December 30, 2005

Home School Report

Now that Christmas is over and we are nearly finished with our "vacation" (which has consisted of Ted's being off work all week this week and working short days last week), it's time to start thinking about home school again! I decided it would be good to give ourselves a general assessment of where we are and how we are doing.

I think perhaps the most telling thing is that Charis has been begging me this week to start school again! We did a light school schedule last week--just Sonlight reading, no math or handwriting. This week, while I had thought we could go ahead and do the Sonlight reading, we have been doing so many other fun things that I decided to just skip a week completely. We've enjoyed putting together new puzzles from Christmas, reading new books (both Christmas presents and new selections from the library), playing new games as a family, and generally relaxing while the kids construct some new creation out of their various toys. So, all in all, we have still had educational experiences throughout the week--but we have not done a thing as far as continuing our "official" curriculum, and that's just fine with me!

So, here is our report card:

Charis is on lesson 28 out of 30 lessons in the Math-U-See primer book. I'm so glad I got the Alpha book when I placed our order, as it looks like we will be starting it sometime in January. However, we will be taking some time to thoroughly review what she has gone through, since it has been 2 weeks since we've done any lessons or practice pages. Plus, we kind of left off in the middle of the telling-time lesson, and she still gets the hours and minutes mixed up. There's no need to rush her through anything, especially when I think this math book was supposed to last during the whole kindergarten year! Other than a few problems with telling time, Charis can now do the following:

* Count by 2's
* Count by 5's
* Count by 10's
* Determine area of a figure by skip counting by 2's, 5's, or 10's
* Convert a numeral to tally marks and vice versa
* Determine place value--units, tens, and hundreds--and even do simple adding (no carrying yet, though!)
* Add tens and hundreds (40 + 40 = 80, 200 + 300 = 500)
* Solve for an unknown (What plus 3 equals 10?)

Her adding is coming along well. She uses the manipulatives, so it is self-correcting. This level does not get into memorizing addition facts, though she has picked some up on her own just through the practice.

So, all in all, math is coming along well. It is one of Charis' favorite things to do, and we begin our home school day by doing math. The boys both love to play with the math blocks as well, but they aren't allowed to play during Charis' lessons!

Charis is nearly finished with the kindergarten level of A Reason for Handwriting. This book focuses on one letter per day, with periodic review pages. After practicing the letter on one side of the page, Charis colors a picture on the back side that begins with the focus letter. The emphasis for this year is God's creation, and we get to read a short paragraph about whatever animal or part of nature she is coloring that day. Since Charis has previously learned to write her letters, she is going through this book faster than she would if she were starting from scratch. But I don't mind her doing a lesson every day, and I already have the next level of book when she's ready. However, the next book takes a big jump as far as the line spacing...the kindergarten book has nice, wide lines, and the next book has the lines about half the distance from top to bottom as the ones she is working on now! It seems a big jump to expect her to begin writing such small letters so soon, so I think we will do some transitional activities using practice manuscript paper before going on to the next book.

We finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons back in October, and I didn't start anything else after that. When we had time, I would just have Charis read some stories to me that she picked out or that I picked out for her. However, I recently purchased Phonics Pathways and just today read through the introduction and skimmed through the first part of the book to get a feel for how it is laid out. It was recommended as something to use following 100 EZ Lessons, though it will take some getting used to on my part. I plan to start at the beginning, even though it will be very elementary for Charis. But it will soon begin giving her practice with blends, and we can work as quickly or as slowly as we want to. I've noticed that since we have stopped the 100 EZ Lessons book, she can get kind of lazy with sounding out new words, instead relying on Ted or me to tell her what a word is. I'm not opposed to doing that, but there are definitely words that I think she should be able to sound out on her own! This book also introduces spelling rules and incorporates dictation exercises into the instruction. I think this will be helpful (and will double as handwriting practice), as she is into writing letters and notes (and "lists" like Mommy does!) and asks us how to spell things all the time, words that I know she would easily be able to read and can probably spell if she just takes the time to think about the sounds. So, I look forward to seeing how this will enhance her reading skills and introduce her to new concepts. She does read quite fluently, and I must confess that we are not so surprised anymore when she sits down and reads us a new library book for the first time! But proud, oh, yes!

All 3 children get pretty much the same Bible instruction every day. During breakfast we read a Bible story from a Ken Taylor book (we have several!) and discuss it. Actually, we usually read 2 stories, though we "cut back" to one story during December when we were also doing our advent calendar and daily Christmas story readings. In addition, Charis memorizes at least one verse a week for her AWANA program, and there is also a memory verse each week through the Sonlight program. We recently began a book called Right Choices, which has a reading once a week that teaches a moral choice and incorporates the memory verse. Recent concepts have included the importance of telling the truth, not stealing, and giving thanks.

Social Studies, Science, and Literature--
Sonlight's curriculum gives us the rest of the "stuff!" We have readings every day from a wonderful variety of books. We are nearly finished with the Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature, so soon we will begin reading other science books. Likewise, we are almost finished with Usborne's delightful Things People Do book that has introduced the children to a variety of occupations. (I've even learned a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with various careers!) Literature readings include pages from The Real Mother Goose, a Treasury of Children's Literature, a Treasury of 20th Century Children's Literature, and a Treasury of Little Golden Books. We recently started looking at pages from an art book for children, too, and that has been pretty neat. All in all, I am very pleased with the selections we have received from Sonlight! Next year I'll be going through them again with Tobin, though I will probably follow a different schedule, one that is themed each week, just so we have some variety.

Well, that's an update, for the bravehearted who were interested in our home school progress for the year!


proverbs31wife said...

Yeah, Beverly! It sounds like you're making lots of progress. It's encouraging to look back and see progress, especially after a couple of weeks on break. Tell Charis Sarah says, "Yea, Charis!!"

Bob & Claire said...

Looks great, Beverly! I can see that you are getting good marks as teacher as well! : ) I'm really going to start focusing more diligently and concretely on teaching Caleb to read when we start back up this year. Before now, I've been pretty casual about it, but he needs more structure to really make progress. I can tell it's not just going to come naturally to him, like it did to Luke!