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Everything posted by SporkUK

  1. My 12 year old recently transferred into school and I'm still figuring out the school's balance of homework with how she works. She's had way more projects than I was expecting, but a lot less daily afterschool work so it's mainly figuring out how to divide it all up that suits her 'I want to get it all done and out of the way but I also want to do all these other things' personality. 2 hours in junior high sounds like a lot to me as my daughter's school tries to be firm on a one hour a night max of homework/revision policy, but this varies so much by school. During the school week, I tend to keep any additions bitesize - I try to keep to the school's policy of one hour additional work including instrument and additional language practice (I typically add in reading) and add at least one hour entirely hers (which she gets way more than most days though it can be a bit tight on Cadet night), and one hour with the family and helping (dinner, tidying together, and family time). While I'm considering another addition or two later once she's more in the flow, I keep anything bigger than that for Saturday mornings and breaks. With my kids still at home, we already do a Tuesday to Saturday schedule and I've adjusted so the main work is Tuesday-Friday and on Saturday mornings we do things the now in school child wants to be included in or that I think is important for her to still do that she isn't in school. Some Saturdays, she spends the whole time on school projects because she's been given 3-4 of them and she wants to get them all out of the way so she isn't worried about it later. We did a bit more over the recent spring break (though she had a project in almost every academic subject + art), but it's still a struggle figuring out that balance and how to prioritize the time. She misses doing a few things and there are a few things I'd like to at least review with her, but she needs her downtime. I'm trying to focus on what is the minimum I want to ensure we pass on, additions that I'd like or she would like to do, and ways to review more regularly in a short and fun way as a family that doesn't feel like more work to her on already busy days. It's difficult, especially when schools pile on a lot, but I think if I keep those in mind and try to be realistic that I wasn't getting everything even when she was home and the opportunities she has at her new school mean I need be even more selective of what I think is most important to include at home. I think most school days giving her space and being a soundboard for her thoughts and helping her find ways understand and express them better is just as valuable as anything else I could come up for her.
  2. I semi-moved halfway through MM6, in part because of issues with the geometry (I'm one of many I've seen that feels geometry is one of the weaker areas of MM). My older two who have gone through it did a page of Math Essential and a page of MM6 in a related area or an area they needed to work on each day so they didn't do all of the second half MM6. With Math Essentials, the video lessons are nice and straightforward, the review worked well, I mainly used book 2 though added in some parts of book 1 (easily done with PDFs to print out), and I felt it gave a good overall check of any gaps before moving onto MEP 7 and secondary level maths. They also have a geometry specific book which I'm considering for my currently Year 5 child for next year as she's struggling even more with the issues of geometry in MM, though Math Essentials doesn't have videos for the supplement books.
  3. In the last few years, we've done both - usually one day a week we do general science that uses a book with a variety of science topics or covers a range of science skills and the rest we do in-depth on a topic of interest for several weeks or more at a time - we spent several months last year doing anatomy and body science, sometimes spending a week up to a couple of months on different body systems. We're in the middle of a break while shifting onto a new topic after our spring break later this month.
  4. With my older two, I did a review in the second half Year 6 and into Year 7 to check for gaps and firm up the foundations before we moved on to secondary maths. For one this involved catch-up due to issues elsewhere and the other was kinda burnt out on maths and needed a change of pace to see the forest for the trees again. As mentioned by hhm, Math Essentials has a lot that can help. It worked well for us, the videos and notes on the page were great. This was our base. I bought both the general books PDF, the first one has some topics that the middle school/high school one doesn't so I add in those pages and included both books end review sections. Each day is one page which can be good for a child who dislikes maths and doesn't need a lot of repetition. I added a page of Math Mammoth or maths puzzle or other things on the back each day. For Math Mammoth, one piece of advice I found helpful when we switched to it in primary was if buying the big bundle, just going through the all the review sections from the start to see what is already there and what need works. Another option that might be worth considering is MEP for Year 7. Most of the sections are online with checks right there to see if you got it right (lovely for me as they don't argue with me anymore about it) and it's free to look through and print and it alternates between reviewing arithmetic with more complicated topics in Year 7 & I think 8 and even 9 had a bit of review in the first half. This is what we do after the Y6 review and it is, for us, a great gentle move into heavier secondary maths topics (though this jumps up significantly in Year 9). Both my maths loving child and my maths is an evil I barely tolerate child took well to it. Having a very clear beginning and end to what we were doing each day so she could see the light at the end of the tunnel was a major help to my the maths is evil child.
  5. I've done so many things for spelling, mainly for my eldest. We've done phonics-based ones, but he struggles to hear the differences in a lot of sounds and remembering the rules, we've done word origin based ones (Words by Marcia K Henry was helpful and I am intending to pull it back out for my 9-year-old in the autumn) but again memory comes into play, we've done Sequential Spelling, we've done Essentials for Teaching and Testing Spelling which has word lists by age, we've done daily dictation for spelling, we've done CGP books, and at times we've done a mixture of a few of these. Each one helps a bit, but still at 14 and years of this, the occasional 'thum' gets put down. It's frustrating for all involved and the best advice I've been given is don't spend a lot on it and use something none of you hate that you can do in 20 or so minutes and move on. Really, the only thing that worked for my struggling spellers is a lot of repetition and having them actively look back over his work and underline which ones they think may be misspelt. Being proactively working on the editing side and get into the habit of checking has helped things move along. Right now, my 7-year-old doesn't do spelling separately, he's working through Ultimate Phonics and we discuss and work on spelling with that as most of the lists are grouped by sound and spelling. So today it was Multisyllable >> Consonant plus le so words like candle, simple, eagle in reading and copywork. With my 14 and 9-year-old, we're currently using SpellingCity for practice. I keep a notepad on my computer of words they get wrong in their writing along with some words from elsewhere like lists of homophones and words similar to the ones they missed from the word lists by age. I update their lists weekly or so. They currently have two lists, a general list and a homophone list, though the 14-year-old is soon going to have a general and science word list though I imagine they're/there/their is going to show up in general now and then. My 12-year-old also has a list, but as a natural speller, I more often pull off of 'words commonly misspelt by high schoolers' and other similar lists and as she's recently transferred into school, we're still working on how or whether to include in afterschooling.
  6. Before my first was born, I hadn't really given vaccines much thought. In the time between him being born and his six weeks check up when he was meant to get his first jabs when I was not in the best place physically or mentally. I did a lot of reading through a lens of panic and horrific experiences with far too many medical professionals. Having both dealt with medical abuse and the struggle to get justice for it which at times involved even when the hospital would admit something what someone had done was illegal, they still tried to make it out to be my fault, I was scared that if the worst happened, I would get the same treatment and my child would suffer for it. It just seemed safer as we seemed so low risk to delay and be selective about vaccines. It was also in part wanting to feel like I had some control after feeling so helpless when it came to doctors and hospitals and such. That the only support I had at that time other than my husband was an online 'green parenting' group with lots of other mothers who had also dealt with abusive medical professionals did not help anything. It felt like we all had just enough science knowledge to see threats, but not enough to judge them appropriately alongside the reality of our experiences of the medical systems. Now, over 14 years later, all my kids are up to date and I actively seek out extra vaccines for my kids when I can. My oldest is soon to get his teen boosters and will then be getting the HPV and MenB vaccines privately (he's just missed the cut-off for the HPV on the NHS). Nothing big happened, no outbreaks or anything like that. It was mostly time and understanding people and better information written to explain the science and risks well rather than scare stories and name calling. I think being able to discuss the risks and the issues within medical systems and corporations in a realistic way rather than they're all bad or all just want the best for us was really helpful. Stories like the recent one of the French family who didn't vaccinate who went to Costa Rica and caused an outbreak when the country had been measles-free for years have always frustrated me as I've always felt that if choosing not to vaccinate then it's important to use other ways to reduce the risks to yourself and to others in high-risk scenarios like aeroplanes and daycare and places like that. I've changed my mind about a lot of things over the years. Some things have been in a snap, just the right bit of information or the right understand person explaining something to shift my point of view like a missing puzzle piece making the picture clearer and sometimes it's taken years of coming to terms and finding a better path. Immigrating to the UK from the US did open my eyes to many things as has just more life experience.
  7. My recently-turned-14-year-old son really likes cosplay, roleplaying, ninja warrior/beast master, and is interested in a snail mail penpal. We're in middle of Olde England .
  8. Write On by Karen Newell might be of use as it gives very unthreatening examples to go through which makes it feel more doable alongside the objectives and directions for each all contained on one page (though sometimes the examples are on more than one, all the instructions are on one). It goes from words and sentences up to the writing of a thesis and includes writing skills and concepts, academic outlining and writing, creative writing like fiction and poetry, writing about history and literature and spelling words and more. I've used it both as the recommended schedule and breaking it up into the above topics so we can focus on one area or another and found it helpful for my older kids who are struggling to write. I found it quite possible to do daily on the recommended schedule until we got to the 40s (out of a hundred) with my then-8 year old and my older two started to struggle in the 60s which is when I went through and made a list by topic for us to help us all focus. Now, we're starting to do writing time with that weekly with either revision days or freewriting the rest of the week to help build up writing stamina and practice skills. We also do typing at times for other areas of the curriculum - particularly if it involves reading on a computer - but as their qualification exams will most likely be handwritten, we do composition by hand almost all of the time. For freewriting,I use this which was posted on this forum but sadly I lost who wrote it between editing the notepad I saved it to and the forum update. I sometimes add 1-2 minutes on the times for brief outlining and for my anxious child, having it contained like this and discussing gently but not pushing for much revision then and there on these pieces both helped them relax as well as helped develop from very brief stream of consciousness style sentences to a coherent paragraph on one topic with clearer handwriting. I hope you find something that works, I've found writing one of more difficult topics to teach and for my kids to do.
  9. Another I would recommend is the Blackwell Pages trilogy particularly since he liked Percy Jackson. They're good generally but also if he also has an interest in mythology (it's specially Norse based) -- or werewolves, werewolves is how I sold them to one of mine though I think the books just call them shifters. About as PG as a teen-angst apocalypse can be.
  10. I agree with others on trying different methods, possibly multiple short ones daily, and that a review period is pretty common after time off particularly in the earlier years. Part of what worked here for my very rules-just-make-it-worse spellers is a combined effort. My older three have independent spelling (previously written but now we use SpellingCity which encourages mine to practice more), dictation sentences on a whiteboard, a few challenge words which are marked and put into sentences, and spelling checks on their literature summaries and composition work. Self-checking has been helpful as well - having them underline anything they think is wrong - and I'll underline anything I catch before I add all the words to their word bank which I build the independent spelling lists from weekly and discuss it with them. Some words get rotated on and off their lists. Having them check their own work and making that check just part of the writing process has helped and made our lives easier with writing which for two of my kids has long been a struggle.
  11. For science and history (and many other things), I have a spreadsheet - science by topic, history I have two where the main one is timelined and the other is a more flexible topic of interest. In each section, I put resources, assignments, activities by either general key stages (early primary is KS1, late primary KS2, middle school KS3, first half of high school KS4...) or by a specific year which is mostly for older kids where X resources needs to be done before Y so it's easier to have X one year and Y the next. We do We come together for activities, documentaries or family reading, but I do assign quite a bit independent reading and work like for science a couple of my kids this year use Science Detective by Critical Thinking Company or CPG books for their key stage as a general science. Sometimes for history, I'll do a family reading and have my older kids take notes or assign the reading depending on time/energy/how things are going generally.
  12. Along with mixing up the topics, maybe the new MM review books might be of use to help slow things down and work more on concepts. I'm considering it for my daughter as we're in the midst of MM4 now and I'm not sure how she'll do with the speed.
  13. Likely there will be similar stories some local to you, but when we dug deep into it we started with small-scale life and built outwards and one of early labour disputes in the Industrial Revolution in England that he might be interested in was the Lockout at Derby Silk Mill which there is a small film that was made in Derby partially at the site of it (which is now a museum, saved partially because it's one of the first industrial silk mills though the story goes the techniques to industrialize came from Italy and the Englishman who brought it to Derby stole them as part of early industrial espionage). We started with the small stories and then built out how that affected elsewhere and even to labour laws we have today.
  14. I prefer Secondary to Primary MEP - it has a very different format with what's taught mostly on the page and done examples right there so I can point to them as we talk through it. We use the online tutorials when available (they like the computer and it means they tend to argue with me less about whether or not the answer is right...) along the side of the books. , the mental tests at the end of each section, and the overhead and other activities as needed or when fun (I used them far more for Year 7 than for later years). The diagnostic tests are helpful for catching growing gaps before they get too far and the revision tests and extra exercises are helpful when they're found. I've only a couple times needed outside resources to help and practice. It's far less parent-intensive, it's a good transition for kids taking on more of the work themselves. I think it could be quite possible to do the Y7-Y9 in two years for a strong math student before high school (doing one lesson a day and tests without any days for just activities) or do it as 6-8th instead or have 9th being an integrated math course before moving onto a more traditional format if you don't want to use the GCSE program. Some US schools do use integrated math. In the high school I graduated from, there were four years of maths literally titled Integrated Maths (grade level). Having transferred from a high school with a more tradition format it was difficult (and I ended up using the local community college to finish math instead, but that was more an issue of having moved so often I had gaps that I needed to go back to move forward rather than an issue with the program). You might need more of a description for a transcript but if you like MEP, I think it would certainly be doable.
  15. Write On! by Karen Newell (self-described as "The Kid-Friendly Mother Pleasing, Gentle Way to Learn To Write" which I've found mostly accurate) has worked well for my very reluctant writers and has a lot of handholding through the parent section at the beginning of the book and each section has listed objects and steps and an example for you and your child to see. A recommendation I got on here - http://www.pobble365.com/ - has been great here for helping with talking through possible ideas and creative writing. Typing more has been helpful here and, as said by kaxy, having him dictate to you sometimes might help. Having my reluctant writers read an article or other short writing and then go over three or so of things of interest, to typing it as a list and working to make it a paragraph as helped. Writing has been the trickiest subject here, I fully sympathize - it's a struggle many have.
  16. I have 4 (and a bit over 7 years between my oldest and youngest). For science and history, I have 'modules' which on my spreadsheets are divided by topic where I list reading and activities and videos by age/key stage so I have a general idea of what which is doing and either have each do their thing first (with the older kids usually being more independent) and then coming together or do a together thing first and then they all separate. So, before our break, we were doing Earth Science and the older two have readings and works set for that, my third had a book which she read a chapter and then narrated to me, and my youngest was included in the videoes and discussion and some of the activities but there are few things I push for science or history for those under Year 4. Sometimes, I only do reading aimed at one kid and others work on their stuff or are free to go play while that's done. I tend to start readings from the youngest and work up in the time we've set for that so the younger kids are off so things are quieter for the older kids. Also, except when we do units or catch-ups where we do a few weeks solid, we only do science 1-2 days a week and the older kids have daily history readings assigned but again we do humanities together 1-2 days a weeks most of the time.
  17. Early Reader - Bible/Ethics: We are All Born Free - History: Born with a Bang series - Science: First Book of Nature - Literature: Frog and Toad series (with Winnie the Pooh and others by AA Milne a close second) Elementary - Bible/Ethics: Aesop's Fables - History: The Story of Britain (though if we're including mythologies, I might lean towards In the Beginning: Creation Stories of the World by Virginia Hamilton which I use when doing prehistory/early history and it's great to help compare and contrast creation myths and each time it's brought out a lot of great discussions). - Science: While we used a lot of Asimov's and Horrible Science and others here, the one book I really wouldn't want them to miss is Dover's Human Body Colouring Book. Human body science is one of my top topic priorities though but we use a lot more videos and practicals with a few reference books when writing about it than any real reading books. - Literature: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH or The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents... we do these two together and I would really want to make sure they read at least one of them. Middle School - Bible/Ethics: The Bible and Its Influences by the Bible Literacy Project (it's a textbook but for religious education, bible studies, history, I've found it a good solid spine) - History: The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska (historical fiction Post WW2 Britain) or for world history A Little History of the World - Science: Environmental Science by Wiley STG - Literature: The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carol Edited by Martin Gardner (which has Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There & The Wasp in a Wig). Not sure for high school due to my oldest is only 13 and a lot of that for us in these topics is set by GCSEs, the first things that come to mind are Born to be Good by Keltner (though Are We Smart Enough to know how smart animals are? be Frans De Waal I think is good for sparking ethical conversations), The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, for history either Seize the Moment by Helen Sharman, Finding Where the Wind Goes by Mae Jemison, Forbidden Face by Latifa or other solid autobiographies, and for Literature, probably a good anthology of short stories, that's where we're starting anyways. I do agree with previous posters on Dickens - my soon to be Year 9 is going to be doing some of his short stories along with others for this year and after that he's doing A Christmas Carol as one of his books for GCSE English Literature and I plan to encourage him to read the rest of Christmas novellas at least after that.
  18. I've done Primary MEP with three. What I did from Y3 or 4 is have them to the page first independently and then go through the page and lessons together, focusing on what needed work on rather than doing it all. This worked very well for my oldest and pretty well for my second. We ended up dropping MEP after my oldest finished with it as the time sink was not worth it for my younger kids (though I still quite like it and did use MEP R, it was just too much for my kids who weren't as maths-loving as my oldest). We did not do MEP Year 6 or quite a bit of 5, I've found quite a few people like us where MEP 4 or 5 tends to be a burn out point and people just move to either another programme or skip to the secondary MEP which has a very different format, full instructions in the book written to the student, more online tutorials are available, and was made with kids who did not do any of the Primary MEP in mind. My oldest took not quite a full year out from MEP using a mix of things and then moved onto MEP Secondary quite happily.
  19. ? Yay for you and your six-year-old. I had a similar experience a few months back when it really clicked for me how independently and happily my youngest is reading. Two of my other kids took quite a long time so I expected that I may have to do so with my youngest and it's certainly a change that everyone in the house can read. He's still doing some phonics review with Ultimate Phonics and such to check for gaps but really, he has plenty of books now he can just pick up and enjoy and does freely and happily.
  20. I'm another recommending the 'I See Sam' readers. With my oldest - who struggles with language - it was his lightbulb moment. Lots of repetition and practice of basic words but for him he was reading a real book and that made a big difference. For my younger daughter - who similar to yours in that she was quite ill when she was small, has been in the hospital quite a bit, and spent years in the learning letter sounds stage - once that finally clicked (which I will admit did involve days of her watching The Letter Factory and Preschool Prep's Phonics with her younger brother, I tried so many other things but that really seemed to help her click) I used Phonics Pathway at first but she found going back and redoing pages very frustrating so then, alongside the I See Sam readers, I used Ultimate Phonics free word and sentence list. We could hop right in, skip or double up on lessons, and because it has a lot of repetition using the sentences she was getting the review she needed without getting frustrated and the word lists were great in working on and checking her knowledge of certain phonemes. She would her I See Sam book, answer the comprehension questions, do her penmanship work, take a break to read her word list and sentence and then she'd pick a sentence or two for copywork. It was simple and it really helped her move along far faster than she had before. It did take her a bit over a year to finish at her pace but it worked really well for her. I do also highly recommend the above ElizabethB's resources particularly the concentration as another good way to review sounds and reading.
  21. For those who had a child choose to go to a bricks and mortar high school, what did you do or what would you advise someone to do to help ease the transition? Or to enjoy the last year at home more? My oldest has been very firm in his decision to go to our local UTC, a technical high school, from Year 10 (earliest entry) for a few years now. That's now just over a year away for him - September 2019 - and I'm currently trying to plan out the next year for us. I'm in my typical overthinking it all mode .
  22. Thank you to everyone who has posted, it's given me a lot of food for thought. It's interesting seeing the range and different ways people are doing this. Peter Pan : I'm not sure on the maturity-related growth spurt. I would lean towards no though my oldest has come leaps and bounds in the past year, it's been in the gentle diligent practice growth and a few things clicking into place than a surge. I will keep my eye out for it. I agree that pushing for understanding the structure is a good goal and what I think I've been trying to do. I appreciate you outlining more ways to do that. My push for quantity now is mainly due to wanting to make the transition between home education and the technical school easier for him as well as the exams, but also because he has so many ideas but struggles to figure out how to express them. GCSEs and other exams are usually done by hand at the end of Year 11 and while some students do get accommodations that allow them to type which I will likely try to get my oldest assessed for, whether or not he will get it is mostly out of my hands. It's a school-by-school, exam board-by-exam board decision. So, currently, we do a mix of handwritten and typed with the idea of being comfortable doing both. Entry into the technical school at Year 10 is thankfully not an issue, admission policy for Y10 is mainly location based and we're well within the catchment, the exams will partially determine what he will do for Year 12 and beyond.
  23. We're using The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon as our British history spine. So far, I've found it well written and easy to add other resources along the way. It's written in short story format. It starts at the Middle Ages which may be an issue if he's interested in British history before that beyond what was taught in World History. For literature, I strongly recommend The Black Madonna of Derby by Joanna Czechowska if you think he'll be okay dealing with the deaths involved (an older woman dies after a prolonged illness, a teenager dies suddenly of illness which is written about in detail, and a man dies by suicide 'off screen' with few details other than he jumped but it's a major event in the book) as well as discussing things in World War 2 like labour camps. I think it's a great novel of British life in the decades after World War 2 with an immigrant family. I'm currently reading the sequel, Sweetest Enemy, which discusses the 1980s and early '90s with the same family. That alongside books like Anita and Me by Meera Syal I think help give a wider picture of recent British history. For classics, Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South or Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life has been recommended to me to help flesh out typical classics like Jane Austen or the Brote sisters or Shelley or Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde, or Dickens. I'm currently planning with my oldest, who will be doing A Christmas Carol for GCSEs, a kinda unit study of Dicken's short stories including The Signal Man, The Long Voyage, The Haunted House (which has 8 parts, two of which are by Dickens) at least. I think an Anglophile 8th grader who is strong in English might enjoy doing Dicken's Christmas novellas which start with A Christmas Carol.
  24. Just interested in getting some general idea of how much and what kinds of writing others are doing really. Writing has been a difficult subject in my house. Two of my children are autistic with language difficulties and it's been a lot of trial and error. We seem to be getting there though, this year has gone by far more smoothly than any before and we're all pretty happy with the progress being made. I'm starting to plan the upcoming academic year and I'm considering what to tweak and possibly expand on, particularly for my oldest who is hoping to go to the local technical high school for GCSEs starting in September 2019. Writing will never be his favourite and I'm trying to balance helping him reach his potential without going overboard while tempering my concerns about exams in a few years so I guess I'm hoping seeing what others do will give me ideas on how to do that. Right now Write On! is our writing spine which I'm happy with and my older three use daily along with some for spelling/vocabulary. My older two also do science writing at least twice a week, other subjects are a bit less consistent (for example, the older three did history writing 4 days last week and everything was done orally the week before).
  25. I don't think we can claim it's a right because that means it is someone's responsibility to give them that information. It's laughable to think that's either possible or quite questionable ethically. It's like the right to pursue happiness, that doesn't mean you get it or whatever you think will make you happy. I've been tempted by these for years but haven't done so. I come from a background which does include whispers that I might have half-siblings, or that my father isn't my biological father, or that my father's father was not biologically his...and so on alongside a practically open secret of white passing and parts of the family tree hidden to do so better. Such whispers have been around since gossip began, I suppose. I have gone through time periods where I've wanted a definitive answer, of being really annoyed at how much doubt to my background has been planted in my mind, but I guess never enough to put my money down for something that practically won't change anything for me. Yeah, it was kinda helpful when I went through early menopause in my twenties to know my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother and many others had gone through the same, but I got that same feeling from going to a support group for women who had similar diagnoses. I've come to terms that my knowledge will always be limited and, while it might be interesting...at this point whatever the truth would sort out, now that I'm thousands of miles away and that life so many years behind me, I don't see spending that kind of money for it when I'm already spending money to give my biometrics in order to move forward as an immigrant. It is hard to get screening. My spouse has sadly had his 3rd relative in 5 years diagnosed with similar cancers and he and his sister have been recommended for testing which she's had but my spouse is struggling to get and we're currently having a flurry of letters back and forth. We've all openly talked about how there could be genetic or environmental factors that put my spouse and our kids at risk but also the truth that all were on unrelated medications and other drugs that increases the risks as well. I know once my kids are old enough, I'm going to get them Cardiac Risk in the Young screening.
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