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Midway Through Third Grade

06 Feb

I thought I’d do a little update. I’ve been super-duper mega busy lately. I’m working on a degree in English, taking a short story course, and writing as much as I can, all while homeschooling. I’ve entered a few writing competitions and have works in progress and ideas for more.

Our curricula has changed quite a bit. We’re no longer using as many of  Susan Wise Bauer’s and Jessie Wise’s books.

History

We’re still using Story of the World, but we’re not nearly as happy with volume 3 as we were with the previous 2 volumes. The narrative isn’t as good, the illustrations are poor, and there isn’t a pronunciation guide in the book itself; it’s in the activity book. It’s sad, really, because history used to be Isa’s favourite subject.

Writing & Grammar

For writing we’ve switched to Classical Writing. We were getting so bored with Writing with Ease. It just didn’t seem to be progressing and I didn’t usually like the selections. I found it strange that one day the lesson included practice writing direct quotes, and then that was it for a few weeks. It’s a bit like teaching multiplication one day and then not doing it again for two months. Some of the dictation sentences were ridiculously difficult to memorise. The whole purpose of buying the workbook was so I didn’t have to go searching for dictation sentences or choose selections for narration, but I ended up doing just that, and quickly tired of it.

I’ve had Classical Writing sitting in a box for about a year, so I thought we’d give it a spin.

First impressions are good. It is quite teacher intensive and is not pick up and go. There’s a lot of prep work when you first get it out, but it’s worth it. I feel like we’re really digging into the literature selections. I’ve incorporated what I’ve learned about writing, so we discuss conflict, motivation, plot, resolution, etc. Classical Writing also includes grammar work, which is good because we gave up on First Language Lessons a long time ago. I’m very pleased to see it includes sentence diagramming.

First Language Lessons was another disappointment. Isa dreaded it (and so did I, actually.) It either skipped around too much, or made your eyes glaze over with boredom. He retained nothing from it. I decided grammar wasn’t a matter of life or death at that moment in our schooling, but that saving ourselves from drowning in a sea of ennui was.

Spelling

We’re still using All About Spelling, which is without a doubt my favourite curriculum. We’re just starting level 3, and I love it. Isa’s spelling is progressing and he’s retaining what he learns. The customer service is amazing, too. I placed my last order on a Friday and it arrived on Tuesday. From the States. To England. The shipping’s not cheap, but I order 2 levels at once and it’s more economical. I also emailed them because I’d run out of magnets and didn’t realise I’d need more. I didn’t want to pay over $20 for magnets and shipping. I received a reply within a few hours, offering a half sheet of magnets for free plus a nominal fee for shipping. They then shipped the magnets the same day. With tracking. I can’t recommend AAS highly enough (and I’m not being paid to endorse them).

Math

We’re on level 3 of Singapore Math. It’s going well, and would have gone better over the past 2 years if I’d had my head screwed on tighter. Isa was forgetting skills. We’d do addition for a few weeks, then subtraction, then multiplication, etc. Then when we came back to addition, he’d forget how to carry over. Or how to borrow when subtracting. Whenever we’d come to review pages, I’d have Isa do them all that day. It occurred to me that instead of having him do all of the review on one day, I’d have him do a few problems everyday as a warm up. Problem solved. Seriously wish I’d thought of it sooner.

Science

Science has been kind of lacking. We hit a point with Building Foundations where we were getting confused. Not just Isa, but me as well. We were reviewing things, but it just felt too complicated. I got tired of wading through the text to figure out what we were supposed to do. I’d really like an outline or some bullet-points and some little boxes that paraphrase the scientific concepts being taught. I’d created study sheets as we went on, and they were helpful, but only up to a point. BFSU is high on concepts, but low on content. I think we need some factual learning on which to hang the concepts; it’s too intensive as-is. All of these scientific concepts are going in, but falling out. We’re not engaged. We’ve put it away for now and we’re reading through the Usborne Complete Book of the Human Body. He reads a 2-page spread, then gives me an oral narration. I’ll push science more in 5th grade when we use Joy Hakim’s The Story of Science series.

Reading

His reading skills are good–to the point where I can give him something to read, like science, and he can go off and do it by himself, and he can give me a written narration without help.

Latin

We’re using Lively Latin. As it should be, Isa hates it and I love it. Okay, he doesn’t hate it, but he doesn’t enjoy all the drill. No matter what programme you’re using, there’s drill in Latin. But it’s good for him. Although, I told him the other day that when we have our next break from lessons, he still needs to do his math review and he said, “I’d rather do Latin!” Not sure if he was kidding or not.

So, yeah, our lessons aren’t fun-filled laugh extravaganzas. They’re hard work. For both of us. But it’s one of those “it’s hard work because it’s worth doing” kind of scenarios. Hard work, but rewarding. We love it more than we hate it.

Looking to the future

I do think Isa will go to school, but not for another 4 years. There are some excellent secondary schools in our area, and I want him to have more of a social life. I’m not very good at getting him into activities. We don’t have time during the day and weekends are hit and miss. The schools also provide academic opportunities that I cannot. We’ll see. It’s a long way off yet. But I know it will go quickly.

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4 Comments

Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Latin, Math, Reading, Science, Third Grade, Writing

 

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4 responses to “Midway Through Third Grade

  1. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    February 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Hi, Michelle and Isa,
    My, my how time does fly! I remember when you were starting him into kindergarten lessons!
    Good for you that you are working on a degree, too! Teachers who are learners, too, are better teachers! Also, you deserve the “me time” and accomplishments, too!
    About maths practice. What you say is SO TRUE! Way too many books/curricula, etc.do one thing and then later in the year come back to it or even it is a whole year until it is revisited!
    During the last few years I taught, we were using “Chicago Math”/”Everyday Math”. It has the feature that everyday, the children are given four boxes on a page that are review problems from various areas. These cycle through all past skills etc. I loved these. My children would come into the classroom every morning and while I was attending to attendance, lunch count etc. they would do their math boxes. It got them right down to work and quiet and also, kept them sharp on skills.
    If one of the children had difficulty with one box, another would “teach” them how to do it. Good review for all.
    I think of you and Isa often and was wondering how you were doing.
    Elsie

     
    • Michelle

      February 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Elsie,

      Thanks for the input. I think of you, too. 🙂 I’m not in the watercolor workshop group anymore. I still paint sometimes, though. I hit a wall in my learning and I just can’t seem to get past it on my own, so I thought I’d focus on something I do well and have always wanted to do full time. I hope you’re well. Glad you stopped by!

       
  2. Tiger's Mum

    February 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Good to see you back in blogsphere of homeschooling. I’ve wondering how you’re getting on. Glad to hear your updates. We’ve ditched BFSU since last autumn as well. Like you say, it’s just too much work to even get started. Grammar isn’t too exciting with FLL either but I haven’t found anything else that works well.

     
    • Michelle

      February 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

      No, there doesn’t seem to be much choice for grammar curricula at this age. There are the more Charlotte Mason style books, such as English for the Thoughtful Child, Primary Language Lessons, and Simply Grammar, but I didn’t really like them. If our Latin and writing programmes didn’t have grammar, I’d just leave it until Isa was older. I think it makes more sense to children when they’re older anyway.

       

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