Friday, October 12, 2012

Homeschool Update

I am definitely one of those moms who are always on the lookout for different styles, tips, and ways to school my four kiddos. I feel that I have come a long ways since first beginning back in 2008, but I still have a long ways to go.

Four kids= different ages, different learning styles, different strengths and weaknesses.

No sooner than I figure something out, something changes!

We spent the summer doing a lighter load, but we diligently kept on all summer long. We traveled a lot this summer, too. It provided us with several learning opportunities- We went to Yosemite National Park, saw Independence Rock, visited several children's museums, and of course, all the learning we do as we travel through various states. We read books about Colorado, Utah, California, Wyoming, Arizona, and Nevada!

However, it's good to be back to a normal schedule, which includes heavier course load!

We've spent this week continuing our studies in Mystery of History. Abraham, Esau, and Jacob. We love the fact that the lessons are short, sweet, and to the point. I like it because it includes extra activities/assignments and they are broke down into three different age groups.

This week, one of Mistic's (9 1/2) extra assignment was to make a patriarchal family tree- beginning with Abraham and ending with Benjamin.

We don't have to do the extra work, but it is nice to have options to choose from.

Another major hit is definitely our Apologia Astronomy lessons. We go at our own pace and again, while there are extra assignments/activities for us, we don't always do them. When we first began the book, I thought about doing the Journal that you can get, but I'm not a fan of busy work, which is what I feel the journal is- at least for us. The only part of the journal that I enjoyed was the "What I Learned About...." section and have created worksheets for the kids to fill in (words, drawing) at the end of each chapter. We have been studying space rocks this week!

Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) is a new addition to our family. I had been searching for the perfect English curriculum for my 4th grader. Up until 4th grade we don't have formal English lessons. We concentrate on writing through copywork- often Bible verses or other strong forms of literature. We watch a lot of videos, especially Schoolhouse Rock videos (thank you, You Tube!). We also try to speak proper English, though it is sometimes challenging with a very southern sounding daddy! Once our students reach 4th grade, however, there needs to be a little more structure and formal learning. I'm hoping and praying that SOS becomes a true hit. They offer full curriculum for grades 3 and up. I'm only looking at using it for Math and English though. It would be a true help to me though. So far, SOS seems very intriguing. It's computer-based (not online), but the parent is still very involved.

Mistic working on her English Switched-On Schoolhouse lesson.
Some of the lessons involve games and little tutor videos. Right now, 4th grade English is all we are using SOS for, but hope to add 3rd grade math in the next few months. Another PLUS is that the discs are completely usable. As long as I have the installation CD for that current year, the 4th grade English will be usable for Faith, Aspen, and Isaiah (who is not even officially in Kindergarten yet)! Some things don't really change either- like Math and English. Great investment!

Another thing I spent a lot of time over the summer looking at was what reader my 2nd and 3rd grader would use. My 2nd grader reads better than my 3rd grader, but... they both know the phonic rules. It's just a matter of sounding out the words or figuring them out. I am so thankful that I didn't waste money on yet another set of readers- just because they get good reviews. We turned to the ultimate reader, the Bible.

Reading from the KJV Bible. She might not get every word, but what a wonderful way to learn!
The basic skills I believe everyone should know is: how to do math, how to read, and how to write. Everyone does math- moms who are grocery shopping on a budget, pastors who oversee the church need to have the basic understanding of the church's financial report, contractors, pilots, you name it! Everyone needs to be able to write, as well. Thank you letters, mission reports, blueprints, schedules, signatures. And everyone needs to be able to read so that they might know what God wants from them by reading His word. Yeah, it kinda hit me one night! Nothing wrong with a good set of readers, but they are not necessary in your homeschool! For 15 minutes, we sit down and read the Bible. We might only read 2-3 verses, and we might read those 2-3 verses 2-3 times to practice, but what better thing to read than the Bible? Both my younger girls have study Bibles and sometimes we read a little "study" tip! I decided to ditch the books with my 4 1/2 year old and simply work on letters and sounds. Yes, it's basic. And no, we aren't covering the vowels first (or last). We're simply taking the letters as they come and we're learning their sounds by playing Go Fish or pointing to each letter on the wall chart and saying the name and sound. Reading shouldn't be complicated.

In Math, Mistic has been learning more about fractions, probability, as well as reviewing her multiplication and division. Faith has been practicing (and grasping!!!) skills such as carrying and borrowing. Aspen has been practicing those skills as well, only with more numbers and larger numbers! And Isaiah has just been practicing writing his numbers and perfecting the counting of 1-20. In addition, we enjoy doing a chapter from Life of Fred a day.

Bible time has been really fun! We've added character studies- such as self control and gentleness- and Bible customs! This week, tunics and cloaks have been discussed. We even learned what "gird your loins" meant and why only the men would gird them. When you understand customs, the Bible comes alive even more!

The book that Daddy is using to teach us about some Bible customs! All those years in Seminary are paying off, too!

A few things that I've done differently is in my scheduling. We have group studies: Bible time, History, Science, and Life of Fred!

We have individual studies: Math, English, Writing, and Reading.

We have afternoon studies: This is new! I was SO tired of the afternoon being a time where the TV would come on and kids would plop down and watch. I was tired of the afternoon being a time of bickering because the TV wasn't allowed on. I was tired of the boredom that there seemed to be. We added a little structure and it has helped us immensely! These include flashcards (phonics, addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc), writing (memory verse or other Bible verses), math practice (IXL Math online), and 15 more minutes of reading. None of these take very long, but it goes a long ways to combat the idleness of the household!

Shared with:
Weekend Whatever
Homemaking Linkup
Our Days Homeschool Linkup

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