If I’ve mentioned it a dozen times since we’ve started homeschooling, I’ll mention it again. I just love how homeschooling enables us to be flexible. I love how something can come up and we can decide to just do a piece of school for that day, or how a busy week can be coming up, so we decide to simply focus on the four R’s and call it good. Or like Thanksgiving week, we’d planned to do a three day school week, but illness for both Zander and I made it just two days that week. Which actually worked in our favor then, because last week was Nutcracker week, so we were able to adjust again, and between the two short weeks we managed a full weeks worth of work, plus a little bit extra.
Now we’re working hard this week and next as both kids have come to an excellent point within their cores to take a little break for Christmas. Abigail is wrapping up a study of China and Mongolia, and Zander will be wrapping up a study of Egypt. That will make a clean break, so when we come back in January we’re starting with something fresh and exciting for both of them.
I’d originally planned on taking most of the month of December off of school. But then we started our school year later than I’d wanted, and we also really don’t have anything else to do, so we’ll be schooling this week and next, and then it’s two weeks off… and maybe an extra day or two. We’ll see on that.
Another way that we’ve been flexible is with changing up the curriculum. If you’ll remember, I was going back and forth on what to do for Zander for spelling this year. I don’t really think he needs it, as he’s a natural speller. But, he could use help with his handwriting, and since I can’t really ask him to do a second handwriting project every day, doing a spelling lesson is fitting the bill perfectly. But about a month ago, Zander came to me and told me that he thought his spelling was way too easy and he was bored with it. We were just using an inexpensive book I’d bought at Barnes & Noble, so I looked it up online and looked at the 3rd and 4th grade one with Zander. He looked at the different word lists and we decided to go with the 3rd grade level- but if he decides it’s too easy again, I actually already have some 4th grade spelling on the shelf from when Abigail was there.
Zander’s also loving his math. All of his math. Call him crazy, but he’s actually doing three different curriculums this year- and he loves them all. He’s really enjoying the Teaching Textbooks 3, though he’s really anxious to get to the multiplication and it seems to be taking forever for him to get there. He’s also started the 3A books for Singapore math after we finished up 2B. Singapore is just a completely different way of doing math- it’s a lot of mental arithmetic, and her really enjoys that. And just for something different, we’ve also added in some Life of Fred. He quickly worked through the Apples book and is almost all the way through Butterflies. I’m not sure if I’ll order Cats, or just let him focus on two maths for now.
Both kids are really enjoying Life of Fred math. It’s yet another completely different way of doing math. The elementary series that Zander is doing is definitely supplemental- it would never work to use just that book for math. But it introduces math in a story form, and shows the integration of math into everyday activities. Abigail’s Life of Fred, on the other hand, is working great for her as a stand-alone math. She began this year with the Fractions book and now is working her way through Decimals and Percents. We had originally intended on her doing Teaching Textbooks 7 for her math this year, but school began and the funds just weren’t there to buy it for her. Instead we went with Fred, and she really, really enjoys doing it. I find it quite thorough, and it’s really helping her cement these topics that have really only gotten a brief overview so far. I’m very impressed with it, and when Abigail nears the completion of Decimals and Percents, we’ll have some thinking to do, as I think she’ll actually be ready to move on to Pre-Algebra. Whether we stick with Fred or swing back to Teaching Textbooks remains to be seen. But Pre-Algebra is definitely already on the radar for her.
Zander’s book list is going well. He’s enjoyed the Beverly Cleary books a lot, but we really haven’t struck on any one book yet that he just loves. He reads because I tell him to read. He was kind of grossed out by How To Eat Fried Worms, and was not a fan of Paddington either. He’s reading Pee-Wee’s Tale this week, and I keep getting rolling eyeballs from him when he picks it up. I think for next week I’ll throw in a Christmas Geronimo Stilton before he takes his Christmas break. I’m thinking after Christmas I’ll hand him The Littles. Maybe that will be the magic book?
During our two week break we’ll also be reading aloud together The Silver Chair by C.S.Lewis. We finally managed to finish reading the Dawn Treader, and we want to move on, as Abigail has The Horse And His Boy coming up as a scheduled read-aloud, and I want to have the right books read before we get there.
I think that’s about all there is to update. School keeps us busy, and we’re all still enjoying our time together, but I, for one, am looking forward to a couple of relaxing weeks ahead.