Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homeschooling Thursday....schooly stuff we're doing

I've been a bit remiss in the documenting of our school type work around here--so bear with me while I unload a bunch of detail for my own personal record keeping.... it always helps me take the time to record it when I feel accountable to all of you.  Hope you don't feel too used.

With Wylie trying school this semester our days have changed quite a bit as you can imagine.  Juniper requested that we focus on two subjects a day, for longer amounts of time--rather than the 3-4 subjects we'd been doing.  So, Monday and Thursday we do math and history, Wednesday and Friday we do literature, spelling, and usually some project work. Tuesdays is our homeschool coop day, this session Juniper is taking a class in both Anatomy and Physics, so we're not really looking at science right now at home.   All of this of course is subject to any amount of tweaking and variation, which happens more often than not, but its nice to have an overall plan as a guide.  In general we spend approximately 1.5 hours total on focused school work per week day.  More some days, less others, depending on our social schedule and the weather.  

Typically when Juni and I do math together Kale plays by himself, or sits on my lap and is all kinds of distracting.  But, more and more he has been asking for his own math, so I dug out our RightStart, and home made manipulatives from when the big kids were this age and we've started some very short, game and song centered math work.  The "Shut the Box" game I picked up at a 2nd hand store has been a huge hit with the whole family, and is a great way to work on simple mental addition and number recognition.  
Juniper and Wylie are both working to memorize multiplication tables (Wylie for homework), Juni on her own, though she is also working through RightStart book C.  In general I value understanding the process and knowing how to apply it over rote memorization, though memorizing  is something I have encouraged Wylie to do for the sake of practicality (he's been doing multiplication for years, but never has memorized the tables and is now feeling like he must, for school.)  It's interesting to see Wy and Juni's different learning styles as they approach the memorization process.

    favorite early math tools...

Before Wylie decided to try school I had prepared to start Story of the World part 3, Early Modern Times, as well as continuing our readings about colonial America.  But, since Wylie will likely be home for next fall I decided to wait on that--and instead we're going back over Ancient Times (SOW book 1).  Juniper was only 4 when we first read this book and did the activities, so it's fitting that we do it again, and this time Kale gets to hear the stories.  We do about 2 chapters a week, along with the map and coloring pages from the activity book.  We also look for picture books from the library supporting the stories we read from SOW.  
So far the kids haven't shown a particular interest in any one subject in Ancient history, so we haven't delved deeply into any history inspired projects, but just briefly cover the chapters until something jumps out at them. 
More and more often we've been able to incorporate friends into the work we do.  When the kids were younger any social time became instant play, but its nice to see the collaborative work/play that is developing during play dates these days, whether it be history activities that are parent directed, but become part of the continuing game, or child directed and produced movies and plays that take hours to complete.  Its a new dimension of play here, and its pretty sweet.  

Exploring hieroglyphs and cuneiforms (the first writing) with friends...

Reading and Writing:
Wylie has been reading so much these days.  I've had faith that despite his coming to reading late, that he would eventually become an avid, natural reader.  So far this seems to be the case.  A year ago he was struggling through easy reader books, and now finishes short chapter books in a week or so.  He reads aloud with inflection and mostly appropriate timing.  I don't get the impression that he's reading much at school, but certainly having to do 20 minutes of reading each night for homework is helping him improve quickly.  Juniper is following in his example, and enjoys reading to herself early in the morning before we are up.  She also reads to Kale throughout the day, and Kale will tell anyone about how well he reads (he doesn't officially, but man can that kid memorize).  I'm excited for the changes in project work that (I anticipate) will develop around here with 2 kids reading on their own.
Wylie is writing more than ever before (though not enjoying it anymore than usual) at school.  Juniper continues to write daily narrations of whatever we're reading, either history or our read aloud book, as well as working independently through a cursive writing workbook. We do formal spelling work 1-2 times per week.

Juniper still spends a good part of everyday on some kind of art work, whether making board games for friends, birthday gifts, paper dolls, or just drawing.  We occasionally attend Open Studio at Sweet Tree Arts in Hope--if you're local check it out! But I also try to always have interesting materials on hand here for impromptu projects (a bit about our puppets coming soon).   Both big kids are still working on music (piano for Juni, flute and voice for Wy).  He's taking a break from formal lessons for a bit while adjusting to the school schedule, but the two of them each have been incorporating music into their movie making ventures, and have had some self-directed jam sessions that make me smile to no end.  I love that they are feeling a mastery of their musical skills enough to branch out and play with their songs.  
While not at school, or doing homework (man school takes a lot of time!) Wylie has been diving into movie making.  We borrowed some editing software from a friend and he's been experimenting with "green sheeting", other editing, musical effects etc.  I haven't had much luck loading his videos here, but I'll try again.  

Whew, hope that wasn't too boring.  
I'll leave you with a happy vignette from last week.  Wylie was making pop corn, but then wished aloud that he could watch the kernels as they popped. Suddenly he remembered an old piece of thick glass from a photocopier he once disassembled.  He dug it out of the depths of his work bench where it had been stashed for years, and used it as a viewing lid  to watch the kernels pop away (though the steam made it a bit foggy). One of my fears for him in school is that his creativity and joy of learning may be squelched.   It is reassuring to see Wyguy's ingenuity and creativity shine through even after the rigors (or boredom, or both) of a long school week.

    Observation Popper in action


  1. Fascinating! And, for me, aptly timed. I am back on to ruminating about home schooling. (Juniper still has another year after this one before she could start Kindergarten in the public system.) I know Wylie asked to go to school, but how has that transition worked out? Was there any question as to which grade he would enter? Does he like it? Why do you think he'll be home again in the fall? I'm super curious.

  2. Sounds like things are going well there, and lots of learning is happening all around. I love reading about your homeschooling, no boredom from me:)


I love hearing from you!