Friday, January 29, 2010

Weeks 17-20...Back to Blogging!

I can't believe the last time I wrote, it was in 2009! Well, it's been a busy month since then. We took a lovely two weeks off of school to celebrate the Christmas holidays with family visiting for a good part of that time. We eased back into school the week of January 4th and have been plugging away for a month! Next week will be a "light week" during which my plans are to finally start a lapbooking project, so we'll see how that goes. But now for a summary of a month's work of work! I will try to be succinct!

Bible: We've been continuing our tour through the various names of Jesus, including "Immanuel", "Lamb of God", and currently "the Vine". Adventures in My Father's World continues to find clever ways to connect a variety of disciplines; for example, the week we studied the idea of Jesus being the Lamb of God, we created a lamb out of cotton, then studied Eli Whitney in history and did several other activities related to cotton. We glued tiny bits of green paper to a fluffed-up cotton ball to illustrate what cotton really looks like, with all its seeds; then, the boys had to try to remove all the "seeds" in order to comprehend how difficult a job this was, and why Whitney's cotton gin was so important.

History/Geography: In addition to Eli Whitney, we've learned about...
  • The life of the pioneers who floated westward on the Ohio River
  • The Louisiana Purchase (a bargain at a grand price of $15 million!)
  • The War of 1812 and the Star Spangled Banner
  • Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Louisiana (I never knew that "Cajun" originally referred to Canadians displaced by the British during the French and Indian War!)
Math: Harry is on his last unit in Singapore 1B, having spent the last couple of weeks adding and subtracting two-digit numbers. Next up: currency, which is perfectly timed with the upcoming fundraising activity at our church called "Change for Haiti", to encourage kids to find all the spare change they can to donate to Haiti earthquake relief efforts. Ron is working through Singapore EarlyBird and seems to be missing RightStart math, which I'm a little surprised about. I thought he'd enjoy the kid-friendly format of EarlyBird, but I may end up combining the two programs. I'm having him review some basic concepts in Singapore EB, and I think he's getting tired of my asking questions like, "what comes after 5? Before 5? What numbers are missing in this list?" etc. But, I just want to make sure he has the right foundation before we plow forward.

Science: The boys have been studying weather, living things/cells, animals, and plants. Some of the activities we enjoyed were creating a jello model of a cell and discovering how important water is for plants, illustrated by comparing popcorn kernels covered by a napkin soaked with water with dry popcorn kernels over five days. Although the conclusion sounds so obvious to an adult, the kids marveled at the transformation of the seeds over five days.

Language Arts: Harry continues to make progress through all our normal LA activities--spelling, handwriting, Classical Writing Primer, First Language Lessons--while Ron is continuing with his work in Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading, as well as practicing his handwriting through the use of D'Nealian practice sheets.

Crossroads and Questions: Looking ahead, now that we are already on the second half of our school year, I find myself asking a number of questions to which there are no easy answers. For example...
  • Should Ron go to kindergarten at the local PS? Or should he just stay home and continue his progress? Ron is probably our most extroverted child and would probably enjoy being in a class with other kids. But after having him home for most of the week thus far, it's hard to imagine him being in a school setting five days a week.
  • If Ron does stay home, I have to figure out which curriculum to use for him...not easy given the hundreds and hundreds of choices out there. I'm looking at Memoria Press's new kindergarten program, as well as My Father's World kindergarten curriculum; both look like they would have elements I'd like, if not for the phonics/reading and math, for which I'll continue what I'm already doing, then for the other activities and subjects. It feels impossibly difficult right now to have to choose...praying for wisdom to know what to do here.
  • Similarly for Harry, I'm pretty sure we'll keep the homeschooling "experiment" going for another year. But I am asking all sorts of questions about what the best way is to teach subjects such as writing and handwriting; whether our approach is really helping Harry develop a love of learning--most days he is just happy to be done with school! Maybe all kids are like this, but I wonder if there is more that I can do to make our learning experiences memorable and fun? It's hard to find a balance between doing so and still requiring the work that needs to be done, work that perhaps is less enjoyable--reviewing math fact, learning new math concepts, practicing handwriting, etc. I also find myself asking on occasion, would Harry hold himself to a higher standard if he were in school? Perhaps being around peers would motivate him to excel in a way that doesn't happen when at home. And how can I tell if the work is giving me his best for what is to be expected at his age and ability? Questions, questions, questions!
So, light week comes at a good time for us. I'm feeling the need for a little break to ponder some of these questions! But overall, we are continuing to forge ahead and make progress, and even if there are gaps in some areas, we trust that the Lord who has led us down this path will not forsake either our efforts or our kids. Thank goodness! =)


  1. Hi Helen, I've really enjoyed reviewing your blog. We have children about the same age, and I have an Aidan too! :) We've been going through MFW K with Aidan (he'll be 6 in April) who has just found an interest in anything "school-ish." We are only on lesson 7, and while I enjoy it, we have dropped everything except the reading part of it. We have actually decided to buy the Memoria Press' Kindergarten and start that with him instead (we do light school during the summer). I like that the focus is on reading, writing & math, yet I can easily continue to use RightStart instead of the R&S they schedule. It looks like it will be right about his level and the 1st grade program will be out this summer, ready for fall!