Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reviewing Year 1

With the 1st Term and most of the 2nd Term of 1st grade under our belts, I’ve been looking back and reevaluating what has worked and what hasn’t; what I like and what I don’t.

What I Like:

  • Ambleside Online curriculum has been a huge blessing and has eased my fears and uncertainties during this first year. With few exceptions every book and idea has been wonderful and we have truly enjoyed ourselves. That being said I did make the decision to not read through “Trial and Triumph”. While I found it fascinating the kids were a bit bored and I feel the need to pre-read this one in its entirety before reading to the kids.

  • Ray’s Arithmetic is awesome. Easy, concise and cheapJ I felt the need to go with a more hands-on oral math program partly from Charlotte’s direction but mostly from seeing where my son Thomas needed help. Thomas has a very sharp and quick memory and after going through much of the CLP Math K I didn’t feel that he had a real grasp on what he was doing so by making him do the majority of his work orally I am in no doubt as to what he does know and what he needs work on. I have also added Math-It to our daily arithmetic lessons and have seen great results from it as well. I used Math-it as a child and loved it and so far my kids have had the same response. My mom has been giving away most all of her homeschooling books since she has graduated the last child so I was blessed to receive her Math-it program!

  • Reading Reflex, I really can’t say enough about this book and program. I love it, the kids love it and their progress has been very rapid. I can’t wait to test them at the end of the year and see what grade level they are reading at! I have also started Emily on it and she is able to read a few of the first Bob Books.

  • Language Lessons for Little Ones from Queen Homeschool has been a blessing to us as well. I was initially skeptical of this series because after all wasn’t it just “bookwork” and possible “twaddle”? It most definitely is not! I am using for Emily since I felt she needed school just for her and have found it to be a perfect fit. Emily is 5.5 but in preschool because of a summer birthday even though academically she could be in Kindergarten I do not feel a need to rush things with her. Her favorite lessons in the book so far are the picture studies, but we did enjoy the poem from last lesson and the ensuing discussion. At first I was going to “save” this book and not let her write in it so that I could use it for Wesley next year as well, but he is such a different learning style and personality than her that I don’t know if he would care for it anyway.

  • Harmony Fine Arts-at first I was a bit disappointed that I had paid $20 for a few printed off sheets of paper for this “program” but the actual doing of it has been anything but disappointing. The layout is easy and precise and you know exactly what to do when, which in my world is a HUGE deal. We have not done this as consistently as I had planned and even though I bought the material needed for Option 2 of the 1st grade program we have mostly just done Option 1. But the kids have learned so much! And I will be able to use this for each child to come. Their favorite is the composer study and listening to the music. So far Beethoven has won hands down as the best composer and Alissa is very upset to be moving on to a new composer and in retaliation for the offense puts on the Beethoven cd programs it to Fur Elise and refuses to admit there is another song that can compete, lol. They are able to recognize about 1 or 2 songs from each composer study and when possible I dig out some of my old music and play them a few pieces from that particular composer. For the art study we view the pictures online and then after narrating about them I set that picture for the wallpaper background on our computer so that everyone can enjoy it a bit longer.

What I don't Like
  • Structured preschool programs! I’ve tried a few and after a few weeks throw it out because it simply is not pleasurable. Maybe it’s my type A personality or maybe it’s the amount of littles to teach but I have not found anything that fits our family well. And then when I’m feeling guilty about not doing anything “structured” I open up volume 1 of Home Education and all my fears and distresses are relieved! I know from the depths of my being that what Charlotte speaks is true and it works. I have given up the fight and I am going to “let my children alone to just be children”.

Now I would say that is a pretty good start on Year 1 when the Likes outweigh the Dislikes.

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