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Spring Fever

I’m still trying to figure the direction in which this blog is moving. I just can’t bring myself to do weekly round up-type posts. Although I enjoy reading them at other blogs, I find them boring to write. I already do something similar for my records, albeit in a very abbreviated format, and cannot get myself to do another, more detailed version here. I prefer to have something interesting and stimulating to write about; witty if I can manage it. But lately our homeschooling just isn’t providing adequate material for posts. We have a routine, and to be honest our homeschooling is a bit like an old married couple: comfortable, unexciting (usually), and a little dull. You might even say we’re in a little bit of a rut.

We’re really enjoying spelling (cause it’s new) and science, but everything else is just a little stale. Even history isn’t thrilling us anymore. Esa’s disappointed with the colouring pages in the Story of the World Volume 2 activity book, and I have to agree that they’re not that great. (The ones in activity book 3 are even worse; the drawing is terrible.) Math is going well, but we’re not doing much supplementing with stories or activities. We’ve not done art or poetry in weeks. He really dislikes Writing with Ease, in particular dictation. I think it’s a fantastic curriculum, but it can be a little dull. Okay, very dull. He enjoys the narration, and the reading selections have provided us with introductions to books that we otherwise might not have discovered, which is great. Handwriting is a boring but necessary evil. We’ll be starting cursive writing soon, which will liven things up a bit.

I think the real problem is that we’re feeling a little burnt out. If I made a little more effort to supplement, or take him on educational visit somewhere, we might be able to inject some life into our homeschool. But I just don’t have the “umph” for it right now. Spring is here, the garden is blooming, we’re planning to go to the US in a few days, and my mind is just elsewhere. Maybe what we need is to just unschool for a while. Lots of read alouds (also lacking right now), lots of time in the garden (if only it would stop RAINING!), read about herbs using A Kid’s Herb Book, maybe do some nature journaling, and just have an overall relaxed approach for now.

In other news, I have started yet another blog. 🙂 My interest in veganism is providing me with a lot of material to write about, and since I don’t want to bore my readers, who mainly come here to read about homeschooling, I thought a separate blog was a good idea. If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://spillinthebeans.wordpress.com/

 

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Half-Way Through the Year

We’ve been plugging away happily with our school work, and we’re three weeks shy of the midpoint. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to:

Math

We have just begun Singapore level 2. I cannot emphasise enough how great his curriculum is. It truly does develop mental arithmetic skills. Esa does not work out math facts on his fingers; he is able to add and subtract 2-digit numbers in his head. My own math skills have even improved. He has nearly all of his addition facts memorised now.

Latin

Song School Latin is such a light and fun introduction to Latin. The little stories with Latin words mixed in help to bring it to life. If there isn’t a story for the chapter we’re doing, I make one up. Esa really enjoys doing SSL, and he especially enjoys the online drill.


Science

We’ve done lesson B-4 of BFSU, but this one was a bit of a dud for us. It was on life cycles and it didn’t really cover anything Esa doesn’t already know. However, I chose not to go into too much detail with regards to human life cycles. Esa’s very innocent when it comes to the differences between boys and girls and knows nothing about the birds and the bees, and I’d like to keep it that way for a while; I’m just not ready for that innocence to be quashed, and I honestly don’t think he’s ready yet, either. He’s not asking questions. Well, a while back he did ask me where babies came from, and I just told him, “from God,” which is the truth according to our beliefs. When kids ask this question, they aren’t always looking for a full breakdown, complete with diagrams and a viewing of “The Miracle of Life”. He was satisfied with this answer and hasn’t shown any further curiosity. When he does, I’ll go into a little more detail.

Lesson B-4A is one of those on-going ones, so I’ve taken a few notes and I’m preparing for lesson D-4. I’ve posted the study sheets for B-4 and D-4 on the curricula page. I’ve also posted our sequence of study.

Handwriting

Esa’s moved on to book C in the Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting series. In all honesty Esa’s handwriting isn’t great. It can be beautiful when he takes his time, but it’s often a mess. The italic font is lovely, I just wish he’d make more of an effort to use it when he’s doing his spelling, copywork, and dictation.

Reading

Esa’s reading well, but he gets sloppy sometimes. He often forgets some of the phonemes, so we’re going through The Road to Reading and reviewing everything briefly, focusing on weak areas.

He’s currently reading Fantastic Mr. Fox and is addicted to The Secret Garden. He listens to the audio book for at least an hour a day and he has me reading it aloud in the evenings. It’s his new favourite.

I knew some things needed to be cut out of our schedule, and although I was loathe to do it, I have put the axe to a few things. Here’s what we’ve cut and why:

British History: This was always scheduled for Friday, and for the past several weeks it’s been omitted because we’ve needed to finish up something else that got bumped earlier in the week. I’ve decided to leave British History until we’ve finished our survey of world history, then do a year of BH, go through world history again, then do BH again. By that point Esa will probably be doing A-levels..

  • Picture Study: This was such a great addition to our homeschool last year. But for some reason we’re just not into it any more. ARTistic Pursuits contains some picture study, so for now we’ll content ourselves with that.
  • Handicrafts: This has been on my lesson plans sheet since we began homeschooling 3 years ago. We’ve never done any handicrafts, so I’m ditching it until Esa’s older.

I’d like to say that these cuts have lightened our load, but they haven’t; these things weren’t getting done anyway. However, I feel less over-scheduled and less guilt over missing so much out, now that there’s less to miss out.

 

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A New Year…Time for Me to Focus

I love January.

Oh…I’ve just had a strong feeling of deja-vu; I know I’ve talked about liking January before, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives.

Anyway, I love it when January rolls around. The days slowly begin to lengthen and I can see the light at the end of the long, cold wintry tunnel; spring doesn’t seem as far away as it did on the other side of the calendar. And my birthday is close and I love birthdays.

For my birthday, I’ve asked my husband for a Kindle. I really, really want one of these things. For a book lover with very limited space, an e-reader is a dream come true.

If I do get a Kindle, here are some of the books I plan to get for it:

  1. All of the Twilight books
  2. The Well-Educated Mind
  3. As many classics as I can fit onto it
  4. The History of the Ancient World
  5. Sequential Spelling 2

No, those are not in random order; Twilight is #1. I’m addicted.

Another great thing about the Kindle is that you can download pdf files onto it, so I can download the SOTW activity book and other homeschooling pdf’s and not be so reliant on the computer.

The official story that I’m putting out for why I want a Kindle is that I’ve recently set a few goals for myself. After reading the article Stop Cleaning the Kitchen and Read a Book by Susan Wise Bauer, I was inspired to expand my horizons regarding self-education. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to draw and paint (which I plan to continue), but I also want to do several other things…I want to read at least 6 classics this year, and most classics are available free for the Kindle. I can have a huge library of classics at my fingertips and not have to worry about returning books to the library before I’m done.

Always the list-maker, I decided to compile my goals into a list of New Year’s resolutions.

  • Lose 24 pounds.

Ok, I’m going to be open and honest here. I feel fat and my smaller-sized clothes don’t fit. I’m 5’2″ and I weigh 134 pounds (9.5 stones). That’s borderline overweight. I have a small frame, so for me, 134 pounds is just too much. In my teens and 20’s I was quite slim…well, I was too slim in my teens (98 pounds). I tried to put on weight,  but I was quite anaemic and I couldn’t get much past 100 pounds. In my 20’s I hovered between 110-120. I’m hoping, through healthier eating and exercise, to get down to 110-115, which is a healthy weight and one at which I feel comfortable.

I’ve got a nice set of girlie weights and this Cindy Crawford DVD set, which is excellent. Despite being gorgeous and having a perfect body, Cindy Crawford has a great personality and just seems like one of the gals. She’s not annoyingly smiley and perky. By the end of the workout, she’s just as sweaty and tired as you are…and just as relieved that it’s done. I look forward to my workouts and love it when I get up the next morning and all of my muscles are so sore I can barely move.

  • The Big One: Start writing.

My first foray into creative writing was in first grade. I hated going outside for recess in the winter. Hated it. I decided to do something about it. Students were allowed to stay indoors if a parent wrote a letter stating that said child was ill. And that’s just what I did. Lacking real stationary, I used the back of a little alphabet card, about 2″x2″ in size and crafted the missive in pencil. My teacher was not impressed. She gave me a stern look and sent me outside.

Thus began my illustrious career in writing (at school, that is). Thankfully, I improved with time. So much so, that by 9th grade my teachers were telling me I had the makings of a professional writer. I took AP English classes and wrote endlessly in my spare time: journals galore, poems, stories, and I always had a novel in the works. At 14 I actually did write a novel: 400 pages hand-written on loose-leaf paper…in pencil.

Unsure as to how to launch a career in writing, I gave up writing for Psychology (which I didn’t finish), and then nursing (again, unfinished). Now, I’d like to get back into writing. I don’t think I have what it takes to make it professionally, but I’d love to write a novel anyway. For me, writing is compulsive…just as an artist must make marks, I must put words on paper. And although I’ll probably rely on the computer for the bulk of my writing, my notes will be in my favoured pencil. 🙂

This is to be my main focus. Art is a much-enjoyed hobby and is refreshing after spending lots of time writing, but writing is what I do.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, but a few days ago, as I was lying in bed, a few lines came to me. It wasn’t an idea of a book as such, but a few good lines and a good start. I’ll see where it takes me.

I’m also planning to work alongside Esa with Classical Writing.

  • Learn Latin.

Song School Latin is great for Esa, but I’d like to work ahead. I’m thinking of using Galore Park’s So You Really Want to Learn Latin. This is designed for teens, but I think it will be perfect for me.

  • Read (at least) 6 classics, 4 of which should be new.

I remember someone in one of my Yahoo! Groups saying that she was looking for something to read because she’d read all the classics, and I thought to myself, Really? ALL of them? And then I thought, What? Just ONCE? I can’t imagine anyone reading everything that’s considered a classic, and even if one had, classics are meant to be read over and over.

I’ve read a few classics, but not many. I love my Jane Austen, I’ve read a few books from the Brontes, and one or two others, so I really need to work on this.

I’ve already made a start on this one. I’m re-reading Great Expectations, which is a favourite of mine. I read this in 9th grade and absolutely loved it. I’m loving it even more the second time around.

Here’s my tentative reading list:

  • —Great Expectations
  • David Copperfield
  • —Sense and Sensibility
  • —Animal Farm
  • —Wuthering Heights
  • —1 Shakespeare Play
  • —Sherlock Holmes

These, of course, are to aid my self-education. Although I’m a pretty good reader, I want to get more from my reading. I’m also a forgetter; I read something from a non-fiction book and then I forget it. I often take notes, which helps, but I want to really own the information. I’m hoping How to Read a Book will help with this. I also plan to start narrating what I read.

  • Improve my grammar.

I love grammar. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the orderliness…who knows, but I really like to see good grammar. When a writer has good grammar, it tells me that the person cares about his writing and sees it as a part of himself…a bit like good grooming and careful dressing. I think good grammar is like cleanliness: a grammatically correct piece of writing is clean and tidy, whereas a piece of writing full of errors is sloppy and has a lazy feel to it.

My grammar isn’t horrendous, but I’ve forgotten a lot. So, I’m working my way through Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition. This is a very thorough and very (!) challenging book and I’m relearning lots of things, such as predicates and participles. However, it does use some out of date words, such as copula for linking verbs, but I can easily work around this. Going through the material myself will make it easier when it comes time for Esa to use it. Although, I’m now starting to think that we may need to preface this text with something easier first, so we may use FLL 3 & 4.

Every day, I sit for about 20 minutes and do a lesson or two. I’ve also ordered the book Woe is I, which looks not only informative, but entertaining. Once I’m finished with my grammar study (or mostly finished), I’ll start on Latin.

  • Delve into history. SOTW is great, but I’d like to read a bit more deeply. The following three books are what I’m hoping to read this year:
  • Get rid of many possessions.

I’m planning a project. I want to go through my entire house, room-by-room, and clean it from top to bottom. My house isn’t a mess, but there are things that need attention and due to our limited space, I want to clear out the things we don’t need and organise the rest. I’m going to empty every drawer, every cupboard, and every shelf; go through each and every item we own; clean, scrub, and dust every surface; wash all the curtains…I’m going to go through the house with a fine-tooth comb and get rid of all the stuff we don’t need, and thoroughly clean every inch of our home. I’m both excited about this and dreading it. I’m worried that I’m going to run out steam part-way through.

Where on earth am I going to find the time to do everything? Really, I should be finding ways to cut back on what I have to do, not add in more stuff. Well, Esa is becoming more independent with his school work. There are many times when I can duck out of the room for short periods to wash up the dishes, or start a load of laundry, or do some quick vacuuming in another room. The result of this is that once lessons are finished for the day, I have less housework to do, which gives me a little extra time in the afternoons (most days, anyway).

I’m not intending to tackle everything at once. I’ll work slowly through my list. The reading I will do alongside the more academic pursuits.

Here’s the plan:

  • Exercising: This is the easy one (in terms of scheduling). Whenever I exercise, it has to be done in the morning, otherwise it just won’t happen. I’ve given up a little computer time 3 days a week to pump iron with Cindy before everyone else is up.
  • Project Winter Power Clean: I’m either going to take a full week to do this, or do a room here and there on bank holidays. I’ve got to be in the mood to do this.
  • Art: I get some time for art during our homeschooling art lessons and when we’re on holiday. We tend to take one week off every 5th week, so I do get some time for my art. It is going to have to take a bit of a backseat for now. Once Esa is older and more independent with his work I’m hoping to pursue art more in depth. For now, my academic enrichment is more important to me and will improve our homeschooling.
  • History and other non-fiction reading: I’m going to designate 20 minutes each afternoon for this.
  • Latin: If I can’t find time on the weekdays, I may do this on the weekends, with little bits of review on the weekdays.
  • Writing: I haven’t quite figured this one out yet. Instead of checking email and reading blogs in the morning, I may devote that time to writing and do the other stuff in the evening. I’m very much a morning person, so I need to do the writing while my mind is fresh. I’ll also try to do a little writing here and there when I can squeeze it in, and on the weekends.
  • Follow the advice in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. This is a gem of a book and the advice presented can be applied to any discipline.

I’ll keep you posted with progress on my resolutions.

What about you? Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Happy New Year!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Latin, Michelle, Resolutions: 2011

 

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Focus (Part II) (Or: I’ve Always Gotta Be Tinkering…)

I’ve been thinking a lot about where we’re headed as well as Classical Writing and Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition (which I hadn’t heard of until recently…Harvey’s, that is) which we plan on using later, and realised that we’re leaning more towards a Latin-Centred approach, which I’m quite happy with. I strongly believe in the concept of multum non multa– not many, but much…in other words, quality, not quantity.

Although our homeschooling is going well, I think it could be better. We’re doing a lot, and sometimes we’re digging in deeply…but not as often, and not as deeply, as I’d like us to.

I was looking through the curriculum presented in The Latin-Centered Curriculum (refered to here as The LCC, which is different from LCC, which just means a Latin-centred curriculum) and I found myself, eyebrows furrowed, frown in place, searching the table of contents and index for any mention of spelling. There’s no spelling! I hissed. No grammar, either, from what I can see!

No, there’s no spelling or grammar curriculum in The LCC, because those things aren’t needed when you’re using Classical Writing, although the authors of CW recommend Harvey’s and the use of a spelling programme…so I’ll have to take a closer look and evaluate as we go.

Could we really drop spelling and grammar?

Well, we’ve dropped grammar (First Language Lessons) for now, until Homer, then we’ll begin using Harvey’s, which is supposed to be the best, most thorough grammar programme ever written.

Spelling? Yes. We are going to drop spelling when we begin CW. Sequential Spelling is fantastic, but I think with CW it’s just going to be overkill. Plus, spelling takes about 30 minutes each day. That’s a lot of time in a homeschooler’s day. If I see a need for a separate spelling programme, we can always add Sequential Spelling back in. But with all the writing and Latin he’ll be doing, I don’t think we will need it. CW takes a total of an hour a day, plus we’ll be spending about 30-45 minutes each day using Lively Latin and Minimus. Plus we’ll have handwriting practice and reading. That’s around 2.5 hours each day of English and Latin, and we’ll still need to do science, history, and math. Something’s gotta give, and it’s going to have to be spelling.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, what I’m about to say may come as quite a shock, but here it is: I don’t think studying grammar at this age is necessary. We’ve spent over a year doing grammar, and Esa pretty much knows what a noun is, but he’s still shaky with verbs and shakier still with pronouns.  I’ve been taking a close look at Harvey’s, and it starts from the very beginning with nouns, what a sentence is, and the different types of sentences. What is point of doing it now and doing it later, when we can just do it later? I’m not going to teach him to read twice, so why should I have to teach grammar twice? When he’s a little older, it’ll all make much more sense and the information will stick, because he’ll be able to practice the concepts more. The time previously spent on grammar will be much more wisely spent on something like math or reading.

I’m also thinking of making some changes to our history studies. Well, more so when we begin our studies of the ancients again, in fifth grade. I like some of the resources recommended in The LCC, and I’d like to take a slower, more in-depth study of the great books. The Well-Trained Mind recommends a dizzying number of books to read each year. I know they don’t intend for the student to read all of them, but when I look at that list, it suddenly becomes a necessity and I feel I’m leaving something vital out if I don’t.

I really like the idea of taking our time and going slowly through the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths. I also want to learn more about Greek and Roman history, and  from next year make Latin our main focus, now that phonics instruction is complete. The following passage from The LCC really struck a chord with me:

Classical language study increases our knowledge of the past and of our own history. It’s quite impossible to study classical languages without delving into classical history. What is a ‘gladiator’? (If you know the meaning of the common second-declension noun gladius, you’ll have an important clue.) Who was Caesar? What is an aqueduct and why were they built? What is the meaning of ‘democracy,’ and where was it first practiced? This history is our history, the history of the West. We cannot understand the roots of our own government, legal system, or religious traditions without reference to Greece and Rome. (emphasis my own)

Many of the resources recommended in The LCC are Christian, so inappropriate for us, and the study of science isn’t seen as important and is fact-based in the early grades, so The Latin-Centered Curriculum won’t be our homeschooling bible, as such, but we will probably follow it more than we do WTM (which I still love).

The changes I’d like to make aren’t huge, really. We’ve already begun leaning towards a Latin-centred approach without really trying. I’m just going to give it a little nudge. To sum up, here’s what I’m planning:

  • Math: Continue with Singapore. This programme really instils and promotes mathematical thinking and mental math skills. This curriculum comes highly recommended in The LCC.
  • Writing: Continue with Writing with Ease for now. Re-evaluate at the end of second grade. Move on to WWE level 3, or progress to Classical Writing.
  • Poetry: Continue enjoying and memorising poems. Begin Poetry for Beginners in fifth grade.
  • Handwriting: Continue as we are with Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting. We have just begun book C.
  • Grammar: Stop FLL. Restart grammar in fifth grade using Harvey’s.
  • Spelling: Stop spelling when we begin CW. If spelling becomes an issue, resume Sequential Spelling and omit the spelling element of CW.
  • Latin:
  • Science: Continue with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, having one lesson per week, or every two weeks and one day of science reading.
  • History: Continue as we are with SOTW, cutting back on the supplementary reading. Instead, we will read Greek and Norse myths, medieval tales, and fairy tales this year. We will also continue working through British history, very slowly, using Our Island Story audio book, The Usborne History of Britain, and Britannia: 100 Great Stories from British History
  • Reading: Phonics instruction is complete. We are going to make a phonics chart to help cement learning. I allow Esa to choose his own reading material, but he often goes for the same books over and over, so I occasionally choose for him.
  • Art & Music: Weekly art lesson from Artistic Pursuits, plus plenty of self-initiated art projects. Esa’s recently expressed an interest in learning to draw realistically, so we may pick up Drawing with Children again. We play classical music during art times. For picture study, we’ll be using the Page-a-Day Art calendar.
 

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Focus (Part I)

When we first started out, I had this dream that Esa would learn to read quickly, love to read, love to write, love grammar, love foreign languages…in other words, I wanted him to like what I liked. Although he loved being read to, and had an amazing working vocabulary, he was very interested in history and science during first grade and we spent a lot of time on history. Science was a little hit and miss, unfortunately. Reading was a hard slog and not enjoyed much. He didn’t mind writing, but learning to read was slow and painstaking.

Gradually, towards the end of first grade, I began to notice some changes, and over the last few months those changes have become more pronounced. He still enjoys history and science, but he seems more engrossed in words- reading and writing. (Remember the book?)  He’s even picked up my habits of list-making and eating during meals, and he almost always has an audio book playing.

And he writes. A lot. Last week, for instance, he said that instead of doing science, he wanted to write and draw a comic. He spent hours on this project.

Making Arrays

He’s also loving math. It’s pretty much his favourite subject and he’s asking to do more and more. He’s also making up his own math problems and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing any numbers that get thrown his way.

And this got me thinking…

When he asked me if he could ditch science to do this writing, I hesitated…but only for the merest fraction of a second. Yes, science is important (and it will get done), but we need to have a focus. I’m not terribly worried about well-roundedness. I don’t want him to just touch on things lightly. I want him to dig into something and not just be good at it, but be great.

I think part of this stems from the fact that I, myself, am fairly well-rounded. I’m good at several things, but I’m not great at anything. I can write, draw, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, bake, sew, read music…but I’m not fantastic at any one of those things. I don’t have a focus. And although I’m happy that I can do all of those things, I’d love, really love to be truly proficient at just one of them.

So, if he wants time to develop his budding talent for writing, I’m going to give it to him, even if it means something important, like science, gets postponed.

I’ve also been thinking about a Latin-centred curriculum again. The Well-Trained Mind is very well-rounded. It has everything. Its focus is more on language and history, but it covers all the bases, and covers them well. Once you reach the high school years, however, the child does get to specialise and drop a few things.

But I want to take it further than that. I want to pick just a few subjects and really dig deeply, savour, and master them. I want for us (and I do mean US) to be fluent in Latin and maybe another language…to not just read, but immerse ourselves in the best of the great books and be able to discuss them intelligently…to understand mathematical concepts and go beyond basic algebra and geometry…I want us to have a good grounding in logic, and most of all…I want us to be able to write…really write, proficiently, persuasively, and with authority.

In order to do that, we must be focused. We cannot give equal attention to all subjects. I’ve been trying for too long to dig into science and history as much as we do math and English, and it just won’t work. I get caught up in others’ enthusiasm for science and history and think we must be missing out on something. But by trying to do it all, we’re missing out on almost everything, because we haven’t the time to get to the cream of any one thing.

As for myself, I think I know why I haven’t settled on any one thing and really pursued it. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of only ever being mediocre. Some of my hobbies haven’t become passions for good reasons: waning interest, cost, practicalities. But for a few of them, writing and painting in particular, I’m terrified I’ll never really be very good.

This is a guarantee if I don’t focus on something and apply myself.  (I’ll be addressing this in another post.)

Let me ease up on the octane for just a minute to make something clear. I don’t intend to become a pushy, obsessive teacher who insists on academic perfection. I’m thrilled that he has a bent for writing, but I’d be just as supportive if his interests laid elsewhere. And if his interests do change, well, I’ll be right behind him. I may not pursue the subjects with the same vigour, but I will help him to.

I’m also not saying that we’re dropping science and history- certainly not. They are very firmly placed in our schedule…they just won’t be the focal point. We probably won’t do much in the way of supplemental activities or reading. And I still love the WTM…it certainly isn’t getting pushed to the back of the shelf.

So, what changes will we be making? I’ll talk about that in part II.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 26, 2010 in Latin Centered, Second Grade, Writing

 

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Science Woes…Again

During our latest R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey lab, we used corn syrup and other various food items to construct a model of blood. When we were finished, my son looked up at me with one side of his little nose wrinkled up and said,

“Is that it?”

My thoughts exactly.

RSO hasn’t exactly wowed us. It’s been nice having everything laid out for me, and having little prep work, and Esa has been learning (a little) from it, but…there’s just something a lot missing.

It’s too textbook-y, too fact-based, the labs aren’t great, and it isn’t thorough enough. We’ve been supplementing quite a lot with The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia, which is great, as well as many other books, but we’re just left with that underwhelmed feeling that comes from learning a few facts and little else.

I’ve decided to bring BFSU back out. I had reservations about shelving this, and those have proved well-founded.

I know I complained about the amount of prep work involved with BFSU, but having tried something else and not liked it, I’m more motivated to put in the extra work. The grass was not greener on the other side, and BFSU is well worth the effort. I may make it a point to do science on a Monday, to ensure it gets done. I tend to cook something simple on Mondays, so my afternoons are mostly free.

My other issue with BFSU was the demonstration-like lessons and the lack of “experiments”. Esa felt as though he didn’t have much to do. He just watched and we talked. This is something I’ll have to remedy as well, but I think I’m creative enough to work it out.

What makes me sigh is that next year (or the year after) we’ll probably be using Classical Writing. I’ve bought the first half of Aesop (at 25% off…had to jump on it), and it’s very teacher-intensive…fantastic,  but a lot of work. I’d also hoped to add in Philosophy using Little Big Minds. Next year could prove to be our most time-consuming year of homeschooling. I know that soon Esa will be more independent in his work and my load will lighten, but I’m going to have to be super-organised and cut back elsewhere.

For anyone wondering about ordering Classical Writing in the UK, I’ll share my experience. They use Lulu, which is a print-on-demand company. You place the order, the books are printed and shipped out. Because of this, you cannot return the items. The shipping was about £5 and despite the fact that the 3 books were coming from America and had to be printed beforehand, the books arrived at my door within 7 days (5 business days) of ordering. I was very impressed.

I’ve also discovered that the second volume of BFSU is now available on Amazon, which is great news for BFSU users.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Philosophy, Science, Second Grade, Writing

 

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And Here I Was, All Worried…

I was concerned, prior to the start of second grade, that I’d scheduled too much writing for this year. Handwriting, copywork, spelling, dictation…it seemed like quite a lot. Esa’s been handling it quite well, but I’ve been really careful not to give him any extra writing.

I needn’t have worried, though. Look at what he’s been up to during his free time:

In the span of 2 days, he’s written over 3 pages.

Yes, he has issues with spacing and the spelling is terrible. But the grammar is pretty good and I can see his phonics at work. I’m not bothered about the invented spelling. The fact that he likes to write and has all this creativity seems more important right now. Just about anyone can learn to spell;  not many develop the desire to write. The spelling will come.

Having said that, I did write some words for him on the wipe board that he’s using frequently in his story, but spelling incorrectly.

It’s a Hot Wheels story. Here’s a teaser:

The cars lined up at the starting line and revved their engines. Vroom vroom. Smoke came out of their exhaust pipes and they took off faster and faster. Soon they were out of sight. They went through a tunnel. The tunnel was big. Soon the cards came out of the tunnel…then it started to rain. One of the cars slid off the track. One car was out of the race. Then the checkered flag came into view…

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so you’ll just have to wait until it comes out in hardback or Kindle to read the rest. (That and I can’t make out most of the rest of it.)

Another worry that I can lay to rest…and really, this was my biggest worry when we began following a classical method of homeschooling…is that I would kill off his love of learning and the desire to pursue academic activities. Clearly that’s not an issue. What we’re doing is not only working, but nurturing his interests and enabling him to pursue this creative outlet.

And best of all…he won’t have a leg to stand on if he starts moaning that he has too much writing to do. 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Classical, Second Grade, Spelling, Writing

 

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