It's weird but true--we are a quarter of the way through with our Sonlight curriculum! I can hardly believe we've really been able to accomplish so much...it didn't seem that we did a lot over the summer, with breaks for travels and whatnot, but apparently we did! So it's appropriate that we take a break next week (especially since I'll be gone Wednesday through Sunday for my Founder's Circle retreat) and evaluate how we're doing. So, without further ado...here is a (rather lengthy) update on what school has been like around here.
Charis recently began her Gamma book with Math-U-See. She's thrilled because it's pink. :-) She is officially a big girl now, learning multiplication! The beginning lessons have been very easy for her, and I am LOVING the way MUS is laid out. Everything makes so much sense, and the kids just pick things up so quickly. No ridiculous drills like I had to do in school. (Did anyone else have to recite addition, subtraction, etc. facts out loud for memorization's sake?!) To mix things up a little, the kids occasionally enjoy doing timed computer drills and flashcard games.
Tobin is 9 lessons away from finishing his Alpha book, and Arden is on lesson 17 (out of 30) in the Primer book. I think I'll order his Alpha and Tobin's Beta at the same time. Truly, Arden could be doing work at the same pace as Tobin...he has picked up SO MUCH just by listening to his siblings' lessons. But though he has the mental capabilities, he is still working hard to write the numbers, so I think we're doing just fine where we're at with him. He has improved TONS in just the last few weeks and is basically doing a whole lesson every day...that is, every day that we do math. :-) The other two do math pretty regularly, but this being Arden's kindergarten year...and considering he's already over halfway finished with the kindgergarten math book...I'm not too concerned about daily lessons!
Charis loves learning cursive!! She and Tobin are still doing A Reason for Handwriting. I'm trying to hurry Tobin through the review exercises so he can get to the regular assignments, which involve writing a verse on a border page of his choice and then coloring the page. I know he'll be much more excited about that, and I've been letting him skip lots because his handwriting is quite good.
Arden is using a Handwriting Without Tears workbook that a friend passed on to me. He also gets some practice in his Get Set for the Code workbooks (prequels to the Explode the Code books that Charis and Tobin have done).
I am so pleased with the new Sonlight LA that Charis is using this year. The Diamond Notes approach for writing has helped her tremendously when it comes to putting her thoughts together in paragraph form. She enjoys writing stories but has never been too keen on any writing assignment, but this year I'm finding that her reluctance is overshadowed by her eagerness to work on "loading the bases" with thoughts that apply to the "Pitcher's Mound" (topic sentence). Writing the "Home Plate" sentence is still proving to be a bit challenging, but I have seen DRASTIC improvement in both her attitude and her abilities!
In addition to her weekly writing assignments, she continues to work through a phonics book (MPC Plaid), from which her spelling words come, and her Wordly Wise B vocabulary book. She has loved every reader that she has gotten her hot little hands on and usually finishes them in a single day...unless I MAKE her stop halfway through!
Tobin is doing quite well with his program. Having gone through the same thing with Charis last year, I now understand the weaknesses in that approach with the writing (it may be worth the money to buy an updated instructor's guide...perhaps they've added the Diamond Notes for that level too?) and sometimes just skip over the writing assignments that I know will cause problems, choosing to do something different, or else modify the assignment so it will be more age-appropriate. Tobin loves his Explode the Code and Wordly Wise A workbooks and would probably finish the whole things if I turned him loose on them. He has completely finished the Beginner's Bible, which is supposed to last us a number of weeks yet, but I'm not concerned since he's reading far beyond the requirements anyway! I do have him read out loud occasionally...his weakness is not knowing how to pronounce words because he reads to himself so much! (A funny example is that I'm having a hard time breaking him of the habit of saying "shawl" instead of "shall." In the middle of a play fight, he will yell out something along the lines of, "NONE SHAWL PASS!!" and I just have to giggle. His pronunciation definitely makes sense when you think about all, ball, small, tall, etc.)
This year we are reading through the book Leading Little Ones to God along with various chapters of the Bible. We've already read through the book of Mark and are currently in Genesis 14. There are also Scripture passages to memorize--they finished Psalm 1 after the first few weeks but have already learned the next few verses, which is fine since they just began AWANA and are on the fast track to memorizing as many sections as possible already!
History has been really fun this year! We are doing Sonlight Core 1, which is an introduction to world history. Currently we are reading through the Usborne Book of World History as well as A Child's History of the World. We also have weekly readings from Missionary Stories With the Millers and From Akebu to Zapotec, which highlights a different people group (with names going from A to Z) that doesn't yet have the Bible in their own language. This doesn't even include several books that we've already finished! All this history leads to a lot of map work, and the kids love getting to write country names on our big markable map. (You can see Ted helping Arden here!)
Our current reading project here is the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Animals, which has fascinated all the kids, who usually find something to giggle at in wonder of God's creative designs! (Today the interesting fact was why flamingoes are pink--because of the shrimp they eat! If their diets were different, they would be yellowish brown.) We also pick up the Usborne Science Activities, Vol. 1 book weekly for various experiments, some of which we do and some of which we simply watch Justin from Sonlight do on the DVD. (Yay, Justin!!)
As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Popper's Penguins was a great hit. We also enjoyed Homer Price, one which Ted remembers from growing up. This weekend we will finish our current read-aloud, Gooney Bird Greene, which has been very fun and entertaining.
That's it for the "official" curriculum! We're planning a field trip to go dig up some fossils in October...THAT will be fun! Next week I also plan to do some fun things with the kids before I go on my retreat, though I haven't totally decided where we're going yet. Perhaps a trip to Red Rock Canyon for a picnic lunch and exploring. And of course there's always lots of home ec going on as the kids learn to take care of their busy little sister, cook meals with Mom, and various other chores.