Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thinking about 2nd grade already

I keep going back and forth on whether I'll use the BJU videos for 2nd grade next year. They are really nice, but they do seem to take a long time, and they are expensive. Rebekah has mostly really loved them, but occasionally she gets bogged down and wants a break. I'm sure that will happen with any curriculum, but it set me to thinking about alternatives.

I mostly think about using Rod & Staff for English and spelling, maybe Sonlight Language Arts for some more gentle creative writing prompts (with BJU, Rebekah is supposed to write something every day, and while she doesn't really complain most of the time, that seems a bit much for 1st grade for me - though I'm sure it is good for stretching her abilities.). We'd do Sonlight grade 2 readers and then either Rod & Staff 2nd grade phonics or else just Explode the Code. For handwriting, we'll be learning cursive in 2nd grade, so I have considered either just doing BJU handwriting myself, without the videos, or else going back to Reason for Handwriting. For math, I'd probably still get the BJU videos a la carte, since teaching this level of math still frustrates me too much. For history, I'd do some Intellego units on economics and government, and maybe geography, since I plan to wait until my youngest is older before moving on to Sonlight Core B. For science, we're doing NOEO Physics 1 and Intellego K-2 Astronomy no matter what I choose for everything else, since I already have those 2, and I'm planning on waiting to start BFSU until my youngest is older.

But I mostly think about those alternatives when I'm just thinking about teaching my oldest, and forgetting momentarily that I have 2 younger children who are going to be learning to read soon. I mostly think about those alternatives when all the children are in another room, and it's nice and peacefully quiet. When they all come back in, and I start rushing from one child to the next, with one request for help after another, I quickly return to thinking the BJU videos are the best bet for 2nd grade. I think about how Rebekah really loves the color workbook pages much better than any of the black and white ones we tried before BJU. I think about how stubborn Rebekah got with me teaching her handwriting, and how much smoother things went after we started the videos (really with all English subjects, and math). I realize that if I get videos for math and handwriting, then I might as well get the full grade. Three a la carte classes are more expensive then the full grade, and plus I can resell the things I don't use (and the ones I do use later). I think about how many extra facts and demonstrations and live examples are given in the videos, and how many times I hear Rebekah laughing or giggling while she's watching them. I also figured out that, based on my teaching time estimates, the videos won't really take any longer than me teaching what I want for grammar (15 minutes), spelling (15 minutes), handwriting (15 minutes), and math (30 minutes). Math is really the only one that has much work to do outside the video ("homework," so to speak). Oh, and the Bible class is just 15 minutes, and Rebekah loves learning the hymns they do in the videos.

So, I'm pretty sure what I'll do is use the videos for math, Bible, handwriting, spelling, English (grammar/writing), and just do portions of the reading videos (maybe just the Skill Station days, which cover most of the phonics we'll need). We will probably read many of the stories in the BJU 2nd grade readers on our own, doing the worksheets if I think they're valuable. Reading is the long video - 30 minutes - plus extra time for silent reading, etc. - that's the one that drags Rebekah down this year. I think Rebekah does best when the reading is fun and interesting and on her own - she rebels with the forced reading and drawn-out analysis of each story done in the BJU videos. I think literary analysis (really just detailed discussion) can wait at least a few grades for her. I've read people saying that the way reading is taught in the BJU videos is essential to developing a great reader, but I don't think that is going to be true for Rebekah. I hate to give up all the interesting video clips about different topics that show up in reading, but we can't do everything. Maybe we'll just fast forward to any interesting clips. Then I already have most of the Sonlight grade 2 readers, so those will be for extra reading, with maybe just a few oral comprehension questions. Then for science and history, I'll do what I described above: NOEO physics and Intellego astronomy, and then some economics, government, and geography unit studies.

As for my 2nd born, she tells me she prefers just doing worksheets to watching any videos. And she's quick enough to pick up on things pretty easily, so I think she will be much less stubborn than my oldest to teach! She's been playing the free online math games I bookmarked for my oldest, and already she's able to do simple addition. As for my youngest, I'm still trying to get him to listen well enough to follow directions! Who knows what learning style he will have? Maybe I'll get a chance to use Rod & Staff with one of them after all.