Such a great month I had. We worked hard and played pretty hard.

Really, it’s going so well I want to talk about what’s been working for me and what I learned, not the kids.

Thumper:

Astroboy

Thumper

Funny how when I list out individual presentations we’ve done, it doesn’t feel like a lot.  Yet, we were very busy for the month.

Thumper continued to obsess on Harry Potter.  After first 3 Harry Potter Chinese audiobooks, she also listened to the English audiobooks for the 3rd time.  I finally asked her to read 狼王夢 out loud to me during her weekly read aloud. That was enough to hook her and she’s now reading it whenever she doesn’t have her Harry Potter audiobook available.

All About Spelling is working out much better now with a moveable alphabet.  But a trilingual homeschooler says they don’t do spelling at all.  Though I cannot give it up completely, I’m going to cut it back to twice a week next month and try to incorporate spelling through writing.  I’m going to test out the theory that this may work better for Thumper‘s learning style.

Instead of using Kang Xuan, We’re going through one chapter a week of 字的童話.  It has 2000+ Chinese characters total.  Thumper doesn’t recognize about 1-3 characters a chapter out of 10-20, which I think is the right amount if you’re going to use it as a “curriculum”.   It also goes to show, once again, reading massively is the most lazy efficient way to learn new vocabulary.

Honestly, not much math is being done.  It feels like all we do is review review review because she forgets most of it.  A new tactic next month.  Tons of science is being done because of our co-op, thank goodness.

I’ve added a few more songs to our “Listen As We Work” songs.  It has really worked to have 3-5 songs on repeat for 2 months.  Both kids also have memorized their poems.  But Thumper‘s poem was very very hard and I can’t see how she will remember it as an adult.  This is fine, but I’m considering maybe having her write it down so she can remember it a bit better and also learn to write characters.  If you’re not going to remember it, may as well learn something from it.

 

Astroboy

We’ve been stuck on chap 25-26 of All About Reading for a few weeks because consonant blends are hard.   But one night we decided to try out Explode the Code and he zoomed through the rest of it in one setting.  We will come back to it again after a few more chapters in All About Reading.

We’re making very good progress on the English front now that I’ve figured out how to add handwriting organically to the phonics lesson, instead of boring handwriting worksheets.  Basically, I introduced the work journal concept except I write most of it.  Since we do phonics every single day, I started by having him trace  and write p twice.  Then he has to write the p in phonics.  The next day it’s h.  This way after 7 days, he can now note phonics in his journal.

It’s such a great way to practice handwriting because he’s forced to practice the same writing everyday and yet it’s still varied enough.   Though sadly, I realized with phonics, we have to learn to write 26×4=104 letters!

Something similar is done for zhuyin review and handwriting.  We’ve learned how to write about 35 now.  There are still blends to go but it will be much faster than phonics.

The most amazing accomplishment this month is Astroboy reading 巧克力冒險工廠 (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) in Chinese all by himself, as a choice.  I considered this a 3rd grade level book, to be read after Reading 123.   He got started when Baba read him a chapter a night of the English version and he really wanted to try the Chinese after I suggested it as a choice when he was bored.  Then he proceeded to read every time we were in the car till we were done, even singing to himself the Chinese lyrics that the Oompa Loompas sing.

Again, just goes to show how when you have an enticing book, and they already understand what the book is about, they will read it, even if it’s not quite their level.   The exact same thing happened to Thumper, where she read Dahl’s books early in the game, then went back to read the easier Reading 123 books.  His books have easy enough language especially if you’ve heard the English version and are so funny to the kids.

I’ve been really good about not offering another similarly leveled book to Astroboy after he finished Charlie.  Something I’ve observed repeatedly in regards to the children’s reading over the years; they will read a very hard book, often 2 levels ahead, then seemingly take a step back and only want to read easier books.  But worry not, they will then work their way back up, level by level, to the hard book level.

This means, though, that you must always have books 2 levels ahead available.

Also not much math and not as much history/geography.  Something to work on next month.  I’ve written individual posts on all our science co-op classes.

We loved loved loved the fieldtrip to Mission Carmel.  Totally recommend!

 

What I Learned or Loved This Month

1.   We need to work on Chinese grammar and reading out loud.   From her Chinese tutoring class, I found out that she doesn’t know how to use various prepositions to connect ideas.  I also made an amazing discovery about reading out loud (which we don’t do).  When you read out loud, you start dictating compositions like the books you read!  Need to figure out how to squeeze this all into our busy schedule.

2.  Learning to write characters or learning to spell must be paired with composition.  It works out then that I was not focused on writing the first 3 years while we learned to read.

3.  The new workplan is working much better and this month, we actually managed to mostly follow most of it, despite some weeks where there were lots of extra curricular activities. I’m trying a new thing called Study Hall where we have a mini work period with other children. It’s how I managed to squeeze in English grammar . Otherwise it isn’t work she would choose first and it then gets dropped.

4.  Chores are also going well. In the beginning of the month, they kept dropping their clean room and clean car once a week chore and often half assed finished their fold laundry chore.   So I bought a 15 minute sand timer.

Best Thing Ever.

I asked the kids to set that timer when they folded laundry or did their weekend room and car clean.   If there was extra time, they were to then talk to me and I can give them more deep cleaning activity.   They also moved their daily room cleaning to right after folding laundry in the morning.

Now, the car is clean and their room is clean. My floor gets mopped once a week by Thumper. It has truly cut down on my annoyance level at seeing the mess they make when I know they will clean it daily or weekly.

Don’t know why it always surprises me how just well having concrete materials help the children.

5.  Another realization I had this month regarding chores is, the kids are more likely to not drag their feet if I’m also doing chores or cleaning the house during their chore time. If I’m instead sitting in front of my computer, they start dragging or telling me they’re done when they only did it half way.

6.  Thanks to our FB homeschooling group, I got access to tons more worksheets this month, like Evan Moore, and Real Science Odyssey.   They have greatly helped in shortening prep time, especially Evan Moore.  It is one of the last puzzle piece I’ve been missing, access to work books that I can toss to the kids.  I realized last year that simply doing Montessori work isn’t enough repetition, because I have to keep on top of the prep work to make it interesting for the kids.

7.  Prepping is important!   Only took me 3 years to get my daily routine in gear and gather enough materials to have a sane enough brain to prep.  Well, and also looking at the periodic postings by Babel School really doesn’t hurt.  It somehow motivates me.

So this month, I have actually:

  • prepped the night before their coming week workplan and all the worksheets they need.
  • insisted on a daily 5 minute meeeting to talk about what they plan to do that day.
  • insisted on a weekly Monday meeting to go over what they need to do that week and the worksheets they will use. It’s really helped in giving Thumper the independence to work by herself.
  • started a 6-session meeting to go over what they liked or disliked about their work and how we can change their work plan.

8.  Having a Project day made a huge difference.

I added a project day, which made our actual stay at home and work on language and math day to 2 days a week.  But it has made me happier that the children are back to doing the cultural subjects.  It’s also made me happier that I’m slowly moving away from all the worksheets I started using last year and incorporating more thematic and organic methods of learning.

9.  Going back to more Montessori-like schooling makes me happier.  

Case in point, it tickles me that we learned to sing all these planet related songs.  In September, I accidentally gave Thumper A Wrinkle in Time to read, and realized that it’s related to astronomy thing we had going.  I like how we don’t study one subject separately from another, that I’m trying to center language, music, history, and art around the science studies.

The daily and weekly meeting, having work plans is yet another aspect of it.  In my sane moments I see that it’s really the soft skills like knowing how to study, knowing how to deal with failures, love of learning, and how one responds to one’s lack of knowledge that gives one success in schooling.

I could go on but then this post will never get published.   There are still work to be done and I have to be careful not to burn out as I tend to.  Having 6 weeks on, 1 week off have helped.

Mission Carmel
An Egg is a Cell
Drawing a decanomial (multiplication table)
Solar System Study
Only took her a year

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