Friday, November 29, 2019

Homeschool Progress Report-fall semester

We're 1/3 (!) of the way through our first full-time homeschool year and I still haven't written about the academic side of things. To be honest, I haven't known what to write because I wasn't sure anyone would want to read about it. However, I have a few friends that homeschool and never talk about it much, which is always a mystery to me.

So I thought I would lift the veil a little bit...


We use Sonlight curriculum for History, Bible, Literature, Language Arts, and Science. The HBL is typically coordinated in a unit study: This year is Introduction to World Cultures and you can look up the booklists on the website.

The curriculum is literature-based, so each subject has a great selection of literature that we read from and discuss a little bit. I did have the rich literature selection in mind when I purchased the boxed set. However, my kids are a bit spoiled and I've always made sure to have quality literature on hand, including wonderful children's classics. So they weren't as excited as I was to unpack the books, BUT I will say that my son has enjoyed all of the book selections for all subjects, EXCEPT Winnie-the-Pooh which we were supposed to be reading this month  (substituted with Chronicles of Narnia and he was happy).

Again, with the books: it's great that we get to read classic literature as part of our school program, but I don't consider it enough reading for the day. I make sure we have at least a few books going for outside read-aloud as well.

Sonlight materials are all pretty and shiny, but what made me get it in the end was the open-and-go feature. I'm at a time in my life where I'm willing to pay for other people's services, and in this case I pay a few hundred dollars to have someone else plan out every subject for the whole year and print it all out and put it in a nice binder.

Otherwise, I could look up the book lists, sit down with the calendar, and more or less figure it out. Right? Maybe I'll do that some year, but this is what we chose this time.

Non-Sonlight materials (which I purchased with the package to get a discount):

-For handwriting we use Handwriting Without Tears. My son has great difficulty with sitting still and holding a pencil for more than a few minutes. We met with a PT over the summer who said it basically takes all of David's body strength to focus on what he is doing: balancing in his chair, eye-hand coordination, moving the pencil, etc. This means he tires easily and/or looks for shortcuts. For example, he starts a lot of letters/numbers at the bottom because it takes less core body strength. He might figure out a way to write that way, but it's still a symptom of something bigger happening.

Long story short, I wish we had had Handwriting Without Tears last year when we were learning to read, because I pretty much dropped the ball on handwriting and now we have to catch up. Unbeknownst to me, the package we ordered did not come with the Teacher's Guide, which is a little annoying, but like I said, I wish we had used this program earlier, because David is sick to death of writing individual letters of the alphabet! Now that he can read entire sentences, he has no patience for that. Luckily I had purchased the next level and we moved ahead and it's going well.

I'd been having him do the Handwriting Without Tears workbook AND copywork in his Language Arts program, but he wasn't digging the Language Arts, so now in Handwriting we are getting up to longer words and phrases, and we'll probably just ignore the other copywork for now. He does do some writing for his Russian tutor/speech therapist.

As far as writing the answers to questions, although Sonlight materials come with beautiful color worksheets, we've been mostly skipping then for this year (but will be able to reuse for Sophia). Since all the concepts will come around again, I don't formally quiz David on everything we do. And when we do creative writing assignments, I just write it down for him. We're getting good at working as a team.

The moments of victory are when I see him working on independent projects that he thinks of himself, labeling pictures all by himself, invented spelling and all. I don't mind being his scribe, but I'm always so excited when I see that there is enough confidence to do something independently.

-For Math we use RightStart Math. It came with a huge box of manipulatives, and we paid for an extra suitcase to bring everything from the U.S. So I guess we are committed, ha ha! I chose RightStart with David in mind, and he has enjoyed it for the most part. He is 7 and we started at the very beginning. I've been secretly pleased when he catches on quickly, because it puts my mind at ease that we put off formal lessons for this long, yet still know a lot of the basics. However, I have avoided skipping ahead because there are some foundational elements that we will build on later, even if they seem too simple. For example, the concept of "subitizing": quickly noting a quantity without counting them one-by-one. This wasn't too hard for David, but it wasn't a skill we had ever practiced. Okay, that's enough about that...let me know if you want to know anything more about RightStart. To be honest, I'm more of a "give it to me straight," fill out the worksheet, type of person. I don't remember EVER enjoying using manipulatives in school, especially not those silly Cuisinaire rods. Just tell me the rule and we'll get to it! So I find the math a little boring right now because it's more about "discovering" concepts than reading them in the textbook. But, like I said, David enjoys it, and I can see how it sets the stage for later concepts.

Similar to Math exploration, I'm not a huge fan of Science experiments. :/ We haven't done any this year! I just can't get myself psyched up...fizzy volcanoes, tornado in a bottle...It's not Sonlight's fault, and it actually isn't their material. They do have a video you can watch instead, which I've been having trouble with since it's on a DVD, but anyway...I'm trying to figure out a way to get motivated and plan some time for catch-up, maybe over Christmas? There is only one per week, so we'll have 15-20 to do by then.

The other part of the Science program is reading from a Children's Encyclopedia, and it's video-linked, so we do that regularly.

Well, there's something I've probably forgotten, and I could ramble on for a while. In general, we just keep tweaking until we get school the way we like it. We change our schedule around and I fine-tune the lessons to fit my specific pupil. Probably pretty standard for homeschooling!

Honestly, David loves learning and is enthusiastic about all the subjects at this point. Sometimes he asks to watch TV or otherwise "take a break," but in general he likes all the books we read and is disappointed when we have to reschedule or take the weekend off.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good! I ended up having to outsource science when we were homeschooling as I was absolutely devoid of interest and motivation. I was happy enough to say "It's a mystery of God's creation. Let's read a novel!" We used Saxon math; it worked well for me because I could study and understand it (ha!) Lydia is dysgraphic, it turns out so that was ugly. At least when she went to actual HS, the teachers had no more success. Aidan and Anastasia both did beautifully with math; they didn't need me!


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