Homeschooling Update

I know that many of you are interested in the types of things I’m doing with my kids (son, 6; daughter, 3) right now, so I thought I’d give a little update. My son has memorized the addition tables up to 6. I must say right off the bat that he has done this completely of his own volition; almost every morning he chooses the Addition Pizza Wheels as his first job. I always enjoy watching the work that kids choose on their own, especially their first work of the day. For him, I think practicing his math facts is a nice way to ease into the workday.

He’s certainly used the Addition Strip Board, charts, and addition with the beads, but he seems to prefer memorizing the equations over the concrete materials. Probably this is because he’s truly ready for abstraction, and I think it’s important not to force a child to continue the concrete materials when they’re no longer needed. So, I introduced the Subtraction Strip Board as his “concrete” math material for right now. It’ll be awhile before he’s ready to memorize those equations.

As far as language, we use the Blue Series Spelling cards and other Blue Series materials right now. He also loves grammar work, and has completed study of the Noun Family and Nouns & Verbs. Every afternoon, he reads to me and I read to him. Recent choices that he’s read to me include Welcome Books and Scholastic Science Readers. I’ve ordered all of them from Scholastic, but in this post I’m linking them to Amazon in case you don’t have access to Scholastic Book Clubs. I find that my son really likes reading books that convey interesting information. He likes stories, too, but there’s a thrill you get when you learn something from a book that you didn’t know before.
I’m a really, really big fan of reading aloud to children. Especially since they can understand books up to five levels above their own reading level. Reading aloud unlocks whole worlds that they couldn’t discover yet on their own. So at night, I read two chapters of a “chapter book” to him before bed. Right now we’re reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary – a classic, to be sure, and a great read-aloud story.

We are studying North America for geography, magnets in physical science, animal research in zoology, and types of flowers in botany. I’ve slacked a bit as far as geometry goes, but we’ll start up with Types of Triangles in March.

My daughter is really into Tuzzles, and she also enjoys lacing cards and stringing beads. We have a set of colored teddy bears to string, with cards that indicate the order that the bears should go in (by color) and she really likes those.

Also, we spend quite a bit of time each day tracing sandpaper letters and then writing them on a small chalkboard. Not only is the chalkboard always fun in and of itself, but writing on it engages more gross motor skills, which makes writing letters easier than it would be with a pencil (using only fine motor skills). She loves writing and than erasing the letters over and over.

Oh, I should mention that three times a week my son and I have a short piano lesson. We keep these to about 10 minutes, and I find that frequent short lessons work better than one long lesson per week. He’s almost to the end of the Bastien Primer A (both book and workbook), and I have enough piano skills to stay ahead of him for awhile. At some point, he’ll need to leave me for someone who’s more skilled but right now it’s working pretty well.