I continue to just put one foot in front of the other each day. I miss my sense of joie de vivre--lost in the swirl of hormones and challenges of being over-40-and-pregnant, but I practice gratitude. Being grateful always lifts my heart . . . if not my energy levels.
As this is our 10th week of school, I find I'm inclined to write a bit of a progress report about each child.
Her reading journal is her greatest strength. I actually look forward to seeing what she writes about what she reads each day. She has the ability to cut to the chase, and she has a wry way of reporting that I find very appealing.
Though her mind is quick, her basic communication skills (spelling, punctuation, grammar) continue to be a struggle. She says that the Rod and Staff language arts book we were using definitely taught her more than the Fix It! grammar book we're currently using does, but we're still glad we made the change. The lessons may be less demanding, but having less pressure has made a world of difference in our days. She is continuing to use the Rod and Staff spelling program for remedial spelling, and she finished the Rod and Staff penmanship series last week. She copies a verse of scripture each day for continued penmanship practice (and that skill has come a long way forward!!!!)
Fractions have become her Waterloo. We're on our third round of fractions study--trying new ways of approaching it each time. E14 says she doesn't want to move on until she "gets it;" that's why we're still plugging away. But the strain is wearing us both out. If this round doesn't work we're going to shelve the subject for a while and move on to something else. We'll pull fractions back out in a few months.
I'd like to make some changes to her history study. We're using The History of the Ancient World text and study guide. The study guide is not fabulous. I think the maps, vocabulary, and comprehension questions are fine, but the critical thinking questions are just weird. I, even with the teacher guide, struggle to understand what is being asked and what makes an acceptable answer. E14 is afraid to deviate from what's in front of her, even though she doesn't like it, but I'm campaigning to dump the study guide and have her keep her own history journal. We'll see (especially after our little meeting this week).
She loves seminary. All on her own she gets up and ready by 5:25 am each school morning. All I have to do is either see her off when it's not my turn to drive the carpool or knock on her door to tell her to meet me in the car when it is my turn to drive.
A friend of our has just had a new daughter join the family--a 15-year old daughter from her husband's first marriage. This girl has been raised by a grandmother in Guatemala for her whole life, and is new to the U.S. E14 has gone out of her way to learn some Spanish in order to welcome D15 and try to be her friend. My heart has been touched as I've watched E14 and D15 this week.
The early math tears that plagued us for the first weeks of school seem to be a thing of the past as M12 has found her rhythm. Shortening the lessons has been a blessing, and M12 dives into math each day almost eagerly. I like it when she brings her math into the kitchen because it gives me the chance to watch her calculate, draw, measure, and figure her way through her Saxon 8/7 math book. Watching her work is a wonder to me!
M12 hates creative writing. Every writing assignment in her language arts book brings her fussing to me with question after question after question and many, many complaints. The funny thing is that she writes beautifully in her reading journal. She can write clearly and engagingly. And she knows it because she wrote a note to me that her reading journal entries were better than the book she's currently reading (she's not enjoying Island of the Blue Dolphins at all!). I've decided that creative writing is not mandatory. Daily journal-keeping coupled with history compositions and geography reports are ample writing practice for now.
Spelling and penmanship continue to be a struggle for her. She's working in Rod and Staff for both of these subjects. I see progress--it is slow, to be sure, but it is progress just the same. I'm making fewer corrections this year in her school journals than I was last year.
She's a faithful worker, diligently completing school assignments. When she finishes she's happy to be free to work on sewing/crafting projects. This week she made A7 a dress to match the one she made H5 this summer. She's hoping to have time to sew J10 a matching circle skirt today (Saturday) before the primary program (when the children's organization provides the service for our main worships service) this Sunday.
She's also diligent about daily violin lessons with A7 . . . and A7 loves those lessons!
I need to find her a violin teacher of her own.
My bright and flighty girl is doing well academically. She's flying through her remedial math program (Alpha Omega Lifepac Math)--remedial only because she changed math programs and had to fill in some gaps in the scope and sequence. I've been tempted to let her skip around and only work on the gap subjects, but I'm seeing so much confidence develop in her through the practice of the more basic skills that I've resisted that temptation. It bothers her to be working "below her grade level," but she's positive and definitely thriving. She really likes the traditional graded feel of this program, crowing happily when she gets "another A!"
She did really well reading Shakespeare Stories II--though some of the plotlines contained dubious subject matter for kids. We had interesting "conversations" in her reading journal--writing back and forth to one another about moral dilemmas and the comparing tragedies vs comedies. She was happy to take a break from tougher reading with a Nancy Drew mystery story as her next book. She thought it was a fun read and managed to do herself what I haven't been able to do for 6 years--convince her sisters to try Nancy Drew. They've checked out every classic mystery story they can from the library and have been reading them in their free time. Makes me feel 11 years old again. :)
Penmanship made her crazy at first, but she's slowed down and learned how to control her hands and mind, and now penmanship is one of her strengths, but only during penmanship exercises! I've yet to convince her to apply the same principles of care to any other writing endeavors.
Her history reports are getting clearer and more concise than they were 10 weeks ago--she absolutely loves reading the "You Wouldn't Want to Be . . . " books that I'm using as her main history resource.
S12's scripture journal is my favorite kid journal to review because she "talks" to me in it--making comments on what she's read or asking me questions. I write back to her. I think we're both nourished by this private little communication.
She's looking forward to NaNoWriMo in November. I'll be letting her put most of her school subjects away for the month (except scriptures and math) so that she can write, write, write! Last year she wrote a 5,000 word book. This year the goal is 10,000 words!
This girl is my gifted writer. She doesn't revel in writing the way S12 does, but quietly, J10 has astonishing talent. Her geography reports and history compositions are tightly crafted. Her reading journals read like professional short stories. She rarely writes without compulsion, though, so I assigned her "Creative Writing" as a school subject. She has the option each day of doing writing of her own choosing or pulling out a slip of paper with a writing prompt on it and using that as her inspiration. She pulled slips for the first few weeks, but lately she's been on a poetry kick. I am not a proper judge of poetry (sometimes I quite like what might be considered doggerel, and I quite hate what is considered true poetry), but I am charmed by J10's insights into human nature and her imagery. She has a gift for choosing and putting together words.
J10 has managed to complete 104 out of 142 lessons in her Saxon 5/4 math book in less than 40 days of school--with nearly perfect accuracy. In the past week, she's been introduced to math concepts that require her to pay careful attention to what she's doing (decimals and 3-digit multiplication), so she's had a few mistakes that I've required her to go back and correct, which has slowed down her conquest. Nonetheless, she's going to need the next level of math no later than Christmas-time--possibly sooner.
Finding reading material for J10 is a challenge. She's bright, and I want to challenge her, but she's also a little girl, and I want to allow her the privilege of staying a little girl for now. She also isn't open to a variety of literature--if she finds a book she likes she's fiercely loyal to that book, reading and re-reading it to the exclusion of all else. She loves animals--horses in particular--so our compromise is that she tries new books about horses or other animals. . . for now. My effort to have her read Shakespeare Stories was an absolute failure, but she happily re-read (this time journaling) Black Beauty, and Misty of Chincoteague while we waited for some books we put on reserve at the library. Next on her list is The Incredible Journey.
J10 does extremely well at anything she tries . . . the trick is to get her to try doing it!
I'm hoping she'll consent to the NaNoWriMo challenge with S12 next month.
This little girl is good at math! I've never done formal math lessons so early (except with E14--which is what put me off formal math for little ones in the first place), but A7 loves math! She loves it!!! She tears through 4 pages a day of her math book, only stopping because I tell her that we need to take a break to do other things. I'm consistently astonished at how she intuits the workings of numbers--seeing patterns and understanding new concepts almost before I've begun to teach them. Mostly I just supervise the discoveries she makes herself.
She's really enjoying her daily penmanship exercises in cursive. She still chooses printing as her writing method when free to choose for herself, but her cursive is quite lovely. She has a little composition book in which I write model sentences, and she copies them. Along the way we talk about small grammatical, spelling, and punctuation lessons. I'm using Writing With Ease as my general model.
We're also doing lessons from First Language Lessons. I'm not doing every lesson--some of them are picture study lessons or copywork that she's already doing in other forms, but we're hitting the main grammar lessons, and they're so mild that A7 hardly notices that we're doing them. Her favorite part of these lessons is poetry memorization. She's averaging a poem a week, and is now choosing her own poems.
A7 still shuts down utterly if I ask her to compose a little story--even with prompts (just like M12!)--so I don't require any creative writing from her. She, however, happily narrates back to me what she reads each day from The Christian Liberty Nature Reader.
I've failed to have the weekly art lessons I so want to give her. We've had one lesson so far, and she's waiting patiently for another. She finds artistic inspiration wherever she is--of late it has been out of E14's fashion books. Every time I find one of her new drawings I am determined again to follow through with the art lessons this talented little girl needs. I will do it!!! I will!!!!!
She has her very last lesson out of Sonlight Language Arts K on Monday. A friend gave us one of those comprehensive school workbooks (the kind you find at Sam's Club or Costco or anywhere) for grade 1, and H5 wants to "start first grade" as soon as possible.
She won't really be starting first grade on Tuesday, but I will work with her on those workbook pages for as long as she finds them satisfying and begin the Sonlight I Can Read It! series, too. H5 still labors to sound out each word she sees, so I think this little learn-to-read series will be a good opportunity to develop fluidity and confidence. In addition, we'll do some scripture verse reading--I'll print in large font a scripture verse a week to have her read each day.
Instead of purchasing the Sonlight grade 1 language arts program (which has more spelling and writing than I'm comfortable giving my newly 5 year old girl), I'll create a copybook like A7's for her, in which we'll continue to work on her printing for another year.
I2 is very nearly I3. He loves having "little kid school" each day. I think it is more the fact that he gets one-on-one time with me just like the big kids than the academic side of things. And I keep the academics to a minimum. He takes great pride in sharing his newly learned scripture stories each week and in showing off any crafts he makes with the other members of the household. I love how every sister cheers him in every endeavor he makes. I'm happy, and he's happy with our little letter-a-week preschool.
The excitement of having a new camera must have worn off, because I seem to be over the rush of taking a picture of everything the kids do. :)
We attended a nature hike and litter pick up with our Explorer's Club--little kids did a scavenger hunt for seasonal leaves and seeds, big kids picked up litter.
Youth activities at the church on Wednesday night were sewing buttons for the medium sized girls and a rousing game of Bunco for the older youth. My girls came home extra excited and happy after all of the fun. The little guys brought toys from home and played with a few friends in a smaller room while I helped with Relief Society interviews.
We had dance rehearsals on Thursday.
And here a few shots of some extra fun we had in our week.
|F is for fingerprints|
|F is also for Five Little Frogs|
|Big kid school isn't as exciting to take pictures of as little kid school is.|
|"Pweeze, pweeze can I make R?"|
|A7 is a diligent student|
|Making monster treats for the homeschool teen Halloween dance. They came out so cute, but they won the prize for "scariest treat!" :)|
|"Piper" and "Clarisse" from the Percy Jackson books.|
|E14 went as a "Runaway Bride." The dress was just a thrift store purchase, but when she announced her costume theme during the costume contest, she made the costume judges laugh so much they gave her a prize for creativity.|
|The next night was our church Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat, so the rest of the kids got to dress up. Here's I2 in the same dragon costume that his cousin wore 16 years ago.|
|These little girls wore the same pioneer costumes I sewed for their older sisters about 6 years ago.|
|I was so tickled that J10 would wear her gorgeous peacock costume from the homeschool Summer Safari dance. When she got to the party she found that one of her friends was dressed as a bird of paradise, so they were quite the pair.|
|Here are little sisters just enjoying a warm autumn evening.|