Saturday, September 13, 2008

One quarter of the school year is complete!

I'm feeling rather accomplished at the moment. I've kept up the discipline and made the Pillowfight Fairy do her schoolwork when she would rather be playing. We have now completed nine weeks, which in a 36 week school year equals one fourth. She is learning. She is making progress. For one thing, she is getting more comfortable with writing longer sentences. She is also getting more comfortable about risking misspellings if the word she wants to use is long and/or complicated. I see this as definite progress for a little perfectionist. She has developed the habit of checking the spelling in a book where she knows the word is used, to help her when she is uncertain (that was her own idea).

In literature, we have read many Aesop's Fables, Some Egyptian Myths, a tamed down and shortened version of the Epic of Gilgamesh as well as a pretty good section of the book of Genesis. She has worked through nine lessons of basic spelling words successfully. She has memorized two poems. We have covered the differences in common nouns and proper nouns. I had intended to get her to write letters once a week. But, I have discovered that she has more writing assignments than I had originally realized and so we haven't done that yet.

In math, she has covered the basics of single digit addition and subtraction, measuring, telling time, money and fractions. We are still practicing those. She has just recently started double digit addition (without carrying) and adding a list of three numbers.

In history, we have covered early nomads, Ancient Egypt, Sumer, Akkadia, Babylon, and the Assyrians. My husband reminds me to say that this is not an exhaustive study. We have touched on these areas of history to give her a familiarity with it. First graders do not study history in exhaustive detail. This is an introduction to help her start to put the pieces together for future understanding. In my parents' last visit, my Dad was surprised to hear that we were teaching her history already. I realize that first graders don't usually get a lot of history. Usually it is social studies more along the lines of family relationships, neighborhood "helpers" and major holidays. In the classical method we are using, the framework is history. First graders start to learn about the world from early times to the present. Seeing as she is already getting the other "social studies" in our everyday life, I don't see this as a problem. My hope is that it will help her develop a bigger perspective.

In science, We are still covering the animal kingdom. Twice a week we do reading on a different group of animals. Then she has to tell me something she has learned and write it down.

In the fine arts, she is studying art and piano. Once a week she has a lesson regarding art technique. Once a week she studies an historical piece of art. The rest of the week we have fun art (sometimes connected to a lesson, sometimes not). For piano, her Daddy is giving her lessons from a piano instruction book. She is still in the "I don't want to practice" stage, but she is making progress even so. We'll see how she feels about it as she gets better.

I mentioned her religion instruction in the literature section, since it has mostly been reading through the Bible. I keep the readings very short. We have only skipped a few things that I thought were too complicated to explain to a first grader. We are currently in the story of Joseph. She also gets classes at church on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday nights.

For exercise we walk about 1.2 miles every day.

So, what are my impressions of my first year of full homeschooling so far? Well, it's a lot of work. The lessons are not difficult and she learns very fast so I'm not having to work hard at teaching. The work is actually to keep myself disciplined so that lessons don't slide, to keep her focused when she doesn't want to do her work (which is most of the time), and to keep on top of the paperwork and check her progress (so mistakes get caught and corrected). There is also, filing away the work she has done and preparing for the next day. I find that I have to know what I'm covering for a day's schoolwork the night before, otherwise there are too many distractions to keep it all straight. Despite some of the daily frustrations, I think this is working out.

Another thing that I'm proud of is that I started doing phonics work with the Adrenaline Junkie this past week. Just a few minutes a day is all we do. She is enjoying it and doing well. She is getting better at sounding out words and even wanted to play the sounding out words game this evening before bed.

The Happy Boy is still a little frustrated that Mommy can't always give him attention when he wants it, but I console him with books and puzzles in my available times. He is getting pretty good with his letters and numbers. Now if we could only get him to say more words.

If we stay on schedule, we will finish 36 weeks in late April. I do have more planned for the year, but the rest is more along the lines of filler to keep her in practice and not forgetting what she learned. Of course we haven't been hit with the winter sicknesses. That will throw things off. But, with one quarter done, the rest of the year looks possible. That's a good thing. If you have visited my husband's site recently, you may have seen that baby number four will be coming sometime in May. I hope we can get most if not all of the year's essential work done by then. After all, I'll need some of the time after the baby comes to plan next school year for not just one but two kids.

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