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  1. I love these threads! I have a rising 4th grade son and two younger children (1st grade and preschool). I'm really excited for fourth grade. My kid has recently gone through a major developmental leap both in maturity as well as in the level of academic work he is able to complete. History: We are going to finish our study of the Renaissance, focusing on science, art, and Shakespeare. Then we will jump into Early Modern History with Curiosity Chronicles, which is one of our favorite resources. We will listen to Story of the World 3 (love Jim Weiss's voice!) We have been using the Classical Conversations timeline, although we don't participate in CC and aren't Christian. This is our first year using a timeline and it has been really fun. Literature: Shakespeare, of course. We will read most of the books on Torchlight's reading list. We also love this curriculum, but use it for inspiration rather than requirement. I also want to introduce him to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He'll love it. Language Arts: We will continue with Writing with Ease 3 and First Language Lessons 4. He participates in a weekly debate club and will continue with debate or public speaking in some format. Math: Finish Beast Academy 3 and begin Beast Academy 4. Art: He will continue with both violin and voice lessons, his favorite. We are going to study the artists of the Renaissance and orchestra music with SQUILT. Geography: He is currently working on drawing and labeling all the states and capitals in the U.S. When that is complete, we will focus on world geography. I'd like him to be able to sketch the continents and identify at least 20 countries and capitals by the end of the year. We will be doing Atlas Crate boxes for various countries and reading books to go along with the countries we study. Science: We are going to try a new resource, Scientific Connections Through Inquiry, Level 3. We will see. I haven't loved elementary science curriculum. We usually just read a lot and try to take classes from content-level experts at museums or nature centers. Latin: We will begin Latin for Children A.
  2. I'll chime in here. I have a third grader doing Beast Academy Level 3. Level 3 is hard -- there is a lot of information -- and it comes really fast. We are probably going to end up spending 1.5 years on this level, while he finished Level 2 in one year. Here are the changes we have made this year: We had to slow down and go back to review addition and subtraction with regrouping. I took him back to Level 2 and had him go through all of the chapters on addition and subtraction with regrouping as review. We have both the books as well as the online subscription. I began having my son complete all the questions online as well as all of the questions in the books. It's double the practice. Our problems began when he was only doing the questions online. I found he really needed the extra practice problems from the book. We added in several different methods to memorize multiplication facts. Our strategy was not manipulatives, as another writer suggested (and I think it is a good suggestion, it just wasn't what we needed). He understands what multiplication is -- he just needed to memorize all of the times tables. Once he understands that 8x6 is eight groups of six, I don't really want him to build it, draw it or skip count, at that point I think he should just memorize the answer. He took an Outschool class about memorizing multiplication facts, does some flashcards every morning at breakfast, and chants one multiplication table each day, going through 16. We will probably do something similar with division. So it's March and we are just getting into 3B. At first I was starting to freak out about that, but now I see that his multiplication skills are so strong with all the additional work we did that the questions in 3B are easier for him than the questions in 3A were, and he's moving quite quickly through it. We are year-round homeschoolers, so we will be homeschooling throughout the summer, and I expect he'll be finished with 3C by September and maybe 3D by December. So about 1.5 years on Level 3. Despite everything, we do plan to continue with Beast Academy. I really love BA online -- I think the instructional videos are amazing, and my kids really enjoy doing math -- which is so important to me.
  3. Interesting conversation. I was considering joining a CC group this fall, but after I received the registration forms I realized I’d have to sign off on certain statements of belief (specifically the statement of marriage) that we don’t uphold. I understood that scriptures and prayer would be part of the CC environment, and I certainly wouldn’t mind my kids being exposed to that although we are not religious ourselves, but I was actually very surprised that particular statement would be a requirement of admission. Why is that classical homeschooling is so closely connected to Christianity, perhaps conservative Christianity? Why does unschooling seem to draw more non-religious types? I feel like I’m breaking the mold being a non-religious classical homeschooler. I am interested in others’ perspectives on memory work. I like the idea of it — memorizing states and capitals, presidents, geography, major historical and scientific facts, multiplication tables, even some grammar rules. However, when I started digging into CC memory work videos uploaded by parents to YouTube, I was surprised at how much kids were being asked to memorize so quickly. My kids are currently memorizing the presidents, states/capitals, and some geological facts, but slowly... we stop to read about JFK, draw maps, go on hikes to collect rocks. If I followed the CC memory work schedule, we would have time for nothing else. And the point of some of it—why spend a week memorizing the highest mountains on each continent or the the scientific names of the oceanic zones? Sure, memorize the continents and oceans, learn to draw them, identify locations on them. So many of the kids in the videos singing along don’t seem to really understand what they’re saying, but I’m not sure they’re even being asked to understand.
  4. By natural speller, do you mean a child with a very strong grasp of phonics--and who can sound out and spell words well already? I would use a phonics-based program for any speller and add rote memorization (so, lists, I guess) of non-phonetic words that can't be sounded out. My background is in Orton-Gillingham tutoring, so I'm coming at it from that angle!
  5. Hello! While I don't have experience in all of the areas you mentioned, I will say that I personally found it VERY helpful to have a full neuropsych work-up for our child. We learned that our child is very highly gifted and dyslexic. Learning disabilities (ADHD, dyslexia) often mask results on tests, so your daughter may in fact be more highly gifted than her tests show -- with her working memory and fast processing speed, I would suspect that to be the case. Having the diagnosis was helpful for several reasons: 1. It helped direct my focus in homeschooling. I realized how important it was to focus on structured, sequential phonics and grammar instruction because of my child's dyslexia. I may have chosen to "wait and see" longer if I had not had the diagnosis. 2. It gave our child a deeper understanding of self and sense of pride. We talk about the benefits as well as the struggles of being dyslexic. 3. The diagnosis may come in handy in the future if the child needs extended time on standardized tests. I think there is no harm in it! You don't have to "do" anything with the information, no need to jump to medication or anything just because you have a diagnosis.
  6. I love planning threads! This is my second time homeschooling first grade, but the first time around we were still unschooling. My rising 1st grader will be 6 this summer. I also have a rising 4th grader and a preschooler. Memory Work: I think we may begin memorizing Classical Conversations' Timeline Song. We are currently halfway through learning the Presidents song, which the kids enjoy. We aren't part of a CC community, but I do like some of their materials. We recite and memorize poetry during Morning Time, which will continue, and we will continue memorizing multiplication and division facts using flashcards. Language Arts: This particular kid has been reading chapter books for two years. He's at a 5th or 6th grade reading level, but he is at grade level for spelling and grammar. He will do First Language Lessons 1 (I just love this program for my rising 4th grader, and I hope the earlier volumes are just as good) and I will give him spelling words based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to write in his journal. He's an avid reader, and he'll read whatever he likes, but I will put some copies of children's classics (Jungle Book, Peter Pan, mythology) in his path. Handwriting: He will continue with Handwriting Without Tears. Literature/History: I plan to use Torchlight Level 3: Inquiry and Innovation with both my 1st and 4th graders together. We are finishing up Level 2 this year. This has been one of the most exciting curriculums I have discovered. This volume focuses on the Early Modern Era. I will use this booklist, but will add in some classics as read-alouds including Shakespeare's Stories for Young Readers, Gulliver's Travels, and Robinson Crusoe, Les Mis, and The Three Musketeers. History: I will use Curiosity Chronicles: Early Modern History for both my 1st and 4th graders together. We will also listen to Story of the World on audiobook -- this is a big hit! Geography: I would like to begin map tracing/drawing with my 1st and 4th graders. Ideally, this would be done while listening to whatever composer we are studying. Science: I have meant to use REAL Science Odyssey: Earth and Environment all year, and it keeps getting put to the side. Here's to finally getting to it in the fall. Math: He is currently working through Beast Academy 2A. We will continue with that program. Since it seems like we may get back to normal with social activities this fall, he is also going to take ukulele lessons, play soccer, join Cub Scouts, and take one or two fun classes from our homeschool co-op (hopefully an art class). We also have a weekly nature group. We also homeschool year-round! It's the only way I can figure out how to get it all in. It seems like I have a lot planned, but I also like the kids to have lots of free time every day. My rising 1st grader won't work on lessons for more than 2 hours per day, maybe 3 on a busy day.
  7. Hello! How old is your son? My son is 8 and is also dyslexic. We tried both LOE and AAR. After about two years of work, he was stuck just like your son was -- he knew all of the single phonograms as well as many blends and digraphs, but blending words and fluency remained a struggle. After doing a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that Orton-Gillingham tutoring was the best method for him. I ended up getting certified as an Orton-Gillingham tutor. I now tutor my own son as well as a few other students online. This is a research-backed method of instruction that has been studied for decades. I really love it 🙂 I looked at the Dancing Bears program, and there are a few things I like. The daily work with flashcards is important. You really do want students to automatically see the phonogram and say it's sound. The cursor could help kids when they struggle with visual clutter. There are other ways to deal with visual clutter, but this is a simple one that may be helpful. The one criticism I have about Dancing Bears (as well as All About Reading) is that spelling is not incorporated in the program. All About Reading has a separate spelling program (All About Spelling), but like you said -- it was too clunky to add with AAR -- too many moving pieces. You could easily add spelling by having your son spell the words he's reading that day -- or similar words. If he's reading fox, have him spell fox. Then box. Here is how I lay out my lessons for my son and students: Rote words (words that don't follow phonetic rules and need to be memorized). They work on 2 or 3 at a time until they are memorized, and then slowly add new words in. Visual drill (like your flashcards) Auditory drill (I say a sound like /sh/ and the student writes the spelling. For the sound /e/, the student writes all the different spellings for /e/ - e, ee, y, and so on, as they learn them). We do about 8 sounds each session. During this time, I ask the student to explain the rules associated with the phonograms. For example, -tch is only found after 1 short vowel. Review of a recently learned sound or rule New material Blending - working on reading/sounding out a new rule Reading - reading a short story with controlled text that the student can decode Spelling - based on what the student is working on, including both single words and sentences Overall, I think a program like Dancing Bears can help your son gain fluency in the sounds and phonograms he's already learned. I'm not sure how good of a job it would do at teaching new sounds/phonograms/rules, and I don't think it touches on spelling, but maybe I missed that portion. I'd be glad to chat more on this topic! It's a major interest of mine.
  8. Thank you! Lively Latin did not come up in my research, and I like what I see already.
  9. I am hoping to get my third grade son on the right track with Latin. There are so many different resources out there -- I have looked into many of them -- but I am hoping that someone with experience can point us in a good direction. Things to consider: 1. My son is dyslexic. 2. He is also highly gifted and -- more importantly, I think -- really wants to learn Latin (and then Greek). He's very motivated. 3. We have the Minimus book. We like it, but it seems to be vocabulary-based. Should I choose a Latin resource that is focused on grammar? If so, which do you recommend? I would like something with a clear progression that will prepare him for high school level study of Latin later on. 5. He is currently working through the Well-Trained Mind Writing With Ease 2 and First Language Lessons 3. He's doing very well and enjoys both. I personally like the length of the lessons -- I feel like we make progress every day, but no individual lesson is too long. Something of comparable length, clearly laid out like WWE or FLLs would be ideal. Thank you for any resources or advice!
  10. We are former unschoolers who were part of a large group of unschooling families. It was delightful when the children were young -- lots of nature play, field trips, cozy afternoons cuddled up with picture books. It felt like a perfect balance until my oldest was about 7 or 8. I looked ahead and saw that many (perhaps most) of the older unschooled kids were not reading at 10 or 11 years old. Parents would try to organize activities like books clubs, or board game days, or even field trips, but in an effort to be entirely child-led, these events always devolved into free play. We'd try have a book club with a group of 3rd to 5th graders, and nobody could/would say a sentence about a book that was read to them, and then the kids would end up playing rather than participating. I felt like the kids could do so much more -- and enjoy it! -- with some guidance. As the group got older, it also seemed that around 7/8/9 there was a clear shift when the children replaced free play with video games. The image of wild and free unschooled children playing in nature, falling in love with living books, learning math through baking was picturesque to me -- the image of unschooled kids playing video games for hours was not. We felt a pull to switch to more academic, classical homeschooling at this time (around 2nd/3rd grade). I still think a play-based education is perfect for young children up to about second grade, as long as it includes tons of fantastic read alouds, fun math games, and instruction in phonics and handwriting. We did all of those things, gently. Maybe we never were unschoolers at all (ha!). I think you can absolutely homeschool classically while finding tons of time for students to pursue their own interests and take initiative over their own learning. These days, we are classical homeschoolers until lunch time. After lunch, we are unschoolers! We wake, do morning chores, meet at the breakfast table for memory work. Then the kids do math, grammar (or reading, on alternating days), and writing while we are still at the table. We take a short break, then meet up for read aloud time (I read from our literature and history books). We then do a science experiment, map work, or art together (alternating days), and my oldest works on Latin as well. After lunch, the kids have the afternoons to play, read, build. We don't do TV during the school week or video games at all. They practice instruments later in the day, and we read aloud again before bed. They play a lot in the afternoons -- outside, with each other, with neighbors once they're home from school. There are so many hours to pursue their individual interests. I have found that we all like to keep their interests separate from lessons. I used to try to build units around their interests, but they would get irritated, like I was putting work into what had been a joy. Now, I'll get any book from the library on their hobbies, talk about their interests for hours, or help them connect with people/resources to teach then more -- but I won't turn their interests into lessons. They have the freedom and ability to direct that part of their learning as they wish, with my support (but not my lead). It has been a very nice balance.
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