Mar 28, 2010

Looking Back/Looking Forward, and Boring All The Readers

This is our last week of the term, and it is mostly just going to be a "wrapping up" week. We have done much better this year about keeping up with my plans. But that is not entirely because we have done better, but more because, one, I planned better, and two, because I have learned to let a lot of little stuff go. If we don't do every single activity on the list for Geography or History or Science or even Math, then we don't do it. I leave it on my list to do the next time we "pass this way", and if we never do, then, well, oh well! This has resulted in a much-less stressed teacher, and kids with plenty of time to play and explore and learn like kids should do. As for planning better, it occurred to me, as we neared the end of our second term, that most curriculums are geared for a 36 week year, and our current plan is to have school for 39 weeks a year, this small fact has helped a LOT, because it effectively gives us three weeks to "blow off" as we trudge along. That means 15 unplanned sick days/ snow days/ Mommy is going crazy and really needs a break days throughout the year. And we are using those days!
Since we only have one term left in our school-year, (and it will be a light term, because we are just finishing up all our books and not starting anything spectacular) I have started planning for next year already. And the first step in those plans is looking at and evaluating what worked and didn't work this year.

Well, if you read this blog at all, you know how our math journey has gone as we slowly but surely switched from Horizons to Math U See. The little ones are lucky, because they will be starting with Math U See Primer, and get to skip the whole Horizons experience. ;)

Reading as a subject in our school is pretty much over for the big kids. They both read fluently and for pleasure. I still require them to read aloud a bit every day, just for practice. Reading aloud well is an art that everyone should cultivate, I think. We did, however, give up the McGuffy Readers because they were reading them too quickly and getting over their heads in the subject matter. We switched to regular books, instead, when we stopped their independent reading during school-time.

We focused a lot this year on correct handwriting and Kaytie is doing well. Nate still struggles, but I kind of expect that. He is only just six, after all, and a boy, and an active one at that! Kaytie has a horrible time with her numbers, I think she is dyslexic with numbers, and I am trying to figure out ways to help her.
As far as creative writing, they did some whenever inspiration struck, which means Kaytie did a little bit here and there, and Nate did none at all. I meant to have them "write" on their blogs, but that only happened occasionally.

Our spelling flopped big time. I had several different great ideas to teach spelling, but none of them really worked for us. We eventually gave up. When the kids are writing for the fun of it, and ask how to spell a word, I help them sound it out. Otherwise, we don't talk much about spelling. We will be starting All About Spelling in the fall. Six and seven-and-a-half isn't too late to start spelling, is it? :)

First Language Lessons was a fairly good fit for us. The kids roll their eyes at it a lot, but it never reduced them to tears, and they KNOW all about nouns, pronouns, verbs, and the four types of sentences. I took exception to the arbitrary adapting of poems, but, fortunately, had copies of the real versions for us to memorize. We will hopefully manage to work our way through both 1st and 2nd grade this year and will be using the 3rd grade book next year.

We LOVE Apologia. We will be using it again next year. Definitely!

The Light and the Glory for Children worked really well for us at first. My unit studies did not. I have NO IDEA what we are going to do for history next term. I am truly frustrated with History. Truly.

How to Teach Art to Children worked well for us. I, however, did not work well with it. We kept getting hung up on projects that I did not want to do. But the kids liked it, and have enjoyed all the projects so far. Next year, I have bigger and better and less structured plans.

Artist and Composer Study:
Yeah, I wasn't very good at these either. I didn't keep up with it at all, especially in the second term. I can't even tell you who was our artist for the second term. sigh

We also flunked Latin. I decided to let it rest until we had a better grasp of English grammar, so maybe we will try again next year.

The kids love love love The Bible Study Guide for All Ages. They cheer when I pull it off the shelf, and they sigh when I make them put it away. Frankly, I am not sure what the thrill is for them, but we will definitely continue to use it as long as it garners this type of response. Since I am a little more ambivalent about it, we have not progressed through it very quickly. We will be doing this again next year as well.

So this is probably way more information than you ever cared to know, but it helps me to see it all written out here as I ponder and plan for next year. I think the biggest thing I have learned is that, while doing my own thing worked wonderfully when I was only teaching one "class", now that I have the little kids to teach, I really do better with the structure of a curriculum. I might not always follow that curriculum word for word, but it helps to have that backbone to depend on. It gives me a starting place for all of my rabbit trails. :) That will help a lot in the planning of next year.


Jeanne said...

There is so much good stuff to explore in this post. Thank you. I do hope you're not too late to teach spelling to your two, because we haven't yet started with Jemimah and she's 8! That's on next year's list - I mean the one starting in January too!!

So is Latin...and Grammar...

You've fitted in so much - no wonder composer and artist study took a back seat!

Julie said...

I love seeing what others are doing and what has worked/not worked. Thanks so much for sharing!!

joelle said...

Thanks for posting this. I love reading about what others do and what they use, as well as how things did or did not work. You actually gave me the idea of may be doing doing smething like that as well. You've definitely have accomplished a lot!
BTW I love your new background (I usually read your blog in a reader, so I may be late with that comment about the background)


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