Friday, July 6, 2012

School in July

We started 2nd grade this week, my oldest daughter and I. It is so hot outside, the kids just can't play outside during the middle of the day more than a few minutes, and in the mornings and evenings there are too many mosquitoes. So it's really the best time of year to spend indoors doing schoolwork. We're just doing math, English, and reading, all with our new CLE curriculum. I plan to add in the rest in August - science, history, art, music, etc. I did give my daughter a piano lesson on Monday, though. It's about time we get that started on a more regular basis. I am also reading aloud from The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley. The Sonlight reading we did the past year was pretty much my daughter's favorite thing, so I figured we might as well keep reading - this time, a book of my choice. The Black Stallion books were among my favorite as a child, and I still have all of them. My daughter loves horses too, so it's a big hit with her so far.

But anyway, back to school. We will be participating in a music co-op this year, starting mid-August, so our Friday mornings are going to be pretty booked. We could do some schoolwork in the afternoons, but it would be nice to not have to, so we're going to try doing a 4-day week this year. The CLE material has 170 lessons in each class, so with a 4-day week, that comes out to 42.5 weeks. That still gives us about 10 weeks off, to take when we want, so I figure starting now, in July, will give us plenty of time to finish 2nd grade by next summer.

Our science for this year (mostly NOEO Physics 1) is already in a 4-day week format. For history, we're doing a combination of a couple Intellego unit studies, and reading aloud from Hillyer's A Child's History of the World, so I can make that however many days a week I want. 4 days should give us plenty of time to complete everything. For Bible, I am using Telling God's Story, Year 1, which I plan to do 3 days a week, adding in some reading from Leading Little Ones to God on the 4th day. The rest (hands-on art, artist and composer studies, gym, logic, etc.) are just 1-2 days a week, whenever we can fit them in.

My daughter balked a little at starting school again (not like we've had much time off anyway), but she seems to really like the format of the CLE LightUnits. It's new, different, and doesn't take as long as the BJU videos did. She really loves the math - especially the speed drills, to my surprise. She groaned when she first saw the half-page of problems, but when I started timing her, her eyes lit up and she took off! Wow, if I had known timing her would be encouraging, I would have done that a long time ago! We're just in the 1st LightUnit, which is review, so we'll see how things go when we get to harder material. I wanted to make sure and do the review unit, since we are switching curriculum, but so far, the 2nd grade level of CLE seems just right for her, in all subjects.

She doesn't like the English as well, probably since it's a bit longer, and we had a meltdown on the 2nd day, when we were working on vowel sounds. She really didn't learn them like she should have in 1st grade, since she refused to practice saying the sounds out loud with the video teacher. It was painful, but I made her work on pronouncing them for me this week (even when she doesn't know the word, which is her sticking point), and we're slowly overcoming her stubbornness. I had to have a good long talk with her about not being afraid to try, about the benefits of making mistakes, and about how rude it is to just sit there and not answer someone's question. I also told her about my own shyness and nervousness when I was in school, and how I overcame it, and I think that helped the most. We'll see.

I have my doubts about the spelling in CLE too. My daughter's worst area is spelling, and looking ahead, I don't see much that I think will help her. The basic list of words, activities with those words, and testing seems to not work well with my oldest. I'm thinking we may try Sequential Spelling soon. We'll see. I'll give CLE another week or so, and then maybe try out the samples of SS.

The reading will be challenging for her too, even though she scored so well in the standardized test we took earlier. She has a hard time remembering what she's read (especially the next day), and reading "between the lines." She can read it, and answer a few questions, but she doesn't seem to really process the reading and internalize it enough to really comprehend the big picture. The CLE material really brings that out, and I think will be very good for her skill improvement. I've also been reading a lot about Charlotte Mason's methods (I joined the Ambleside Online yahoo group to get pointers on artist and composer studies). The need for narrating in order to really comprehend a reading makes a lot of sense, and my daughter's inability to tell me what happened in a story we just read shows me that ability to narrate is a good indicator of comprehension. So maybe we'll use some narration every now and then for me to judge her comprehension (and to get her to understand that she needs to be able to re-tell at least the basics of a story).

Oh, I forgot - I am also planning on using Writing With Ease (level 1) with her this year. She's definitely not ready for level 2 yet. I think WWE will address some of her problem areas, including narration, and will round out the CLE material. It is also designed for a 4-day week, so we'll wait a few more weeks to start it.

Next blog - I think I'll discuss my youngest and his potty training progress! Stay tuned!

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