We have just about completed 4 full months of schooling for our school year (Jan-Nov 2013)! I am planning to take the month of May off. Actually, I do plan to have Josiah doing some things that he can work on alone (Supercharged Science, Adventus Piano, Math Rider, and maybe even Handwriting Without Tears)… but we will be taking it easy and playing it all by ear. Once baby comes, I am for sure forgetting any sort of real schedule for at least the first week and than will ease ourselves back into our (new) routine with a baby. Hoping to be back to full schooling by June.
So, how has the last month gone for us? We have focused on Bible reading, The Phonics Road, Math Rider, Essentials In Writing, and Handwriting Without Tears each day. After those are completed, we go on to our current review product, which was Home School In The Woods for most of the month of April. After that, Josiah would often spend some time on Supercharged Science, exploring experiments. We haven’t been keeping up on Adventus piano lessons, Apologia Science, or Song School Spanish… but those are all things still on our school shelf, just waiting for the time to do them. Hadassah is eagerly waiting for me to let her start Adventus Piano lessons… sadly, I just haven’t had the energy to get her started yet. Josiah loved Apologia Science, so I really want to get back to it again.
In fact, if Josiah could do nothing but Science all day, he would be one happy boy! His perfect school day would consist of time spent on Hooked on Science, doing the experiments from Supercharged Science, reading from Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Zoology books, browsing through every other “science” book he could get his hands on, going outside to explore and study insects/animals, etc.! He still says he wants to be a Scientist when he grows up… though he hasn’t decided if he will focus on chemistry, biology, zoology, or something else. I’m impressed, but it’s sometimes a struggle to get him interested in language arts and math, which are both important no matter what he does as an adult.
I truly love The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading Level One! We start off most mornings with a review of all of the sounds we have learned this year using flashcards (there are 70-something letters and letter teams that make up over 100 sounds for the English language… and Josiah knows them all). I break the flashcards into two groups; all of the single letter sounds (the alphabet) and all of the letter teams, that way we aren’t going through as many flashcards at once. Then we watch the next lesson on the DVD (taught by Barbara Beers) which gives us a list of spelling words and -at this point- touches on contractions, compound words, abbreviations, punctuation, etc. Barbara explains that since this is meant for grades K5-1 (or ages 5-7), she only wants contractions, punctuation, etc. introduced, but not really focused on. She also points out when a word comes from Latin, German, French, etc. roots. Each “lesson” is meant to be taught over 1 week, but since we are breezing through it all, we do 1 week’s worth each day (equaling about 3-4 lessons done each week). I am still not having Josiah doing any of the writing that Barbara suggests. Instead of writing down each spelling word that I dictate to him, I have Josiah sound it out to me and then spell it out to me, verbally. When I start this with Hadassah when she is 5 or 6, I will probably have her do all or some of the writing, since she loves writing already! I also love the Readers that are included in The Phonics Road. They are just plain black and white, easy-to-read stories… each story is broken into about 4 pages and each page has a few sentences. On each page, there is a blank space for the child to draw a picture, after reading the sentences, to show their comprehension of what they just read! Love it! Instead of there being brightly colored pictures to distract the child, they can focus on the words and then draw what they imagine from the story. It is a beautiful look into your child’s mind. Of course, for Josiah, the reading is beyond simple for him, but I still enjoy seeing how he interprets the story into a picture. This is a part of the program I am really looking forward to doing with Hadassah as well. I have been super impressed with this program and I am very interested in seeing how Hadassah does with it, since I started things differently with Josiah. I did The Jr. Phonics Game and Abeka with Josiah from ages 3-7, but plan to go straight to The Phonics Road with Hadassah without any other formal schooling beforehand… though, right now she is learning all of the alphabet by sight and knows how to write most letters as well as many of the sounds they make. Oh, and I wanted to add, I also really love the penmanship side of the program! It has been a great investment!
Once we start a full schedule of schooling again in June, I plan to start Math-U-See Beta with Josiah. I was impressed with Primer, so we’ll see how we like Beta level. Using it will determine whether I will buy Alpha level for Hadassah next year or not.
We are still loving Essentials In Writing. We are currently learning about action verbs and paragraphs are next. It teaches the basics in a simple to understand way. The DVD lessons are short, to the point, and relate to real life. Josiah is usually done with an entire lesson (including watching the DVD) in 15 minutes or less, but he is still learning! A lot of what is being taught, is also covered in The Phonics Road, but this focuses much more on the art of writing, than The Phonics Road does.
Handwriting Without Tears continues to just be a quick, easy way for Josiah to get his handwriting in each day. I have him do one page and it takes him 5-10 minutes (if he stays focused). Between HWT and EIW, he gets in enough handwriting each day to satisfy me (he still really dislikes handwriting).
We covered world and American history in April using the Home School In The Woods activity study Great Empires. It was great fun and we plan to continue our Great Empire Study in June.
I feel happy with where we are at in our school year and would love to hear how things are going at your house! As a side note: do you have a school name for your homeschool? Care to share?