Here he is, my (big) little man! 15 months old today.
Griffin had a birthday, and I got to cut the cake!
Birthday Boy! Talk about growing up fast. 8 years old!
Sammy the Ham
We started our school year two weeks ago, and we are slowly adjusting to the many curriculum changes that we have made. Our schedule has changed dramatically from last year with the addition of a very active toddler who likes to get his way, so we are easing into school gently this year. Last year, both of the boys had independent work only, and only needed to come to me when they had questions. It worked great for us last year -- with the addition of a new baby, I needed all of the time I could get -- however, I could sense that the boys wanted more time with me during their school time, and I knew that they were just doing their workbooks to "get it over with" so that they could move on to much more important things, like playing the Wii!
Here is our curriculum line-up for this year:
Bible -- We are following Sonlight's plan for Bible, which includes daily Bible reading, verse memory, and reading through the book Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings, by Marian M. Schoolland.
Character Training -- We're reading through the book Character Trails: Learning to Walk in Paths of Righteousness, by Marilyn Boyer. Each week we read about a different character trait. We read stories about people in the Bible, people from history, and modern kids (fiction) who display good character. We'll cover attentiveness, availability, boldness, compassion, courage, decisiveness, endurance, flexibility, generosity, joyfulness, orderliness and thoroughness.
History/Geography -- Sonlight has a great history plan, so we'll be following that this year. We're using Sonlight's Core B, Intro to World History, Year 1 of 2. Next year, we'll do Core C, Intro to World History, Year 2 of 2 and finish our study of world history. We'll be reading together on the couch. I haven't been great about reading to the boys, so that's one reason I love Sonlight. It forces me to do it, and I already love our snuggle time! I wouldn't give it up for anything. Sonlight uses lots of Usborne books, missionary story books, and A Child's History of the World, by V.M. Hillyer. Each week, we'll be praying for an unreached people group from one of the 5 main groups: the acronym is THUMB, and the people groups are Tribals, Hindus, Unreached (or Unchurched) Chinese, Muslims, and Buddhists. We will be using a Book of Time, which is a big, spiral-bound book with sturdy pages, and we'll record the people and events we study on the timeline. We also have a markable map and some wet-erase markers so that we can find the places we are reading about and mark them.
Read-Alouds -- This year, we'll get to read through Charlotte's Web, Homer Price, Favorite Poems of Childhood, Little Pear, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Owls in the Family, Henry Huggins, The Year of Miss Agnes, Understood Betsy, Greek Myths, Mountain Born, It Could Always Be Worse, The Wheel on the School, Gooney Bird Greene, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Detectives in Togas, and The Case of the Gasping Garbage. It is going to be a fun year! We have dived into Charlotte's Web already, and we all love it.
Language Arts.-- We're using Sonlight's Language Arts1 and Language Arts 3 programs, which is a very gentle way of learning about the English language. Charlotte Mason-ish in its approach, each of the boys will be doing some copywork, dictation, creative expression, phonics/grammar, and spelling each day. Not all of the subjects are covered each day, but it is enough work to last about 15-20 minutes. This program is known for turning out kids who love to read and write. It doesn't matter to me if the boys have memorized all of the rules for phonics and grammar (who actually knows them all?). However, I really want for them to love sitting down with a good book in their spare time, and I would love for them to be able to express themselves effectively in writing as well. We have extra workbooks that I can pull out if we need extra practice or have time to fill and bored children -- Wordly Wise for vocabulary and Explode the Code for phonics.
Science -- Apologia Astronomy! We do this together as well. All of the Apologia elementary books are written at a 4th grade reading level, and are intended for use with 2nd-6th graders. There are 6 books, though, so I figure that even if Sammy doesn't remember any of what he learns this year in Astronomy, he will have at least had fun. And I can say he has done all of the elementary books. Ha! Griffin won't be doing a couple of the books, since he will only be using the elementary books for 4 years, but science is right up there with art, in my opinion. Sure, there are things we all need to know about the subject, and most of those things the boys learn just by being at home and playing outside and walking on the trail and looking at the stars... and Wikipedia! But Apologia really dives in deep with the elementary books. We'll learn about astronomy, botany, flying creatures, swimming creatures, land animals, and human anatomy and physiology. Sammy is really excited to be doing "official" science now. Last year we just looked up any science-related questions on the internet or borrowed books from the library about science topics. We will get to do weekly projects and experiments, and they each have a notebooking journal that goes along with the textbook that has coloring pages, mini books to make, science phrases and Bible verses to copy, and fun activities to do. It will be an exciting year for science!
Math -- Sammy is using Horizons Math 1 this year, and he loves it! He finishes quickly, and will often hunt through the next few lessons to see if there is any extra work he wants to do. Griffin is using Teaching Textbooks 3, and it is a transition period right now. Sammy will switch to TT in 3rd grade as well, because they can do their work in the student workbook and/or on the computer, and the computer program grades their work and keeps track of missed problems, and shows me if they have looked at the solution if they missed the problem... SO wonderful! Griffin loves math, and the work is mostly review right now, so he is starting to get bored, but there are new concepts in there that I don't want him to miss, so he does the lessons to humor me. :) He does like the fact that it doesn't take him long to finish a lesson.
Critical Thinking -- We love The Critical Thinking Company's books! Their book series Building Thinking Skills is wonderful! The books really get the boys looking at things in different ways, and I have seen progress in other areas (math, writing, etc.) as a result of using these books. They are "easy" and "fun" -- or so the boys say, but they are learning from them! These books are also a great way to prepare kids for standardized tests, which we will be doing with Griffin this year and every year 3rd grade and up for both boys. I know that many homeschoolers are opposed to standardized testing for many reasons, but we will not be sharing the results with the boys or moaning over low scores or exulting over high scores. We have learned, through an acquaintance who didn't have any way to prove that her children were progressing in her homeschool, and eventually ended up losing her children for various reasons, that legally it is best to have record of our children's progress over the years if our schooling were to ever come under fire. We want to be prepared! I also don't want to have to keep every test and workbook in order to prove that progress. Homeschool grade cards won't stand up in a court of law, because I could have just written them up yesterday and fudged the scores, as awful as that sounds. The standardized test results will fit nicely inside our fire-safe box of important documents, and I won't have to pull out tubs full of work to prove that they are learning in our homeschool.
Griffin told me that school is easy right now, but he sure doesn't complain when it is time to start working! He finishes his independent work before lunch most days, and then we wait until Oliver takes his afternoon nap before starting our reading. We tried doing our "couch time" with Oliver running around the living room, but that boy likes to be the center of attention, or at least have someone watching him, and he would screech and howl until we had to stop. I am looking forward to putting together some Busy Bags, an idea I have seen in various places. I want to get together with a bunch of other moms, and each one of us will make a bunch of the same bag, and then we can swap them until each of us has one of each kind of bag. They are to use for little ones when you need them to be entertained while you can't be sitting right next to them. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest! I'm excited to get started on that. Then perhaps our together time will be a bit more flexible, and we won't have to be quite so quiet! The volume can get pretty loud during science, our "fun" subject! :)
I'll be updating about school as our year continues!