We’ve been homeschooling for three months now. Although we’re not required to submit quarterly reports the way that, say, New Yorkers are, it seems like a useful point to stop and reflect on how things are going.
At dinner I asked the family for their assessments.
Alex: It’s been going well. No… it’s been going medium.
Me: Medium, huh? What would make it better?
Alex: If we went out for sushi more.
So there you have it.
Here’s my slightly longer point of view:
Reading. Reading has been the big focus this summer. At the beginning of the summer, Alex was able to get through simple beginner books like Ten Apples Up on Top and Go Dog Go with help. She tired quickly and often found even simple books intimidating. Except for Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series (which I cannot praise highly enough), she didn’t choose to read and often fought the suggestion that she try.
Since June 1st, Alex has read 53 books – not counting re-reads. She has progressed to early-reader series books like Henry and Mudge and Young Cam Jansen, which are considered to be about second grade level. She reads with expression. Her stamina has greatly improved – she knocks off a multi-chapter reader in one session without tiring. Best of all, she now enjoys reading. I can’t think of the last time she argued about “reading time.” She’s also started reading in other contexts – she no longer makes a clear division between “reading time books” (leveled readers) she can be expected to decipher and “regular books” which are impossible to read.
She is, in short, a real reader.
Still working on: blending multiple consonants, long-vowel words where the silent e is hard to recognize because there’s a -s or -d on the end, segmenting long words independently, punctuation.
Math. We floundered around some with math and are still experiencing pretty regular math freakouts. Originally I took a very, very loose approach – I had a set of Miquon workbooks and a bunch of games, but no prior expectations of what we would cover on any given day. Alex would pick stuff at random or, more commonly, refuse to do stuff at random. She also found Miquon pages intimidating and/or boring because they had too many questions.
So partway through we switched to MEP (“Mathematics Enhancement Programme”), a British adaptation of a Hungarian curriculum (!) which is available for free online. Some awesome things about MEP: (1) Unlike Miquon, it is organized neatly into lessons. (2) The lessons are short and sweet. (3) It’s full of number puzzles and logic problems from the very beginning, with lots of different ways of presenting mathematical relationships. MEP is fun. And, honestly, it’s helpful that it offers fewer choices.
We’ve only recently found our sweet spot in the MEP book (we started too far back) and are now progressing in a semi-orderly fashion through 1.5 – 2 lessons per day. I expect we’ll be slowing down soon.
Five in a Row. We’ve “rowed,” or studied, eight books this quarter. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that our Five in a Row studies are the awesomest things that have ever been awesome. We’re having a lot of fun. Alex is picking up a lot of information, applying things she’s learned outside of formal “lessons,” and in general expanding her world to include tons of new concepts and interests. Sometimes these are things I would have predicted, but often not. I knew she’d love the cultural explorations, for example, but I’ve been surprised to see her develop an interest in analyzing literary concepts. She’s been initiating a lot of conversations about fiction vs. nonfiction, identifying the main character of a book, and point of view.
Random Intellectual Passions. Alex self-initiated two major areas of study this quarter: American geography and the Revolutionary War. She can identify any state from its outline or location. She knows a sprinkling of state capitals, major cities, and landmarks; most major American bodies of water; and half-a-dozen principal rivers. She can comment knowledgably about which states fall in the Mississippi River watershed; which states have deserts; how (and from whom) states and territories came into the Union; and why some state borders fall where they do. She also developed pretty good map-reading and navigating skills. Her geography obsession seems to have largely wound down to a mild ongoing interest at this point.
Her Revolutionary War interests are mostly focused on Story and Personality. I’ve written about it recently, so I won’t recap here. This interest is still ongoing and taking up a lot of time. This week she made paper dolls from Liberty’s Kids coloring pages, so I expect that we’ve started on a whole new drama phase.
Spanish. Yeah. We never got around to adding in Spanish. We have access to a full video curriculum, so there’s really no excuse. We’ll work on it.