I’m going to be sad when Spring semester is over. Finally, after 3 years, I have figured out what homeschool daily routine works for me and what kind of homeschooling method/curriculum fits me. I’m also very close to figuring out what kind of homeschool fits my kids now that I’ve discovered Myer Briggs. Since March is so long ago, I no longer remember what I learned that month.
English – Read Percy Jackson book 1 & 2 (GRL W & S), Frindle (GRL R), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (GRL V). Half way through Book 8 of Explode the Code. Homophones, homographs, Singular & Plural possessives, comparatives/superlatives. All About Spelling book 3, L2. Handwriting.
Chinese – Percy Jackson book 1 & book 4, 晶晶的桃花源, Writing first 60 characters in Sagebook,
Math – common multiples, least common multiples, factors, prime, divisibility of 2, 5, 25, 4.
We did bare minimal homeschooling while in Taiwan and getting over jet lag took me all of January. Early February, my ceiling leaked, which resulted in the removal of a bookcase. As a result, I needed to reshuffle all my books, which lead to a general purging and organization of the living room/homeschool area.
Finally. I had a homeschooling area again. Who knows how long it would have taken me if the ceiling hadn’t leaked. February was the first month we’ve tried to stick to a 3 hour work period in a long time.
Been awhile since I’ve posted a summary of what we’ve been up to homeschooling wise. After a month of minimal homeschooling in Japan and Korea, and a summer of play, we’ve been making some progress so it’s time to document.
Rather than detailed listing of what we’re doing, this time around I’m going to try and summarize.
After a summer of working on her English, we jumped from Guided Reading level K to about M/N. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised that when you have the comprehension you don’t have to worry about learning to read late. Because I keep worrying!
We’ve been working with Explode the Code to get the basics of phonics down more. Right now, she can slough through The Odyssey by Mary Osbourne, which is about Level S. I’m breathing a sigh of relief that she’s now close to 3rd grade English reading level and almost caught up.
In Chinese, she started with zhuyin version of Harry Potter, then went ahead and just read the other two without zhuyin. I’ve having her wait a year till she reads Harry Potter #4, as content-wise she’s not mature enough for it. This is the biggest thing occupying her life right now. Everything is about Harry Potter. She dreams about it, she does her Chinese sentence composition about Harry Potter, her first country in our flag study is England.
We’ve had such a super duper month that I don’t even know where to start.
Okay, technically it’s not true. Because I started the month feeling iffy and behind because we weren’t working. I just didn’t have energy to clean my classroom and I also took a super long time planning our new work plan. For a few weeks we didn’t even go swimming. We didn’t really get get back to homeschooling till middle of the month.
Looking back, I probably just had to recover from the craziness of seeing lots of people. But finally we did get back go homeschooling and with our new work plan everything is going so very well.
Thumper is solidly doing her work nowadays without my supervision. She actually told me the other day that she wanted to get an alarm clock so she can wake up early to finish everything on her work plan. We had a talk about how checking things off isn’t the goal but rather doing things you want to do or study.
November and December summary will be short on summary and pics. We all retreated upstairs to work on our dining room table because it’s so cold downstairs. That threw off all our routine. We keep having to move things to the sofa to eat our meals. There’s no place to sit when guests come over. BUT! The amazing thing is, we ended the semester with Thumper finishing all of her work on her work plan, all by herself, for two days, before we went on Christmas break.
Really I feel like this month is more about me reflecting on all the things I learned this semester about homeschooling and being a teacher. It feels like homeschooling is just slowly coming together. I’m slowly getting how it needs to work for me.
I think the biggest thing for Thumper is really, as I said, her easing into the whole routine of doing work during work period. And outside of work, doing her chores without much reminding from me. I actually consider this her biggest accomplishment for this semester, rather than whatever knowledge she’s learned. She seemed to have gone through a growth spurt recently (what with eating 2 bowls every meal) and is now suddenly at this much more independent stage. She cooks herself breakfast and sometimes lunch, she preps for her school day, she feeds the cat, all without me nagging most days. (more…)
Urgh, what a month. I feel like I’m on this sharp incline, holding onto a rope so that I don’t fall into the abyss that’s called “lack of motivation and too many things going on.” Slowly but surely the classroom/homeroom is losing structural integrity but I’m patching holes as quick as I can until Christmas vacation comes around and I can reset everything once again.
This month was particularly hard because we’ve been having visitors every 2-3 weeks. It means I have about 1 week of whole homeschooling in before we interrupt it with something. And this is on top of 4H disrupting my schedule, or unplanned playdates, and having a sick Baba for what seems like forever but is really just half of the month. Half a month of almost single parenting does not make Mama Teacher happy.
Wow, what a month. I went through it feel like I couldn’t squeeze it all in. Partly because we had visitors for a whole week in September, and 4H just started which meant a lot of meetings. But looking back at what we’ve accomplished, we did do a lot of things. I think it really helped 1) having my co-op every week and forcing me to prep, and 2) having that monthly curriculum planned in advance. I’m still feeling my way through my scheduling but at least I’m not in a “What do I do?!” phase. More on that some other time.
Before we go on, at the beginning of the month we also had her state test. I was all worried because she isn’t reading yet. But we were allowed to ask for audio instead and she scored high on math as well as English. I was surprised and relieved by the English score. I know she has no problem with comprehension but the reading and understanding how to take tests stressed me out. So, very happy.
August was a strange month. We had zhuyin class and playdates for 3 weeks, and 1 week of vacation for Thumper with the kids been gone on weekends. At the same time I had to prepare work samples for my charter school and there’s nothing like doing these samples to make you feel like you’re behind.
I have not managed to make too many indents in my presentation schedule. I’m trying to remind myself that we actually haven’t had time to homeschool daily. And this first week of September is still the same with appointments as well. Plus next week my siblings are coming to visit us.
There’s always something going on. I’m burning out again from lack of prep time and all days with the kids. (Baba has been sick.) September may be a month where we stay home a bit more. (Says the person who’s already scheduled playdates half of the month!)
I wanted to note that with Astroboy’s zhuyin class this summer, he’s been really loving coloring books. We don’t actually have them, so we’re working with metal insets to help improve his pincer grip, which you need for writing. But I did learn that he does much better coloring than drawing pictures when I make booklets. I’m so happy he’s finally ready to draw and use the pencil. He resisted a lot last year because he sees his sister drawing and then he feels like he can’t do it and always asks me or her to draw. There are definitely benefits to having outside classes when you homeschool.
The good thing is, since I had to do samples, I know exactly what the kids did this month:
Science – introduction to 4 types of energy, focused on electrical energy. Keeping a moon log.
Social studies – map of North America
Enrichment – clay class.
PE – swimming classes.
Chinese – Sagebooks reviewed Book 1 & 2
Practical Life – Lots of paper airplanes
Sadly, I feel like after the great works in July, August was a slow month. And no pics to boot. We did have a lot of really great playdates though. I’ve already kind of documented some of the things we did.
Wow, I just looked over all the pics I took over the last month and we’ve been doing more work than even I remember. These pics were taken mid July to first week of August. I’m the most happy not because of the variety of work we did manage to do, but because the kids actually will spend most of the work period being really concentrated on their work. Especially Astroboy. By the end of last year, he could not sit still in the classroom. Now, with zhuyin class 3 times a week, playdates the other 2 times, and maybe some work periods on the weekends, we’re actually not doing that many 3 hour work periods. And yet they manage to have really good ones when we do.
What I Learned
One thing I learned from the tutoring class is how I need to really sit with the children when they work. That and the 3 months break is helping them spend 2-3 hours actually working instead of running around. I was going to say it’s also due to them being used to the work period routine, but given how the last week they are starting to resist work (because we have not been playing as much) I don’t think that’s the reason.
The other thing I’m seeing is that the children’s limit are about 1 to 1.5 hours of concentration time. They naturally want a break after that. This matches what I’ve observed of my own concentration time. And lastly, I noticed that sometimes the kids do their best work at their 7pm homework time, after a day of playing outside.
As usual, I never got to posting about April. Oh well, it’ll be posted one day.
I feel like I’ve fallen off the homeschooling wagon after the weeks of terrible flu in April followed by throwing my back out. Don’t be fooled by the posts. We probably do 1-2 hours of homeschooling at most a day. It is not my idea of homeschooling. At the same time, many of our day to day activities makes me wonder if this is what education really ought to be about. We read a lot more, listened to a lot of audio, watched a bit more Chinese youtube, cooked a lot more, and gardened lots. It seems like we do learn just doing practical life things. However, I then change my mind again when I ask Thumper something I’ve taught her a few weeks ago and she doesn’t remember because we didn’t “work” on it. Apparently just talking about it and having her seemingly understand when we discuss isn’t enough.
Anyways, we have done the following this month:
Chinese: Took a break. She learned 20 new words I dreamed up and started going through the 生字簿 that’s available online. Astroboy hasn’t done anything either. But as I mentioned, we listened to A LOT of audio, specifically the Children Can Listen Chinese History. Plus the one night we drove down to San Jose, we listened to a lot of Chiao Hu for Astroboy. I have noticed that Astroboy is turning another corner finally regarding his Chinese. He is using more vocabulary words, things I didn’t know he could say. He can pronounce things better in general. I’m thinking developmentally maybe he is now ready for more written Chinese. I don’t think he was before. He really needed more listening input.
Thumper finished her subtraction exercises and I gave her a break because I think she’s tired from all the boring worksheets. She has moved on to the Flat Bead Frame after finally finishing the large bead frame without making mistakes for several equations. The flat bead frame is like that last step before doing multiplication abstractly. She’s having issues with the process right now so we either need to go back or figure something else out. I have to say, even I find the equations boring when the numbers get big. Especially when it’s not a number you made up.
Astroboy is still counting away. He loves big numbers. One day in the car, he added 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, 5+5, 6+6, 7+7, 8+8, 9+9, 10+10, 20+20, 30+30, …100+100……ALLLLLLL the way to 5,000,000+5,000,000=10,000,000, which is 一千萬 in Chinese. This was done while we were driving down to the Chinese Library. Apparently his sister taught him the answers to this type of addition from 1-10 and he wanted to see how far it goes. See, an example where I feel a lot of our learning happen organically, and often orally rather than looking at paper. He also likes to say, 九千萬零九千次 when he talks about how many times something will happen or how many seconds or minutes something will take. Once in awhile, he will pop out 億 (100,000,000).
Oh! And we spent about 2 days doing a clock work that never got finished. Astroboy learned to tell o’clock, half, quarter, and quarter till in Chinese. We started making a booklet but he lost interest after 2 pages. Our classroom is full of such half done projects. I don’t know what to do about that.