Saturday, October 8, 2011

BJU Days

I think we have now gotten the hang of our new curriculum - the BJU Press distance learning classes. My 1st grader, Rebekah, really loves her classes and teachers, and enjoys being in charge of her own lessons. She still needs help sometimes finding the right lesson on her DVD, or finishing a worksheet, or sharpening her pencils, but most of the time she can do everything on her own. She still needs a little prodding sometimes to stay on track and not spend half an hour on a simple coloring sheet, but her days are definitely more streamlined than they were when we started.

I have gotten my own part more streamlined too. I get a whole week's worth of prep done on Friday evening or sometimes Saturday, pulling out all the worksheets she will need, printing out any supplementary material, and checking to see if I need anything from the store (we needed 20 grapes last week). I have my own 3-ring binder for 1st grade now, with a section for each class. In each section I have a printout of the lesson schedule (which includes needed materials) and any grading sheets, plus a pocket folder for the week's handouts. Have I mentioned that I love organizing? It's actually fun for me getting all her stuff together for the week.

Rebekah has her own smaller 3-ring binder too, with a section per class, where I put the worksheet/material for each day. I did have separate pocket folders for her for each class, but it got confusing and messy, so I put it all together in the one binder. She even has a checklist in the front, with each subject listed, in a clear plastic pocket so she can check off things with a dry erase marker. I put the video number for each class there too, so she can know which lesson she's on.

We still do science separately, though I'm adding in the BJU science videos as they pertain to our own lessons, and we are still adding in Sonlight Core A material (just the history and read-alouds, not the readers or Bible parts since we have that all covered by BJU). We are on our 3rd read-aloud book right now, and Rebekah loves listening to them (and I an enjoying reading them for myself). It doesn't add much time to our schedule either, and Rebekah tends to finish coloring her worksheets while I read.

Our days are longer than if we did some other homeschool curriculum, I'm sure, but I actually like the longer days. It keeps her occupied with something she enjoys, it helps train her to work hard, and she still gets plenty of play time, since we don't have homework on top of our normal day. We have been doing English in the mornings as soon as we finish breakfast. This is the long class, covering composition, phonics, handwriting, and reading. That usually takes her from 8-10am. I have to say I am extremely impressed with the improvement in her reading ability, and we are only on lesson #27. We take a short break and then we do science and Sonlight reading, which takes maybe 30-40 minutes for both. If it's been a shorter day, sometimes she'll do another video class then (spelling, Bible, or heritage studies, which we do only 2-3 times a week). We take recess and lunch breaks then, and start again when Ryan takes a nap, around 1pm. Her favorite classes are then - spelling, Bible, and math - so she does those all on her own while I take a "kid" break and do some work of my own, like writing. How long her afternoons are depends on her - how much time she wastes playing around. She could finish in an hour or so, but usually takes longer. Then she can play the rest of the day!

Other than that I read her a page or two from an A Beka health book once a week, and we do an art project once a week. I teach her a little piano from time to time, but she's not too interested in that yet.

We're just getting started with kindergarten for Reanna - we've just done 4 lessons so far. She is still young, so I'm not pushing her, but she has really enjoyed what she's done so far. She has just 3 classes - Beginnings (which is phonics/reading/science/history all together), math and Bible. I was thinking we'd do Beginnings one day, and then math and Bible the next day, but she begged to do all of them in one day last Tuesday. I'll just let her go at her own pace, since we have until Dec 2012 to use the material. So far the material is at a perfect level for her, even though she's not quite 4 yet. I think it will get harder soon, so we may go even slower then.

For Reanna, I bought the online option, and I'm wishing we had gotten the DVDs. The desktop computer I planned to use for her crashed completely, and after weeks of fiddling with it, I have come to the conclusion that it needs to be thrown away. It is rather old. So she is now using our old laptop instead, but it has multiple serious issues - its internet connection dies about 3-4 times a day and has to be rebooted, plus it tends to crash when videos are played for too long. But we've managed to get through most of her lessons with only a few reboots. The other issue, which I'm not sure is the computer, our internet connection, or BJU, is that the videos stop to buffer quite a bit, which is rather annoying.

Ryan has been quite good lately about not crying when we start school, but just going upstairs to play with his toys. I read to him some, do alphabet flashcards, and just sit near him. I'm not sure when he'll be ready for more structured learning. He's not too into coloring yet. I haven't totally decided whether I'll homeschool him or send him to school so he has more boys to play with! Reanna too, really wants to try "big" school sometime, so we'll see. Rebekah is quite content with homeschooling, and it may really be the best option for her all the way to 12th grade. Reanna can't start public school for another 2 years anyway, and Ryan not for 3 years, so we'll all be home for a while still!

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