Jump to content


April in NC

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


19 Good

About April in NC

  • Birthday 11/04/1976

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
  1. I have twins who are now 16 years old. When they were born I envisioned homeschooling being much easier. I thought it would be like having a little mini class. My twins are identical, and they are very similar in terms of their academic abilities and interests (or lack thereof!) But I found the same as others have said - skill subjects often went better if I worked with them individually. Mainly to reduce competition and feelings of discouragement, if one of them didn't pick up on something the exact same instant that the other did. I'm sure there were some days when it would have worked better to do everything completely separately, but there are only so many hours in the day! You are likely going to find that you will not be able to come to a perfectly ideal arrangement, and that's okay. Having to wait their turn is a good skill for them to practice. It can be so frustrating for you to deal with juggling needs, but I'm sure you are very familiar with that process by now, having gotten your twins as far as you have! (That first year is a doozy) I think expectations have a lot to do with it. When we are picking out curricula and materials we are envisioning our little ones happily enthralled, or at least moderately engaged, with the lessons we've put together. But the reality is that often there is a lot of sibling bickering and general fidgets and frustrations! My twins are dyslexic, but also perfectionists, so we had lots of frustrations along the way. We did math separately for the most part. And when they were younger, we did reading separately, too. Only now, in Geometry, are they working together on math. Sometimes it goes better than others, but it's working okay, for the most part. We did history, science, art, etc. together. Yes, they still got on each others nerves or distracted each other from time to time, but we've survived, so far. You may find you have to do some trial and error to figure out what works best for your crew. You may also find that what works best differs from year to year, depending on their development, your time constraints/health/energy/etc, and the materials that you are using. Best of luck! It is hard, but very rewarding in the long run.
  2. I think that with any program, Rosetta Stone included, you have to have realistic expectations. I know that Rosetta Stone heavily advertises that they are used by the US Foreign Service, for example. My best friend from college is a diplomat with the Foreign Service. She has been through several different rounds of language training over the years. She says that they do have Rosetta Stone, but that it is one of many different tools they have for practicing what they learn in their 6 hours a day of language classes with native speakers. So. I do think that programs like these have their place. But I don't think it is possible for most people to get really good results unless they are able to learn from someone who speaks the language. We don't have a tutor right now. We are using La Clase Divertida, and we will move on to some other resources eventually - maybe even Rosetta Stone. I expect it to help with vocabulary and beginning to get an ear for how the language works. But I know that each of these pieces will only take us so far, and eventually we will need to have classes either live or online, if we want to get to the point of fluency.
  3. This sounds like a great idea! I have a Mac, and would also be interested in iPad/iPhone versions. I'm following you on Twitter and looking forward to updates!
  4. La Clase Divertida is great for family learning, I think. You can (and should) all watch the videos together. Then you can practice the dialogue with one another.
  5. If i remember correctly, the reason it says VERB on the front is that the picture on the front is of the character Verb. On each picture, you write the name of the character that you are illustrating. We really enjoyed this book a lot - So glad to hear that it is available on Currclick now! Oh, and for those who were wondering about the diagramming, it has a nice, clear introduction to diagramming the parts of speech. But it can be skipped entirely, if you wish, and you'll miss nothing except the diagramming. We did do the art with it. I'm no artist, that's for sure! But I drew the pictures while the girls watched, and they had such great fun trying to figure out what I was drawing and what was going on. For those of you who might be considering moving on to MCT after using Sentence Family, MCT uses the same colors for Noun and Verb as Sentence Family, which is great! The only different color, if I remember correctly, was pronoun, which he made an aqua-ish color to show it's relationship with the blue Noun. Color isn't a huge part of MCT, but it was nice that at least those lined up. If they'd all been different it might have been confusing, but my girls easily accepted that pronoun was different in MCT.
  6. Hi - just wanted to mention quickly that you can now easily re-install apps that you've previously downloaded, for no extra charge. Just tap the App Store icon on the iPad, search for the app that you want to re-install, and when you view the details for the app, instead of listing a price it should just say "install". You can tap on that to get the app re-installed on your iPad. (If it does list a price, then this may be a different version from the one you had previously installed. If you tap on it, it will charge you for the download.) This does require you to know which apps you want to reinstall. With the new version of iOS that will be out in the Fall, you will also be able to easily see a history of all apps that you've purchased but that aren't currently installed. Until that is available, I hope that the above process helps!
  7. I've been using TOG more or less secularly for the past year, with no trouble at all. (I say more or less, because I am not teaching from a particular religious point of view, but I do think that religion is important to learn about, because of its influence throughout history and into the modern era.) I did avoid TOG for a few years when I first heard of it and looked into it, because I was concerned about it being heavily biased in a particular religious slant. However, when I looked at the samples for year 3 that are available on the website, I realized that it would probably work just fine, and that I really loved the way it put things together, and all the thought and work that had gone into creating it. I've used Year 2, units 3 and 4, and Year 3-unit 1, mostly for UG so far. LOVE it. It's loose enough for me to tinker, but with a framework that keeps me from having to reinvent the wheel, which is important for me, due to chronic health reasons.. There are a lot of religious references in the teacher's guide, but many (if not most) of the books are mainstream neutral. Some books may have religion in them, but as a depiction of the historical reality. A few books I skipped, but as someone else said, there were more than I could use anyway. Thankfully, TOG is not the type of program that avoids difficult topics or controversial situations. (prehistory may be an exception, but then again, that's PRE history, and TOG is just history, lol) If there is something that they disagree with, they usually explain the other side's point of view, too, and I have so far been able to easily modify their conclusions to mesh with my own. Even the teacher's materials are mostly based around excerpts from the World Book encyclopedia, with sidebars added that highlight spiritual implications of things. If it bugs you to see bible verses in your teacher's materials, though, then that will certainly keep you from being able to fully enjoy this program. If you can look past that without resentment, then you may very well be able to get a lot out of it. I even created a TOG Secular Yahoo group at one point, with several members. However, there doesn't seem to be an urgent need for a lot of support in adapting it, and so the group is mostly quiet. It is pretty straightforward - you just skip the stuff you don't like - there is MORE than enough to just work on the secular assignments. The consensus is that Year 1 is the toughest to adapt, and many choose something else for Ancients. Also, D and R levels may be different - we haven't gotten there yet. But I haven't heard of many problems with those levels either.
  8. I'm pretty sure that's a typo, and she meant WP! I've heard that WP has had issues from time to time with their order fulfillment. Don't know if they've gotten that ironed out yet or not.
  9. Have you downloaded the TOG samples? They include three weeks of curriculum that give you a pretty good picture of how the program works. Basically, each week TOG gives you an overview of the essential "threads" of the week for each level that may be using the program. This gives you a big picture idea of what you will be covering. Next they give you a reading list in each subject area, for each level, with main selections on the left chart, and suggested alternates on the right chart. For each week, you go through and decide which assignments you will have your children complete based on: their level, your access to the books, your overall available time, etc. Similarly, there will be an activity chart that lists projects and activities that may be attempted, and you can select from these as well. One difference with TOG and some other programs is that TOG has many long-term projects that are planned and carried out over several weeks or even years. Then there are writing assignments. These are very optional - if you have another language arts program, you might not use these. But if you do use these, you just buy the Writing Aids reference manual once, and use the assignments in the TOG week plans to progress your way through the program. For each week of TOG, there will be assignments for a total of 12 different levels of writing skills, so you may pick an assignment that fits your child's level. There is an extensive teacher's guide for each week of TOG. This isn't so necessary in the lower levels, but for upper levels (dialectic and rhetoric) it is very helpful for getting up to speed on the content of the week without having to have read every assignment along with the student. (You may well want to read all the assignments - but if you can't, this allows you to still lead your student well.) Each week will have a student assignment section that is addressed to the student and explains to the student what they will be doing for the week. (Again, specific assignments are broken down by level.) The lower levels include student activity pages - worksheets that usually match the week's literature selection. Upper levels include outlines for study and discussion. Socratic discussion is a major part of the learning process for the upper levels, and there are guides to assist the teacher in leading the discussions for the week. These discussions are not just reading comprehension checks, or student narrations in the upper levels, but rather they work towards synthesizing the information gathered from the week's readings into a deep understanding of the overall threads for the week, and their place in the larger tapestry. With TOG, it is possible to have every child in your house studying the same topic, but each with their own assignments, on their own level. I am not aware of any other program that lines all the levels up in this way. Once you have bought a unit, you own the lesson plans for all levels, which makes it a great value. The other thing that can be helpful with TOG is that you can buy it by the 9 week unit instead of by the whole year. This makes it really easy and inexpensive to try out, to see if it is a good fit. I don't have direct experience with WP, but have used Sonlight, which is the approach from which the developer of WP came. One key difference is that WP is designed to use a specific selection of books. You can buy a package that has all the books you will need. TOG, on the other hand, has a suggested sequence of books, but also includes extensive suggestions for alternate books (or parts of books) that will also work to cover the material. You can pick any of those, or, because TOG tells you exactly what you are hoping to cover, you can substitute any book from your library that looks appealing and covers the same general material. I believe that even just using the primary selections for TOG may cover more books overall than WP. I suspect this because the amount of money that would be required to outright buy every primary resource would be outrageous! I only purchase the books that are used for multiple weeks, getting the rest from the library. In the lower levels, TOG uses more of the expensive picture books than Sonlight or WP would use, since TOG assumes that you will get many of these types of books from the library. These books would be prohibitively costly to buy in a package like WP, but are really appealing to some children. So TOG could give you the chance to use, say (just guessing, here) upwards of 30-40 picture books with your younger child over the course of the year. That would not be practical for a package based program like WP or Sonlight, who tend to instead choose a few picture books, and then use anthologies or collections or spines where possible. So, in terms of overall user experience - with WP you are getting a program for a specific level that can be bought in a package with every book you need, all lined up and ready to go. Of course, you can also buy these separately, or try to borrow them from your library. If you want a package that includes everything, you would probably not pick TOG. Also, if you have very limited library access, you might not pick TOG. On the other hand, if you want a program that has the flexibility to suggest quality resources without having book cost as a primary consideration (because of them knowing that their users will use the library for expensive or lightly used books), then you may want to consider TOG. We buy perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the books for our UG children, and get the rest from the library or substitute. In upper levels, it is more critical to get the exact books that will match the discussion outlines, so I expect to buy more of those books, and I expect the book cost to rise. (Though, of course, you won't be buying picture books in high school! There are more anthologies in the upper levels.) Thus far, I have pretty much discussed the main TOG program. You can also get add-ons, depending on your particular needs. I highly recommend the Map Aids, because it is really helpful to have all the blackline maps you need in order for your child to complete their geography assignments. Throw in an atlas or the internet for researching what goes on each map, and you are all set. (Map Aids does include the teacher's version of each map, all filled in - the atlas and/or internet are for teaching the student how to find this information his or herself.) There are also lapbook kits that you can add on, if your children enjoy these. I'm sure I'm overlooking some of the other options. These are the ones that my family has used. Oh, one other difference that I just remembered is that if you buy the digital edition of TOG, you will receive free updates. This is a big deal, because children's books go out of print all the time. (And new ones are published all the time, too.) If you start your child in LG or UG, and then by the time you are ready to do the unit again for the Dialectic level some of the books have gone out of print, your Digital Edition will have been updated with the new schedule, using newer books that are now in print. You can't resell the digital edition, but given the overall value for years of use, it is very fairly priced. And you can, of course, resell the books that you have purchased to follow the program. I should note that the last I had heard, you are not allowed to resell any of the WP teacher's schedules. If you buy the print version of TOG, you can resell those materials. (But you will have to pay an upgrade fee to get the updated versions of the printed materials in the future.) I'm certain that both TOG and WP are great programs. I regularly drool over WP's gorgeous catalog! Right now, TOG serves our family's needs well, but I have heard wonderful things about WP, too. Aren't we lucky to have such great choices?!
  10. I agree, Wendy. Those arguments weren't terribly impressive. They didn't mention, for example, how cursive eliminates issues with letter reversals for students with dyslexia issues. That was worth it's weight in gold for me, and I wish I'd just started with cursive in the first place.
  11. For dyslexics and LD, cursive can be key - it makes it much harder to have letter reversals, since with cursive each letter is about a specific sequence of connecting strokes, not about a picture put together in random order. (I know that printing is also taught as a sequence of strokes, but because the strokes are not connecting, and they can technically be formed in any order, the child may tend to use a different order to come up with the same "picture" of a letter. And if they are iffy on which way the picture faces, there are fewer cues in print that tell them what to do . . .) Not to mention, b and d look different in cursive, so no confusion there! My children's printing is still haphazard at the age of 10, despite years of printing workbooks. Their cursive is much better, and there is no question about which letters face which way. I wish I'd taught them cursive from the beginning, but at the time I thought people who did that were a little nuts! :lol:
  12. Spell to Write and Read probably has the most comprehensive coverage of spelling rules that I've come across. For example, with EA, the child is taught from the beginning that EA can make one of three sounds: E, eh, A. (These sounds are always listed in order of prevalence, so that the child knows which ones are more common.) As the child studies their words, they mark for each word which sound of EA is being used. For example, to study the word "eat", the child would simply underline the EA, to show that together they make one sound. Since it is using the first, most common, sound of EA, they are done. With the word "heavy", they would underline the EA. Then, they would determine that in this case the word is using the second sound of EA, /eh/, and they would mark the EA with a little "2". These cues help them to think through and remember which words use which sounds. In the case of EA, it is not so much that there is a "rule" that EA says/E/, and then there are exceptions to that rule, but rather that there are three sounds which EA makes, and you must determine which sounds are being used in each word. The markings are a nice "hook" to help think through and remember. In addition, if there are tips that help indicate which sounds will be used in which cases, then the rule or hint will be taught as well. For example, the A has three sounds: /a/, /A/, /ah/. The third sound is the least common, but you can often find it when the A is following a W: wash, was, water, etc. So the child soon picks up on the fact that when they hear the /ah/ sound after a W, it is probably the letter A that should be used there (and not the letter o, which also commonly makes the /ah/ sound). SWR has a bit of a learning curve, and so I did put off getting it for several years before finally taking the plunge (after exhausting just about every other approach). For my children, (who are truly challenged spellers) it is probably the best choice I have made thus far. I do recommend if you look into it to check out the Spell to Write and Read Yahoo group. They have a lot of resources in the files section, and SWR trainers answer questions there, in detail. If you have a SWR workshop available locally, I'd say to run, don't walk, to sign up!
  13. Boy do I wish that I weren't 9 hours away! The depth of this is a dream, and the price is great, especially with meals and board. I checked and Amtrak would be $200 from Charlotte. :tongue_smilie: I hope lots of people go, and come back and share with us what you've gleaned!
  14. I have used SWR to remediate spelling beginning last year when my twins were 9. I dearly love this program (although I agree that it can be a bear to learn what is, ultimately, a pretty simple routine to execute). For many people, the best way to learn the program really is to do a workshop. There are "official" and unofficial workshops held all along - you can check the Yahoo Group for announcements about some of them. I believe that there are also now some video workshops that would probably be helpful, too. The thing is, the dictation process that Tracy described earlier sounds (and feels!) really awkward when starting out. After a few months, especially after I attended a workshop last summer and got more confidence, it came together beautifully. SWR has made a huge difference in our conception of how spelling "works". It takes a while (ie, for us about a year) to learn all the phonograms and internalize all their sounds. But it pays off hugely, as we now have our own "language" for analyzing and discussing words. We can talk about which sounds of what letters were used and why or why not. And we can even use those strategies with any other words that we want to spell. Each student builds her own "textbook" each year, marking the words in ways that help to staple correct spellings into their brains. This has been much more productive for us than the traditional spelling programs which depend mostly on memorization instead of strategies. Using SWR has been really helpful to me as well, as I was a natural sight speller growing up. Now that my brain isn't quite as reliable as it used to be with these things, it is great to have strategies to use! A program that is based (loosely) on SWR, All About Spelling, is what we used before moving into SWR. The great thing about All About Spelling is that it is much easier to learn. Once you've learned how to do SWR, SWR is pretty much open and go, just like AAS, but there is definitely a learning curve with SWR. The reason we switched to SWR was that since our girls were older at the time, I wanted something that introduced all the phonograms in the first year. AAS slowly introduces the phonograms (which might be good for younger children), while SWR is more spiral. I wanted to go ahead and learn all phonograms, so that we could then fine tune and perfect and practice over the next few years. And, I really liked the learning logs and markings and dictation that SWR uses. There are some more differences, so if anyone wants more info on that just ask. But I thought I would bring AAS up, in case anyone was too daunted by learning SWR, but still wanted an approach that is based on phonograms. For me, I was too daunted, but then ended up getting it anyway - and glad I did!
  15. Just wanted to say that this thread has been really thought provoking for me. I really admire all of you for being brave enough to take a different path from the norm. I will admit, since I was homeschooled all the way through, for me homeschooling is the norm. Except for my husband and my college roommate, all of my close friends were homeschooled, too. So I'm embarrassed to say that I sometimes forget how much of a serious change this is for most people who want to choose this path. I often wonder if I'd have had the will/nerve to choose homeschooling if I hadn't been homeschooled. I guess we'll never know! Ironically, my sister (who was also homeschooled) and her husband (who was not) decided to enroll their son in the local elementary school. My sister was a nervous wreck that first year, trying to figure out how to do elementary school when she'd never so much as set foot in one in her life. So I do think any time you choose to do something outside your norm it is tough. With your friends and family, I might consider giving them a little grace to react badly, since they haven't had the opportunity that you have to research and learn all about this strange undertaking. And for some people, stepping that far outside their established norm is just too hard - not something they would ever want to do. Plus, as others here have mentioned, they feel judged by your decision. When I tell people I meet that we homeschool, I do go with the casual approach. I often make a point to be interested and excited about their kids' school plans as well, to avoid signaling that I disapprove of them. So often people, when they hear about your decisions, have an instant reaction to think it is about them - to take it personally. Kuddos again to all of you who have taken this plunge, or who will be plunging in soon. Whether it is normal or not, it sure is an adventure! <edited to add> Just to avoid giving the impression that the response to homeschooling is all bad, by far the biggest response we get when telling the grocery clerk (or whomever!) that we homeschool is, "Oh, really? You kids are so lucky!" I realize that grocery clerks are one thing, and friends and family are another, but still!
  • Create New...