Friday, October 08, 2010

One third done!

I always enjoy getting to one of my goal points in the school year. It reminds me that we are actually getting somewhere. This past week we finished week 12 out of 36 scheduled for our school year. That means we are a third of the way done. I am pleased with the progress, but the schedule has been hard to maintain lately. I'm expecting a baby by the end of the month and am slowing down considerably.

Since we will be taking time off from school after the baby comes, I don't want to take our usual break just yet. But, I can't keep up the schedule as is, so we are starting to do half days until the baby comes.

So what progress has been made?

The Pillowfight Fairy is covering the following subjects: Bible reading, spelling, Latin, piano, grammar, writing, literature, history (1600-1850), chemistry, mathematics, sewing, drawing, and crafts. Her favorite subjects seem to be Latin, grammar, and chemistry. Latin is liked because it is a different language and she enjoys other cultures. Grammar is a favorite because she enjoys diagramming sentences. With chemistry, she loves science and doing experiments. She least likes reading in any subject, spelling, piano, and mathematics. This is mainly because although she reads very well, she doesn't like assigned reading, and doesn't like repetitive practices. However, she still must do these things to improve and make progress. I have seen improvement in her writing abilities. Mainly that she is writing smoother and quicker. She is progressing steadily in all of her subjects, though from my perspective , her best subject is mathematics. It is a pity she hates it so. She picks up the concepts very quickly, she just hates practicing it over and over. For literature we have completed elementary school level adaptations of The Stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and The Three Musketeers. We are currently reading Gulliver's Travels. I've come to the conclusion that although she has liked parts of all of these books, she gets bored with chapter books that take this long to read. Her least favorite was the Three Musketeers. I think that this was because it has had the most complicated story-line so far. There were so many plot twists and little details that show up at one point then are important later on. She didn't like trying to make sense of it all and simply decided that she doesn't like the French. She also has a weakness in her reading, in that she tends to read what she expects the words to say rather than what they actually say. It can be quite difficult at times to make her slow down and read every word exactly as written. She wants to read quickly, but then simply fills in what she thinks it ought to say. This gets in the way of reading comprehension for obvious reasons. So, I make sure that I am there with her with readings still, instead of letting her read on her own. I probably need to find a way that works for her to improve her comprehension abilities. We have already tried a few methods to prompt her retention of the material, but so far they haven't worked well. I think this is because of her incorrect reading to begin with, rather than in recall or memory which she has demonstrated to be rather good in general. She has made good progress with her sewing project (a patchwork pillow) of which I will include a picture when she has completed it.

The Adrenaline Junkie has been doing much better with her schoolwork this year. She is doing phonics reading practice, spelling, mathematics, Bible story book reading, and piano. Her favorite subjects are reading and spelling. She hates piano practice. The rest of the subjects she considers an interruption to an otherwise fun day. She is reading and sounding out words better this year. She seems to understand the spelling better this year too, although she has always had an interest in it (she has an urge to express herself). Sometimes she picks up on the math quickly such as addition or telling time, and at other times she seems to have a mental block with it. She can pattern match most symbols and shapes very well, but when she comes to numbers and how they are written, she sometimes acts as if she has never seen one before. She confuses which number comes first in a multiple digit number such as confusing 15, 50, and 51. When counting she mispronounces the 30s and 40s so that they sound almost identical and gets lost on the way through her count to the higher numbers. But I'm impressed with how quickly she is picking up addition of numbers like 14 + 3. She seems to be catching on to these faster than her older sister did. I suspect some of her math confusion is related to her lefty-righty issues. Her hatred of piano practice is rooted in her preference to simply play at other things all day. But she gets frustrated by mistakes and being asked to work her brain so hard. Even so, she is making progress. Her greatest weakness right now is her preference for joking around. She has class clown tendencies. She wants to make people laugh and to get them to join her in play. Schoolwork interrupts her preferred activities, therefore it is bad. Her biggest self-motivation right now is her desire to express herself. She wants to talk and write all of the time. In that her lessons help her do this, she likes them. If they require her to be quiet or to absorb information, she doesn't like them.

The Happy Boy mainly plays. He will sometimes join in his sister's phonics lesson. He likes to draw and play with playdough. He can spend several hours clipping tiny pieces of paper with scissors to make "treasure" for his miniature treasure box. He loves being read to. He likes to play simple games. He keeps asking for someone to give him piano practice too (The Adrenaline Junkie sometimes helps him out here). He has an obsession with letters and numbers. He loves to run and jump. For now, all of this is appropriate for a three-year-old boy. I try to be flexible when he wants to join in with the girls' schoolwork.

Some things that please me are when I see all three kids being able to play with each other. They all like to role play (love of acting from their Daddy's side of the family). They take turns saying lines of their favorite stories for entertainment. They like telling jokes (even if they are only knock knock jokes that don't make any sense because they just made them up). They all like to sing (they all prefer to be soloists, too). None of them are plagued by shyness like I was as a kid. I like to see them starting to help each other as they should when one of the others gets hurt. I like it when I see the willingness of the older kids help the youngest when he wants a crafted toy like theirs, or wants to play some of their games.

Some of the things that need improvement are attitudes about work, using good manners, learning self-control, and following instructions. I realize that all kids probably struggle with these same issues, but sometimes I wonder if our kids just have a little tougher time with some of these (whether by personal inclination or because of the way we've raised them thus far). I am trying to rectifying some of this by making manners more a part of how they are to behave every day here at home, making them have more work assignments that are their responsibility (instead of Mommy being their servant), and insisting on consequences for them not controlling their behavior or following instructions. It has been particularly hard for me to be consistent about this lately when I'm so tired. But I try.

Since I'm right there with the kids as they do their schoolwork, I am in a good position to see if they are understanding their lessons. Still I find it a better measure to see what is getting through to them, when I see them practicing, or reciting, or describing, or creating something that uses their new knowledge. Mostly, that is done in their off-time, when they are just playing.
Because of this "playing of their schooling", I sometimes wonder if I'm giving them enough off-time to help them use what they learn. Well, with us shifting to half days for a while, that may help out that area a little.

That is the end of my little homeschool report on our progress. I've taken more pictures that I will probably share soon that illustrate our adventures with pumpkins lately. For now, I'm tired and need my rest.


A. Jean said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your updates. We're anxious to meet both your new baby niece and this new baby boy, as yet unnamed in the blog. My shots are getting updated, whooping cough is complete and flu shot around the corner so I will be able to enjoy all the new babies soon! You are a trooper and tell your Mom and Dad hello for me when they arrive like superpowers to the rescue!

Tonya Power said...

Thanks Auntie Jean. We are looking forward to seeing you too. My parents took pity on me and arrived earlier than originally planned. I now have some help and it has been much needed and appreciated.