Friday, June 13, 2008

June 13

So - we’ve been so busy DOING stuff, I haven’t had much of a chance to do any record-keeping. I actually had to leave the house with the sole purpose of doing some writing and record keeping and stuff the other day.

School is going well. Because we had such a rough year, we are going to be schooling through the end of July. We’ll take August off and start on our new “year” after Labor Day. We’re pretty much sticking with just the basics the rest of the year, though. Nothing too involved or taxing. I am considering doing some trial runs of some ideas of I have for next year in the next few weeks. I’ll post more details as they come up. Anyway - let me try to sum up, child by child, how things have been going the last couple of weeks.

J1 - of course he’s doing well!! He had his Confirmation last weekend. I feel like I could have done much more to prepare him in some ways. But, at the same time - he was very much ready. Certainly he was, knowledge-wise. Apparently he got the highest score in his class on the final test, even skewed the curve, they had to throw out his score. I have to admit my own inner child, the one who loved (loves) to get the highest score on any test I take - really got a rush out of that. Sad to say, but true. I do think I could have done more to prepare his heart - maybe. But he is such a faith-filled child, it amazes me. He is so devoted, so certain. I hope and pray that his faith remains strong his entire life! Math is going well. He’s on L. 85 in Saxon Algebra 1/2. I think we’ll finish that book up before we take a break the end of July. Score-wise, he’s got probably a B+ average. Understanding wise, he gets it all. He struggles a bit with focus and attention to detail, but I am certain that’s a maturity issue, not an intellectual one. I’m just so darn proud of him! He’s reading the Foundation series by Asimov and loving it. His reading is amazing - he isn’t really interested in kid books anymore. I’m pre-screening The Andromeda Strain right now, he wants to read that next. He’s just such a precocious kid, most of the time I don’t think about it, but then sometimes it just hits me and overwhelms me! Science is going well. We did a neat experiment this week, where we used warm water, a match, and a tightly capped 2 litter plastic bottle to make a cloud. He squeezed the bottle and saw the cloud, and his eyes about popped out of his head - probably the neatest experiment we’ve done so far, because he wasn’t expecting it. Very, very cool. He’ll be taking the test for Module 5 next week. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get half-way through the book before we take a break. When we start back in the fall I will insist that he keep a lab notebook. I need to start helping him organize his thoughts neatly. That’s a big struggle for him. After this, I think he’ll go into high school biology, and he needs to know how to keep neat notes. I’m not entirely certain I will do that next year. I might wait another year, it just sort of depends. Let’s see - he’s really doing well in piano. I can tell he enjoys it, which is a lot of fun. I am so happy to pass that love and skill on to my child!! Art and handwriting are progressing. He’s just never going to have beautiful writing, and I’ve accepted that. I just need to help him be *legible*. I think next week I’m going to start paying a lot of attention to writing (as in, composition). Probably using Bravewriter. That’s a weak area in our homeschool, and one I need to start addressing. I do think I’ve found the grammar program I’m going to use with him next year (Analytical Grammar), so that will be good. Latin we’ve just kind of stopped for the rest of the year. Not sure where I will put him next in Latin. Maybe Cambridge Latin? Has anyone used that? Anyway, J1 has had good, solid year. not our best, but he’s doing fine.

A2 - he is SUCH a stinker! When he pays attention, when he focuses his mind on the task at hand - you can’t stop him. He just all too often choses to stonewall me! It’s very frustrating. I had a really tough day with him late last week. He just doesn’t seem to GET subtraction. And he was starting to struggle with his reading again. And he was complaining it was too hard. I sent him down to Rick, who got him to admit that sometimes he doesn’t pay attention and gives the wrong answers on purpose so I’ll get frustrated and leave him alone. That child! So, when he worked hard and focused, he did great earlier this week, even in math. We unfortunately had a busy day in the middle and we didn’t do a lot of math Thursday and Friday, so he didn’t do quite so well in the later part of the week. I just need to get him and Sam to memorize those addition and subtraction facts! I’m very frustrated with Math U See. I think it has totally confused them, and I think I need to switch over to Singapore Math. Maybe - I think perhaps I am obsessed with the curriculum, the text, too much, and maybe I need to try a different approach. I’m thinking about some sort of game where he needs to know his math facts. I’m going to look into that. I do have to say though, that he has definitely made progress. 5 months ago I didn’t think he was going to get *anywhere*, and he’s *so close* to just taking off. He has also made such TREMENDOUS strides in reading! We’re on L. 64 in 100 EZ Lessons, and he is doing it. He is really starting to “get it”, I think. He still gets stuck now and then, has a bit of trouble with the consonant blends (he wants to say “we-nut”, rather than “went”, for example) and he isn’t ready to move on to reading actual books yet (his choice), but he’s close - really close. He is really gaining a lot of confidence in reading the stories, he often reads quickly, with expression, and he is starting to not be stuck on the easy, frequent words that used to stop him (like “will” and “then”, etc). I’m going to give him through next week, and then I think I’m going to insist he start trying to read a real book. Handwriting is still a struggle - we’ve got a doctor appointment for mid-July, and I’m certain he’s going to need a referral to a hand surgeon. But, he’s trying, and I think the concepts are starting to come, if not the neatness and ease. I am still a bit frustrated, and scared, by the fact that he is almost 9 and is really just getting through 1st grade work. BUT - he is truly, truly, making progress, and I’m very, very proud of him! One thing that occurred to me late this week - he has a true gift for story-telling. Part of 100 EZ lessons is a question and answer, “tell me about the story just read“ sort of thing at the end of the lesson. He LOVES that. I tried to skip it on Friday, and he absolutely insisted that he, basically, give me a narration of the story he just read. His comprehension is rock-solid, and he is able to narrate better than any of his brothers. And one day last week, I was about to call them in for math, but had to stop myself. Him and S3 were working on the movie they are planning to make some day, with the monsters “XLR” (A’s creation, made with combination of a rubber lizard and rubber snake “tentacles”) and “Dragak” (S’s dragon figure). A2 said they had to “get the story right” before they started filming. So, for well over 30 minutes, they sat together and practiced this story they are planning to film someday. I was utterly fascinated. They were essentially story-boarding, and it all came from them. I was not involved in the slightest, and that was cool. I couldn’t possibly interrupt them to come learn more about subtraction! I really do have “unschool-ish” tendencies...

S2 - is doing great. Math-wise, I think he *almost* has it. He’s REALLY solid on his addition facts, and he’s almost got subtraction - SO close. I am certain he’ll be fine. I do think he will benefit from a switch in programs. Maybe I’ll use Math U See and Singapore, we’ll see. And games will be good for him, too. Handwriting is ok - my best one so far, but not great. Reading is interesting. I’m encountering his speech issues right now, for one thing. I’ve finally figured out - he can’t flatten his tongue, so “l”s and “th”s are tough for him. I think if I just practice with him, he’ll be fine, because he CAN do it - he just needs to practice. Also, he sight-reads SO well, it’s actually interfering with him learning to sound words out. We’re a bit frustrated, but I think he’ll push through. And once he gets that, he’ll really take off in reading, I am certain of it. He’s just so *quick* about everything. He makes immediate, intuitive leaps - or he struggles mightily. Most of the time he gets stuff right away - the challenge with him is going to be getting him to slow down and work through it if he doesn’t intuitively understand. He also said the most interesting thing the other day - keep in mind that he is 7! I’m not entirely sure how it came up. But, we were talking about something, and mentioned that we were at war. S3, from the other room, pipes up and says, “I don’t think there should be a war! If there’s war, we can’t be at peace!” J1 said patiently, “But we’re at war because people attacked us.” S3 said, very determined, “Well, maybe we should just be nice to them so they won’t attack us.” And J1 said that they attacked us for no good reason. S3 said, with finality, that he didn’t care, that there shouldn’t be war. I’m fascinated by this - my little pacifist! So different from the rest of us (I’m not saying I’m pro-war, more that I’m not a pacifist, either). None of his brothers ever questioned the need for war, either now or in history. S3, he seems so flighty and distracted on the surface, but he has a lot of unseen depth to him.

I’m so fascinated - truly fascinated! - with my children. Such interesting, unique individuals!

N4 - He’s SO funny. He has suddenly expressed interest in doing the 100 EZ Lesson book. He’s on L. 6, and starting to put sounds together quite well. I suspect he’ll be reading fluently about the same time A and S are (about 4 more months, I think, maybe less). He also seems to be really paying attention to learning the math facts, quietly and without any of us knowing. (For example, he asked me, out of the blue, “Mom, what’s 3+3?” And I asked him what he thought it was, and he answered correctly. Was quite pleased with himself when I told him he was right.) He has a LOT of fun coloring pictures while his brothers work on their handwriting. Hard to believe he would only be entering Kindergarten this year. He’s definitely ready for 1st grade work. He’s absolutely like J1, intellectually, and he’ll be flying ahead before too long at all.

So, things are going well. I’m starting to think about next year, and how I want to do things. I’m puzzled, I really am. I’m in a sort of “information dump” mode right now. I might post some links and stuff over at Aquinas Academy. Have lots to think about!!

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