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

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

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