So we are still trying to ‘find our groove’ but I don’t despair; I have realised that homeschooling – of all but the strictest style – involves constantly searching for the groove. Still, we battle on!
Mr. D. surprised his father just last week. They have a new deal where Mr. D. enjoys time alone (without little sister) with Dad being read to. Dad said “sure, son, but you read to me, first”. After initial resistance, Mr. D. is getting some extra reading time in. The surprise? The lad who was struggling on Level DD of RAZ online reading sat down and read his father The Gruffalo. Word perfect. With nuance and inflection. With emotion and pace. Like a reader. Woot! Since then, I have moved Mr. D. through his RAZ to level F; I think he could actually go to E but I want to build his confidence first. Not bad for a dyslexic boy who can’t sit still, eh?
At home we are working on The Story of the World: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer. We are reading in small chunks and doing the activities out of the Activity Guide and using a lapbook format to document our learning. Some of the relevant work is here on previous posts as well. We are using Jim Wiese’s Ancient Science at the same time – although not completely in synch, it does comes pretty close. To round things out, we watched the mini-series Walking with Cavemen, produced by the BBC. A simplified story combined with an inserted-narrator conceit means it isn’t a good series for those already possessing prehistoric knowledge; but for those people, like our kids, willing to suspend disbelief, it was brilliant. They may not remember the names of Homo habilis or Paranthropus boisei but they do remember the traits and adaptations. Good enough for me.
Both Mr. D and Ms. E., his little sister, have recommenced external science classes. These were at our local museum in the past but the educator has left to set up on her own and there is a genuine love between Mr. D. and this teacher. She has promised to try and be more in-depth for Mr. D. as he has done all the classes so many times and because she is running age-grouped classes. Mr. D. takes age-grouping as a personal insult! At present, they are investigating matter but I am going to have to wait until I receive the class outline before I know exactly what each child has covered.
Our nighttime routine always consists of one of us parents reading several children’s books, followed by a chunk of a chapter book, to both children. Pleased to say we finally finished The Hobbit; this was only slow going because it was winter, the house was warm, and a certain lad kept falling asleep. But we finished the last 30 pages after seeing the movie – not realising where the movie would stop – so we had at least already covered the contents of the movie. Which the children loved. Mr. D. plays at being a great Gollum! Ms. E. is often found as a hobbit (she doesn’t even care about the hairy feet). Our new chapter book adventure is Treasure Island – what a winner! Seriously pirate-loving in this house, have been for a long time. The kids also watched The Pirates! Band of Misfits (a great Aardman claymation film) to be inspired in all things piratey!
During NIDES time, Mr. D. is working on a personal lapbook – his choice of topic? The game Plants vs. Zombies! I’ve given him some Wiki information (including a lesson on how to find it) and some pictures. The rest is up to him. Electronic games are a minefield for us – the computer skills used in most games are beneficial but our boy does not have an “off” switch. No matter how many times we tell him “one hour only” of computing time, no matter how many times we say “10 mins to go, 5 mins to go, 2 mins to go” it always seems to surprise, dismay, and frustrate him that time is up. My personal preference shows when I allow a little overtime to Minecraft or Physics with Crayons on the iPad over yet more Zombie killing. That said, we have quite a few math and physics sites on the iPad and both kids are very happy to navigate their way around those.
This last picture is of Mr. D.’s solution to a problem. To enrich the study of structures the School has provided, we purchased Javier Builds a Bridge from the Engineering is Elementary series produced by the Museum of Boston. Brilliant stuff and the book is only $8 and no postage was charged! A series of problems are posed throughout the story line and kids come up with innovative solutions. This was the first solution for Mr. D. who had to replace a rope and wood bridge over a shallow but fast moving creek. He wanted to allow a height clearance in case the water rose, a safe building material (he chose concrete) and he would have added a handrail for safety but didn’t have the lego parts he needed. A good first try, methinks.
Okay. Onward and upward! Hey, I’d settle for just onward.