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Tracy

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Everything posted by Tracy

  1. Dh and I have decided to have our dd11 tested, believing her to be 2e. I am wondering if anyone has had testing done in the Chicagoland area and has had a good experience. Any recommendations?
  2. I think that SWB intended them to be for 1st - 4th grades. But it really depends a lot on the kid/family. My 11yo has really grown out of them. But we started SOTW when she was 5yo, so it is no surprise that she is over them at this point. I know many people use SOTW for older students without a strong history background. Heck, I learned so much myself just listening to those CD's. My 8yo started listening to the audio CD's when he was 3yo. By that, I do not mean that he tagged along with his older sister. Rather, he actually put them on for himself to listen to. He still listens to them now on a regular basis in his free time, as we are no longer using SOTW for school. So in my experience, 1st - 4th grade is a good approximation of when you would use it for the average child, with the understanding that you could use it earlier or later depending on your child and your family circumstances. Let me also clarify that we never did use the AG. We just listened to the CD's (over and over and over :svengo: ).
  3. I thought I would share something I have been learning about from my husband, who is a high school physics teacher. First, let me give you some background. Dh has always left all schooling decisions up to me. But a few months ago, as I was dealing with my own chronic illness, and facing middle school with my oldest, 2e dd, I told my husband that I just couldn't do science with her. He proposed something really novel--that he do two labs each summer with the children, and if they were done well, they would be sufficient to prepare them for high school. I was understandably dubious. But after all, he has taught high school science for 20 years. The problems that he sees in his students are not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of ability to think and to convey what they think. He has to teach them seemingly simple things, such as how to use a ruler. They don't know what all the lines are for. And once they have taken measurements, they are at a loss for understanding the meaning and implication of the numbers. The first lab (on density) took my kids a week to complete. They spent a day practicing using the scale to measure mass. The next day was spent actually measuring the various materials and recording the results. Another day was spent learning how to graph the results. The last day was spent in a Socratic discussion leading up to writing a report. Yesterday, they finished their second lab (on acceleration). That one didn't take as long, because they already knew some of the procedures. Afterwards, I asked dh, "Is this really enough?" He responded, "The kids in science classes at school are doing nothing more than regurgitating facts and copying down what someone else tells them to write. They do not ever think about what they are doing or how they come to certain conclusions based on the results. But in these labs, our kids are full participants in every aspect. They are observing, thinking critically, making predictions and writing about their experiences. In this way, science is what life is all about. It is observing the world around you and analyzing what you observe and then making predictions about what will happen in the future. Science is the essence of an Examined Life." I realize that this is pretty extreme for many people. But I thought I would throw this out there in case it hit a chord with someone.
  4. If you can't afford for all of your kids to be in ballet (or something similarly expensive), then don't start now. I only have 2, and it is about killing us. Sure, it was easy enough when she was 5yo and taking one 30-minute class per week for $80 per semester. Then it was 2 days per week. Now it is 4 days per week, and now my younger child has started more serious classes 2 days per week. I will be spending $1500 this next year for classes. This is just with the park district, not a fancy dance school. The other issue I have with it is that it seriously impedes our free time. Now, I am in a situation where this is my dd's life, and quitting would be a huge sacrifice for her. When it all started, I was just looking for things for my 5yo to do. Now we have too much, and I can't really do anything about it.
  5. I think you are very wise for considering just how much you can bite off in your first year homeschooling. And I don't think that there is anything wrong with just waiting until next year to give you some time to get your footing and figure out what works for you. However, at least for our family, history is what my kids love. If I took that out, it would be all work and no play around here.
  6. My kids can do as much as they want and have as much time off as they want. But they don't do that a lot, because their work is hard. If they could do 6 weeks worth of work in a couple of days, I would consider whether what I was giving them was challenging enough.
  7. We are very affected by the ps schedule since my dh is a teacher. If I had my way, I would schedule the first semester to end before Thanksgiving and then start the second semester after the New Year. I find that by Christmas, we really need a break :ack2: , and it is taken up with the festivities of Christmas :willy_nilly:. But I have to stick with the ps schedule, because I am married to the fun dad :biggrinjester:, and no work is actually going to get done with him home.
  8. Sure. :) I just used a standard size piece of cardstock. If you want them to be sturdy enough to last through more than one child, you might want to use cardboard. On each piece, I marked the base line, mid line and top line, leaving room for the letters that go below the base line. I was careful to make each one the same, even though not every letter would take up the whole space. I used white glue to make the shape of the letter. Then I just poured a bunch of lentils over the entire paper. I let it dry and then dumped the extra lentils off. Then I filled in the spaces where there weren't enough and put more glue on top. I only did a couple each day. It took me a couple of weeks to do them all (which is fine since they don't learn them all at once. I only did lower case letters. We didn't learn capitals until they had mastered the lower case letters, and by then they didn't really need to do the finger tracing any more.
  9. And why does this picture show that your manipulatives are a waste? They seem to be working very well.
  10. I don't get it. What does everything represent? It looks like 3/(2/1)x(1/1).
  11. I used Cursive First when my son was about 4yo. I really like the philosophy. But I do not like the materials. Fortunately, if you pay close attention to the philosophy, you won't need the materials at all. First of all, I like that the font makes it easy to remember. All letters start on the base line, so there is no guessing where the next letter starts. Students learn the most difficult letters first. Then they whiz through the rest of them very quickly. The idea is that you start with gross motor writing first. I started by making sandpaper letters that fit a standard size sheet of cardstock. (I actually used lentils so they wouldn't be as rough.) Ds learned to trace those with his fingers first. Then we moved to a salt box. I would have him trace the sandpaper letter and then make the same letter freehand in the salt box. Then he learned to write letters on a whiteboard with no guide lines. Once he was comfortable with the markers, I added the guide lines. We didn't use pencil and paper until he was about 6yo.
  12. I do agree that I need to talk to dd about this. I so often get the typical tween response of "I don't know." But I do think it would be helpful to have her involved. So I will talk to her first. Then I just need to decide if getting her to another teacher is even possible. Dh is already doing my grocery shopping, and much of the cooking and cleaning. And he needs to go back to school this fall. So it is going to depend on whether our family can handle one more outing.
  13. Dd is overall a fairly compliant child. It is hard for her to comply in the moment you make an immediate demand. But in the long term, she does what is consistently expected. Maybe what I need to do is have dd choose her curriculum. I am confident that she will not choose something that is too easy for her. And if she picks it, knowing that this is her music curriculum for the year, she will just work through it. If she gets tired of it, she might even push herself to get through it just to be done with it. Whatever works, though, right?
  14. Over the past 2 years, I could not have sat with them to take notes. I think my health may be good enough now that I could do it. No, she doesn't work through a particular series. She will occasionally bring books for them, but most of what we have done is what I choose to purchase. You have hit the nail on the head in that my overriding concern is that maybe she is enjoying it because of the teacher, and that a different type of teacher might very well quash her love of playing. OTOH, I have a younger child that I am fairly certain will not excel like his sister has with this teacher. He will very much need a different kind of teacher to do well. And, of course, I am reluctant to make another commitment outside of my home, because there were so many days last year that I was unable to drive. I am feeling better than I was, but I cannot be certain that it will stay that way.
  15. She is a church pianist, but she appears to be a very accomplished classical pianist. She and her grown daughter have both played amazing classical pieces at the recitals. The piece that I shared was not a piece assigned by the teacher, but one dd found on her own and wanted to play. However, we started piano lessons with the minimal goal of learning to play for church. But dd has enough talent and interest to go beyond that. She is not working on any classical pieces right now and hasn't for some time. The closest she has come has been a Piano Guys piece - Rolling in the Deep (a simplified version). The teacher does not assign scales or arpeggios. We have a scales book that dd worked in on her own for a while. We don't have a sight-reading book, but she does do a lot of sight-reading. She is always looking for new songs to play. I am more concerned with having her stick with something until it is mastered. The teacher writes what they do during the lesson. But she doesn't write what is to be worked on. I think she puts a checkmark by it if she considers it mastered, thinking that she can just look at whatever doesn't have a checkmark by it. . But it is not in a format that is easy to read, understand and work from. That is why I asked her to help dd make her own list. When I saw she wasn't doing that, I started working with dd to make her own list. We are fairly rural. When I was looking for a piano teacher, it took me a year to find one. Everyone else I found was too far away.
  16. I certainly think that she will be more focused if she writes what is to be done. She will feel more ownership of it. Unfortunately, it is extremely time-consuming to have her do it. When I just make her write a list of pieces she is working on, it takes her at least an hour. It is not because she doesn't want to do it. She actually likes doing it. But deciding what to write and how to write it is just very complex for her. I have tried to separate writing from everything else she does for this reason. I don't know what the Royal Academy of Music is. She had been using the Hal Leonard series. She liked them, because the music had feelings. But she flew through levels 3 and 4, hardly using the books at all, because they became too easy for her. The series only goes through Book 5, so I didn't bother buying it for her since she was tackling more difficult pieces on her own. I am perfectly happy to get her more books. I have asked her if she wants more books, and she is pretty happy playing pieces out of our church hymnal and children's songbook. (As parents, our goal for her is to be able to play at church, since we only use pianists on a volunteer basis.) But I would get her a book if it fit in with a plan, and I am perfectly happy to branch out into other genres. Actually, I would really like to see her play different types of music. I honestly don't think that the teacher has a plan. She very much seems an unschooling sort of teacher. At the recital, dd was by far the best pianist there, even though there were high school aged kids who has been taking piano since they were in kindergarten. I have seen kids who started out way more advanced than dd who, four years later, are still playing at the same level as they were when I first heard them. So compared to her other students, dd is progressing much faster. So from the teacher's perspective, she is some sort of prodigy. So if you have suggestions on books or specific goals we should consider, I would very much appreciate your insight.
  17. I sort of do this. Dd keeps a list of pieces that she is currently working on. But that is it. I don't know enough about piano to know what else she should be working on.
  18. Are you suggesting that we stay with the same teacher and work on the behavior? Yes, I know that there are some behavioral issues that we need to work on. Or at least I think so. The problem is that the teacher doesn't seem to think so. She doesn't seem to be at all bothered. Or maybe she is and she doesn't know it, but just unconsciously avoids asking her to do things. I have tried talking to the teacher. When I bring up the behavior, she tells me not to worry about it, because she does still make the changes she is asked to, just not on the spot. I have also asked her to write a list of things dd should be working on so that she can go through them when she practices. But she just doesn't do it. I am not sure how to work on the behavior if the teacher doesn't seem to see a problem. I have had some talks with dd and told her I am expecting her to do as the teacher asks. That has has some impact. But mostly I feel that my hands are tied. I couldn't get a new teacher even if I thought that was what we needed. And I don't really think it is going to be a good solution. I would just trade one problem for another.
  19. The problem is that I am just not sure. From what I can tell she is progressing way more quickly than I thought she would. But I don't know if that is normal or exceptional or what. And getting another teacher is not an option. There is no one else who will come to my home, and my health is not going to allow me to take her to someone else who will be 30 minutes or more away from me.
  20. Dd11 has been taking formal piano lessons for about 4 years with the same teacher. Dd really has a gift for music, and especially the piano. She consistently chooses pieces that seem far beyond her ability and persistently works on them until she can play them. One piece took her 9 months to master. It took me a long time to find a piano teacher. Dd is 2e, and she has little patience for busy work, nor does she tolerate someone telling her that she has to master one thing before starting another. She finds it difficult to practice something outside of its context. She craves intellectual stimulation and connections across disciplines. This teacher was homeschooled, and she also homeschooled her own children. She is extremely tolerant, and even encouraging, of dd's rabbit trails. She intentionally shares tidbits from music theory, languages, composers, etc. I had been concerned that dd seemed resistant to doing things suggested by her teacher, and the teacher told me not to worry about it, because she says that the suggested changes generally turn up the next week. So in a nutshell, this teacher "gets" my kid. In the past year, I have gotten the impression that there is little teaching going on. She seems to largely just sit next to dd while dd plays whatever she wants. At the recital in April, she introduced dd as one who is largely self-taught. She doesn't suggest pieces for her to work on. (Dd would probably be resistant to that, anyway.) She doesn't help her set goals. I have asked her to help her make a list of things she wants to work on, but she doesn't do it, so I have to make sure that dd does that on her own (which means it often does not happen). She does seem to be progressing in that she is making her way through pieces that she chooses and then chooses new ones to work on. She practices even when not required to. She has played at church a couple of times. To give you an idea of where she is at, this is a song that she has worked on over the summer on her own without her teacher. It took her a couple of weeks to master it. I am pleased with where she is at. I just don't know if this teacher is doing her any good at this point. It is a lot of money to pay someone to just sit and listen to her play. I don't think I have another option for a piano teacher, though. This teacher comes to my house, and I am sure there is no one else in this area who will come to my house, not to mention be so tolerant of my quirky kid. The piano teacher also teaches flute. I happen to own a flute. So I was thinking of starting her on flute lessons. But do I have her do both? Or maybe I should just save the money and not have her do lessons at all? I would appreciate any insight or wisdom the Hive has to offer.
  21. I was very sick this past year. I am a huge supporter of homeschooling through illness. There is nothing wrong with putting your kids in public school. Sometimes, it is just necessary. But if you expect public school to be a trauma, I would not trade one trauma for another if you can avoid it. The first thing I had to do was rethink our purpose for homeschooling. Initially, it had been for academic reasons. Once I got sick, I decided we had to focus on life skills and spiritual development. I had to give up so much; it was very painful. No grammar, no spelling, no science. History became just a book basket. Dh wrote a story with ds8 for his handwriting and composition. Ds8 also typed his story (all 20 page of it!). Both kids did math independently, including some Khan Academy. Dd11 did Writing Tales. They kept up piano lessons since the teacher comes to the house. Dh is doing science this summer with both of them. I know it doesn't sound like much. But my kids grew so much this past year. They learned how to keep the bathroom clean without my help. They learned to make their own breakfast and lunch. They learned how to get themselves ready for church and other activities without anyone telling them what to do. They learned how to have faith in the face of trials. They discovered that they were valuable members of our family and could make a big difference in the life of someone who is struggling. They learned compassion and how to make sacrifices with grace. There were times that I was so sick, I couldn't do anything but lay with my kids. But I am so glad they were home. If they had gone to school, they would have worried about me all day long, in addition to the stress of the b&m school environment. We did a lot of cuddling. I worked really hard to smile at them often and praise and encourage their efforts. I am doing a bit better now, and this year won't be as hard as the last. So now we need to step up our game. But I have absolutely no regrets about keeping them home and downplaying the academics. As far as I can tell, they are still ahead of their peers.
  22. I confess that I am a box checker who has a child with ADD-like tendencies. I have learned that if I let the box checker in me run the show, I will very quickly crush my little girl. She will become stressed, depressed, uninterested in school, and our relationship will be strained. I have had to give up on my ideas of how work should be done for the very health of my dd and our relationship. I start with taking stock of how much time she actually has to give me--not just the amount of time in her day, but the amount of time she can reasonably focus on academics. I have to take into account how long she can work at a given subject, as well as how much break time she needs. (There is a point at which the effort required to continue does not pay off in the amount of work that actually gets done.) That means that I really need to do music and theater, because those are her strengths, and if I take them away, she will be left with everything that wears on her self-esteem. That, in turn, means that she doesn't have time for foreign language, even though I think she would enjoy it if we did it right. It also means that dh is teaching science during the summer. I have had to learn that there is so much more to consider than academics, and that makes box-checking a very messy affair. It still get frustrated, but now I apologize to her for it. She tries really hard to do what is expected of her. I need to tried hard to make sure my expectations are reasonable. Not just reasonable for the average student, but reasonable for her. I struggle with this every day. I just made my little girl cry the other day over the cleanliness of her room. I cannot let that be the pattern of our relationship. I am working really hard to be better.
  23. I just made the switch from HST+ to HSTOnline. There are some things that I love about HSTOnline that you don't get in HST+. There are some things that I miss, in particular, the flexible reporting options. But the one thing that I do not like about HSTOnline is that the student cannot see all of the assignments on a page. For example, they can see that they need to do math, history and spelling. But they cannot see what book or which pages unless they click on each individual assignment. My kids really need to see everything at once so that they can plan out their day. So I had hoped that my dd11 could mark off her completed assignments using her tablet. But it seems that I am going to have to print out a task list for her every day. I am still glad that I made the switch, because the reality is that HST+ is no longer being supported. We just upgraded to Windows 10, so we really needed to make the change to make sure I did not lose the ability to access my HST files.
  24. I started SOTW with my oldest when she was 5yo, but we only listened to the audio books and did a couple of activities. My younger was 2yo at the time. By the time he was 3yo, he would ask for SOTW all the time. Now 8yo, he still listens to it all the time and knows way more history than I do. SOTW audio CD's has been the very best curriculum investment I have made. As long as you keep it age appropriate (meaning no expectations for output), then it is completely doable. I think that one of the secrets to success is to make sure you have done some geography before you start. We have a very large map on our wall in our dining room. We have always played geography games at the dinner table with the kids. So even when my younger was 3yo, he already knew a handful of countries and could ask where the countries in SOTW were.
  25. I love languages, and I am trying to help my kids develop a love for languages, too. We all love Google Translate! It will (try to) identify the correct language and then give you a pronunciation. We are immigrant stock, so I also use my family names to help them see how names from different languages are pronounced. It is not a formal study, at all. It just comes up in conversation. When we encounter a foreign name or phrase in a book, we try to guess what language it is and see how close we can get to the right pronunciation. When my kids decided to create their own countries, we used Google Translate to look for words that would serve as good names for their countries. (Dd chose Pacemia, from the Latin pacem, meaning peace. Ds chose Vesting, from a Scandinavian word for strength.)
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