Thursday, December 13, 2007

Week 15 in Review

Week 15

We had most of the week at home again – just the usual errands, no big time consuming trips to town for specialist appointments. I was starting to power down for the holiday so I didn't really push too hard to do things beyond the core curriculum. Yet the pace ended up quite lively even with a more relaxed feeling to the days. Next week we are going to end early in the week (Wednesday). So I'm writing this out today, a bit early.

We got snow last week and it has stuck, so the four boys have gone outside to sled every single day. They've also been pretty good resources with chores around the house – they have daily and weekly chores as a routine but I have been trying, out of necessity, to get them involved in all the "other" things around here besides the basic maintenance. So this week Kieron made brownies, for example, and they have all been helping me care for the dog, who had surgery this week and is requiring extra care.

I think I'll try this review by child rather than subject, like Aquitaine Academy, and see if I like it that way better.

Sean is 14

  • In general, I am focusing on including study skills in my teaching for him. The goal of this is to teach him the "tools" to attack different types of books and materials. He can narrate and pick out main topics, etc, but I want to get him to the level where he is able to evaluate both his own understanding and the method or approach of the book he is reading. (After Christmas I am going to start him on "How to Read a Book" by Mortimer Adler but right now I'm just finding out where he is at already and trying to give him some exposure to the concepts).
  • For Math, he is on Chapter 7 of Jacob's Algebra, which is about Simultaneous Equations. This is more challenging and new to him than past material and we had a couple of days of struggle. I worked with him on identifying the verbs in the directions, because one of his areas of difficulty is with reading directions by himself and translating them into action. Once I explain them he is usually all right but presently he is dependent on me to translate them. Of course, in high schools and universities all over the country, teachers teach material extensively before expecting a young person to apply it, but one of the virtues of the homeschool is that you can teach them to do this as you go.
  • He continued his reading curriculum: Book of Discovery, Stories from Virgil by A Church, Screwtape Letters – I don't think he got to Earth Science this week. I had him read a couple of chapters of the Gospel of Luke and he is on section 3 of The Life that Changed the World (about the world in Jesus's time). He wrote notes on a couple of these and did discussion/narrations with others. For free reading he read The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Elusive Pimpernel, and one I can't remember (revenge of the Pimpernel?? : )).
  • He also watched with his siblings several Shmalayan movies they got from the library – Signs, The Village, and Sixth Sense.
  • For Latin, we continued with Lesson 11 in the Memoria Press syllabus for Henle Latin 1. So he is on the third declension. I have him review the declension daily and then we usually pick a few items from 2 or 3 different exercises in Henle, so he is doing various things with the material during a lesson.
  • He continued Greek and Vocabulary. He is on Lesson 67 of Vocabulary and page 98 – which is midway through Lesson 21 – in Hey Andrew Book 3. Hey Andrew moves EXTREMELY slowly but Greek is not our main area of emphasis for languages right now so this gives him something to do independently. These two subjects he does as a routine first thing in the morning, which provides a sort of warm-up for the more difficult subjects.
  • We didn't do many memory cards this week. I'm planning to make some more this holiday and organize the ones I have so they are easier to access.
  • I started him on the first lesson of the Yellow Composition Workshop (Sadlier). This is about the writing process. One of the peculiarities of my teaching style is that I need some book for the child to follow – so it's hard to do programs like Classical Writing, which I love, because they are written towards the teacher and I have a hard time simply teaching. My strength is in flexing or working with a book or resource which the child and I can follow together, and I can adapt. I hate most standard writing curriculums. This one is all right and simple enough for me to be able to flex it and use it as a spine or core resource. So I'm going with it.
  • He lifted weights with his father 3 times this week and seems really internally motivated.


Kieron is 11

  • In general, we are working on his fluency in handwriting. I gave him an amateur diagnosis of dysgraphia and asked Aidan's OT for suggestions. She thought he should go back to what old 19th century penmanship books call the "Principles" – ie, the elements that make up letters. The OT recommends Handwriting without Tears and I like it too – HWT calls the principles Curves, Lines and Slides (diagonals). So all this week he has been drawing curves. M goal here is to train his muscle memory and break him of the habit of reversing letters. In all other ways he is on grade level or sometimes quite a bit above, but in handwriting he probably functions as a 2nd grader.
  • For Math, he is on Lesson 8 of MCP Math F. This is about decimals – place value, estimating, adding and subtracting. We had more trouble than I expected with place value; I think partly because of the holiday excitement which seems to distract him more than the older kids. But it is easy stuff, no calculating, so it hasn't taken much time to teach.
  • He has not done much Latin and he only did Greek a couple of times this week.
  • His reading:
  • He has read almost all the books in the Advent basket. I only have a few left to give him.
  • He downloaded three Thornton Burgess books from the internet and printed them and finished reading them all.
  • He is listening to Redwall books on tape.
  • And I am reading aloud The Sword Bearer by John White while he exercises on the bike.
  • For science, he read a book called Weather and one called Weird Weather, from the library. He did a couple of experiments and has expressed a wish to do more. I gave him Janice van Cleave's books to look through and he was browsing through them, but I don't know if he found anything. This weekend I am going to look for more experiment books for him to look through.
  • I have been going through the Baltimore Catechism chapter on the Incarnation with him, and discussing the concepts, hoping to get his doctrine down just a bit better.


Aidan is 8 and functions like a 5-6 year old.

  • He has had so much fun with his "numbers" as he calls them – the flannelboard counting set that came in the mail a couple of days ago.
  • He did the HWT letterforms a couple of days this week. He was able to do an A for the first time (he has trouble processing diagonals, perhaps because of midline crossing over issues).
  • He drew some straight across lines though on some Kumon worksheets.
  • I read him some Bible stories (at his request).
  • He played several times with playdough, set up a "coffee shop", and helped me bake a couple of times.
  • He had occupational therapy this week but no speech therapy because the weather prevented the SLP from coming up.


Patrick has just turned 5

  • He did most of the things that Aidan did, above.
  • I read to him for about an hour, sometimes more, a day.
  • He can pick out some words in books and yesterday was "reading" from Frog and Toad (just reciting from memory and putting his finger on the right word).


Forecast for next week:

  • Oldest son will be home so I expect I had better keep it short and simple for the academics, for various reasons. We will close down on Wednesday or Thursday (planning Wednesday for the last day, but prepared to use Thursday as a catch-up day if they are too sluggish on the other days).
  • I'd like to have more time to play games and pay attention to the family.
  • Phasing down/reviewing focus for those three days – not expecting to break much new ground.
  • Focus on Advent and understanding Christmas.
  • I am going to start a list of things I want to focus on in January when we resume. We are almost halfway through the year. Good progress for us!

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