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  1. The Yearling struck a chord with me (but then I have some family history in that region). It isn't on the same level as Austen and Bronte, but I only recently read it as an adult and was moved by the characters as they dealt with pride, shame, basic survival... It rang authentic to me (in more ways than one).
  2. I like Google Docs and spiral notebooks. I am mostly a pen and paper kind of girl, so notebooks are my main go-to. I like being able to customize every detail as I go.
  3. My plan has been to continue penmanship lessons in some form through elementary grades along with our other writing (like copywork, dictation, etc.). I like to choose a lot of my own copywork, so in the early stage I write the passage out myself. That way the student can copy from a cursive model until they are fluent enough to copy from ordinary print in a book. However, this can get time consuming, so I completely understand your request. :) Plus, even after they graduate to being able to copy from books, I have found it beneficial to periodically have them learn or copy from a "perfect" cursive model. We have really enjoyed some of the Scripture books from this series: http://www.penmanship.ca/product-category/penmanship-books/ I buy the pdf version. The author also encourages making decorative borders on the page and gives some examples to copy. I didn't think this would appeal to my boys at all, but they actually loved it. It was good for my not-so-artsy boy when he was in second grade. Book 5b, which we are just beginning, introduces versal letters and decorating them at the beginning of passages (this has gone well with our medieval studies). I plan to try the Proverbs book next. I also have the upper grades of Pentime on my radar. (I think they have one that covers state birds or something, which would be great when we do our study of the states.) We have also used Cursive First and some Rod and Staff Penmanship, but mainly for the more explicit cursive instruction. As far as being CM, I think the best thing you can do is help your student get to the point where he can copy from anything. My oldest is able to do copywork from a variety of books we are reading, including Scripture and poetry. And lately, I am even letting him choose his own sometimes. I hope this will transition him into making his own commonplace book of sorts. But yeah, I still can't bring myself to abandon the Penmanship lessons entirely...not yet anyway. :)
  4. OPGTR really is awesome and thorough, though it can be rather black and white and boring to many students. With a bit of creativity, however, you can easily "jazz up" some of the lessons. My younger student is an interactive, hands-on learner and I have found myself using OPGTR in a different way than I did with his older brother. I don't get fancy or plan ahead, but we do like to switch things up sometimes. I might add magnet letters, a whiteboard (just an empty picture/poster frame), or spelling words out loud, and definitely some fun, colorful readers from the library. There are also some game suggestions in OPGTR, but sometimes I don't have the energy to do them. Chin up! We have homeschooled through some ups and downs and I have found that where there's a will, there's a way, though you may have to tweak your plans as you go. <3
  5. There was a math blogger who posted a quiz to find math curriculum recently. Is that the one? I would have to find it...
  6. Oh yay! So there are more books in that link!? I didn't spend much time on it this morning and thought it only linked to one...now I am seeing lots. :hurray:
  7. This is the one I remember. I think there may be others if you look around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrMty8v2DqI Well, my old Gattegno link isn't working anymore. :sad: A few years ago a fellow board member sent me a link to a large Gattegno library, including the textbooks mentioned upthread. We had planned to begin reading through them that year, but I didn't get very far. I wonder if his works are being reprinted now, so the original versions online have been removed (?).
  8. Mine are still young, so some of these are still wishful thinking...plans. :) Off the top of my head... We also tend to view the "life skills" as separate from school since we would teach those anyway (cooking, cleaning, finance, car repair...). These are more common 'round these parts, but may be a little unusual elsewhere: Penmanship for quite a few years Drawing Music Theory/Piano Nature Study/Notebooking Commonplace-type books I would love to add choir/voice but still working on that one Maybe slightly more unusual (or unique to us): Greek alphabet Cyrillic alphabet (in that order) We may add Hebrew alphabet afterwards.
  9. The textbooks look like reprints of the old Gattegno texts. I wonder if they changed anything. Here is my old saved link of book 1: http://issuu.com/eswi/docs/gattegno-math-textbook-1 If I remember correctly, this entire series was available to read online. I will look through my old links and downloads and see if I can find and post all of them.
  10. The Lamy ABC is what I originally planned to get when my oldest began K/1st, but I think it was harder to find at the time without having to pay a good bit in shipping (iirc?) so we ended up sticking with the Varsities. I wonder if I should try a new one for my current first grader. You'll have to let us know how you like it when it arrives. :) I'll look at the Kakuno too; I don't remember that one. I am not the OP but we use fountain pens for learning cursive (first) on lined paper AFTER doing lots of exercises on the chalkboard/whiteboard (chalkboard is supposed to be better I think), salt box, air writing, etc. I really enjoyed reading Peterson Directed and Don Potter's websites a few years ago before my kids were school age. Fountain pens can help train you to hold a writing instrument properly. If you don't hold them at the correct angle, ink will not flow. Also, you tend to be mindful of the pressure you use while writing with one--too light and pen won't work, too hard and nib feels "scratchy" or might even bend or break.
  11. We have enjoyed these (starting at about age 6): http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Disposable-Fountain-Assorted-90029/dp/B00092PRCA I think they may be one of Bill's old recommendations from "back in the day". ;)
  12. I say let him try if he is interested. He can always take a break and work on something a little simpler if he gets too frustrated. We haven't attempted Spencerian at our house yet, but we do put a lot of emphasis on penmanship. We have enjoyed these pens: http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Disposable-Fountain-Assorted-90029/dp/B00092PRCA (starting at about age 6) Years ago I enjoyed reading around and watching videos on the Peterson Directed Handwriting website. (I haven't been back over there in a long time, so i don't know what it's like now.) A lot of their advice and suggestions stuck with me, like doing gross motor activities before putting pen to paper. We've had a lot of success with writing in a salt box (shoe box lid) to memorize strokes and letter formation before actually trying it on paper. All of that to say, I wouldn't neglect the many activities and exercises you can do leading up to writing with pen and paper. Or, if the writing gets difficult/frustrating, have him take a break and try those other exercises for a while. Also, I wanted to post a penmanship series we are enjoying pieces of. You may already have your heart set on Spencerian, but (just in case) this might be a way you could work your way up to it more gradually if needed. Or perhaps others reading this may be interested. We have only used some of the cursive portions so far. From the beginning the author encourages drawing borders around the finished page and she gives example that can be copied. I thought my not-so-artsy son wouldn't get into this, but he really enjoyed it. In book 5b (I think) she teaches versals, which are large ornate medieval letters sometimes used at the beginning of a chapter. FYI the series is Catholic. http://www.penmanship.ca/product-category/penmanship-books/ At least take a look at Book 10 (European Handwriting). That one alone has been on my radar for a long time. I had planned to throw it in our mix eventually even if we didn't use any others in the series. (But it turns out we are using others as I was running out of things I liked.) http://www.penmanship.ca/shop/book-10-european-handwriting/
  13. I am not very far along, but I'll share my experience so far. Penmanship is a bit of a "hobby" for me. :) I am in the "teach cursive first" camp (unless/until something major changes that plan with a particular student). I am also perhaps more relaxed in the amount of writing I expect in early years (say, 5-7). My children have played around with print (mostly on their own time) alongside learning cursive, but cursive is what I teach at the beginning during formal lesson time. We begin with finger tracing a large model and then practice with lots of air writing, salt box writing, beach writing ;) , etc. until the letter is memorized (only lowercase alphabet at this point). Then we practice writing on a chalk board or white board while standing, or a magnadoodle or unlined paper (with crayons) while sitting. Once they seem fairly comfortable with this we move to lined paper and a fountain pen. I've helped other children and have always seen improvement. As for my own children, my almost 9 year old has lovely handwriting and my 6 year old is still a beginner. I unintentionally took a longer break from lessons this summer, but when I pulled the white board out for my younger to begin practicing again, I was amazed at how much he had improved with no formal practice in weeks. I remember seeing similar improvement with my oldest at that age. There was such a huge difference working with both of them at age 6 versus age 5. I am at the point where I wouldn't even require a 5 year old to write on paper. I would continue with the steps I mentioned above until they seem ready. Also at that age, I encourage lots of other activities I believe can help with handwriting--coloring, cutting, digging, play-doh, monkey bars, chin-up bar, etc. My younger has shown an interest in using art/writing utensils from a very early age and has always had good fine motor skills, but at nearly 6 1/2 he is finally ready to do some "real" writing. My oldest was almost the opposite, as in he showed no interest in drawing, coloring, or writing. We took it slow and steady--a little each day--and he blossomed. Oh, one more thought...I would take a child's reading level into consideration as well. Writing is still quite abstract for a child who is barely reading. Keep working on those reading lessons every day! :) I hope this made some sense. I have had A LOT of interruptions, so it feels a bit scatter-brained. Let me know if you have any questions. I always enjoy discussing penmanship. :) ETA: I see OP updated ages in signature, so my 5 versus 6 year old comments don't exactly apply. Still, I see a lot of development at this age, and even a month can make a big difference.
  14. I'm sorry if this has been mentioned already, but I think you should try to broaden their view of early education in the world. Maybe as part of your introduction give a brief snapshot of how other regions or countries are doing things. I don't have the specifics memorized, but point out academically "successful" countries who don't begin formal schooling so young (or go about it in a different way). Help them take a few steps back and realize there are many more ways of doing things besides whatever the moms at their gym and coffee shop are doing. That kind of extreme peer pressure seems to come from a too-narrow view of the world.
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