Monday, September 14, 2015

Lesson Plans: Grade 3, 5 and 8

I love this first week of school when everything is fresh and new, as well as the level of enthusiasm; it all seems possible. We will all speak fluent Spanish and read in Latin by the end of THIS school year. They will be performing at a 12th grade level in math and writing stories and reports that put a college freshman to shame. No, I guess I never was ambitious in that way...or not to that extent. I periodically rewrite
my hopes and dreams for my kids/students anew in my mind; a love of learning that lasts all their lives, compassion for their fellow human beings, honesty with themselves and others, an honorable, good, a healthy life and happiness.

It is two weeks after beginning this post, so it will be a mix of the planned and the experienced. I was too busy being a perfect homeschooler to take time to write a blog post about it. Now that we've relaxed a bit again, here's what is happening.

Grade Three

...or the last time I will be reading Bible stories aloud for a long time. I am surprised to be enjoying them this much. I know that with the first couple of children, many times I would hand them the book to read on their own, reading or telling some of them together, but not all. They were independent readers and I had toddlers and babies to keep up with. I cannot recall how we did them with number four, I must have been so busy that it's given me amnesia, but this time is fabulous. 

I see the delicate weaving of storytelling that builds up images of a simple world, one in black and white that is so well-suited to the 8-year-old's developmental needs. I would absolutely recommend taking the time to read these aloud, or retell them to each child as they hit third grade age. This morning I drew my own picture alongside my little guy, of the lights and fires meeting the water in the beginning of the world. I still lack basic artistic skill, but I make up for it with my coloring talents. (ha!) We are using Jakob Streit's "And Then There Was Light," again, even though I had vowed to trade it out for Walter de la  Mare. I did not, Streit is good, though I love the way de la Mare uses language and imagery. 

I am also finishing up the Miquon math books with him as a review, mixing them in with gnome stories and gem-counting to help it all make sense. And he really does get it. He will return to the stories to remember how place value works when he is given a problem with borrowing or carrying. I love to see this.

Grade Five/Six

Charles has a July birthday, so early on, I modified what we worked on accordingly. He is a young 6th grader, young enough that I keep him officially in 5th grade. This allows for a flexibility in subject matter, difficulty level and mentality. Should he go to high school, he will go as a 15-year-old, as many people do for boys with summer birthdays. Socially, boys are not always as ready for upper grades at barely 14. We have reviewed botany, read "Rama and Sita" and panned for gold. (There was an extreme interest in rocks, which led to diamonds and that led to gold, so gold-panning is hot right now.) He is writing full-page stories of his own invention, and reports on what we are studying. We take spelling lists from the ones he has trouble writing on his own.

For math, we are using a new method this year. It is called the Not-Waldorf-Because-I-Just-Want-a-Curriculum-Math, better known as Singapore. I will supplement with geometry and Making Math Meaningful when I feel it is appropriate, or we get bored, or I am feeling more ambitious and less pressed for time. For now, we are moving along in this and watching episodes of "The Joy of Mathematics" together. He is taking science with a friend, and listening in on chemistry lessons at home.

Grade Eight which we try out part-time homeschooling. Valentine goes to school each morning now. She takes math, choir and French. It is a great combination for her. I never promise to teach my kids math after 7th grade or so. The older two had a tutor, but not much extra help at home. It is not my forte. I do not want that to stop them from loving and learning math, though, and honestly, the older two are not into numbers. Would it have been different had they been in school? Who knows? I went to school...In any case, I am glad she has this opportunity. Her teacher is a huge fan of Dr.Who, and so is she. Instant connection on one level at least!

Choir is perfect; she loves all things theatre, dance and voice, and they allowed her to double-up on this. It is normally an every-other-day class, but she takes it every day. French; what bilingual child does not need both the ego-boost and reality check of going to a class where they understand everything and yet cannot always spell it?

In the afternoon, we have an experiment for chemistry and follow the Waldorf method of waiting 24 hours to analyze it. Drawing and making the results creative and colorful is a big part of it. I love the way she allows herself to be drawn back into art and beauty through it. All four of us are messing around with local history and world geography and reading a great book aloud in the afternoons. We have Spanish once a week with a friend. Then they play, and I study. I am back to serious learning for a few months, prepping like mad for a national exam for interpreters. Thoughts and prayers welcome!

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