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wendyroo last won the day on May 23 2013

wendyroo had the most liked content!

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About wendyroo

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    Hive Mind Larvae
  • Birthday 02/14/1981

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  1. I live in the land of the thrift store, so I do almost all of our clothes shopping there. I can get like-new, brand name kids clothes for $2-3 per item. The thrift stores around me are clean, well stocked and well organized (particularly the Goodwills), so shopping there doesn't even take considerably longer than shopping at a "regular" store...well, except when I go and try on 30 pairs of jeans or whatever, that takes a long time, but buying kids clothes is fast. Wendy
  2. We had the exact opposite experience. DS and I read through, and really enjoyed Grammar Island. I saw light bulbs go on in his head as to how language was actually put together. I gained a much deeper understanding of some points of grammar (especially direct and indirect objects) that I had always intuitively used correctly, but not fully understood (to my detriment when it came time to master them in a second language). And then we started working through the practice sentences... DS got every one wrong! Not completely wrong, he typically got several levels of the analysis entirely correct, but there was always some word or phrase that tricked him (and that was incredibly frustrating for his black and white, ASD brain). So I started working through the sentences with him...and together we had only slightly better results. I felt like MCT had explained the big picture concept well, but left us woefully unprepared to actually apply what we had learned to a wide variety of real sentences. It almost felt like an AOPS approach - problems designed to trick and challenge us specifically so that we could "discover" the rules and methods through struggling, failing, and then trying to deduce why the solution was correct...and hopefully be able to apply that deduction to the following problems. We eventually gave up on learning grammar through the discovery method. DS and I are STEM buddies - we love puzzling our way through math - but when it comes to grammar we needed both the MCT big picture, AND a program that would explicitly teach exactly HOW to apply the concepts. Wendy
  3. If you look at the sample of the Grammar Island teachers manual, you can get a pretty good idea of the extra notes that are included: some open ended questions that you could use to prompt discussion, some teaching tips like telling you what ideas to stress on a page, etc. And then at the end of the sample you can see the Teacher's Resource Section that has the answers to the questions. If you think your daughter might be stimulated by the discussion prompts, then letting her read independently from the teacher's manual would be fine. I've always wondered why MCT did not include the little boxed discussion questions in the student book - it seems odd to "hide" thought-provoking questions from the students. Even if a teacher doesn't want to take the time to discuss each question, there is clearly still value in a student thinking about them. Wendy
  4. I've never actually owned Sentence Island. I looked through the sample and read reviews (many of which said that the writing assignments were ridiculous and unhelpful), and decided that we didn't need it. It might have been fun, but there were lots of other more guaranteed fun things that I could spend that money on. I wasn't going to buy a writing book knowing up front that I wasn't going to use any of the assignments and that the (fairly short) story, while perhaps entertaining, would probably be teaching skills that I could cover just as easily on my own. Wendy
  5. I side-stepped the issue by buying the iBook versions. There is only the student iBook because any answers that would be in the teacher manual are now provided through the interactive activities. There is actually very little difference between the student and teacher books in the paper versions. The teacher book shows exactly the same thing as the student book, but there are occasional notes or answers added. Which one you get would probably depend on how you are going to use it. For instance, if the book asks you to find all the prepositional phrases in a sentence, and you want to know the correct answers, then you should get the teacher manual. At that point, I would only get the teacher manual and I would just go through if necessary and stick post-it notes over any places where you want your daughter to try an activity before seeing the answer (truly, there aren't THAT many "answers" that you would want to hide). OTOH, if you want to use the book mainly for prompting discussions, and you are confident in your grammar abilities, or frankly don't care if you find EVERY prepositional phrase exactly as MCT intended, then by all means just get the student book. Wendy
  6. I looked and decided we didn't need it. In some ways I consider myself a very good writer, and very capable of teaching and guiding my kids. My grammar, mechanics, paragraph structure, thesis development, etc. are strong. I got a perfect score on the verbal section of the SAT and later was an SAT tutor who could crank out high scoring essays on any topic. That kind of writing I can do. But then I listened to MCT at a convention and was introduced to a whole new world of writing...and reading well written poetry and prose. He explores language and writing at a depth I had never been exposed to. He opened my eyes to all the ways skilled authors can actually use words to craft a piece of artwork - words, sentences and paragraphs that subconsciously soothe or agitate a reader, prose that uses cadence or sounds to set a mood, precise choices that the best authors make that largely go unnoticed, and yet profoundly impact the reader's experience. I buy MCT books specifically to expose my kids (and myself!) to that viewpoint. I want them to open our minds, not teach nuts and bolts skills (which I don't think they do a particularly good job at). So I tend to buy the grammar, vocab, poetry and literature books. Wendy
  7. If I were you I would get the iBook version of either Grammar Island or Grammar Town. They both cover pretty much the same information, but looking through the samples, you can see that the format/feel of them is quite different. Grammar Island is like a picture book with lots of friendly, colorful diagrams illustrating grammatical concepts. Grammar Town has a lot more words, lists, charts, me it feels quite a bit "older". I would also get the iBook version of The Music of the Hemispheres. Realize that neither of these are particularly long books, an interested kid might gorge themselves on the whole book in one sitting. But they are both ones that my kids don't mind exploring over and over. They like the stories, they like listening to the audio clips of MCT, they like playing with the interactive sentence activities, etc. Wendy
  8. We don't "use" the MCT program, but we love just reading some of his books. I always buy them as iBooks from iTunes because I really like the extra features (audio files, interactive activities, etc.). When my oldest was in 3rd grade, he and I read through Grammar Island and The Music of the Hemispheres. We also tried Practice Island, but we both quickly got frustrated with the exercises and set it aside. When he was in 4th grade, I considered reading Grammar Town, but it just looked too similar to Grammar Island. Instead he worked through Caesar’s English I, and I read Building Poems to all of the kids. I LOVE the poetry books. This current year, DS worked through Caesar’s English II. A World of Poetry looked too similar to Building Poems, so we just read through Building Poems again...and enjoyed it just as much the second time through. Next year I am planning to work through The Grammar of Literature with my oldest and read Poetry of Literature to everyone. We are also going to read a couple MCT literature books as read alouds. I haven't yet decided if I will try the practice book with my oldest again...I don't think I will, I think for us MCT is much better for deep, big picture, conceptual input, not nuts and bolts, practical output. Wendy
  9. My oldest is almost 11, and has occasionally been left home alone for short periods of time for the last year. So far I'm not comfortable with more than an hour, and even that requires a lot of scaffolding (helping him plan what he will do during that time, posting safety reminders, removing items from the home that would be too tempting, etc), but DS has ASD and ADHD, so he has extra executive function struggles. OTOH, I was an incredibly responsible, goody-two-shoes kid, so I was left alone for longer stretches at younger ages. I was left along for an hour or two starting when I was 8-9 (though not left to care for my little brother). By 10-11 my mom would occasionally be gone when I got home from school and arrive home around dinner. By 12 I was babysitting (my brother and for other families) for a few hours at a time. By 13-14 I was often paid to babysit multiple kids (even a newborn at one point) for 4-6 hours. When I was 15-16 my parents would sometimes take my brother up to our cottage for the weekend and leave me home alone from Friday evening until Sunday evening...including having to walk to and from one or more of my jobs, make or order food, take care of pets, etc. Wendy
  10. I bought all of my kids bean bag chairs for Christmas a few years ago. I chose the more plastic-y vinyl chairs for easy cleaning and then sewed fleece covers for them that could be thrown in the washer while I wiped down the bag itself. The covers come on and off with a zipper, but I knew that would be far too tempting for my kids, so I actually hand stitched the zipper pull to the cover so that they cannot open it. The couple times I've had to wash them, I just snip the threads, wash it, and then sew the zipper closed again afterwards. Wendy
  11. I would quit cub scouts. I also didn't see you mention anything about the kids doing chores. If the older two are not doing their fair share, then I would make that a priority. My 6, 8 and 10 year olds all struggle with mental health and neurodevelopmental challenges, and yet I still expect each of them to clean a bathroom once a week, do a couple loads of laundry (nothing I care too much about 😄), vacuum one room, change their own sheets, wipe down one kitchen appliance, etc. Have you ever considered doing some work on Saturday? You could really focus on skill work on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. I LOVE working on skill subjects once a week when DH is home so that I can really give each child my undivided attention for a while...especially in whatever subject they most struggle with. Then, you could use travel time on Tuesdays and Fridays to listen to audiobooks or pod casts and on those afternoons plan to cover science or history. Wendy
  12. I used the review cards at the end of the activity book to help my kids keep things straight. Each time we came across a new civilization we would write its name on the top of a piece of paper and glue that review card at the top. Then, the next time a chapter focused on that place, we would start by re-reading the old review card(s) and then we would glue the new review card right below it. That gave us a pseudo time line of what was happening in each civilization. We actually kept using the same papers as we started SOTW 2. We just kept adding more review cards (and taping on additional papers as required). Eventually we stopped when things just got too complicated as empires emerged, merged, fought, broke apart, etc. For a while we were all hopelessly confused - but eventually it all made sense again. We are currently on Chapter 27 of SOTW 4 and are both anticipating and grieving the end of the series.
  13. No, I never stuck out; I was a complete introvert who had no desire to be out. I did occasionally sneak in. My mom thought I spent far too much of my summers inside reading and studying so she would shoo me outside to get some sun and fresh air. I hated sun and fresh air and bugs and breezes that blew my hair into my eyes while I was trying to read out there. So I would sneak back inside to read in the basement.
  14. For what it is worth, the bolded is the exact opposite for my son. It seems like common sense that an easier program would be less taxing math-wise, and therefore he would be able to devote more attention to study skills. In actuality, an easier program isn't taxing enough math-wise and therefore the study skills are completely unnecessary for DS and he fights against them tooth and nail. My kiddos will always choose the path of least resistance. If they can get away with winging math sans reading, writing, deep thinking or persevering, then that is exactly what they will do. The only way I have found to force them to learn and practice the study skills is to go harder - not faster or farther, but deeper and more conceptually challenging.
  15. As to the bolded, OH MY GOODNESS NO!! My son has ADHD, ASD and anxiety. He gets sidetracked by specks of dust in the air, a sibling humming two floor away, and pressing matters like considering what color toothbrush he will request the next time he goes to the dentist. I did not sit with DS at all while he worked on AOPS Pre-A, but I also wasn't completely hands-off. The format of each section is very consistent. First there is a short introduction - very short, often just a couple paragraphs. After that there are a number of carefully chosen, increasingly difficult problems. Immediately after the problems are what I consider the meat of the book: the solutions. Each problem is solved in detail, including different strategies, tips and tricks, mistakes to avoid, etc. Then, after the problems and the solutions, there are exercises for the student to practice with. For my DS, the hardest part was convincing him to read and value the solutions. He would often attempt one of the problems, get it correct seemingly through intuition, and then not read any further in the solution to reap all of that important teaching. Then, when he got to the exercises, if he could not immediately "see" the answer he would flounder because he had not taken the time to dig deep and actually understand the concept. So, at the beginning of every math session DS and I would flip through the book and determine a minimum requirement, a stretch goal and check in points. Initially he would do one problem, read the solution, and then immediately check in with me to discuss the solution. Lather, rinse, repeat to ensure he was taking the time required. Then he would complete all the exercises (with me in the vicinity making sure he did not get too distracted, but not sitting with him or helping), we would check them, and he would redo any he had gotten wrong. Slowly over time he became much, much better at learning independently from a book (and he did not need to check in nearly as often). We were about 3/4 of the way through the book before I tackled his other big hurdle - he despised writing down any math work. At that point I started 1) requiring a full, comprehensive, written solution to one exercise a day, and 2) refusing to help with exercises that stumped him unless he had shown his work. AOPS Pre-A was a huge challenge for my son...and there were plenty of times I questioned whether he would be able to rise to that challenge. Sometimes it did get to be too much and we had to work on something else for a bit before diving back in. But in the end, he did preserver and he learned and grew SO MUCH. For him it was the right choice. He was forming more and more bad math habits - habits that persisted because he had always been able to "wing it" and had never encountered math that truly stumped him. At some point he had to learn the hard way that he could not intuit and mentally calculate his way through upper level math - reading to learn and writing out his work were simply unavoidable in the long run and he had to be pushed into accepting that. I am profoundly grateful that AOPS Pre-A offered us a way to tackle those lessons at a math level that was mostly review for DS rather than having the additional stress of also learning new math concepts. I cannot believe his algebra journey would be going as smoothly if I had chosen an easier pre-algebra path and he was now being faced with new and difficult material without the necessary underlying skills.
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