One school semester has gone by and we are finally establishing a routine in our homeschool! Woo hooooooooooooo!
Of course, a routine for this season of our homeschool life. We’ve reached these plateaus many times in our homeschooling career before (there was a time I had 2 high schoolers, 2 grade schoolers and a Kindergartener) but every time we do, it still feels like such an accomplishment (even now that oldest is gone to university and I’m totally hands-off with my second oldest in her last year of high school…waiting if there’s a chance we could do TOG literature one last time).
For the past couple of weeks, my youngest (second-grader) has consistently been able to complete most of his school work before lunch. This truly calls for a celebration as it has taken awhile for him to do any work independently due to his struggle with reading. Earlier this school year, it would take all morning to finish math and language arts leaving the rest for the afternoon (and we didn’t always get to everything).
Today is a replica of what our days have looked like this past few weeks so I guess it’s safe to say we are getting the hang of it. Beginning school at 9:30am (this is a little later than usual), I helped my second grader as he worked straight through for three whole hours to get the following done:
- phonics/spelling – spelled the same 10 words that were first introduced yesterday from Step 11 of All About Spelling Level 2; read all the “vowel-consonant-silent e” words in his word bank; wrote from dictation six new phrases that containing past and current spelling words
- writing – listened to “The Nightingale and the Glow-Worm” read to him; answered questions about the poem from Writing With Ease 1; narration exercise with the prompt, “What is one thing you remember about the passage?”
- read-aloud time – listened to the following read to him (interspersed with a little discussion and prayer time as the dinosaur book ended with a gospel presentation): “The Treasure” from The Jesus Storybook Bible, “The Roamin’ Romans” from The Awesome Book of Bible Facts, the last few pages from The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible, “An Emperor Who Was Made God” from The Child’s History of the World
- science – learned why there is night and day from First Encyclopedia of Our World; performed a short experiment on the Earth’s rotation with a flashlight and a balloon in a dark room; learned why astronauts need spacesuits outside their spacecraft from Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space; narrated to mom 2 sets of sentences of what he has learned from the readings
- math – short lesson on multiplication (using 6 sets of 3 groups of kiwis and 3 sets of 4 drawing pencils); worked on exercises 33-35 of Singapore Primary Mathematics 2B; short lesson on parallel lines using the geoboard and bands; worked on multiplication drill sheet and 2 exercise pages of Saxon Math 2 Lesson 115
He had already spent time reading (Lentil) quietly during breakfast so the only subjects left unfinished were grammar and our literature read-aloud (The Cricket in Times Square right now) which we reserve for before bedtime. We would do grammar orally and informally using our very old copy of First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind and it has been easy to do a number of lessons a day to catch up. Having gone through this grammar book with 4 other children, I make sure to use our writing lessons to teach some grammar when needed. Most of the time though, our writing lessons already point these grammar concepts out.
I purposely try to get all the reading aloud and language arts done early, reserving math exercises that he can now do independently to coincide with lunch preparation. So, after the short math lessons, I would let him work by himself. It was always convenient to have him at this on the kitchen nook.
With this routine, my second-grader could spend the afternoons playing or, like today, listening in while I read George Whitefield: The Voice that Woke the World to his older siblings.
I haven’t been able to read aloud consistently to the next two kids (6th and 8th grader) earlier this year so we are trying to catch up. As well, these two kids have had difficulty progressing in their separate writing programs (Classical Writing Homer B and Writing with Skill 2) without much of my help. Thus, we decided to put away those writing programs for now and spend the next 12 weeks on Classical Writing’s Poetry for Beginners. For the past 4 weeks, when 2pm struck, the 8th grader, 6th grader, and I all get together to analyze and imitate some poetry for an hour or so four days a week. On the last day of the week, everyone, including the youngest, can do some ART!
Prior to this milestone we’ve all reached this homeschool year, I admittedly wasn’t able to do much work with the older children. Not that they haven’t been doing anything independently. They have.
The 6th grader has consistently worked on:
- Math-U-See Zeta/Singapore Primary Math 5B
- Apologia Human Body/Sonlight Science Core F
- Rod & Staff English 6
- Spelling Workout G
- Duolingo French (our Rosetta Stone won’t work since the move!)
The 8th grader has consistently worked on:
- Saxon Algebra 1
- Rainbow Science (just completed this week!)
- Rod & Staff English 8
- Vocabulary From Classical Roots – needs work!
We hit a wall with our Tapestry of Grace (history, literature and worldview) studies. The readings for the last unit of Year 2 have focused more and more on American history and I was having to substitute Canadian history readings on the fly. I’ve had some time to go over how to go about this now so the kids can go on with their readings and we can have our discussions. Aside from this, these older kids need a little push getting along in their logic and Latin Alive 1 lessons. That actually means I also need to spend more time learning alongside them or keep up with what they’re learning!
Now I can focus a bit on helping my 8th grader accomplishing more of his subjects. He has the tendency to spend too much time on some subjects (Saxon Math!) that he neglects the few minutes he needs to spend on others (vocabulary work, for example). I’m realizing he should be preparing for high school work! We’re trying out a new schedule for him so he only spends the allotted time for each subject so that he is able to work on all during the whole week.
We’ve taken to doing school from Tuesdays-Saturdays since Sunday leaves us quite tired. My 6th-grader made herself a schedule in the beginning of the school year. I see she doesn’t really need to follow one strictly but is able to switch her subjects around in a week and still make sure she’s done what she should.
We’re halfway through the school year and I am tempted to be discouraged it took us this long to get things going but such is life when homeschooling. We will always hit some snags here and there…some of them major ones. It’s a good thing we have a few years to get this all together.
Anyway, that’s where we’re at and will chime in again soon.