Monday, January 3, 2011

Where we are at the semester

LemurBoy is really starting to take off in reading. This has been a big focus, so that he'll eventually be able to work a little more independently. About a month ago, he decided he actually liked doing Hooked on Phonics. He could read everything in the K level. He knows many of phonemes taught in 1, but was very slow, and not great on the helper words, so we decided to start there. With a month of nearly every day work, he's about 1/4 of the way through level 1, showing great improvements in fluency, and starting to read things voluntarily, pick up words from context, and things like that.

Somewhere around the same time, we got the Leapfrog Code Word Caper movie, and LemurGirl, who only recently turned 4, started writing every word she could think of, with a surprising degree of accuracy and only thoroughly understandable mistakes. "Jessuc" for "Jessica", "Cyute" for "Cute", "Bab" for "Baby" - that sort of thing, So I pulled the Kindergarten Hooked on Phonics out, and she's zooming through that, entirely of her own initiative.

I found our Explode the Code workbooks, and both kids are doing a few pages of that a day (LB on level 2, LG on Level 1), and seem to enjoy it.

We haven't been doing Progressive Phonics, though I still love it, because at this point, it progresses too slowly - he easily understands the sounds of the various phonemes, but is slow at the actual process of reading, so the amount of practice included makes it tough to get through (come to think of it, that's the exact problem we're having in math, too). I've been considering making an amalgamation of the intermediate level books to get through it without quite so much review, but haven't gotten around to it. Also, I haven't felt like spending the ink/paper to print out it out.

LB is working on Math Mammoth 2A, and I'm finding it a bit frustrating. We're covering regrouping, which I taught him last year, and the "Do it this way, now do it this way, now do it this way" business seems like wheel-spinning to me, and I think kind of confuses him. Or maybe it's giving him a deeper understanding, or at least setting the stage for such. I'm torn between throwing up my hands in the air in disgust and going back to winging it or going and buying the full 1-6 e-curriculum. I think we'll give it another semester - a lot of 2B seems to be topics we should be able to zoom through, so I don't think we'll be endlessly bogged down as it feels now.

I don't think we did the Beestar exercises after the first week, and I haven't signed him up for the next semester. I think I'd rather just get through the Math Mammoth rather than adding more in.

We got Penny Gardner's Italics book to work on handwriting, and were doing it with some consistency with LB without great results. I don't blame the book. I try to follow the CM idea that they don't have to work on it for a long time, but that what they do should be as perfect as possible. Quality over quantity. However, LB gets so wrapped up in doing it right that he forgets what he's doing and writes the totally wrong letter or something.

Then, shortly before Christmas, he took out a pad of wide-ruled paper with a manuscript writing guide on it and wrote the alphabet, uppercase and lowercase. Perfectly. Then did so again several times over the next few days, in much less time than it generally took him to labor over the copywork I had him doing before.

I don't know - I'm tempted to tell him to try to stop worrying about perfection and just do the whole page and see what happens.

We're going through Story of the World 2 at our anticipated pace. I may spread out some of the upcoming chapters over a few weeks (we normally do 1 week per chapter) because there's just so much possible supplemental reading for some of them, and I think he'd be happier continuing history through the summer, anyways.

(Alternatively, perhaps I'll stick with the current schedule and start Vol. 3 as soon as we finish 2, in hopes of getting through 4 before the start of 4th grade. LG will be in 1st when LB is in 4th, and I think I'd prefer just to go back to Ancients rather than either having them on separate tracks or starting LG with Modern History.)

I discovered a wonderful feature of our library online catalog - I can schedule holds in advance! So I have all our supplemental reading scheduled for retrieval from the library for the rest of the year. It totally rocks.

We've been doing a lot of the classic read-alouds included in the AO schedule, as well as supplementary books corresponding with our history, and LB has enjoyed most. We tend to read them all at once rather than spreading them out over the course of weeks or months as is recommended. We manage that with some, but are too impatient on others!

LB got a loom (the Harrisville Easy Weaver) for Christmas, and has been weaving up a storm. He also got an mp3 player for Christmas, and has gotten really into audiobooks, so he's been listening to many of the suggested books while he works on his weaving. He's also doing woodwork with LemurDa, and has expressed an interest in learning woodcarving after seeing our housemate do it. And jigsaw puzzles. Do those count as handiwork?

Science continues to be unschooled. LB has expressed interest in doing nature studies again, but israther less enthusiastic about the idea of actually going outside to do them.

I hope to incorporate Song School Latin with both kids as soon as it's in the budget, because it feels like DD has gotten to the point where she could be really receptive to it.

On that note - I'm a little surprised to find it's actually easier to work with two kids than just LB! Especially with LG being so motivated. It's occasionally a bit problematic with neither of them being able to work fully independently, but in general, it seems to change the dynamic in a positive way, and both LB and I are a bit more motivated to take the lessons seriously.

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