Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summary of the last year of home school life

Sep  2009
Where has our delight directed learning taken us? I'm going August - August because it's just easier to think about things in terms of what traditional grade the boys would be in. This is just a recap that is helpful to me.

Aug 2009
Dinoguy would have been in first grade. He was a good reader at the start of August, thanks to the confidence he had found in the library summer reading program. Over the course of the year he has built up to reading at a fifth grade level independently, based on some short assessments I did with him. He has done a lot of reading and reads fairly well out loud too. I have read several books out loud to him and his brother, but if I'm too slow, he takes it and reads it himself quite often.

Handwriting was not going well, he wanted to write but couldn't and times when writing was asked for or wanted, he got quite frustrated. I think it was March when I ventured into a store with homeschooling supplies and bought Handwriting without Tears grade 1 to try out after getting many recommendations on it.  It was a big hit and very helpful to his confidence in writing. We have done a page or two three or four times a week since then and are almost thru the book.

We did some story writing games and both boys have written some books, though they usually want to give them as gifts. He can retell a basic story fairly well.

Jul 2010
Spelling is a weakness, and we are adding phonics game play this year to aid him in this.  I have been researching spelling methods of teaching and think that the phonics we are going to do will be most helpful and least annoying. I did a phonics assessment and he is strong in his understanding of consonants but needs to work with digraphs and vowels. The word study book my mother in law gave me has great cards for sorting that has been a big hit so far and been helpful. We just started doing it, and I think it will really help.

He learned to play chess last August and loves it. He asks anyone to play with him or he will teach you. He is starting to get challenging for me to beat! (not that I consider my skills that good, but he's improving a lot.) He wants to take a chess class at the local rec center and it is on our wish list of things to do.I think this has been an excellent work in logic.

In arithmetic he has naturally figured out how to add two and three digit numbers in his head and has a pretty clear understanding of the base ten system that we operate in. He has been requesting problems and practicing multiplication and has the ones, twos, fives and tens tables down well. Geometrically he knows basic shapes and concepts. He can also read a calendar and clock. He can discuss temperature and seasons and weather and measure and weigh objects.

Nov 2009
In science related topics we have done slime, magnets, paper airplanes, lots of baking and cooking, and lots of plant investigations. He can name several of the local trees and discuss weather and seasons and animals with you. We have a membership at the museum of nature and science right now and he loves to go there and investigate. We have also been camping, to the zoo, beach and mountains, all lending themselves to investigations and experiential learning about the world.

He can cook several things on his own (with supervision) and likes to do so. He likes to make eggs, egg in a frame, oatmeal, rice, toast, sandwiches...he can read the recipes pretty well now and I am more of a sous chef to him now. 

We have gone to the art museum several times and done collages, painting, drawing, building etc. He draws  pictures of battles occasionally.
Nov 2009

We have done some basic geography about the continents and oceans and several states of the USA. He can read a map and uses them well. We have read books about ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. We have also studied the American frontier some with Little House on the Prairie books. We have learned about Ben Franklin, Beethoven, and Thomas Jefferson as well. We learned about the civil war and visited Vicksburg, a big hit. We also learned some Texas history when we visited Austin.

We started off last year learning Spanish, Arabic and ASL. After a few months, it was a bit much, and the ASL stayed because it was part of a co-op but the others dropped off. It was a good investigation into languages.

He has become an excellent violinist and is halfway thru Suzuki book 1. I am so impressed with his musical ear and how he keeps developing his ability. He has also learned a bunch of basic piano skills at his insistence and can play several simplified versions of classic pieces from memory. He likes Beethoven a lot.

We have done most month's building projects at Home Depot and he is now mostly independent in their construction. He likes the challenge but dislikes the gluing.

Sep 2009
He has played baseball on a team and learned many other typical group games at our co-op. He currently wants to start Karate, which is also on our wish list of things to do. He has basic swimming skills, but I'd like to improve those as well.

Sep 2009
Trainboy would have been in preschool. He really enjoyed learning ASL this year in co-op. He also enjoyed all the baking and cooking we did with literature themes, at home and at the co-op. He decided to learn to read in about April and was reading simple books on his own shortly thereafter. I tried to "help" with a few book methods I found at the library and determined that the best method was to provide interesting easy readers and let him practice. By the end of May he was reading the simple level 1 readers pretty well and he is now reading level 3 readers fine and tested at a second grade level independently when I did the assessment. He read 47 books in the summer reading program, and won the reader raffle, getting some tickets to a local play.

Jul 2010
Phonics wise from the assessment I did, he is still not clear on all the consonants, but he does such a good job guessing/sounding out words that I'm not sure how true the assessment was. He has enjoyed the picture word sorting games we've played too and I hope they help. He reads aloud pretty well.

He got the Handwriting without tears Kindergarten book when his brother got one and he loves to work in it and is always asking to do more. He wants to write and likes practicing.

Arithmetic skills are doing great, he has basic addition and subtraction pretty good, and likes to practice and play with counting objects. He creates lovely mosaics with the pattern blocks (as does Dinoguy) and is doing pretty good at the calendar, time telling, etc. He is fascinated with reading nutrition labels currently and finding out about what g, mg, mL, etc stand for and represent. So we've been learning about that too.

Science wise, he's done the same things as Dinoguy of course, but his favorites are making and investigating paper planes ( he designs his own now) and he liked the bridge building and investigations. He can play legos, kinex and wacky wigglers for hours a day and make fascinating structures. He loves the museum and I think on of my favorite moments was when he saw a machine built to take balls around on a maze course and then lifts them up to do it all over again. He watched it intently for more than five minutes than asked his Grandpa if he would build one like it at home with him. He loves building! He also enjoys plants and animals too.

He also has done well on the violin and learned some basic piano. He loved baseball. Everything else is pretty similar to Dinoguy.

Aug 2009
Munchkin went from baby to toddler this past year. So her growth has been explosive. She started walking, running, climbing. She is currently learning to speak and has quite a few words, my favorite phrase she says being "want some!" She loves to do puzzles and has stopped eating the books and loves to read them now. She loves shoes and getting dressed and prefers headbands to bows. She likes to color some, but still eats crayons if not watched. She is very good at making messes but also likes to help clean up.

Aug 2010
So there is a summary of all the traditional school skills things I can think of that would be labeled schooling we've been doing in the past year. I'm sure I've missed some. But it's helpful to recollect and realize how much we've been doing!

Tomorrow I will post about our plans for the coming school year and learning!


Bridget said...

I have always considered spelling an unnecessary evil anyway. I am just still working on a logical argument for it.

Miranda said...

I LOVE that one of the pics you posted was one I took of them, playing on the playground near our houses :D

THANKS for posting this! I was arguing with myself today about whether homeschooling really is better. Of course it's different for every family, but WOW, look at what you've done!

I love Trainboy's squinty-eyed smile :D I love to read nutrition labels, too; I've been called obsessive, actually....

It is amazing how much more grown-up your kids look after just one year. They were adorable a year ago, and they just keep getting cuter!


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