After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Co-op Assembly

Each week at our homeschool co-op, a different family takes a turn performing during the morning assembly time.  This week it was our turn.  The test subjects decided to recite a Bible verse together and then the boys each played a piece on the piano.  They were followed by TS 3, who sang a song and did the sign language to go along with it.  It was very cute and since I am wiped out this afternoon, this little video will have to serve as my weekly post :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

What TS 3 Has Been Up To

When my IRL life friend, Vanessa, commented on my post last week to say that she was looking forward to reading about what TS 3 was up to in our homeschool, I got right to work on this post.  I have a saying, "what Vanessa wants, Vanessa gets."  This old adage is true for a myriad of reasons.  First of all, Vanessa and I have similar roots, and roots like these must be respected ;)  We both grew up in New York City and both of us are Puerto Rican- these two things might not seem like much, but when you are raising your family in suburbia, these commonalities provide for lots of laughter between us.  Secondly, we have very a similar sense of humor.  I know I can say something outlandish, and without missing a beat, she will respond with something even more hilarious.  Thirdly, she is my sister in Christ, an encourager and a prayer warrior on whom one can depend.  And if all that isn't enough, get this: the girl brought me a Pumpkin Spice Latte to our last field trip!  It was an outdoor hike at a nature preserve and she knows how too much nature gets this city girl all worked up.  Love you, V!

So, without further ado, here is what TS 3 has been up to so far this year.  TS 3 is in Kindergarten, and we are using the following curricula as part of our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason style homeschool.

Humanities Core:
Includes History, Geography, Church History, Music and Art Appreciation
TS 3- Story of the World, Sections selected to correspond with Tapestry of Grace readings for TS 1 & 2 as well as selected Lower Grammar picture books from Tapestry of Grace

Language Arts
TS 3-  Institute for Excellence in Writing Primary Arts of Language (Reading, Writing, Spelling and Handwriting)


TS 3-  Human Body Study using a variety of workbooks and books from the library

Art/Music/PE/Sci, SS or Lit Enrichment:
Activities within Tapestry of Grace
Weekly Homeschool Co-op (Three Group Classes including PE, Music and Literature Enrichment on Fridays with Other Local Homeschoolers)
Weekly Dance and Gymnastics Classes

If you've been hanging around our lab for long, you might have noticed that TS 3 was a Kindergartner last year, too.  She went to Kindergarten at the school that all the test subjects attended before this experiment began.  Going in last year, we knew she was on the young side for Kindergarten and anticipated some challenges for her in the very academic program she entered.  She held her own, though, with the encouragement and support of her wonderful teacher.  Once we decided to bring her home for this school year, though, it was an easy decision (relatively) to have a Kindergarten do-over.  She simply needs more time and practice to nail down the fundamentals before the pace and workload of a first grade curriculum begins.  With this in mind, our focus with TS 3 is simple: building up her reading, writing and math skills.

When she and I meet first thing every morning, we begin with a lesson in her Bible study book.  It is a very sweet curriculum and consists of a short Bible story, some questions to check her comprehension of the story, a song and a prayer.  

After Bible time, we spend a few minutes working with the calendar using a small magnetic calendar and this calendar journal I found on Pinterest.  We end Calendar Time with a journal entry  each day.  

After Calendar Time, we begin our reading and writing lessons for the day.  This time usually includes some combination of the following: reading and summarizing a story orally, learning how to print new letters and learning new phonogram sounds, reviewing phonograms that were learned in previous lessons (or from last year) and/or reviewing printed letters that were previously learned.   Now that I've said all this, I should mention that I am going to be changing the way we do reading together soon.  The PAL program I mentioned above seems to be moving too fast for TS 3, and there have been several instances recently when she seemed more confused and taxed than I think she should be so early in the year.  After talking with my trusty, experienced homeschool mom friends, I am going to pare down our reading time to include working through words lists, phonogram cards, sight words and phonetic readers until TS 3's fluency is more solid.  

My morning meeting time with TS 3 lasts about 60 to 90 minutes, and then she is off on her own for about an hour.  During that independent work time, she listens to an audiobook in her room and then has a Center Time.  

Center Time changes every day and every week for variety.  The centers that she rotates through include:

  • Mondays- Writing, Stickers or Stamping
  • Tuesdays- Puzzles, Coloring or Blocks
  • Wednesdays- Scissors, Playdough or Painting
  • Thursdays- Arts and Crafts, Games or Dance

After Audiobook Time and Center Time, it is Snack Time for everyone.  This is when I do the history related read aloud for all three test subjects.  After snack, the boys go off for a break, while TS 3 and I work on her math lesson.  In addition to her Math-U-See lesson each day, she either plays a math game on the iPad or completes a page in her Math Made Easy workbook.  After Math time, she has a break to play while I catch up with the boys.

Next up for TS 3 is Reading Eggs, an online reading program she has been using since late last year.  She completes a lesson a day on Reading Eggs.  She is usually able to complete this lesson independently, although she does need my help from time to time.  We may put Reading Eggs on hold as well soon, and switch to Explode the Code online for some additional lower level reading practice.  

After Reading Eggs comes lunch and a break for all of us.  TS 3 does another Center Time in the afternoon with one of her brothers using the file folder games I created from the PAL reading curriculum which reinforce what she is learning.  At some point in the afternoon, I sit down with her again to read aloud one of the Lower Grammar books from TOG for history or a few pages from the science books we are studying about the human body.
She's doing the skeleton dance from this video at the end of our science lesson on bones this week.

TS 3 uses this schedule chart to work through her day.  It helps her "see" where she is in her day, and it helps me, at a quick glance, to make sure she is on track even when I am not working with her.

All things considered, I think TS 3 is doing well so far this year.  Once we implement the tweaks I mentioned here, I hope she will feel more confident in reading and make steadier progress in this area.

Are you home schooling a Kindergartener?  I'd love to hear all about.  Leave a comment or a link to your blog, please!

Homegrown Learners

Friday, October 5, 2012

What TS 2 Has Been Up To

I thought I'd mix it up a bit this week and write about how TS 2 is doing so far this year.  (I'll write separate posts about what TS 1 and TS 3 are up to in the coming weeks.)  TS 2 is in third grade, and we are using the following curricula as part of our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason style homeschool.

Humanities Core:
Includes History, Geography, Church History, Music and Art Appreciation
Language Arts
TS2- Christian Light Publishing Reading, Grade 3 (Reading Comprehension)

TS2- A Reason for Handwriting, Book T (Cursive Handwriting)

TS2- First Language Lessons, Level 3 (Grammar)
TS 2- Spelling Power




Foreign Language:

Art/Music/PE/Sci, SS or Lit Enrichment:
Weekly Piano Lessons
Weekly Homeschool Co-op (PE, U.S. Government and Elections and Art)
Community Sports

In an earlier post, I wrote about how I decided to try TS 2 in the Upper Grammar level of TOG this year.  As it turns out, we have moved back down to the Lower Grammar level for now.   The history readings were too detailed and he was feeling lost and confused.  He seemed to be holding his own with the literature readings, but was a bit overwhelmed with the jump in the amount of reading each week.  It was not an easy decision for me, even though he is on the young side for Upper Grammar level.   In the end, I realized that my goal for history at the grammar level is to expose the kids to the big picture of the people and events of a given time period in an engaging and interesting way.  The best way to provide that experience for TS 2 right now is to stay in the Lower Grammar level.

TS 2 is flying through his MUS Gamma book.  At this point, he has learned his 0, 1, 2 and 10 times tables.  He seems to be understanding the concept of multiplication as well and is applying it successfully to simple word problems.

Spelling Power has turned out to be a truly painless way to work on spelling a little every day.

He is doing well with IEW as well.  I did not realize that the Student Writing Intensive was actually geared to 4-6 grade when I decided on it for TS 2's third grade year.  We are taking it slow and he is doing very well so far.  

We still love First Language Lessons and he has memorized Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, The Land of Nod, already.  Christian Light's Grade 3 Reader and workbook are providing a good foundation for our reading comprehension work this year.  While we read a lot in our homeschool, I still felt TS 2 needed a reading comprehension program that covered all the bases.  Using it, I feel more confident that he is working on these skills more explicitly, more completely and more often than if we just discussed his history readings each week.

TS 2 just finished his Studying God's Word book from last year for Bible.  It was a study of the doctrines of the Christian faith.  Part of his work in this book was to learn the answers to a series of 60 questions about the faith.  I am so proud of all he learned!  I'm working on a video to share.  He just started the Bible study listed above for his daily bible time, and it seems to be just right for him.

Tom is doing science with the test subjects again this year, although we have gotten off to a slow start so far.  They seem to be enjoying the Human Anatomy study and wrapped up lesson by making and eating an edible cell.  Throughout the first lesson, they loved these two videos about cells, and the information they learned in the reading was reinforced through them.  TS 2 especially seems to learn quickly when information is put to music or rhythm.

As for all the extras, co-op started a few weeks ago and TS 2 is really enjoying his classes.  Piano lessons are also going well and he will be performing a piece at co-op assembly in a few weeks.  He was invited to play on the third grade team at the school he attended for pre-k, kindergarten and first grade.  Practices start next week and games start around Thanksgiving.  He is very excited about it!

Homegrown Learners