A new school year?

I haven’t updated for ages, I know. Part of it is that I reformatted my computer and then didn’t have the “blog” link on Firefox, and (this is embarrassing) couldn’t figure out how to login to WordPress without it! I finally decided that it’s high time I updated, and I spent some time digging around and figured out how to access the login page. So, we’ll see, but maybe now I will try to update a bit more!

So a lot of my homeschool friends and fellow bloggers have been posting about the new school year… what their room looks like this year, what their child is using, etc. We, however, are not starting a new school year, because we’re year-round schooling. We’re near the end of some school materials, the beginning in others, and the middle in yet more!

Nevertheless, here’s a rundown on what we’re doing right now:

Emily, 5.5, kindergarten
History/Geography: Sonlight Core A, which we’ll be finishing this fall and starting an around the world geography tour
Math: Singapore 1A (workbooks, textbooks, intensive practice, and word problems), RightStart A, Kumon Counting Coins
Language Arts: Sonlight LA K, All About Spelling 1, A Reason for Handwriting A, and we’ll probably go quickly through All About Reading 2 once it comes out in September
Science: Sonlight Science A, nearing the end, will be starting Science B in a month or two, also doing the occasional experiment from the KnowHow book just for fun
Reading: Mostly we’re just reading through the Sonlight Readers 2 at the moment. Emily’s reading has really taken off and she’s reading books on the level of “Ramona the Pest,” although I don’t think she understands every word. Still, we’re going through Readers 2, even though it’s generally below her level, to practice reading clearly, with expression, etc.
Chinese: BetterChinese, which we’re still working through book 3 of. It’s pretty slow going, but I’m trying to be more consistent about it at least.
We don’t get to them consistently, but we’re also doing:
Art: ARTistic Pursuits, K-3, book 2
Music: Pfeiffer House Music K
She also started violin lessons a few months ago.

Jenny, 3.5 years old, preschool
Jenny is mostly just tagging along, as I have very little that I require her to do. However, she wants to do everything her sister is! This means that she has and occasionally does the following:
Math: Singapore Earlybird A, Kumon Number Games 1-70 (she actually just finished this, so I’ll need to get her another copy, as I don’t think she’s ready for 1-150 but she really loves the book)
Language Arts: Kumon Lowercase Letters for handwriting, All About Reading pre-level 1, Explode the Code A
Jenny will also be starting some early reading activities this fall, mostly extra games so that she can start All About Reading 1 but take it slowly with extra reinforcement due to her age. She’s desperate to learn to read and she’s just getting the hang of blending.

Charlotte, turns 2 tomorrow, not in school yet
Mostly Charlotte plays with toys during schooltime, although she’s a *huge* fan of the math manipulatives and often drags them all out and makes a huge mess with them during schooltime. I tolerate this to some degree since it keeps her busy, although I’m working with making her clean them up afterwards! She’s particularly a fan of the counting bears and abacus, which she considers hers and does not like to share, even for math lessons. I think she’s going to get a set of her own counting bears for her birthday so we can have the school ones back. 🙂 We time the read-aloud (when I read to the kids) portion of our day for when she’s napping, because she’s not very good about staying quiet while I’m reading longer things aloud.

As for our school room, it’s basically the dining room table and living room couch at the moment. I keep several crates in the living room in front of the fireplace. Two are stacked on their sides to make a little shelf where I can keep some supplies and such. The other are stacked in the traditional way, and they have hanging folders inside. I have the folders ordered so that I start at the beginning of one crate and go from one side to the other, then at the beginning of the other crate to the end. I always do things in the same order every day, which works fairly well, although if we have a short day I leave some things off at the end and do a little less overall.

I start by having Emily do all her seatwork at the table. This is a Kumon book (we were doing a number games book for a while, but it’s currently “counting coins”), then handwriting, then Singapore math, then her copywork for language arts. That’s the end of her seatwork, so she comes into the living room and we do anything left of language arts (writing assignments that she dictates, etc.), then I pull out the whiteboard from behind the couch and do her spelling with her while she whines (spelling is not her favorite, so we keep it brief, about 5-10 minutes at most). We all do Chinese together, then RightStart math. Then Emily and I sit down together and she reads aloud to me for a little while (maybe about 10 minutes? I’ve never tried timing it).

The Readers 2 Bible takes up much of the year, so what we do instead of reading it all at once and then moving on to the other readers, is that she reads a little from another book and then one story from the Beginner’s Bible every day. She was really frustrated with Frog and Toad and Owl at Home, the really basic “learn to read” readers included, so I didn’t make her finish those. She’s been enjoying reading about Pompeii, the Titanic, Hill of Fire, the Fire Cat, Mouse Tales, Amelia Bedelia, and books like that. Our current book is “The Great Balloon Race.” We only have a few left when it’s done… I think there’s Greg’s Microscope, Daniel’s Duck, Nate the Great, and maybe one or two more.

I’m not entirely sure what we’ll do after that, because we won’t be ordering our next core curriculum (history, geography, literature, Bible, etc.) from Sonlight until next spring, and readers come with it, so we won’t be doing Readers 3 until then. I might just try to get some books from the library like the On My Own History books, maybe some of the Readers 3, to stave her off until April. Of course, once we do get Readers 3, I don’t know how long they’ll last before she’s ready for Readers 4/5! But another Sonlight mom posted a list of other books on the Readers 3 level, so I might just get a bunch of those and make an extra year of readers to go in-between.

After Emily practices her reading, I do all the rest of the reading. We read from a Bible I got (the Bible that came with Sonlight Core A was a little too much for us, so I found another that is a bit simpler but still covers most of the Bible and we’re using that for now), and a devotional that was mine when I was a kid, called “More Little Stories About God.” We read some nursery rhymes, some history/geography/missionary stories, science, and our current children’s novel. We’re just about finished “In Grandma’s Attic” right now and loving it! Next I think is the Wizard of Oz.

Jenny doesn’t really have a regular routine as much. I do activities with her when Emily is occupied with work of her own, gone for a few minutes, or sometimes I multitask and have each kid doing an activity at the same time. Today, Jenny was very jealous of Emily getting to use the whiteboard for spelling, so while Emily worked on spelling phrases with her magnets, I helped Jenny get started putting her little letters under pictures to make the CVC words, something I’ve just started with her to work on her blending. After Emily was done with the whiteboard, I worked with Jenny a bit on sounding words out, and she successfully read “hat” and “mat” and “tap” and some other simple CVC words. This is great progress!

I have about 6.5 weeks until my due date, although given my history, I’ll probably actually have a little more than that. We’ll be gone for two of those weeks doing some visiting with family, though, and while I plan to bring some school stuff along, we probably won’t get a lot done. My current plan is to bring the Kumon Counting Coins book, handwriting, Singapore 1A, the Beginner’s Bible, and some read-alouds. I’ll probably plan to do some of the read-alouds out of order so that we can bring fewer books, if possible. I’ll have to see how complicated that would be. I’ll probably set science aside for those two weeks, although since science uses the main history book, it might not require an extra book. We’ll see. I’d like to keep school short, doing maybe 30-45 minutes a day and not necessarily every day, just to keep consistent.

And that’s the basic summary of what we’re doing right now! Since we’re not starting fresh, we’re well into some of these programs (week 28 in science, week 22 of our core, etc.), so I’ll probably have an update in a few months as we move onto a new level or program in some of these. Also, I have a geography curriculum that I’ve been designing myself, which I expect to start sometime over the winter. I’ll post again later this week and tell you more about that, as well as some little printables I’ve been working on to go along with All About Reading level 1. So I will try to post again soon! I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the new school year!

Finally, a (somewhat) clean house

Today was somewhat productive. I ended the day with educated kids, a clean living room, a clean table, clean(-ish) kitchen, and lots of clean clothes (that still need to be folded). So, not bad!

We finished ancient Rome yesterday, and today read the missionary stories of Thomas and John Mark. So tomorrow we start Vikings! What a jump. Hopefully the kids will be interested.

We’re also speeding through our read-alouds like crazy. We’re supposed to be on our second read-aloud, having read two stories from another book that is a compilation. Instead, we’ve read four of them, as well as most of the stories from that book, and a bunch of other books I’ve been substituting in. I’ve started a list of extra books to check out from the library just to keep us in books!

I brought back in an older math book we’d been using for a while last summer, Singapore Earlybird Math. We’d done about 1/3rd or so, I think, and then put it aside. Since we’ve gotten through Life of Fred very quickly, and I packed away our RightStart materials, I pulled out the Singapore books again so that we have at least some math to go through. She’s doing fairly well with it, doesn’t seem to mind it too much. I’ve been careful to not use the word “math,” just to say, “Okay, now we’re going to work on this book.” We’ve also started using Kumon’s “Easy Telling Time” book, as I’d like to gradually introduce time-telling.

I’ve noticed, though, that she really doesn’t know how to write the numbers, gets them backwards, etc. Her writing of letters has much improved since she’s been doing handwriting sheets–while she doesn’t always do them correct, the constant use of handwriting practice seems to be gradually influencing her writing without my having to harp on it. So I’d like to do the same for numbers, except that our handwriting program, “A Reason For Handwriting,” doesn’t cover them. It doesn’t introduce the numbers until level A, and then it just sort of assumes that kids basically know how to form them and doesn’t give them much practice. So I found a site online that allows you to generate handwriting pages, and made pages for the numbers 1-20, writing the name of the number at the top of the page. I’ll start those on Monday, hopefully that will help make a difference in her writing.

Tomorrow I’m taking the girls to an event at Toys ‘R’ Us, a launch of their new Lego Friends sets. Kids get to build a lemonade stand to go with their “Friends” sets, and there are supposed to be some other activities as well. I think the girls will love it! I haven’t told them about it yet, but I definitely want to go. I called to see if it would be okay for Jenny to come, too, since she’s only 3, and they said it would be fine. Charlotte will tag along, of course, too, but I plan to have her in the back carrier so that I can help the others without Charlotte getting into everything. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Kindergarten!

Emily started kindergarten yesterday! We made a big deal of it. After she finished preschool on Monday, we went to a children’s museum to celebrate on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, she wore a favorite dress and I took pictures of her. Her pink bunnies (loveys) came to watch her do school.

Emily’s reading is getting better and better. She’s reading most 3-letter words fluidly without sounding them out, as well as some of the more common 4-letter words. She’s working on words like “grass” and “quick” now. Such a jump from a few months ago when it was all “Sam is a rat.” She still isn’t a big fan of it during our reading lessons, but she loves showing off to people at other times, and reading signs or reading things to her sister. She observed, while I was driving the other day, that a sign said “BUMP.” So she’s definitely noticing all the writing in the world around her.

We’ve had *huge* success with math since switching to Life of Fred. I don’t think it’s a very complete program in the elementary years, but she is learning *something*, so we’ll do that for a while before getting back to RightStart.

The main reason that I decided to graduate her to kindergarten was that we’re starting a new Sonlight core, Core A. So far it’s going great, although we’ve only done two days. There still aren’t enough readalouds for Emily’s taste, though, so we’re reading the main readaloud book, “The Boxcar Children,” about twice as fast as we’re supposed to. I’ll add in a sequel once it’s done, so that we still hit the next book roughly on schedule. At least, that’s my current plan. We’re also catching up on some of our magazines that we’ve received and not read yet. We get “My Big Backyard,” which is great, and “God’s World News,” which is interesting, but it’s written at *way* too low a level to hold Emily’s interest, and yet too high a level for her to read it herself, so I read her the parents’ notes to elaborate on the stories. I think if I renew it, I’ll jump her to whatever the next level is.

Not much to update other than about school. We’re still waiting for the new house to be finished. Now it’s looking like it might be February when we move in. It’s at least a few week’s away.

Oh, Emily’s birthday is in a few days, so we’re having her party next weekend. The theme this time is going to be dinosaurs. So I need to make a papier-mache Tyrannosaurus Rex and stuff him with candy and such. Plus I need to make a dinosaur cake. I did get some great deals on treats for the goody bags and dinosaur skeletons to bury for a fossil dig on ustoys.com. With their free shipping, I was a little worried they were going to be a scam, but they weren’t! I got everything fast and just as described. Awesome.