Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up

I haven't written about our school year thus far, so I thought I'd update that part of our lives. I have many books to share and add to my picture book pages on this blog, but there just hasn't been time. Hopefully soon.

I've begun watching a 9-year-old boy a couple nights a week, so that makes things a little busier, but he's a sweet boy and a welcome addition to our family.

On to homeschool news...

Beth, age 5,  is learning to read with All About Reading Level 1, and Mary, age 7,  is learning to read more fluently with All About Reading Level 2. These programs do not typically take a whole year, so Mary will be in Level 3 before her third grade year. The materials do help tremendously with dyslexia, but the lessons are long and we can't do everything everyday, due to my girls' attention spans.

Peter the science teacher at work on experiment day

The object is to suspend a tissue paper butterfly in the air with magnets and get it to fly. It worked!

Peter's friend outside the window here. Peter took the picture.
I have Mary reread each story several times over several days, so I don't use the program exactly as written. Nonetheless, the difference in appropriateness in addressing Mary's needs is amazing. I'm so thankful to Marie at the All About Learning Press company, as the founder and writer of this program. I highly recommend it for any child struggling to learn to read, or for any child who has siblings with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia. All these issues require explicit, systematic teaching, with only one new skill introduced at a time. Each new skill is practiced with many repetitions over days or weeks.

I bought All About Spelling Level 1, but we haven't added that in yet. The boys will use it too as it is suggested that all students start with Level 1 to learn all the spelling rules from the beginning. The rules don't necessary repeat as you go higher, and more are added each year, so you have to try to fast track your older kids through all the Levels. It is intensive spelling training and leaves nothing out, which, again, is necessary for any child with learning disabilities. Peter has dysgraphia and definitely needs intensive spelling training, although he has made a lot of progress with Sequential Spelling (also for dyslexics, but not as systematic).

Both girls are doing Saxon Math 1, but Beth is starting from the beginning, and Mary is 3/4 of the way through. We do the Morning Meeting together. They enjoy schooling together, and also pair up for Sonlight's Core B literature and history (World History Part 1). Paul reads the non-fiction Core B selections to them, and I read all the rest (really loving the read aloud selections so far, like Little Pear and Homer Price). Not all relate to history, but they are charming nonetheless. I have the full program on hand now.

Both girls also do Sonlight Core B science (Animals, Astronomy, Physics), but Beth is less interested, unless it's experiment day. Peter teaches them science willingly (he loves science!). I have my hands full with everything else, and I feel like both my boys are reaping many benefits from becoming teachers at their young ages.

The boys, ages 11 and 12, join together to do Sonlight Core G literature and history (World History Part 1, but for older kids). They are enjoying their school year, and Daddy is enjoying doing their read alouds with them before bedtime.

The boys especially love Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World Vol. 1. They will move into volume 2 (Middle ages) this year too.

I am doing WriteShop Junior Book E with both boys. We all really love this program, but we haven't abandoned Writing With Skill (Susan Wise Bauer) because that program is still excellent for teaching non-fiction writing, while WriteShop is excellent for fiction. The WriteShop company writes materials with learning disabilities in mind, just as All About Learning Press does. That's not to say all children wouldn't benefit from and love their materials! They're just excellent--hands-on, systematic, explicit, and fun. No more tears at writing time, that's for sure.

The boys are still both doing the same level in Teaching Textbooks (CD ROM) program for math, and let me tell you, I could hug and kiss the two brothers who wrote this program. It's excellent, multisensory, systematic, and with plenty of review. Peter has dyscalculia and really benefits from this program. He also needed the Times Tales multiplication DVD to learn multiplication facts, which we purchased about 2 years ago, when it became clear he just wasn't going to get it without a story attached to the facts. Teaching Textbooks is wonderful, but for your dyscalculic student, purchase something for fact memorization as well.

We still write in journals, and all my children really enjoy that time (about 10 to 15 minutes in the morning...any topic, or an on-going story).

That's all the updating for now. I hope all my homeschooling friends are having an excellent year!

Weekly Wrap-Up


Terri H said...

You will love All About Spelling! I have yet to use AAR, and I am still trying to decide whether to buy it for my four-year-old. But All About Spelling has given my oldest an amazing foundation in spelling and has made him a really thoughtful speller. We are now in the middle of AAS Level 3.

Core B was so fun for us last year. We are enjoying Core C as well, though there are definitely more and longer readings. I keep hearing that Core D is much more intense, and I am thinking I might spread it out into two years rather than just one. The baby due in May is also influencing these thoughts. ;)

Teaching Textbooks has been a blessing for us as well for my math-smart guy. He loves to be independent.

Christine said...

Terri, Congratulations! How exciting!

If your 4 year old seems a lot like his brother and there are no learning disabilities in your family or your husband's family, you probably won't need All About Reading. It wouldn't have been my choice if there was no dyslexia involved, as it is too heavy on the skills. If you want, I can send you some copies of typical lessons to help you decide. I don't remember how many lessons the company allows you to view for free. It is expensive, so you want to be sure.

Terri H said...

Thanks for the offer! I have friends here in town who own it, so I can look at theirs. I don't think I really need it for my son, it just looks fun. I have all the BOB books, other phonics readers, games, etc., that I used to teach my eldest to read, and I should probably just keep using those!

Christine said...

Terri, one thing to consider is that with a new baby coming, the open-and-go format of All About Reading would be very beneficial. Your older son could even lead your younger son through the lessons. They are that easy to follow. Each part is short, but there are a lot of parts. You could do the new teachings every time, and let Gabe (is that his name?) do all the review and the cut and paste things. When you are too swamped to fit it in, this would work well and Gabe would probably enjoy being a teacher.

The review involves having the student read words from word cards that are behind your review card in your teacher box, or reviewing sound cards. There are fluency sheets that have 2- to 4-word phrases to read. The purpose is to teach children to read in chunks of words, rather than word by word. Gabe could do those too. He could probably do the syllable lessons too, since he is so far in AAS. Just a thought as you nurse a new baby on the couch and aren't very mobile.

I am excited for you!

Terri H said...

This made me chuckle. It is a great idea, but my eldest cannot read to my younger son without it turning into a wrestling match. I kind of doubt he would cooperate. I am just going to have to back off my type-A-accomplish-it-all attitude for a while and let things flow.