Sunday, August 24, 2014

Individual Skill Building Work - Part 3 of our day

As I continue to outline our day I come to our last "planned" segment.  The first one is our morning read alouds - pretty much the same material every day (Bible, poetry, memory work, etc.).  The second segment is our daily subject read alouds.  We average 2 subjects a day for about 15 to 20 minutes each spread throughout the day.  Really, those two parts are where we are exposed to great ideas, connect with the past, and enjoy literature and poetry.  In most schools these areas have to take a back seat to more skill based work.  For me, at this age, this is where lots of the real learning is happening.  Now we will talk about the third element, the one we automatically think about when it comes to school, reading, writing and arithmetic.

This year I have increased my almost 8 yo's work in this area and so far he has mostly risen to the challenge (with some whining).  Here is what he is expected to cover everyday.  Instead of using page numbers, we try to spend a certain amount of time on each subject.  Some days are better than others with this approach. Without further ado, here are our skill areas:

25 minutes a day (15 to 20 minutes reading and 5 to 10 minute response time)

For reading we rotate the subject read and how we respond to it.  Most days he does some type of narration for what he reads and might have an additional response.  Here is what he is reading right now: 

The Bible - soon this time will also include our Pilgrim's Progress book from Sunday School

Science - Christian Liberty Nature Reader, Book 3 - he has been drawing diagrams and writing down one key idea from what he has read (labeled an ant and wrote a flies life cycle so far)

Literature - This year we are reading through the 3rd grade literature suggested by Memoria Press. However, we aren't using the reading guide - just the composition guide.  Here he is instructed to summarize a short passage in three sentences.  I typically write down his "final" draft and then he does it as copywork.
Right now we are reading Farmer Boy which is the only one we haven't read in the Little House series so he was excited to get to read it.  Likewise, we are using CC grammar and the grammar "catechism" found in Living Memory by Andrew Campbell (it ties in nicely with a comparison of English and Latin grammar). Once in a while we will start working on poetry here as well.

History - We are reading from Lives of the Presidents Told In Words of One Syllable.   He has a notebook where he writes down the name of the president and the length of his term.  I also pick out one or two sentences for studied dictation.  This is the first time we've done this and it is tough, but good, for him.

Reader - Once a week I also have him read from an old reader.  Right now he is working from a reader that I honestly don't know the name of.  EEK!  I printed it out last year - it says level 3 and the stories come from old folk tales, norse mythology, etc.  It's a good one and I will try to figure out where I found it!

I am finding that he probably reads too fast and isn't really comprehending.  This is the first time he has ever had to do this.  So, I probably need to have him narrate smaller sections and just encourage him to slow down in general.   He comprehends reading aloud just fine - but reading for himself and narrating is tougher than I expected it to be for him - good skill to learn!  Really, this is the main skill we are learning this year - using a variety of texts and methods.

20 minutes

This year we are doing the two 3rd grade books associated with Miquon math (yellow and purple books).  He really enjoys these books and he just "gets" math.  I don't think my middle one will use this series - he needs much more structure.  These books cover a variety of math topics in no particular order.  I allow him to pick a section or topic to work on in the book but he has to start with the first page in that section and work through it.  So far it has been working well - he feels more in control but really he is just learning/ reviewing lots of different math concepts.  I expect at the end of the year we will begin to use a more "traditional" program to make sure we haven't skipped any concepts.  Maybe we'll use MEP or the Math Mammoth that I already have one hand. We'll see.

20 minutes

We are currently taking Suzuki lessons.  So he practices old songs, learns his new ones and has about 5 minutes of theory every day.  Really, grandma takes care of this and I just oversee his progress.

10 minutes

This year we are doing spelling as a separate subject because he REALLY needs it.  I started at the very beginning (with 40 words a week) and am working my way up.  I am using Reading Lessons Through Literature by Kathy Jo Devore.  I do have Spell to Write and Read, but the RLTL program is so much easier to use and with my younger sons it uses the Elson readers to help them learn to connect reading and spelling together.  

I am also pleasantly surprised at how copywork and especially studied dictation is helping him to learn some more complicated (and probably more age appropriate spelling words).   For now this is a good combination - making sure he has the basics (seriously - the word "you" is on his list this week) and some challenge in spelling.  

Grammar - Latin and Primary Language Lessons 
15 minutes

Originally I planned for him to work on both Latina Christiana and Primary Language Lessons daily but realized that was going to be too much.  So, instead I consider these both Grammar and he does them each 2 or 3 times a week.  I want him to complete both books in about 3 semesters (or 4 or 5 trimesters).  Right now he feels that Latina Christiana is too simple because he learned how to do first conjugation last year - but it picks up quickly (he hasn't met a declension yet) and I think it will be a good challenge for him. Primary Language Lessons has more writing than my son is used to so it is a good stretch for him.  In the past he was just doing copywork and now he longs for just copywork!  Cracks me up.

I typically allow him to choose the order of his work and just help set the timer and stick around to help out with questions and reminders to stay on task.  So although this supposed to be "individual work" we aren't there yet.  I do keep him on task.  Sometimes we will have a snack and read aloud in the middle of this work to break it up and still get "work" done.

We try to cover these subjects in the morning before lunch.  However, we have a regular commitment coming up for his education that might mess that schedule up.  It has been great to regularly have school (except for maybe a read aloud or 2) done by noon.  Fortunately we have had some great afternoon activities and fun with friends.  We'll see how this continues now that "regular" school is in session and with my middle one starting his preK program.  I guess there is one more element to our studies - our "car" studies - basically things that we will listen to on CD in the car.  I will cover that another day.

Again, hopefully this will give you an idea of resources available, different ways you can use them to your benefit and ways you can structure your time with your kids.  There is no one "right" way but it always helps me to pick up hints from other people about how they are structuring their time and studies.

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