year curriculum, K-12, and that I didn’t need to read all of it. I don’t think I read quite half of it.

I did read the first part thoroughly. I wanted to understand what a classical education was. Apparently it is what was used as the foundation of our educational system back in our great-grandparents day. Back then, students memorized lessons and really applied themselves. The things they memorized or learned early on gave them pegs upon which to hang new information later,  just as learning addition and multiplication prepares a student for more advanced math, or knowing the basics of the body would be foundational to more advanced anatomy.

I found the whole idea of the trivium intriguing, yet it makes sense. Why teach logic to a kindergartener? They haven’t matured enough to really reason with much logic. The grammar stage comes first. Then logic, then rhetoric. Lay the foundation, teach them to think logically about information, and the next step is teaching them to defend what they believe. That is the logic behind the trivium, and it makes perfect sense. It is unfortunate that many in our society seem to be deficient in logic. My husband and I both feel that we didn’t really develop our critical thinking skills until we were about 30. Yet those same skills can be trained into high schoolers, according to this book. It is definitely a good goal to shoot for.

I really appreciated the insights on teaching math and reading for the K and 1st grade levels. This especially since I have decided to take a step back from My Father’s World Kindergarten and go back to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I had started the book last spring with my son, then 5 years old. He seemed to be learning the sounds well, but the blending of sounds just wasn’t clicking. After 10 lessons he was getting very tired of it, so I put it away. Then I pulled out MFW K in the fall and have done 2-4 lessons a week with him. It went well until they wanted him to start spelling words by listening for the sounds in the word and then writing them. His writing skills are a bit low. He traces nicely (though he follows his own rules about what direction to trace; for now I’m not stressing over it, but emphasizing proper form when we work together), and enjoys tracing sheets of letters that I printed and laminated. If I print a Bible verse for him to trace (this site has a great program where you can make any worksheet you want), he will trace it, and he loves it. But he still has difficulty forming letters from his mind, and especially keeping them the right size for the lines available.

So I pulled out 100 Easy Lessons this week and we did lesson 11. And 12, and 13. He is doing so well with it that I think I’ll continue it for now. My goal is for him to be reading simple books by summer. If we haven’t finished the 100 lessons by then, we may stop or may keep up, depending on his interest and reading level. He is sounding out words, slowly, but he is getting it. His retention of the letter sounds is very good.

But back to the review. I’m not sure what to think of the way the Classical lessons are planned, with longer times per class. This would be in contrast to Charlotte Mason, who promoted 15-20 minute classes. On the other hand, there is something to be said for letting a student finish something rather than just moving on when the bell or timer rings. Time limits sometimes are useful motivators (my daughter will focus better on writing, for instance, if I set a timer), but if one gets into a project, a timer can be an annoying distraction. So I really don’t know. I think it might depend at least somewhat on the child. For now, I’m sticking with Charlotte Mason on this one, especially since MFW follows her philosophy quite a bit. But when my kids are older, we’ll see.

The idea of studying history consecutively and then repeating makes sense. In some ways, MFW does that, but they start with a year of geography, and they don’t start until 2nd to 4th grade, depending on the child. Then they do the same sequence of history in high school. I’m not sure how their science matches up with the classical method, but I really don’t care. To me, science is interesting and helpful to know, but not really crucial to know in intimate detail for most careers. If I have a kid whose favorite subject is science, I’m sure I can supplement with library books if MFW isn’t deep enough to satisfy him.

Speaking of library books, the classical method uses lots of books, and their recommendations for high school include a lot of reading that can fall into different categories such as Literature, History, and Science. I love the idea of a literature-rich curriculum, which MFW is. Reading a variety of things makes for balance, and when someone reads aloud, several can benefit.

I liked what they said about electronics and media. They strongly discourage using videos to teach young children. They explained that watching a video requires less effort than reading the information, and this is absolutely true. If we train out children to learn in an effortless way, they will be loath to apply themselves later. I found learning relatively effortless, and I wish now that I had been challenged more. Oh that I had been allowed to skip a grade! Mom started me rather late (I was 7.5 when i started first grade) and wouldn’t let me skip; and because I had to do every single problem in the whole book, I never had time to double up and do two grades in a year. I graduated high school at 19 1/2. My husband finished at age 17. I honestly wish I had dropped out of high school at age 16.

One thing they did approve of was using media to reinforce an idea already studied. Like watching the movie after reading the book instead of before, or watching a documentary of Lewis and Clark after spending a week reading about them. I like this idea immensely. We read about Harriet Tubman recently, and after we had finished the four chapters about her life, we watched a video about her. I’m definitely going to be more limiting and intentional in my use of visual media than I was before.

They discussed the idea that many today have of letting kids express themselves, and how many feel that making a child learn by the rules will stifle creativity. The book says that this is wrong, because in reality we need to give the child the tools with which to be creative. It reminded me of an art class my daughter took. It was called Process Painting, and she was encouraged to look within for the ability to draw and paint what she wanted, as if she possessed all the ability within naturally. No instruction was given. So basically I paid $75 for her to spend 6 hours painting in someone else’s studio with their paints and brushes. She learned nothing except how to clean the brushes between colors (which she knew anyway). I felt like it was a waste of money. I thought that if she could have been taught some kind of technique, she could have expressed herself better. Process painting may be helpful for therapeutic purposes, but for the elementary student, a class that teaches techniques would be much more valuable. So my gut reaction to that experience was validated by the book!

One thing I did not agree with was their choice of literature. It seemed that they encouraged myths and fairy tales and fiction without limit. I mean, there is nothing wrong with being familiar with the story of Achilles or Hercules, and I know MFW will cover some of those things when we study the era of Greece, but letting a second grader read those stories as entertainment? I don’t think I want my kids to know Greek mythology just yet, and especially to read it for fun. They need a solid foundation in the Bible. And while I am not exactly opposed to all fiction across the board, I feel that it is important to guard what we read, especially for pleasure. What we read affects us; it influences and changes us. If one reads trashy romance novels, for instance, one might become dissatisfied with her singleness or marriage. Reading that makes one lose a taste for the sacred is questionable at best, and deadly at worst. Exciting stories dull the taste for more important things. I might read the occasional Biblical fiction (a book wrapped around a Bible character), but first I only read one here and there, maybe a couple a year, and I allow them only because I find the insight into the culture of the times helpful. But I don’t want to fill my children’s minds with “great literature” so much as I want to fill them with truth that will affect their eternal life. I believe that there is no book so calculated to strengthen mental vigor as the Bible. I don’t care if my children ever read Pride and Prejudice. But I want them to read The Desire of Ages and the other books in that series.

Latin is part of a classical education. They gave some compelling reasons for learning it. I see the logic behind learning it, and I am inclined to want to try it. Knowing Spanish rather fluently and comprehending a good bit of French and Italian, I think it would be easy to pick up. At the very least, I could learn to read ancient Latin literature, or comprehend the Douay Bible. I don’t think Latin would help a student speak a Latin-based language easier–each language has it’s own system of pronunciation rules, some quite different from each other (Spanish and French, for instance). Yet if one knew Latin, he could comprehend a good written portion (probably more than 50%) of almost any Latin language without learning the language at all. This would accelerate learning of the language. I base my saying of this not so much on the book, but on my own experience learning Spanish. Comprehension increased my learning. Words that were similar to English (culpable–which is pronounced differently from the English word but written identically–imaginación, mansión, cañon, etc) were easy to learn. I read a book about Creation vs Evolution when I had been speaking Spanish for less than two years and found it the easiest book ever, because the technical words were so similar to English technical vocabulary!

So I see the logic of learning Latin, and may try to find a curriculum to start in 4th or 5th grade. But I need to work on some self-discipline in my kids first.

I felt that the book bowed a little too much to the schools when it discussed dealing with local schools. It recommended reporting your intent to homeschool to the local school district regardless of the laws of the state, and recommended giving more information than many states require. The problem with this, in my mind, is that we are not given the right to homeschool by the state, but by God. If the law requires it, I will register or supply a portfolio or test my child yearly. But if it does not, I won’t. I do not need to ask permission to homeschool my child. I do not need to give them more information than is required by law. In Oregon, testing is only required in certain grades, and though I might do a practice test each year to prepare for the actual test in those grades, I will not do a formal test yearly. Also, one need only report the grade if the school district requests it. I will not volunteer information that is not requested or required by law. I wish an HSLDA lawyer could help them rewrite that chapter of the book for the next edition.

Overall, I think it is a great resource, and I just might buy it for my library someday. For sure if I run across one at the thrift store, I would absolutely buy it! The end-of-chapter lists of resources alone are worth the cost of the book.

But will I adopt the Classical method of education? Probably not. I’m much more Charlotte Mason inspired than classical. I like My Father’s World. It simplifies my life. I can skip things, change them, supplement them, but it provides the foundation upon which to build. I don’t see us switching to something like Classical Conversations or anything like that. But I do appreciate a greater understanding of the principles of a Classical education, and I feel that my time reading the book was well-spent.

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That’s probably not the best title, but it’s the best I can think of at the moment. At least it’s better than “Things I’m Doing With My Second Grader to Help Her Learn Math and Make Sure She Has Mastered It”!

So let me tell you about my little second grader. I say she’s second grade because we have to have a grade level according to the state of Oregon. I informed the local school district of our intent to homeschool back in August and stated that she was in second grade, which is mostly true. However, most of our school work is not based on grade level. For instance, we are using Spelling Power, a mastery based program that allows children to go as fast as they can, or as slow as they need to. She tested into Level B, and in two weeks she has gotten half way through the 4th group of words, which is the equivalent of almost 4 weeks in a regular spelling book. At the rate she’s going, she’ll be in Level C before the end of the school year. But the levels are not technically grade levels. So I can’t base her grade on the work she’s doing. I basically base it on how many years she’s been in school at this point–especially since the State of Oregon is happy with that.

Math is kind of the same idea. We are using Singapore Math. I was a math whiz when I was in school, and I love how Singapore teaches math the way that I think. It is not Common Core, but it gives kids the tools to pass a test based on Common Core (which is something we will face in 3rd grade with required state testing). [Just for the record, the Common Core math that I have seen actually makes sense to me. I told you I like math!] Anyhow, Singapore has 6 levels, split into A and B, but the levels do not exactly correspond to grade levels. Level 1A is a bit too much for a beginning first grader, but I would assume that the average second grader would be able to start at Level 1B. My daughter started at 1A, but that was mostly because I felt she needed the extra practice with some stuff. We did double lessons some days, skipped some things I knew she knew well (like shapes), and we finished it pretty quickly. We are two lessons from being done with 1B as of this week. [I should mention, we started second grade back in April but took about 6 weeks off during the summer.]

She does understand the problems, but she thinks differently than I do. Sometimes she will get it, and other times it’s like she doesn’t want to, or something. That, and it seems to be so hard for her to memorize math facts. We have tried several things. Quarter Mile Math is a great program, but it is frustrating for her when she can’t better her previous scores, and it hasn’t helped her learn the facts any better. Too much pressure, and she doesn’t do well under pressure. Xtra Math helps, but again, part of it is timed, and she doesn’t like the pressure. We do it every week or two to track progress, but I type while she answers aloud, to eliminate the slowness of finding the keys. Math Trainer seems to be the best program so far, and I try to have her do that often. She does 5 minutes a day, and it doesn’t pressure her with a time limit per problem (unless you set it up to do that, which we don’t). It corrects wrong answers and has her repeat it again. It’s not fancy or flashy, but she hasn’t complained about it, so we use it frequently.

Then someone on Practical Homeschooling’s Facebook page recommended RightStart Math. I was intrigued. I had always though that an abacus would be helpful as a manipulative for learning math, but I had been waiting to find one at a thrift store. But when I looked over how their abacus works and tried the virtual one, I was realized that this was not just a regular abacus. I brought my daughter over and showed her how it worked, and she loved it. It made sense to her! I asked her if she wanted me to get her a real one that she could touch, and she got very excited. So I bought one on Amazon. It has revolutionized our math time. I can help her understand the concept and let her do the work on her own. She totally gets how it works, and she can do it quickly, and recently she did some math in her head (subtracting something like 58-13), so I know it’s working! I hope it holds up, because I intend to use it for the rest of my kids. I just wish I hadn’t known about this one sooner!

I’ve been reading this book called The Self-Propelled Advantage, and the author makes a case for having students learn to mastery, not just enough to pass. One of the big advantages of this is that the student will have fewer gaps in their understand if they master everything. It also teaches them to excel and keeps them from feeling like a failure. If they get a D on a test, for instance, in regular school they would be passed on, but with a mastery approach, if they get a D, they study their weak areas and then take the test again, until they get an A. I think there is something to this. Now, I don’t test much. There is a daily spelling test of the 5 words my daughter studied the day before, as well as new words, with the Spelling Power method, but that is part of the method, and the test isn’t graded. Any words she misses are the words she studies that day. With math, I know if she knows the material, more or less, and I know when to take a break and focus on something else. But sometimes it’s I’m not always sure.

So what I’ve decided to do with her math is have her take the placement test next week, after she finishes the reviews. If she gets an A, I will give her a short break from Singapore Math (anywhere from 1 day to a week) and let her spend some time doing Khan Academy math. Then I’ll give her the 2A placement test. I know she won’t get an A on that, but it will tell me what she knows and what she doesn’t. Anything she knows well I will skip, because why study something you already know well? Then when the book is done, I’ll give her the same test again. If she gets an A, we move on. If she gets less than A, we go back and study the missed areas, using other resources (like Khan Academy).

I think this method will give her enough testing experience to avoid test fright when she has to take the 3rd grade state-mandated test, and it will help me tremendously to know where to focus my attention during the next few months. For now, I’m going to let her use the abacus, but I suspect that eventually she’ll get an “abacus in her head” and then she won’t need to use it anymore. She is more right-brained (which is where the RightStart math program gets its name, I think–it’s designed for right-brained students), and being able to visualize the math helps her so much. I visualize numbers after a fashion in my mind, and I love manipulating them in my mind, which is why I like puzzles like Killer Sudoku. Singapore Math teaches that same kind of mental manipulation, but kids need something concrete to develop the abstract, which is where manipulatives come in. Some kids develop that abstract understanding faster than others, and my daughter is a bit slower. My hope is that by the end of Level 2B, she won’t need the abacus anymore. We’ll see.

So that’s my plan for math. If you homeschool, what math program are you using, and how are you helping your child master the concepts?

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I thought it might be nice to share what I’ve been reading. I’m going to try to do this every month; we’ll see how it goes. If you are a homeschooler or are thinking about homeschooling, then you just might find this month’s list helpful.

I picked up Unit Studies Made Easy from the library. At almost an inch thick, this book looks overwhelming, but 1) it is really several books in one, and there is a bit of redundancy, and 2) the parts about how to do unit studies are shorter, and most of the book is filled with examples that the casual reader won’t read in detail. It would make a great resource to have, but ultimately it teaches you how to do your own unit studies, and gives you a picture of a philosophy of education that is very different from traditional school, yet much closer to what I believe God intended for children to have.

If you live in a state that requires a certain number of hours of school per year, this is a great book; it gives you creative ways to record educational activities. Helping with cooking or cleaning (aka, chores) can be labeled as Home Economics or some other fancy label. Looking up things on Google could be Research 101, or whatever. Listening to Mom read stories could be Listening Comprehension. To be sure, education is more than just textbooks and workbooks! I definitely recommend this book, and may end up getting my own copy someday. It’s got some great resources in it!

Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis is an excellent book. Not too long, either. I bought the Kindle version, and I don’t regret buying it. I might regret not getting a hard copy, but I wrote the library and suggested they get it, so we’ll see. Chris Davis was a homeschool father back when homeschooling was illegal in most states, a pioneer in the movement. He believes that children are not empty slates to be filled with information, but rather that they have been given gifts by God to glorify Him, and that it is our job to help them figure out what those gifts are and to develop them to the fullest. He takes to heart the words of John Gatto when he says something like, “Find out what public schools are doing and do something else,” and he goes into some detail on how to do “something else.” This book was so formative in many ways of my philosophy, or perhaps refining it, that I loaned it via Kindle loan to my husband, in the hopes that he will read at least some of it so we can discuss it.

The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding is the story of how they got 7 of their 10 children into college by age 12. The book is more of their story than a how-to manual, but it does have some how-we-did-it in there between story lines. I found the book a bit disorganized, more like it had been transcribed from a series of lectures, rather than written, which makes me think my husband would probably never read it (he hasn’t the patience for certain kinds of books like that). I might try sharing with him some of the ideas.

However, I am not quite sure what to make of the book. I can see how getting their kids in college was helpful for them. Pretty much all their kids were doing high school level work by age 10, especially math, and even if they took high-school level courses to start with, they were able to avoid the drama and, in some cases, boredom, of high school. College classes are not every day, so the kids weren’t in class every day, and they learned to manage their time like adults instead of having someone else (aka, school and teacher) manage it for them. Their classroom associates were mature adults instead of immature teens. The goal of developing their passions kept them motivated.

But on the other hand, they way this family works is to start the kids reading at age 4 or 5, and accelerating their math so that by age 8 or 9 they are doing pre-algebra. I’m not sure that’s possible for everyone. It has worked for them, but in their case, the first child was good at math, with her dad teaching her some calculus problems he was studying when she was 4, and she set the bar high for her siblings by passing the ACT or SAT (I forget which) at age 12 and starting college. Pretty soon everyone wanted to be in college by age 12 (one kid made it by age 10). They advanced them in math quickly and encouraged reading. My oldest, on the other hand, is still reading at the 1st grade level in 2nd grade (she doesn’t enjoy reading, although she is improving), and she is having a hard time learning math facts and even relatively basic concepts. I’m still trying to figure out how to teach her in a way that makes sense to her (because math was my strong suit and came easily for me, it’s hard for me to think like someone for whom math was not easy). Not that I want her in college at age 12, but still, I have some questions about the concept of the book. Nonetheless, it made interesting reading, and I polished it off in about 3 days.

That’s all for this month. I just requested the book The Self Propelled Advantage from the library. I read the Kindle sample, and now I can’t wait to get the book. But I bought two Kindle books already this month, and I’m not about to buy another one right now, so since the library has this one, I’m going to be patient and read the hard copy when it comes. I also want to read Little Kids Big Money, since my daughter seems motivated by money, and coins are the only math manipulatives she will use right now, other than her fingers, so i am determined that she will learn to count it well, and may as well learn more about managing it. The other book I want to read is The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer. I want to read at least one devotional/spiritual book each month (perhaps continued from the last month if it’s long). Maybe next year I will share the full list of Kindle books I plan to read in 2015, and then share each month what I actually read, which will include library books and maybe (gasp) even a few from my own library.

What have you been reading this month?

Today was day two for Gislaine’s trip into first grade. Of course, we are spending time reviewing things she learned in Kindergarten. I would skip the review, since she only finished Kindergarten last Friday, but she enjoys writing and needs the practice writing letters.

And with spelling, apparently, as you will see in a moment.

After we finished the lesson for the day, I went to take a nap before I had to start lunch. While I napped, she drew a picture and wrote a story to go with it. Keep in mind that she has only learned one sound per letter so far, and only short vowel sounds. She also knows the word “the” by sight, but has never had to learn to write it yet.

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Because spelling errors are more numerous than correctly spelled words, I found it necessary for her to translate it for me. She forgot what some of the words were herself and I suspect made up some of them as she went along. Here’s the translation:

The cat is tired. The kid is having fun. The hours went here. The sun is hot. The Glad (name of cloud) happy. Sun is happy. Done.

I did casually point out her numerous and creative spellings for the word “the”, and just as casually mentioned the correct spelling. But other than that, I didn’t criticize the work at all. I think she was very creative to write backwards when the words were going from right to left, and I loved the arrows telling the reader which word to read next.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she begins writing more. I expect her spelling will improve. She can write 2 and 3 letter words that I dictate if they have a short vowel in them, most without any prompting at all. She is bright and creative. I want to foster that.

This is going to be a great school year!

Last December, right before Christmas, my husband and I discovered the curriculum My Father’s World, and within a couple of days decided that not only would we use that curriculum over the hundreds thousands of curricula out there. I used mostly A Beka when I was growing up, but I decided I didn’t really want to do that, especially when I saw how much cheaper MFW was. Add to that the fact that everything was on an end-of-the-year sale with free shipping, and we decided to give it a try. We bought the Kindergarten Deluxe pack and the 3-5 year Preschool pack.

This isn’t a review of MFW, but I will say we are really enjoying it, and I plan on using it for as long as I can.

What I really wanted to do, though, was show some pictures of some of the projects we’ve been doing. This is only a handful, really. There have been tons more.

First, during the first 7 days of school, she made this mural, colored it and everything. If you look closely, the 7th one (which was blank) has a church that Gislaine designed herself.

At the same time, she made a Creation book. She did all the artwork herself:

Recently, Gislaine was supposed to finger paint with pudding, but I don’t buy pudding. So I looked in the fridge to see what I had, and came up with some almost-too-old-to-eat-but-not-yet-smelly gravy. Divide into cups, add food coloring, and voila! Finger paint! I know the first picture has a bad backdrop, but she is just too precious!

And the completed artwork:

A couple of weeks ago, we studied D for Dinosaur, and Gislaine and I made models of clay dinosaurs. The one in the middle was her first one. The two on the left are mine, and the two on the right are her attempts to copy mine. I think she did a really good job!

And then this week we were studying O for Octopus (no, we are not studying the alphabet in order). The instructions were to cut a hot dog into an Octopus by cutting down about half of it into 8 legs, leaving the top “head” uncut, and then boil it to make the legs curl up. Ours didn’t curl (Tofu Pups–they don’t have gluten in them, and are non-GMO, which is why I buy them), but they did get soft. We had them in sandwiches later. Yummy!

Now I’m just curious, but can anyone tell me why so many children’s books spell the plural of “octopus” as “octopuses”? I mean, it is octopi, right? That’s almost as bad as “sheeps” and “mooses”…

So that’s some of what we’ve been doing in the past two months.

What have your kids been doing?

 

This post is linked with the Modest Monday and Works for Me Wednesday blog carnivals.

Today Gislaine officially started “preschool.” Okay, so it’s not traditional preshool, but since her friends across the cul-de-sac are both going to school, I wanted to do something.

So every day we work on a memory verse. This week it’s John 10:27. We also focus on a character trait–this week is Attentiveness. We also have a letter and number of the week–that would be A and zero. She traces a few letters or numbers, or does some other simple preschool activity in a preschool book (most of those I bought at the dollar store). Then we have a story or a craft that goes along with either the character trait or the letter or number.

It took us less than half an hour to get today’s work done, and she enjoyed herself thoroughly. I made her erase some of her tracing for being rather sloppy and redo it, and that helped her to learn to do better. I also plan on having her learn to color realistically and to stay in the lines better (though she does tolerably well already).

So I suppose we can consider the first day of school a success. Now she’s over at the neighbor’s house, playing with her friends. That’s where I think 4-year-olds should spend most of their time–a few chores, a little school, and a lot of play.

Here is my first guest post for a long time. They very graciously tweaked the post to reflect my passion for homeschooling, which I know many of my readers share. Please give me your feedback; if you enjoy this post, I may have more from them in the future.

The ABC, 123 exercises are wrapped up, the children are napping and you’re wondering, “What else needs to be done?” These moments are perfect for stealing a little time just for you. Pick a 5, 10 or 15 minute solution or create your own.

  • In five minutes, you can wipe off a small to-do list item and get real gratification and calm knowing it’s complete. For example, as thank-you notes or birthday greetings pile up, steal five minutes to write your loved one a nice card. Doing this will remind you of what really matters and at the same time relieve some of the pressure that can come with a growing list of to-do’s.
  • Stealing 10 minutes to catch up with a friend on the phone can be very relaxing and give you a chance to feel connected, understood and considered. Be sure to manage expectations among your family members and let them know in advance that you are taking a private phone call with a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  • 15 minutes of me-time can do a whole lot of good for the mind and body. Try escaping to a quiet room and read your favorite book. Make this time truly special, nurture yourself with a cup of your favorite tea and snuggle up in your favorite chair under a warm light.

It might not sound like very much, but taking an “all-about-you” timeout from deadlines and activities will give you more energy when daytime routines demand your full attention. Remember, taking care of yourself is taking care of your family too. You will feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to help your children with any challenges they are having, personally or with their homeschooling activities.

This is a guest post from Kumon, the world’s largest after-school math and reading enrichment program that unlocks the potential of children so they can achieve more on their own. Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kumon or Twitter at www.twitter.com/KumonNAmerica.