Friday, August 19, 2011

Upcoming School Year in Focus: Math & Language Arts

How did these two end up being my last subjects?  Well, both for very different reasons.  Let's start with Math.  I followed a recommended true and tried program for two years.  It was clear after a struggle the first year that we were sinking at the beginning of the second year.  It completely makes sense to me (I went as far as Calculus in H.S. and then a pre-med science background in college meant more math.)  Well, my very voracious literary child doesn't quiet feel the same about the subject.  So I did the one thing we home schoolers can do:  stopped and completely switched math programs in the middle of the school year.  I had to analyze who this child was and what her strengths were.  She is a reader!!  I decided to try Life of Fred Fractions; she loved it.  But I still felt she needed a little more, so I added Math U See Epsilon.  After Life of Fred she was just to watch the MUS DVD and work on a test per lesson (we didn't bother with the student book at all).  My goal was to have the two programs supplement each other and compliment her learning style.  I think this a perfect fit for her.  It's made us both happy ; ) We will continue with two days of Life of Fred and two days of MUS for Decimals.  I honestly don't know where to go from there, I'll keep researching.

where my older three kiddos work,see the MUS
After reading Volume 1 Home Education, I also evaluated how my younger children were dealing with math.  Now, I know that they are all in the beginning stages so math is pretty simple and straight forward.  What I wasn't doing with them was letting them really work with manipulatives and real life scenarios, it was just a workbook style.  To my surprise Life of Fred has come out with an elementary series.  We are excited.  My third grader will start working through Life of Fred Apples and MUS Delta pretty much the same way as her older sister.  For my little boys I'm excited to try the Queens Homeschool Math Lesson for a Living Education.  I love how it is set up as a story and inter woven with ordinary simple manipulatives through out the lessons.  We'll work on this four days a week. Monday through Thursday.

Notice we have one day of the week left where I didn't schedule from the math books.  The goal is that Friday will be Family Fun Math day.  I plan on using of course, Family Math and Family Math for Young Children through out the year.  This should be fun for all the kids.  I'm looking forward to it.  I've mentioned this before, but educating within the Charlotte Mason philosophy has and continues to be a transition.  This is a subject in transition.  I would love to use the Living Math Site, but I'm not ready to incorporate it yet.  I have lots of time and hope to use some of its concepts soon.  I just wanted to mention it for reference sake. My goal for math this year is clear understanding and involvement without the stressful spend way too much time on a subject get frustrated and loose the joy!

the little boys area: ready for letters!
The second subject I left for the end is Language Arts.  I'm not avoiding it, but if you've noticed I tried to incorporate this subject within every other subject will be doing.  My focus is transitioning to fully following the methods of copywork, narration and dictation.  I will include some grammar & writing for my oldest this year.  Again, this is a subject that has been a complete transformation for me and includes some very important methods taught by Charlotte Mason.  If you have a chance, read my favorite posts on Language Arts by Jen at Wildflowers and Marbles.  This is only one of six I believe, so if you like it look around for the others.  I also enjoyed reading the Simply Charlotte Mason book Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing: A Charlotte Mason Language Arts Handbook.  I enjoyed the separation by grade levels/ages at the end of each chapter to make sure you reflect on your approach for each child.  It has been my experience, that this is the one area where I've really had to let go of old paradigms and trust Ms. Mason.  I haven't been disappointed, rather, I'm encouraged to master this for my children's sake.  These are the programs that will help me along with this process for at least the next two years (some even longer):

Spelling Wisdom Book 1 & 2 from Simply Charlotte Mason.  My oldest will have two dictations per week.  I will let her copy a selection one day and will dictate the next.  I'm going to start this process with my third grader as well.  She will just do one dictation per week.  I love the index in the back of each book!

Primary Language Lessons and Lingua Mater from Hillside Education are scheduled for every other day twice a week and are meant to supplement our other efforts.  I also like that the girls will get some picture study from these programs.  I didnt' schedule that this year because I knew we were using these books. 

I have also scheduled my oldest to read one chapter per week from a very quaint living book called Grammar Land.  Her sister can listen to the story, but is not required.

Delightful Reading from Simply Charlotte Mason.  I started teaching reading pretty much how Charlotte Mason describes before this kit was available.  Since I have three little boys that still need to go through this process I was thrilled to get it.  The handbook is great for mom and the tiles are just what they need.  I did add magnetic tape to the tiles and will have the boys use this magnetic table top easel.  Each will work at his own stage of course.  I'll post my first graders readers at the side bar through out the year. 

StartWrite program.  This has been such a great tool.  I have so many kids that still need a lot of writing practice.  I just kept getting discouraged thinking how many copywork type books I'd have to purchase for each one.  With this program I'm able create pages as we go along and even if it's just print the page with the lines for my third grader, it has been helpful.   I did get a little nervous with her cursive and decided to get the Pictures in Cursive Primer and Book A to get her started.  I'll be making my own pages for cursive once she's done with those two little books.

our reading area, the couches are very comfy
There you have it, my whole year in focus.  It has been great to dissect each subject we are covering.  The process has allowed me to put my efforts into perspective.  Much of what I'm doing will be new but the transition over the last few years has made me very comfortable in planning this year.  Charlotte Mason believed in giving children a true liberal arts education by providing them with an abundance of rich subject material.  In the process they build meaningful relationships by being allowed to make their own connections from all the experiences and great living books they are exposed to.   The goal is to create a love of learning in each of them by introducing them to wonderful ideas.  I've seen those connections made and relationships built by my children in the past.  I hope that I've created a banquet for them this year so they can continue to flourish in God's world.  Blessings to you as you start your new school year!


Silvia said...

It all sounds and looks wonderful. I know you'll have a great year.
I also try to have a living math approach, but I've kept some worksheets, however, the math mammoth worksheets we use are fine if you know when to skip, not to overload, and not to teach from them, but use them to settle down things.
Actually, my oldest has changed much her attitude, she is now liking it because she knows she can do them, and it's a short time. But I put my weight and the value on the things she does beyond those papers. They are just a bit of assurance and a formality, what I like is the math we do through games and real life moments, so one day for math fun is excellent.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying your posts on your school year...your house is beautiful. Have a blessed year!~Theresa (from MA group)

Grace'n'Chaos said...

Silvia, I had purchased my math workbooks back in January : ( I do think your right, just enough from the worksheets should be fine.

Theresa, thanks for the compliment and I'm so glad you've enjoyed!

Anonymous said...

It's sounds wonderful! I am sure you will have a great year!
I love the Family math books! They are wonderful!!
Have fun!

jenmack said...

I have REALLY been enjoying all your posts focusing on your upcoming year and the plans, books and resources you have so thoughtfully considered! It's been a delight and I love reading your voice, Jenny!

Grace'n'Chaos said...

Thanks Jen and Veronica!!