Friday, August 22, 2008

Weekly Report - 5

What happened to week 4?  It was a truly awful week.  Kaden and Chloe really struggled with their attitudes and each day was so distressing.  I thought we would probably be better off finding them a school.  That led to lots of stress, seeing as school would begin in just a week.  So, what to do?  I read Boundaries with Kids for the third time.  I took a real good look at the ways I enable my kids.  I determined to put some boundaries in place.  This was a much better week, but I have a ways to go.  They are all such good kids and they respond well to boundaries.  They don't respond well to Mom-the over-indulgent, self-sacrificing, emotional mess!

This week was better.  We didn't get as much school work done.  I had to spend more time staying on top of their work habits and being in charge.  This week was exhausting, but I am making progress and I see it in their attitudes and in their work.  They even play better together.  I'm glad I didn't bail for the nearest school!

I feel like a dunce, but I just don't get Drawing with Children.  It's just not my thing.  Maybe next year we can find some drawing classes.  I think I'm going to try to buy Atelier level one. The lessons are on DVD, so hopefully it will get done even when I am clueless!

Kaden finished chapter 5 of BJU2 and Chloe finished chapter 4 of BJU1.  They are moving along nicely.  We finished early this week and have enjoyed some word problem pages and fact sheets instead of Flashmaster.  BJU really stresses number families and I think Kaden is finally seeing how they are helpful for subtraction.  He is improving quickly and doesn't give me any attitude about it.

We read a few more books about digestion and the nervous system.  I ordered the rest of our science books for the fall semester, so next week we will study seasons and then weather.  They are looking forward to that!

We read through SOTW2 chapter 3 about Christianity coming to Britain and the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon pagans, monks and monasteries, and illumination.  We also read:
Caedmon's Song by Ashby
Marguerite Makes a Book by Robertson
Illuminations by Hunt

We finished The Willoughby's and started The Stray by Dick King-Smith.  It is a wonderful story as well.  Chloe read Mercy Watson and the Princess Disguise and fell in love with that series.  I don't know how to keep on top of Kaden's reading list!  He finishes a book or more everyday!  We read a lot of picture books but my favorites this last week were:  Brave Margaret by San Souci and O'Sullivan Stew by Talbott.

We made it to the gym twice this week, but I think it will be easier to go next week, local schools will be back in session!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekly Report - 3

This week was not as challenging as last week, but it wasn't nearly as exhilarating as that first week either!  I know now why I always seem to peter out after three weeks.  The brain load just gets to be too much.  I have so much stuff to think about, so much to plan, so much to implement, and too much to keep on top of that I just mentally shut down.  The fourth week always seems to fall apart as my mind takes a vacation.  Blogging has been helpful in showing me my weaknesses and patterns, as I had hoped, and I am slowly developing some useful skills that are keeping us moving.

I wrote up my topical year-at-a-glance list for history and science.  Now, I can easily see what's coming up soon and order books from the library or amazon.  I think that next year I will try to buy almost all of the books we will use to save myself this stress.  It is a weekly irritation that could be alleviated by better planning and budgeting.  If we weren't moving next summer, I would start buying books now for October's topics.  Alas...

The other list that is working tremendously well is a weekly subject checklist.  Now I can see what we still have to accomplish and know that nothing was missed.  I can also see that I am consistently missing Art.  Maybe I need to move that to an earlier spot in our day?  I am waiting for Drawing with Children from the library, but I may just have to buy it in September. I hope that Kaden is old enough for it now and maybe Chloe as well.  We can begin working through Artpak 1 next week though, if I can get the supplies put together this weekend.  I need to get some colored paper for Sam's ABC activities anyway.  Saturday might end up being a shopping day.  Maybe after I paint the boys' room and Chloe's room... 

The final helpful thing I started this week was putting each day's stack of readers on my desk under my checklist.  Each book planned for science, history, literature and storytime are all nicely stacked and ready for those moments when their play seems to be getting out of hand and they require a change in plans.  This has helped immensely towards getting our reading done!  An easy fix, especially with the space I now enjoy on my new desk.

So, that's the progress I've made this week.  Here's what the kids accomplished:

Kaden finished chapter 4 of BJU 2.  I think he understood the subtraction strategies better this go around.  It was an easy week for him.  He improved with Flashmaster as well and moved on to level 4.  Chloe finished chapter 3 of BJU 1.  It was all review, so she was able to focus more on her facts.  She is working on level 3 of Flashmaster addition.  I didn't use the TM's at all this week.  

Writing with Ease is wonderful!  I took the workbook to Kinko's and had the binding removed, the teaching pages bound together, made another copy of the student pages and had both student books bound.  It is so easy to use and the kids liked it as well.  Happy all around!  I'm going to get the audio versions of the books she takes her selections from and listen to those in the car.  I always forget to reserve audio books, so this will be helpful!

We were supposed to continue on with earth science (earthquakes, volcanoes, caves) but ALL of the library books that I had preselected this summer were checked out until mid-August! So, we checked out 10 books about the human body.  This week we learned about our senses from My Five Senses, by Aliki and You Can't Taste a Pickle With Your Ear, by Harriet Ziefert.
I had planned to do more hands-on learning with this topic, but it just didn't happen.  Most likely because I didn't plan anything out on paper.  Plans that exist only in my head never seem to amount to anything tangible.  Go figure!

We wrapped up our King Arthur unit this week with some great stories.
Bearskin - Pyle
Knights of the Round Table - Talbott
Merlin and the Dragons - Yolen
The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup - Sutcliff
Talbott's book about Lancelot still has not come in from the library, so we'll have to add it in next week somewhere... 

Kaden learned Long Gone, by Jack Prelutsky.
Chloe learned Singing Time, by Rose Fyleman.

We did manage to read three chapters of The Princess and the Goblin.  It continues to be a favorite read-aloud.  We are also enjoying The Willoughby's by Lois Lowry.  It is quite funny and terribly ridiculous.  I think it will make a great yearly read-aloud as the kids are still a bit young to grasp much of the subtle humor.  Chloe read Going West, a picture book adaptation from Little House in the Big Woods and Kaden is enjoying The Nine Lives of Aristotle, by Dick King-Smith, in addition to another half-dozen A to Z Mysteries and Ready Freddy short chapter books.

We only made it to the gym once this week.  I hope we can improve our record next week!  And on a final note, our puppy has gone to live with an older couple, big sighs of relief but also a tad bit of sadness and regret... I actually miss the little yapper.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Weekly Report - 2

Our first week was so ideal, I should have seen the fall coming!  Apparently, all the amazement at our new school year settled into an air of drudgery.  Maybe this will always happen.  We plowed through, but it was a struggle everyday.  Some of the issue was that I didn't feel my best, so maybe I lacked that extra enthusiasm that they needed to ignite their own excitement.  Maybe the newness of the uniforms and new books and daily schedule had worn off and it all felt just a little too snug and imposed.  We still got a lot done, but we didn't make it to the gym and we didn't manage to do any fun projects or art or poetry.  Our school lacked life this week!  It's good to know what makes for a good week.  I can resolve to make those things more of a priority.  Next week is a clean slate...

I decided to buy BJU 1 for Chloe, but just the worktext and reviews.  It should be here Monday.  Level 2 was going to move too fast for her and too slow for Kaden if I continued to keep them together.  She can work more independently with Level 1 and I can play addition games with her instead of spending that time teaching new concepts.  Level 2 will be there waiting for her as soon as she needs it.  It was tough to abandon my dream of combining them for math, but I think it was the right decision for them.  

Kaden starts subtraction review next week and he "hates" subtraction.  I think he needs more practice to really feel comfortable with it so I will find ways to include games and stories with manipulatives and take the strain out of the lesson.  He might be better off doing those pages alone so there isn't any "parent pressure".  I have to keep in mind that it is good for him to struggle and overcome his limitations.  My natural inclination is to lighten up and help him to coast through a difficult situation.  Subtraction isn't going to go away and eventually he'll have to master it but in his own time and not according to my timetables of "what is appropriate".
It came up so infrequently in Saxon 2 last year and I always let him skip those fact sheets.  I think that was appropriate then, but he is able to master it now, he just doesn't think he can.  I'm glad that BJU approaches it as a chapter concept, we won't need to move on until he has knows it and has confidence to do it.  He is so good at addition and multiplication, so of course he would rather only do what he's good at.  Just like me...

Chloe read The Josephina Story Quilt this week and Kaden completed another week of Explorer's Bible Study.  He also read four or five short chapter books!  He's quite pleased with how fast he can read now!

Our copy of Writing With Ease workbook 1 is supposed to be here Monday.  I am so excited to start that.  It's just what I've been trying to pull together myself.  Doing a little happy dance!!!

Our Island Story: chapters 10 & 11
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Pyle), pages 1-12 (The sword in the stone.)  I'm enjoying this book but I think the Talbott and San Souci books are more appropriate for their ages and the illustrations are so beautiful!
King Arthur triology by Hudson Talbott:  The Sword in the Stone, Excalibur, Knights of the Round Table (These are excellent, I plan to purchase them.)
(No notebook pages completed this week as our afternoons were just too frustrating!  I have some great books planned for next week and hopefully we can get our afternoons back in order!)

Earth:  Plate tectonics and pangea theories from CKE.  Puzzle experiment from Barbara Taylor's The Earth.
MPH:  Classification of living things into four groups, similarities and differences.

Countries of North America and Central America.  I finally learned them myself!  Kaden was excited because one of his books has a character from Costa Rica and now he knows where that is!

We chose poems but we didn't have time to learn them, so we'll save them for next week.  We did manage to learn some new knock-knock jokes!

We continue to read The Princess and the Goblin.  It is very good, but we are having trouble getting to it everyday.  I'm thinking of just reading this one like Ambleside suggests, one chapter a week.  That would be quite doable AND we could enjoy it for a longer period.  The kids never forget what has happened, even if it's been a few days.
Here are some of our favorite library picture books we read this week as well:
Heart of a Tiger by Marsha Diane Arnold
There Was a Old Woman Who Lived in a Boot by Linda Smith
The Well at the End of the World by Robert D. San Souci
I wish I could buy some new picture books to add to our library.  It seems that since we started schooling, all my book money goes to curriculum... 

Bruno is a biter and a terribly mean little puppy.  We aren't sure whether to get him another dog to socialize him or just to find him a new family without babies and little children.  It is so heartbreaking.  This was a major disturbance in our week and a cause of too much lost sleep.  I hope we can come to a solution soon!