Monday, January 5, 2009

A review

When we "started" homeschooling in August/September, I had very little idea what I was doing. Really, I just hoped I wasn't messing up. But we have sort of found a groove. We do reading daily, we do math about that often. We have been fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of homeschoolers and a good network to advertise and organize opportunities. We have also been fortunate to have found a group of people in our area with similar aged children, so Kiddo has a group of friends who also are homeschooled, so he doesn't ever feel alone. That and he has never been to school in his memory (he did preschool for a while before Kutey was born, but he doesn't remember it at all), so he has nothing to feel he is missing out on! And we have fun. Kitchen science and baking experiments are among his favorites. Along with art projects.

He reads fairly well. I have mentioned before that we are using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I gave it glowing reviews when we first started. We made it to about lesson 89. I still hope to finish out the last lessons, but getting Kiddo to sit down and do a reading lesson from the book got harder and harder. It wasn't that he couldn't do it, he can read the lessons, no problem, he just got tired of them. Therefore, we have started branching out and using early reader books for our lessons. Not all early reader books are created equal! There are some of them that claim to be for emergent readers, but the vocabulary and use of irregular words make them nearly impossible for Kiddo to read without a great deal of assistance and a whole lot of patience on his end. I want him to build success in reading, not frustration. So I have been trying to pick his books very carefully.

My other frustration with 100 lessons is that there are rules they simply did not teach. I taught Kiddo the "tow vowels go walking, the first one does the talking" rule, because once we started reading in regular books (before we even took a break from the lesson book) Kiddo struggled when the letters weren't written in the books orthography. It may be a useful way to get children used to the silent e and the two vowels together rules, but taught without the rules simply changing the orthography does not mean the child will generalize. At least mine did not. He needed to know the why. I still like the book for teaching reading. And it does work, it just needs to be augmented with a few extras.

I am looking into buying Spell to Write and Read. I have read excellent things about it on Homeschool Share, and if nothing else, I figure it will help me know the rules I am teaching rather than trying to sort them out on my own, which is where I have currently been operating.

For Math we have just been working on adding and subtracting, counting up to 100, number recognition, etc. We haven't used a set curriculum for this, though I have looked at a couple of them, including Math Mammoth, Miquon, and McRuffy. Apparently if it is a math curriculum, for me it needs to start with M. I haven't ordered one, in part because I am not sure what level I want to order, and in part because I am afraid to spend the money on something that doesn't work for Kiddo. We are doing well right now without a full curriculum, so I am going to just let it sit for a bit longer and see what happens.

In all, however, I am happy with where we are. He reads well enough at this point that he can start reading in the topics we are studying, so we can start studying topics with a bit more dedication. I am currently looking forward to our winter themed studies for the month of January. We'll be studying Snowflake Bentley (using this book and ideas from here) and then doing a unit on Jan Brett's The Mitten. We have to finish up our unit on reindeer using Jan Brett's The Wild Christmas Reindeer, first, however.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get more hours in a day....

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