Just to warn you, I ramble a bit for this post, but that may not surprise many of you. I tend to ramble a lot. There’s nothing striking or eye opening in this post. It’s merely a document of what’s running through my head as a homeschooling mom. I hope that someday my grown kids will get a good laugh at it.
This week at school, we keep plugging away. There seems to be a lot going on, and we just keep doing it. The kids’ Winter choir concert is coming up soon. Hopefully I’ll get to see it this year. I believe last year I had to stay home with a sick kid (probably Elias), and sent Knut in since he didn’t even get to hear snippets of practices.
We’ve taken our kids’ curriculum into our own hands a bit, as Knut requested some read aloud time with them in the evenings. So I put on hold our reading on the American Indians that is normally done in the evenings, and instead Knut is reading them “The Hobbit.” He really wanted to read it to them, and that’s just the best time. I suppose I could try to get that extra reading done during the day, but our days are already so full. We’ll probably just extend reading aloud to the Summer, which the kids love anyway. Normally in the Summer, I come up with my own book list, and we’re just doing that a bit mid-year now as well.
Although Knut requested this job, it’s been slow starting. The kids are losing interest fast, but I can’t blame them too much. One evening he literally fell asleep while reading to them. He needs to work on that. Kids need a bit more excitement in the voice than snoring.
The kids are doing really well in most of their subjects. With Silje, I’m still getting lots of drama in spelling. This year we’re doing “Sequential Spelling” with her, and I think it’s exactly what she needs. It has a lot of repetition, and works a lot with word families. She’s what I’ve read is called “an intuitive reader” meaning she easily figures out what words mean, but the down side to intuitive readers is that they are often terrible spellers.
David is not an intuitive reader, but needs to know every single phonics rule in order to feel comfortable even trying to sound out the word. He tends to memorize words, so we’re doing lots of phonogram work with him to develop that side of reading, which he is thriving with. I like Silje’s program for her, because we do go over phonics rules, but there’s a lot of memorization of odd words as well, which she really needs. He’s really arriving at a good spot, learning-wise. He’s learning consistency, and he works hard without much prodding these days. He still lacks in confidence, but he works hard and has had a good attitude the last few weeks…most of the time.
As for Silje, she is a very emotional learner. She normally cries when she gets something wrong. That’s really hard for me to know how to deal with. This last week, we were going over the strange spellings of “would, should, and could.” She wrote out “would” then “could” and I told her the next word for her to try is “should” and she “should” look at the 2 previous words to get a clue on how it is spelled. She wrote out “shud” and when I sighed and said, “Silje, I told you to look at the other words for a clue on how it’s spelled…” she just burst into tears and said she hated spelling. I hear her. I’m pretty bad at spelling as well. That doesn’t mean we skip it.
We keep plugging away, and she is improving in this subject, but there are some things that she is consistently getting wrong still, and I’m not sure how to handle that along with the emotions. I figure as long as I see improvement in both cases, we’re good. I think improvement rather than perfection needs to be my goal for her most especially in this subject. Helping her deal with failure, or at least deal with working hard to learn something has been something we’ve been working on for a few years now. She’s such a perfectionist, and she’s so accustomed to having information come easily. She gets so shaken every time she gets something wrong, which happens about 4 times a day in her daily list of 25 study words. The first mistake she rolls with and corrects, but when she misses a 3rd or 4th word…she gets completely undone.
Working on handwriting along with spelling has been helping a lot. She’s so good in cursive that I have lots and lots to compliment her on as she’s working. At least some part of her feels accomplished during this subject. Really, 21 out of 25 words isn’t bad at all, in my opinion. Apparently, she has higher standards than me. She just gets angry with me when I won’t let her skip working on it. I can handle that. 😉
She still goes through books like crazy, though. She devours books like a teenage boy devours food. I don’t have any idea how she reads so fast. Knut and I both have concerns that she’s not getting everything she’s reading. I’ve started doing way more comprehension work with her, but she consistently gets every question right. I have her read aloud portions, and she gets it all right. I have discussions with her about what she reads, and she has the most insightful answers. I have her write about what she read, and draw pictures. She’s obviously understanding things, but my goodness, she gets through her reading lightening fast! I can’t think of any other way to slow her down to notice the details, but so far I can’t seem to even catch her missing the details either.
So we keep on getting books, and she keeps on reading them and talking about them. I’ve noticed that she needs 2-3 hours of independent reading everyday or she starts feeling lost. So I’m just filling up her library pile with some amazing books from poetry to science to classic novels and she spends a few hours every day just reading them over and over again. That part is so much like me when I was her age. I was lost without a book.
Knut and I have talked about Silje’s reading pile and the amount of things she reads a bit in the idea of how much education she is actually getting. We’re finding that the benefits of homeschooling isn’t the curriculum that WE do, although we think we picked a fabulous one. The benefit of homeschooling that is our favorite so far is that our kids are able to go so far in depth in their own interests because they have the time to do so. Our curriculum covers what we feel is important for them to know. Then we let them loose to soak in more of what they want and they are soaking in so much during those off times! It’s almost freaky how much they learn that I don’t teach them.
We have been continuing to work on dictation from her reading, and that has been helpful in her observing small details like punctuation and capitalization. The only interest she has shown in doing any activities around her reading is not related to her school reading at all. She finds cookbooks related to certain series of books like the “Little House” books or the “American Girl” books and wants to cook what those characters would have likely made.
I’m so thankful for the library near us. She needs a steady stream of books to keep her content. She remembers everything she reads, and spouts off the most amazing snippets of knowledge she gets from her library books throughout the day. She recently read a book we found on different types of eggs in different species. She officially the egg expert in the house right now and could tell you all about lizard eggs and ostrich eggs and chicken eggs…
The week before Thanksgiving I checked out for her the American Kennel Club book of dog breeds, and she read it cover to cover before the dog show on Thanksgiving. She was telling us all about each of the breeds, and what each breed was good at. Most of the comments were in relation to whether or not that breed would be a good fit for our family. “That breed doesn’t do well with little kids.” or “That breed is too small for our yard and would need a fence or be kept indoors. I think it would be in danger in our yard from hawks swooping down and eating it.” That one made me laugh.
She wants to be a vet when she grows up, and is currently reading through the entire animal section at the library. I’ve started pulling animal books from the adult section for her as well, and she reads those too.
Both kids are nearing the end of their math books and I’m soon ready to order some more. My goal was to get them working a year ahead on math, and so far their both about half a year ahead, which I have no complaints about. I was planning on moving Silje from Saxon math to Teaching Textbooks after this level, but Knut has recently told me that he has big reservations about doing the switch as Saxon has been going well. So hopefully we’ll have some time to look at both programs together soon and make a good unified decision. Any insight about either program would be very welcome!
My main concern is that she’s starting to get into math that I understand, but have a harder time explaining. I like that Teaching Textbooks is all on the computer and she would have a lot more help available outside me. Plus many of my friends have raved about it. I feel like using Teaching Textbooks would help take some things off my plate each day, honestly.
Saxon is very traditional, and that’s what Knut likes about it. I haven’t been getting the teacher’s guides for the last few levels because I found them to be redundant and useless to me, but he thinks if we just start buying the teacher’s guides again, I won’t be searching for ways to explain certain concepts to her as much and I won’t be spending as much time on that subject. In his mind Saxon is the gold standard, (I agree, it is doing a great job thus far) and we shouldn’t mess with something that is teaching our kids math very thoroughly.
So we’ll just have to see. There’s still some stuff to talk about and decide, and we have about a month or two to do that.
The thing I personally need to work on is consistency with some of our “supplementary” work that is important to me. For instance our memory work, and Silje’s Latin. I have some Christmas crafts planned for our school day that I was planning on starting next week. I know the kids will really love that, and I hope that I survive. I’m not that good at crafting with the kids because I tend to get annoyed with the messes and it gets loud, and things don’t turn out and then I have to keep them anyway…
It’s my biggest guilt as a homeschooling mom. I need to be better at art projects. I definitely need to improve in that area, and I think Christmas-time is probably one of the most opportune times to step it up. Hopefully next week you’ll see what fabulous creations we did!