Friday, September 12, 2008

Week One Homeschool Report

As we begin our new school year, I'm joining the "weekly reporters" of the Well-Trained Mind Curriculum Discussion Board. We'll see how many of these reports I actually post, but here's a start.

This report is for Sept. 2-6, our first week of school.

I quickly drafted a tentative daily schedule in pencil to get us started, and I might have got it "right" on the first try! Each school day began at 8:00 a.m. with a family Bible study, reading and discussing together the passage that we covered in our personal devotion time. We started using the online Devotional to End All Devotionals as a guide for learning different methods for Bible study.

At 8:30 a.m., the kids took turns practicing piano. I limited Evan (age 12) to practicing two pages out of his eight page piece (Tarantella by Piezonka) to stop his habit of just playing through the piece without focusing. (At his piano lesson at the end of the week, since his teacher wrote "WOW!" in his notebook, my strategy apparently helped.)

Evan worked on Teaching Textbooks 7 and Matthew (age 10) continued with Teaching Textbooks 6.

Teaching Textbooks has revolutionized Evan's attitude towards math. For some reason, getting immediate feedback from the computer really helps him to enjoy math. However, when he gets a problem wrong, I do not allow him (or Matthew) to look at the solution until he reworks the problem to get a correct answer. If he can't figure it out, he asks me (rarely) for help. Usually it is a computation mistake he is overlooking or something that I can explain. If I can't remember, or if I need to know the way that Teaching Textbooks taught the concept, then I look at the computer solution or send him back to the appropriate lesson.

When Matthew finishes Teaching Textbooks 6, I am considering going back to Singapore Math which I think delves into mathematical concepts more deeply to challenge him further.

Sophie (age 8) worked on the review lessons at the end of Singapore 2B. She also reviewed her math facts with the Flashmaster. Her math fact recall definitely took a dive over the summer, but that does not worry me. She will soon get back up to speed.

Evan began Analytical Grammar, Season Two this week, while Matthew did lessons in Rod & Staff English 4 and Sophie continued on with Rod & Staff English 3. Matthew and Sophie read the lessons on their own and did the written exercises in composition notebooks.

Matthew working on his grammar

At 10:30, on most days, Sophie and I unsacked our cellos, and I helped her practice. I enjoyed accompanying her Suzuki Book One pieces using the Suzuki Cello Ensembles book.

At 11:00, Sophie read some of her Tapestry of Grace assignments, then played with Logan (2 years old), while the boys and I worked on Latin Prep Book I together.




Last year, the boys and I started Latin Prep I (not right at the beginning of the school year), writing out all of the exercises from the text and doing the accompanying workbook exercises. I personally loved doing Latin, but the boys did plenty of complaining even though they liked Latin Prep much more than Latina Christiana. We only made it through lesson five, but I was pleased with our progress.

This year, I intend to be more intentional about having a recitation to begin our Latin work everyday to make sure that we don't get behind in reviewing vocabulary and grammar. We each have a composition notebook, with a section tabbed off to create our own reference pages. This past week, we orally reviewed three chapters in the Latin Prep textbook, while writing in our reference pages for each chapter. It was encouraging to me to see how much easier it was for the boys to do the exercises compared to when we did them last year. I may continue doing chapters 5 through the end of the book orally as well, unless it just doesn't seem like it is sinking in well enough.

The boys have an annoying habit of spacing out while the other is taking his turn with translation. I have nipped that in the bud by telling them that they will have two turns in a row if they are not looking at the book when the other is taking his turn. I have made good on my warning and they are much more attentive!

At 12:00, we had lunch, though the children read some of their Tapestry of Grace literature, Bible, and history assignments while they ate. They cleaned up the kitchen by 1:00, then had a half hour to play in the backyard with Logan.

At 1:30, I did two lessons of Sequential Spelling each day with all of the older kids together. Logan sat with us and drew on his whiteboard and echoed the words and sentences (or argued with them!)

The children did some independent work while I put Logan down for a nap around 2 p.m.

I did copywork, narration and dictation exercises from Writing With Ease Level Two with Sophie. We do not have the WWE Workbook 2 yet, but I found writing models on my own and she wrote in a composition notebook. As she enjoys writing, we did two exercises per day.

The boys began Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive B, watching the DVD lesson on the first day and completing two paragraphs by the end of the week using the key word outline method.

Evan worked on Apologia General Science daily using the Sonlight schedule. He got a head start by completing Module 1 last year.

Matthew, Sophie and I did the first half of the first chapter of Apologia's Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.

An activity illustrating the effect of air pressure on water, which in a round about way illustrated how air pressure affects flight.

I explained where we began in Tapestry of Grace in this post. On the prior weekend, I had each of the kids fill out their weekly schedule kept in their TOG notebook, except for "do the next thing" type assignments which they just filled in after they completed it. Even though the boys broke down daily reading so as to get through half of their literature book Adara by the end of the week, Evan read the whole book this week. Also this week the boys read I Kings 1-11, I Chronicles 28-29 and Proverbs 1-10, answering accountability questions and thinking questions, while Sophie read about Solomon, the Divided Kingdom of Israel and about Elijah and Elisha in The DK Illustrated Family Bible. Sophie did an oral narration about Solomon which I wrote down and she later copied. She topped it off with an illustration. We all had a discussion on Saturday (because we did not do school on Labor Day) to wrap up our week.

Sophie's narration and illustration

Also during the first week, I put into effect a simple system to reward the kids for keeping their school materials organized and ready-to-go at all times. Last year, we held a pencil contest to combat the constant searching for a writing implement. At the last minute, this year, I came up with a different idea, scrawling some stair steps on a white board. Each day the child had the opportunity to move up one step on their staircase if all of their school supplies were always in the right place and ready-to-go when needed. If they lost anything, or were unprepared to do their lessons, then they fell all the way down to the bottom of the staircase. When they reached the top of the stairs, they would be entitled to play a computer game of their choice for a half hour. Thankfully this week, all of the kids earned their computer time.


The other discipline tool I initiated involved bedtime. I warned the children that they would go to bed a half hour early for any complaining, whining, or disrespect. I only had to enforce that penalty one time in the first week. I should add that my rule against complaining did not mean that the kids were not allowed to express any frustration, just that it needed to be done in a proper way.

By the end of the week, I was toast! Our days were long. I am hoping that as we get into the swing of things, the boys especially will accomplish their Tapestry of Grace assignments more quickly as they get more practice with writing. But in spite of our long days, each of the children told me that they enjoyed school which was good to hear!


Gail said...

On the piano practice, our piano teacher emphasizes that the *worst* way to practice a piece is to just go through it again and again and again, as you discovered. She does things like divide it into parts, then has the kids draw popsicle sticks out of a cup to see if they should practice part A, B, C, or D. After putting the stick back and practicing the section, they draw again; they do this an appropriate number of times for the piece.

Meliss said...

I like the popsicle stick idea. Thanks!

Dell said...

Wonderful inspiration! We did light school over the summer, but last week was supposed to be our first full week. It seemed other training needed to be a priority first though, so... THIS week we are diving in, ready or NOT.

Your entry helped get me in the mood. :) Thanks!

Meliss said...

I'm glad to help inspire, and I hope you have a good first week of school!

Anonymous said...

Whew, sounds like a busy week! I like your ideas for whining--I'll have to remember that in case I need it some day. Your daughter's handwriting is GORGEOUS! Best of luck on your second week.

Hillary said...

Oh my word! I completely forgot my orange hands when I went to Boston! I guess I need to start expecting some sort of horrible traveling mishap now.

BTW, I'll take the orange hands over stained clothes any day. :) MUCH less noticeable, though not nearly as nice smelling.

Jackie said...

zoikes. i'm tired just reading about it! i guess i need to savor these younger years in school b/c apparently it doesn't get any easier!