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    Hive Mind Queen Bee

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  1. This, pretty much - I post the week's checklist on the fridge. Although, unlike some, my master checklist lists subject/curricula, but doesn't give specific assignments. (I'm a do-the-next-thing homeschooler, where "do-the-next-thing" means "you can figure out 'the next thing' on the fly".) So it's a "master checklist" in two senses: it has the master plan for this year's hs, and it's the copymaster I use to run off that week's blank checklist on the copier ;). I do just as much planning as it takes to find a rhythm to our days and weeks, as well as a rhythm to our subjects. Once I've got that, I can figure out the specifics on the fly and am ready to go forth and do the next thing. I also tend to do as much in my head as possible, only turning to paper when things get too complex and I need an external brain to help ;). I had to start writing down our daily/weekly rhythms once my middle hit 3rd grade (my beloved general checklist), and this year looks like the year I have to start actually writing down some of our subject rhythms. So until 7th grade, "independent assignments" pretty much entirely consisted of "go down the general daily/weekly checklist and do-the-next-thing or do-the-thing-assigned-today", where I came up with the assignments on the fly after teaching the lesson and nobody wrote anything down. (And, really, the only specifics were "which pages in the math workbook"; everything else just followed the general pattern or flow.) 7th grade was our first year with a non-consumable math book, so math assignments now had *two* moving parts: "which problems", as well as "which pages". But I quickly got in the habit of assigning odds, so that was easy to remember, and dd still had no problems remembering which section without any of us writing it down. And our new writing program went from the weekly pattern we were used to, to a two-week pattern. But it was pretty easy to grasp and turn into do-the-next-thing assignments. But this year, 8th grade, we're starting to move from daily classes and daily assignments to twice-weekly classes and weekly assignments that have several parts. (AKA more than dd - or I - can reliably keep in our heads.) It's mainly just in one subject (writing, LToW), so right now I'm just writing out (on the fly) a more detailed checklist in that subject's notebook, complete with due dates, but I hope to transition to her writing that into her planner. Or else I'll actually type up a more-detailed-yet-generic checklist for that subject, now that I'm getting a feel for the rhythm of it, and have her work off that, writing in specifics and due dates as needed. (I really like checklists - they're my external brain. The making of the checklist is how I plan out our daily and weekly - and now subject - rhythms, and checking things off is both a means of recording and accountability.)
  2. Ok, it sounds like she understands active and passive voice in English, then? Active voice is where the subject does the verb, and passive voice is where the verb is done to the subject. It's the same way in Latin. So look at the changes she made in the English sentence. Say you have "The boy rode the horse". To change from active to passive, you switch the subject and direct object, and you change the verb from active to passive: "The horse was ridden by the boy." You're going to make those same changes in Latin. Just like in English, you're going to switch the subject and direct object, but where in English you switch the word order, in Latin you change the endings (there can also be a word order switch, but it's the endings that are key). Switch the subject ending to a direct object ending and vice versa (watching out for differences in declension and number). And just like in English, you're going to change the verb from active to passive, but unlike English it's strictly a matter of changing endings (again, watching out for changes in number, if the subject is singular and the direct object is plural, or vice versa). If she hasn't already, I strongly suggest that she parses every word in each Latin sentence. It's a lot easier to see what needs to be changed and what stays the same that way. Parsing is where you state all the attributes of each word. Nouns and adjectives have declension, gender, case, and number; verbs have conjugation, person, number, tense, mood, and voice. With changing from active to passive, all that's going to change wrt nouns and adjectives is case; all that's going to change wrt verbs is voice and maybe number (if the subject is singular and the direct object is plural, or vice versa). Once she's parsed the active sentence, and then written the parsings for the transformed sentence, then it's just a matter of adding the endings that correspond with the new parsings.
  3. I think you might have better luck if you post your daughter's answers and ask for feedback on them. Or point to the specific issue she's having. Or if she's so stuck that she has no idea even where to begin or what questions to ask, that might be something for her to email the teacher about.
  4. I agree with avoiding busywork in favor of putting time into things that are worth learning from, but I think that some spelling curricula *can* be worthwhile even for natural spellers. Namely, spelling curricula that focus on teaching the patterns and logic behind spelling. Yeah, it's "not necessary" in the sense they will likely spell fine without it, but it's nevertheless something worth learning. It's the same reason behind teaching grammar even to those who have an innate intuitive grasp of grammar: sure, they probably will write well enough without it, but learning how things are put together is innately rewarding and inherently worth doing. Signed: a natural speller who ended up with exceptionally non-natural-spelling kids. Even when I oh-so-naively assumed my kids would naturally absorb spelling from their no-doubt-copious reading, I always planned to hit spelling from both the phonetic side and the morphographic side, because I thought it was a thing worth learning. And now having indeed done spelling from both angles (so. much. spelling, to kids who desperately needed every bit of it and then some), I'm quite pleased with the knowledge I've gained, as well. It *is* worth learning. (And the benefit of being a natural speller is that you could probably learn it in a quarter of the time.)
  5. Ah, that makes sense. Yeah, I agree that grammar instruction is so much more effective with parental help. And at least you started now, with all of high school to work on it. (And you aren't alone - I didn't exactly cover myself in glory wrt grammar with my oldest. I curriculum hopped too much - she did the beginning of three different programs and thoroughly hated grammar after the third time through nouns. I was sad at the thought I'd ruined grammar for her. But I took some time off, and started Latin, and later tried sentence diagramming (we didn't get too far but it did revive grammar for her), and now, in 8th grade, it's fifth time's the charm <shifty>. The point is, it's never too late :).) I haven't used it, but it's considered a very thorough program. And the six week sample would definitely give you a good feel for how it works for your family.
  6. From what you said, he can identify the parts of speech of individual words, but he's hit-or-miss with identifying parts of speech in sentences. That's not a bad beginning for two months worth of beginning grammar, all things considered. It is harder to apply the definitions to sentences than to individual words. How concerned I'd be would really depend on how complex the sentences were, and whether he's missing basic things like ID'ing the subject and main verb, or if he's missing words in more complex bits of the sentence. Also, wrt "he doesn't get <3rd grade grammar>": Does that mean that he is getting the 3rd grade grammar book exercises wrong? Or is it that he can do the 3rd grade grammar book exercises all right, but he can't apply it to his own writing? Him not being able to apply it outside the grammar book wouldn't surprise me or worry me at all. (Both because his writing is probably more advanced than the 3rd grade exercises and also because he's only a grammar beginner. Grammar's frustrating that way, that you can't really analyze sentences "in the wild" until you have quite a lot of grammar under your belt.) But him being unable to do the 3rd grade grammar book exercises would concern me some. Although, it occurs to me, if he's doing it independently, he might be rushing through and not taking time to think on the harder ones. Or the program might expect you to have memorized the definitions, and he might not have done so, and that could be causing him trouble. Or that the program teaches an explicit, step-by-step approach, and he's cutting corners on it. (My oldest would do all these things if left to her own devices.) On the ones he misses, if you walk him through the sentence, step-by-step, can he do it then? IOW, how much of his trouble is genuinely not understanding despite full effort, and how much is just not applying full effort. ITU not wanting gaps. Fortunately, grammar, like Latin, has beginner programs for all levels. Since you said he's generally above level, and doesn't have any apparent language issues, he might well do better with a beginner program meant for older learners. There might be a lot more repetition in the 3rd grade book than he needs; fiddly detail work that is conceptually easy can be painfully mind-numbing for lots of kids. Also, programs for older learners often get to the big picture faster than programs for younger kids, which can be very helpful for many people.
  7. I think it's a little worrisome that he's having that much trouble with grammar that is that basic. At the very least, it suggests that the approach you are using really doesn't mesh well with how he thinks. What program are you using? If he writes adequately, that implies that his grammar intuition is decent enough. Certainly decent enough that he at least understands how to *use* verbs, even if he can't identify one. And probably decent enough that he can *use* prepositional phrases, even if he can't identify them. (TBH, I personally have found identifying prepositional phrases, in the manner usually taught, to be rather difficult - it never connected with my grammar intuition.) In what context does he fail to identify verbs? Can he come up with a short list of verbs from the definition of a verb? Can he identify a verb in a very basic, subject/verb only sentence, like "Rex barks"? (For me, it was that sort of sentence-level grammar analysis, starting from the most basic S-V sentence and building up from there, that helped me connect my mostly-unconscious grammar intuition to formal grammar analysis.) I have two thoughts. One thought is that it might help to separate "working on grammar" from "working on writing", so that the thing he has trouble with (grammar) doesn't drag down the thing he enjoys (writing). The other thought is that he might do better if you approached grammar from a writing perspective - using grammar to help you better say what you want to say - instead of from a more analytical, breaking-down-other-people's-writing-into-(kind-of-meaningless-seeming)-parts. Or, highly related, approached grammar in a meaning-centric way. Here's a sentence, you *know* what it means - and the point of grammar is to learn how to describe how language conveys that meaning. A verb is a word that describes an action or state of being - so in "Rex barks," what's the action? Writing-centric grammar programs work very similarly, in that you *know* what you are trying to convey - *this* action or *that* description - and now you are learning how to describe how language conveys those existing-in-the-real-world actions and relationships in words. And how the wrong choice of language can convey the wrong action, the wrong description, the wrong image, the wrong relationship. In any case, the goal is to connect his innate understanding of what the sentence is doing - if he understands what the sentence means, then at some level he *does* understand what the sentence is doing, at least intuitively - with the formal grammar terms and definitions. If he can't identify parts of speech - but his reading comprehension and writing skills are fine - then for whatever reason he's unable to connect his intuitive understanding of how English works with formal grammar definitions. Honestly, that was a huge bugaboo for me, too - and it really helped me to kind of work backwards, building sentences from the ground up, from the most basic S-V. I had to start somewhere where the definitions *made sense* - where I could *see* and *feel* that, yes, "Rex" is indeed a person, place or thing; that "barks" is indeed an action. (I think Treasured Conversations does this.) (It's a bit out of your price range, and probably requires a bit better grammar grounding than what your ds currently has, but I'm doing "Grammar for Writers" with my oldest, and it has provided light bulb moment after light bulb moment. I now really get the formal difference between a direct object and a predicate nominative (which is where dd and I fell off the train in "Diagramming Sentences"). It's been really helpful with connecting one's sense of what a sentence is describing with the formal grammar of the sentence. We started it with FLL3-level grammar: nouns (person, place, or thing), verbs (describes an action or state or being), adjectives (describes nouns), adverbs (describes verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs), and the ability to identify direct and indirect objects in extremely simple sentences. I had the feeling that the program maybe wanted a bit more grammar experience (it's aimed at high schoolers), but I decided to go for it anyway, and so far it's been fine. That was a good enough grounding to get on with things. The author is really, really awesome at giving meaning-based "tests" for identifying everything beyond verbs (you do need to be able to intuitively find the main verb), and it's making the definitions come alive for me. One potential downside for grammar strugglers is that there's not a huge amount of exercises per lesson, and the sentences tend to be moderately complex. Dd had trouble with direct objects and complements in the more complex sentences, and so I took a side trip into applying the DO-v-PN/PA test to easier sentences until she started feeling it. And then she went through the challenge section with flying colors. But the answer key is *utterly awesome* - it explains every bit of the sentence, and points out common errors and why they might have tricked you.)
  8. We're semi-rigorous, or at least aspiring to a multum non multa sort of rigor; which is to say, we (try to) work hard and well at a few important things, but we definitely aren't doing all the things or taking all the time. At any rate, my 8th grader spends about 6 hours per day, 4 days a week, an hour of which is independent reading. The fifth day is music lesson day, and she spends about an hour on schoolwork that day. Piano practice (30 min) is part of the school day. Our school day runs from 9am-4pm, with an hour-long lunch from 12-1pm. My 8th grader's schedule looks broadly like this: 9:00-10:15ish: Independent work 10:15ish-12:00: Mom teaching time (math, Latin, and either writing or grammar) 12:00-1:00: Lunch 1:00-1:30: Piano practice 1:30-3:00: Independent work 3:00-4:00: Independent reading So she has 1.5-2hr of teaching time with me, 2.5-3hr of independent working time, 0.5hr of piano practice, and 1hr of independent reading, 4 days a week. She could definitely use more time to work, as she never gets everything done - there's always at least one subject undone that gets rolled over to the next day. (It's a combo of too much to do plus lolly-gagging.) When I first saw the problem, I'd figured that we'd reached the point where we needed to have regular "homework" - not because of wasting school time, but because at this level there's just too much to do to get it all done during the school day. But after talking with my sis, I've decided that just because ps students her age regularly have hours of hw doesn't mean I need to do the same. I mean, I'm hs'ing because I don't want to do things the ps way - and upon reflection, I *don't* think it's good for school to spill over into non-school hours like that. Last year, I'd already made the choice to not let school work spill over into independent reading time - at 3:00, school work is put away, finished or unfinished, and quiet reading time begins. It prevents written school work from taking over reading time, which imo is important in general, but is extra important for us, since we hit so many content subjects through independent reading. And I found that it makes for a much better end to the school day; it gives everyone a chance to relax and decompress before afternoon activities or chores, and my kids really needed that. I'm thinking that something similar applies here: that the things that happen outside of school are important, too, and so non-school time needs to be protected as much as school time needs to be protected. And overall, I do think we are making good progress on school - I think we are doing fine.
  9. I haven't been paying attention to what's going on when I log in (although I have had to login on all my devices in the past few days), but I checked and one of my security extensions lists "" as a site that wants to run a script on this page. (It, like the twelve other sites wanting to run scripts here that I haven't approved, is blocked on my desktop; I'll have to pay attention on my tablet to see what's happening there.)
  10. Try bookfinder - it searches several booksellers at once. Scanning the results, I saw some copies for under $20. (I remember when I bought my copy, it took some looking before I could find an affordable used copy - they seem to be getting scarcer every year - they aren't everywhere anymore, not like they used to be in the early 2010s.)
  11. Don't have any experience with those specific curricula, but I do have two lefties. As far as it goes, the number one thing that helped me teach them handwriting was making the effort to write with my left hand (I'm a rightie). Nothing makes the nuts and bolts of writing left-handed clearer than to pick up a pencil in your left hand and try it out yourself. (Idk about you, but the how-to-position-your-page instructions always made no sense to me - I had to actually pick up the pencil left-handed and move the paper around till my slant looked right before it made sense.) Plus it made demonstrating and troubleshooting problems for the kids much easier when I used my left hand just like they were, even though I'm no better than semi-adequate writing left-handed. (Was an interesting experience, having to consciously pay attention to letter formation - helped me explain techniques for trickier letters better, when I had to figure out how to prevent *myself* from writing them mirror-image.) I'm not necessarily proud of this, but I used no program to teach printing. Just lots of copywork. I demonstrated a cursive-friendly letter formation (aka the one that cursive-writing me found most natural), but didn't force it. There was plenty of bottom-up and right-to-left letter and number formation from all three, but especially the lefties. (I actually didn't teach letter formation to my youngest lefty - he learnt at preschool - and he's the most idiosyncratic of the lot.) I used Smithhand to teach cursive (because I liked the stroke focus and the appearance), and the process of learning cursive did wonders for my oldest lefty's handwriting, printing as well as cursive. I didn't need to modify anything but paper slant (and tbh I didn't worry overmuch about that). My oldest lefty ended up naturally writing the meant-to-be-slanted cursive straight up-and-down, and it hasn't been a problem - it looks good and writes fine. I did make the kids always use "school pencils" that encouraged a tripod hold during school, and I corrected their grip as much as possible. And I did watch out for if my lefties started "hooking" their hand, and corrected it right away. Honestly, teaching my lefties has gone about the same as teaching my righty. I stressed about handwriting too - a main reason why I never actually *taught* print (hello, procrastination, my old friend) - and, idk, between casual corrections and putting a fair bit of work into cursive (I used cursive as part of phonics reinforcement), it so far seems to have worked out well enough despite my haphazard approach. Unless your dd turns out to have some kind of writing issue, I expect any decent-ish handwriting program, done with decent-ish attention, will work just fine.
  12. I second Dolciani. After a brief try at AOPS Pre-Alg that was too intense for us, we went to Dolciani and that's been great. It does a review of arithmetic from first principles, showing how everything builds up and fits together, which was exactly what oldest dd needed. It introduces the idea of proof without putting it front and center.
  13. I'm going with very individual. My kids all have/had difficulties with decoding. With my oldest, decoding actually lagged behind reading comprehension - she was a whole language poster child, naturally using picture clues and context clues and grammar clues to bolster and work around her weak decoding. With my middle, I think decoding and comprehension went more or less hand-in-hand, although I think her reading comprehension lagged behind her decoding, while her decoding lagged behind her oral comprehension. For a while, after decoding was solid (except for decoding unfamiliar multi-syllable words, which we were working on explicitly), she wouldn't read anything unfamiliar, while she *would* read fairly high-level books that she was very familiar with, from read-alouds and audiobooks. Youngest is still learning to decode, but his oral comprehension (with read-alouds and audiobooks) is quite good. In general I'd say his (fledgling) reading comprehension is more-or-less in line with his (fledgling) decoding skills, in that he understands what his readers are saying. One thing I did notice with my younger two, wrt decoding and comprehension, is that they both try to decode first, understand second (while my oldest tried to comprehend without decoding if at all possible). And so they found individual words easier to read than connected text (unlike oldest, who was the opposite - the more context, the easier to guess and thus avoid decoding). Which meant there was/is a decent period of time where their connected-text reading stamina lagged/is-lagging behind their individual word decoding. And therefore their reading comprehension lagged behind their decoding. (Although I thought of it in terms of their connected-text decoding stamina lagging behind, since in general decoding was harder than comprehension for my kids.) That said, not one of my kids was reading in Oct of 1st grade. End of first for oldest, end of second for middle, and I'm hoping for end of second with my red-shirted youngest.
  14. If you took out painters - "I think that (we, us) need help" - then I would intuitively pick we - "I think that *we* need help", not "I think that *us* needs help." Thinking it through, I think that the "that" is key - it's introducing a clause. So "(we,us) painters" is the subject of the that-clause, so it's in the nominative case.
  15. I will say, our garage is still full-ish of random crap, and it does bug me. We have it useable-ish, in that we can now get to everything we need to get to, plus have a decent walking path from the door to the house to the car in the driveway, and (with five minutes of moving) can get one car in the garage in case of hail-storm. But it needs a really good sweeping, and it can't get that while there's all the crap in the corners - crap that I'm scared to touch for fear of black widows. So I've just left it for dh, who occasionally puts on gloves and tackles a spot - so there's incremental improvement. And it's at a level now that I can live with - it was a really milestone for me when that happened. So I guess vote for pitching everything it takes to get it liveable enough. Maybe toss all the cardboard and rearrange - see if you can live with the clothes bags for a while or not.
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