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For those who've been classically homeschooling for a long time...


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In reading posts for awhile it is clear that some of you have been here a very long time and that the dynamic of the board has changed over the last few years, etc.

 

For those of you who have been classically homeschooling your children for a long time (past the elementary school stage) what advice do you have for those just starting out. If you were able to redo your elementary years (maybe you are doing just that with your younger children) what would you do different? What have you done that has proven to be very successful. What was not? Feel free to discuss anything within classically homeschooling that strikes you as you read this whether it was your schedule, a subject, a particular curriculum, an activity, your attitude, etc.

 

If there are particular threads (older I'm assuming) that have really aided you do you still have them linked somewhere and would you mind sharing?

 

You don't need to answer all of my questions, just speak to those you feel strongly on.

 

Also, if you haven't been at this for a long time but want to share something go right on ahead but please clarify somewhere in you post that you've only been at this for a limited amount of time (less than 5 years). I just felt it would be helpful to really clarify what type of information I'm seeking.

 

If someone wants to speak to my very personal concerns/thoughts in regards to the following that is fine too but I can start a different thread later:

 

My daughter is 5, almost six. She has always been a bit ahead academic wise. I decided to do first grade with her this year because Kindergarten seemed too remedial. This is our first year of formal schooling prior to this she learned everything she knows just by our daily life and me exposing her to things, etc. Things are going really well and she seems to do well. The only aspect that we seem to be encountering the very beginning of resistance on is reviews questions after we've read something (history mostly) and to a very small degree narration. Her narrations do not usually speak to the major point of the story. I assume that is normal at this stage and it is to be ignored and that later on down the road she'll be able to decipher what is truly important?

 

What have you done, if this has been your experience too, in regards to a frustration with the chapter questions. I'm speaking particularly to Story of the World. My daughter really enjoys it when I don't try to follow up with questions. So yesterday, for the first time, I skipped the questions on Story of the World and she asked me to read more. She dreads reading the book knowing that I'm going to ask questions. So my non-experienced instinct says read through the book as an oral read aloud simply for fun without really delving into it and if we have time read the other books in the series this year and then next year (when she'd be 6/7) try again...OR read through all the books in the series for merely enjoyment and begin ancients again around 8/9 at which point we'd focus more on questions/narrations/activities. Basically, should I make her suck it up or do I back off. She'll be six next month. It hasn't been a big traumatic thing or anything it's just one of those "do we havvveee to???"

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When my kids where that age I never used the review questions in SOTW. I never tested, and I never 'required' narrations.

 

What we did do:

 

Read a section in SOTW.

We did tons of projects (my kids loved the projects), the messier the better.

We did the coloring pages.

My kids also loved doing the maps. My younger son had all the SOTW maps hanging on his bedroom wall.

We read tons of additional books, mostly picture books.

 

It was great! We took almost 2 years to go through SOTW 1. As the kids got older things changed slowly. We started to talk more about the reading and eventually I started writing down narrations. Over time they did that themselves.

We still do NOT do any review questions. Review questions kill the joy for us. I read them myself often to make sure that I know what may be important. With the kids I simply have a conversation about the reading just like a conversation of something we might watch on TV. This does require me to read everything I want to have a conversation about. So I read almost everything my kids read. This includes lots of their free reading. Thankfully, I love to read.

 

The great thing is that my kids want me to read their books so that we can talk about it. This is what I spend most of my time doing. All this rambling just to say -- skip the review questions! You do not have to use them.

 

And YES! I would do it this way again. My boys are now 10 and 11. They are great conversationlist and know tons of history/science/literature.

 

Susie

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We've been classical since the beginning, so this is our 10th school year classically educating, if you count kindergarten. I was fortunate enough to find TWTM on the shelf the week that I spend researching homeschooling in the big public library. I found these boards and other classical resources shortly thereafter. I was heavily influenced by Veritas Press early on, as well as Doug Wilson (Recovering the Lost Tools and Classical Ecuation and the Homeschool) and the Bluedorns' books. Read the classics (SWB, Wilson, Bluedorns, Beechick to some extent) not the newer, watered down repetitions or "classical in a box"/ "classical can be easy."

 

My biggest piece of advice is to not get so caught up in curriculum that you lose the bigger picture. Anything that can be taught without cuuriculum should be, and curriculum should only be a tool used to help make life easier for mom (or dad,) not a task master with its own agenda.

 

I am not an "ages and stages" kind of classical homeschooler. While we do focus more on memory work in the first years, and I don't start formal logic on logic until dc are 10-12, I don't see it as a movement from one to another as much as the development of three skills of learning: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. They are all being learned on a continuous progression, with more emphasis at certain times than others. The *skills* are always primary, not the completion of a curriculum. Always think most of what skill you are working on, no matter what the content is. Teach dc strategies to teach themselves, not by making them just do it all the time and try to hopefully figure it out on their own, but by spending long, hard hours teaching them how to do it.

 

I guess more advice would be to read, read, read (and listen.) Spend some months (maybe a year or two) reading many books and listening to speakers about education, teaching and learning, and sepcific subject areas. Come up with your basic plan: not specific curriculum, but an idea of what your family's goals are in general. That way, you will not be as swayed by the fact that the vast majority of homeschool resources do not support classical education.

 

As I said in another thread, spend more time learning about how to teach and about the subject matter you are going to teach than becoming an expert in curriculum choices. A teacher who knows her subject matter and how students learn will teach any curriculum well. Read The Seven Laws of Teaching sooner than later.

 

Finally, remember that what you do is what your child will do. No matter what you say about the value of reading, art, Great books, unless you are modeling that value, it won't influence a child. A child who has been taught that learning and joy and has seen that it is how parents spend their time is an easier child to teach. :001_smile: That is what allows for classical education, which can be very challenging.

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Her narrations do not usually speak to the major point of the story. I assume that is normal at this stage and it is to be ignored and that later on down the road she'll be able to decipher what is truly important?

 

Now, specifically...

 

Yes, it will come later. She is too young to be expected to do this on her own (some kiddos might, but it is not the norm.) Don't frustrate her by asking things of her that she isn't capable of. Instead, model it for her. Ask her questions about the most important points and then answer them yourself. She will learn from the example. Let her narrations be all crazy for now :D; she will slowly learn to model them after yours through guiding.

 

If she doesn't like the questions, don't do them. There will be so much time later to teach reading comprehension and the content. Right now, focus on teaching her an interest in history and the discipline to listen to or read a bit of work and then discuss it with you.

 

:001_smile: History is not about answering boring questions, but that is what she is learning. Show her that it is about interesting stories and fascinating people, and leave the questions until she is old enough for them.

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I started to do SOTW with my oldest son when he was in K and then we put it away until he was six. I was glad that we did. At six, he had the patience to sit and listen and was able to do more of the cool projects on his own. He was not reading at the beginning of first grade, but I did ask the questions, at least a few and we would talk about it.

 

I should have made the questions more of a guide to see what he needed to have explained rather than a test to see how his retention was. With my younger sons, I use the questions as a guide and if he can't remember, I supply the answer and ask if he remembers that part of the story.

 

Another thing I had to do for a while was to tell model what a narration should be like. I let him finish my sentences. "Khufu built the..." and he would fill in "Great Pyramid" and I would say, "Let's write that down." Then we would and he would draw a picture to go with the page if he wanted to do that.

 

I did always require discussion about what was read and I always required narration and starting in second grade, I MADE them start to write their own. I am SO glad I did this, though they didn't like it much. Now either boy can easily write a page or more on a topic without it being burdensome.

 

I made the boys do handwriting books and I corrected them and I am SO glad I did. They have childish handwriting, but it is at least legible, and many of their friends' handwriting is not.

 

I'm glad I switched from Saxon Math to Singapore. It has been an incredible thing for all three of the boys, but especially for my oldest who is very good at math and needed a challenge beyond just acceleration.

 

I'm glad we have made it a point to expose the boys to art and music by purchasing classics on itunes and playing them over and over and by treating the art museum as a special place to visit. It helps that we have access to good art and music within minutes of the house.

 

I'm glad that we started Latin as soon as the boys were reading well and have stuck with it. My oldest is completing his fourth year of Latin and will continue on through high school, I think. He enjoys it.

 

I am glad that from the beginning, we have had a schedule and we make school the important event of our day. If school doesn't happen, nothing else happens baring sickness and planned days off. We start at 8:30, my K'er is usually done in an hour (but he break his day up quite a bitso an hour total), My 3rd grade is usually done by 1 pm when his dad comes home for lunch, and my sixth grader is usually finished school by 2:30 or 3.

 

We are working at a rigorous education for the boys and we are certainly seeing the payoff now. But, I am also glad that we take time off when we need it, or on a fall day when the weather is GLORIOUS, we can and will throw it all aside and go outside. If we have snow, all bets are off and we will be out sledding until the snow is gone. We take advantages of those days as school cancellation days by "Act of God."

 

 

 

Does that help?

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My older son could do the questions at a very young age. With my younger son, who is going to be 6 in January, I ask him to tell me two things he remembered about what I just read. I then rephrase those two things into complete sentences and write them down while he watches.

 

I am on my second trip through the ancients with one child and starting with a second. I am not quite an 'old timer' am I?

 

But, what I have learned from the first time around is:

 

do as many history projects as possible the first time around. Especially with the first two cycles, ancients and middle ages. They have the best projects and it is worth your time and effort. Really. I have never said 'well, that was a waste.' I have had regrets for things we didn't do and effort I didn't expend.

 

Spend a little time and that extra 25$ on the cool science something or other. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had just coughed up the money and got the fun/cool/memorable science thing. This year I did and we are having a wonderful time.

 

When in doubt just reread what SWB suggests. I am not talking about curriculum. I mean with method. I cannot tell you how many times I made my life more complicated than it needed to be. When I look at what she suggested it was almost always easier and better than what I was attempting. I was tying myself into knots prepping for my first year in the logic stage. Then I just regrouped and decided that rather than buying this new curriculum and that new method I would just try what she suggested. I am so happy I did. I learned a good lesson: Sometimes it really can be that easy!

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We have been homeschooling for a little over 10 years now. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. When you start homeschooling your first child sometimes you don't know what really works until you are moving on to something else. I now know more of what works for elementary school, but my oldest dd is going into middle school grades now. By the time I figure out what works for middle school, she will probably be in high school.

 

We are more of eclectic homeschoolers so we try to incorporate some parts of classical education. I never required my dd to answer specific questions like the way SOTW outlines. We also never did narration or dictation. I have to say that I was really excited when we began homeschooling and read through The Well-Trained Mind, bought SOTW1, and was all ready to go teach classical style. Then I discovered that my dd was not that interested in learning history in 1st grade and she was a really creative individual that needed more time to play and explore.

 

So, we spent the first year mostly reading books, playing, going to the park, and doing artwork and projects. The only formal curriculum that we stuck with was math. I think back then we were doing K12 math.

 

Every year I would research curriculum and think I had found the perfect thing to help teach my dd, but ultimately most of it ended up being too much busywork, boring, not a fit for her learning style, or just plain not necessary. The goal of these curriculum companies is for you to buy their stuff. Really, not much is needed to get from point A to B. Despite knowing this, I am such a book and curriculum junkie that I end up buying stuff anyway.

 

If I could go back and teach the elementary age again, I would:

-not worry about academics so much and play more

-research and read as much as I could about homeschooling philosophies and teaching methods (I just don't have as much time anymore to do this and wish I would have been more prepared for middle school)

-not spend so much money or buy so much curriculum (the money would have been better spent on classes or enrichment activities outside the home)

-started history later on maybe by 3rd grade or so (I think it is more important to spend those first few years developing good readers and creating a foundation for basic math skills)

-do at least some dictation or narration from about 2nd grade on (I just kept putting it off and I think it would have helped my dd's spelling skills)

-relax in my teaching style a little more (sometimes you have to sit on something for a while before it sinks in)

-avoid curriculum with schedules (I never followed schedules even though I wanted to and tried really hard, it just was not for me)

-avoid curriculum that was overly scripted (I struggled with curriculum that had too much information for the teacher to digest before teaching, I spent too much time on curriculum like that and preparing to teach rather than just teaching)

-help my dd become more independent in her learning earlier on probably from about the 3rd-4th grade level depending on the child (I let my child take the easy way out too many times and did not realize that she was capable of much more)

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My daughter really enjoys it when I don't try to follow up with questions. So yesterday, for the first time, I skipped the questions on Story of the World and she asked me to read more. She dreads reading the book knowing that I'm going to ask questions.

 

how about dropping the very specific questions for now and just talking about what you've read - informally, not "okay, now we'll have a discussion"... she asked for MORE, so she's enjoying it when she's not being quizzed ;)

 

i bet if you just skip the questions and enjoy the book right along with her, you'll be surprised at what you find out she's getting from it ...it might come out in discussions, it might come out in play, it might come out when she says "hey grandma did you know _____" during christmas dinner. :p

 

are you doing the activities? (making up your own works too - especially if you'd rather not have a chicken mummifying in your house somewhere!)

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... it might come out in discussions, it might come out in play, it might come out when she says "hey grandma did you know _____" during christmas dinner. :p

!)

 

:iagree:

 

This is how I evaluated what my kids were learning when they were that age. I watched and listened as they played and talked in the course of a normal day. I still do to some extent, although I also do more formal evaluation with ds. I also would frequently get them started talking about school at the dinner table with "Tell Daddy what you did to day in ________." They were always excited about telling Daddy what they'd learned or done that day.

 

I think, I just barely meet the op's criteria for experienced. We have homeschooled classically from the beginning since ds was in K; he is now in the 5th grade.

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Only have a sec. :D

 

My #1 piece of advice would be to approach ALL subjects as conversational, socratic discussions during reading. I never read all the way to the end of something and then ask a list of contrived questions. Schools have to do that to determine whether or not something was actually read.

 

I read something and get excited or extremely interested ;) and stop and ask open-ended (not yes or no) questions. I really try to get them to think/compare/contrast situations, reactions, people, outcomes, etc.

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I'm fairly new, only three years into it, but I never ask the review questions. My dd is newly 7 and my ds 4 and both of them know amazing amounts of ancient history already. We listen to the CD and read suggested books and do the activities and maps, coloring etc. They love it! I feel like it all about filling them up right now and during the logic stage I will require a bit more, but it will be in writing. Right now I just ask what happened? And then follow questions up with what they say. They both can recite things word for word at times. My ds started answering my dd's WWE questions the other day.

 

My goal is to just create our lives to learn throughout each day. There is no school day per se, just various engagements of our minds.

Edited by JenC3
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For those of you who have been classically homeschooling your children for a long time (past the elementary school stage) what advice do you have for those just starting out. If you were able to redo your elementary years (maybe you are doing just that with your younger children) what would you do different? What have you done that has proven to be very successful. What was not? Feel free to discuss anything within classically homeschooling that strikes you as you read this whether it was your schedule, a subject, a particular curriculum, an activity, your attitude, etc."

 

I started out homeschooling my older children with a very classical approach. I found the Well Trained Mind around our 2-3rd year of homeschooling (started homeschooling when oldest was 5yo). I did nearly everything by the book and life was easier then...not so many activities or other interferences.

 

After awhile, I felt like they didn't love to learn as much as they had when younger. It seemed like they, like your daughter, dreaded the questions and narrations after the readings and didn't ask me to read more to them like they had when they were little. I think I was too "by the book" and needed to learn to think "outside the box" as far as how I approached schooling and how I kept track of their learning. I did get more creative with the boys and went more hands on but I think the "damage" was already done in that they seemed to want me to give them knowledge rather than learning for themselves (unless it was a topic they were passionate about) or just wanted to "get school done".

 

When my youngest came along, I watched the difference in her...the passion she had for learning...the same passion I had seen in my boys in their younger years. I didn't want her to lose that spark so I did more of her learning through play, did more hands on learning, allowed her to chose some topics we studied, and I followed her lead in what tangents we followed. I guided her to new topics and subjects then kept all her learning materials within reach and sat with her when she picked them up.

 

Her learning ended up being much more rigorous than her brothers had been at the same age but it was different because she was actively learning. Rather than listening to me read just to be able to write her narration, she was listening because she was interested, asking questions, wondering what happened next, labelling a map, looking for more information about something that interested her (what they ate or wore at that time or what music they listened to), then discussing it with me. After all that, she might want to "write her own story" to sum up what she learned. We keep notebooks (spiral bound that she can add pages to) like scrapbooks for her learning so a page might be a narration, maps, drawings, labelled diagrams, or something more creative.

 

I have certain goals for her every week and topics I want to cover. She has work she must complete but I give her the choice of what we do when. We still do history and science in very hands on ways with lots of projects and experiments and go broader in those subjects so she has learned to research and question everything. She ends up doing school now (at 8yo) for about 3-5 hours a day but it is spread out throughout the day and sometimes in the evenings (sometimes on weekends). She is a violinist so practices about 2-3 hours a day and has lessons a couple days a week making her schedule is a bit different and more complicated than her brother's lives at the same age.

 

As to your specific questions...

 

At 5yo, doing SOTW, I covered chapters in a variety of ways...narrations, discussions, let her draw pictures about the chapter. I wouldn't expect her at that age to do a narration without first discussing it with her...giving her leading questions to help her get to the main point of the chapter.

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I did always require discussion about what was read and I always required narration and starting in second grade, I MADE them start to write their own. I am SO glad I did this, though they didn't like it much. Now either boy can easily write a page or more on a topic without it being burdensome.

 

I made the boys do handwriting books and I corrected them and I am SO glad I did. They have childish handwriting, but it is at least legible, and many of their friends' handwriting is not.

 

I'm glad we have made it a point to expose the boys to art and music by purchasing classics on itunes and playing them over and over and by treating the art museum as a special place to visit. It helps that we have access to good art and music within minutes of the house.

 

We are working at a rigorous education for the boys and we are certainly seeing the payoff now. But, I am also glad that we take time off when we need it, or on a fall day when the weather is GLORIOUS, we can and will throw it all aside and go outside. If we have snow, all bets are off and we will be out sledding until the snow is gone. We take advantages of those days as school cancellation days by "Act of God."

 

QUOTE]

Love this!!!! Same thing here...

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As of January, I'll have completed my 11th year of home schooling. I went classical in my 3rd year, in the middle.

 

1. I second the reading for yourself on learning styles, teaching methods, etc. You can even give certain evals on your dd to see what suits her well, remembering that may change as she ages, so get educated as a teacher, NOW, while you have the most time.

 

2. Avoid gaps by finding excellent resources now. Gaps are fixable, but they are a real pain and take a lot of time to remediate. Do your research diligently.

 

3. At her tender age and through 3rd grade, I'd say, if the tears are consistent, Put.It.Away (assuming it's dread and not disobedience or bad attitude). I squashed a love of learning once and it took a lot to rekindle the fire. The boy is still scared, even if well healed.

 

4. The materials I love not only provide outstanding education for my children , but also for me. There are 2 things I swear by and a portion of the reason is b/c I truly believe they make me a better teacher. They educate me not just on the what of classical education, but also on the "how to implement practically, in my classroom" aspect. This is so important. (The Phonics Road, Tapestry of Grace). Truth be told, in this age, there are a bazillion choices in home education and they are not all created equal. Having said that, you may find value in other places then me or your friend in home school coop (as an example). Whatever you find, just find it and be sure you're both growing.

 

5. Particularly in your case w. an advanced dd, and I say this often, just b/c they start young, doesn't mean they'll stay way ahead forever and/or be mature on the same level as she is intelligent. Don't forget this. She'll still only be 8 years old when she's 8, even if she's reading on a 7th grade level. This can be difficult as you try to determine what is academically challenging and still allows a child to be a child, who can do some upper level work, but still wants to behave like a wiggly, giggly child. Sometimes, it can really be hard to separate the teacher in me from the mother in me and most of the time, my children need me to do that. I banged my head against the proverbial wall so many times thinking I was doing something wrong, when in fact, she was just being a kid her age. (I hope that makes sense).

 

6. When you find your philosophical mentor (SWB, CM, Montessori, Waldorf, etc. or any combo thereof ;) ) Keep re-reading! Stages change and the reminders are great.

 

7. Ask experienced home schoolers for advice. We really have BTDT. We can help!

 

8. Hands on is what sticks for history and science. Keep it hands on and read to your hearts content, even in middle school! Fun and messy are good. The clean up is worth the retention and joy of learning.

 

9. Finally, enjoy home schooling. It is a gift.

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I was lucky enough to find TWTM right off the bat 8 years ago, we're in year 9.

 

First thing, this is a marathon, not a race, not a sprint. So, that means you have to pace yourself and always choose the best. There's so much out there and they only have 24 hours in a day, so make the best choices you can for their time.

 

I've always had my children narrate-they just don't know they're doing it. And I ask them lots of questions alla the Socratic method. I start questions, they finish them-I use many tools. Whatever I feel is going to work with where they're at for the day is the tool I pull out of my arsenal. They've always had copywork (I have many poetry books and a library and just pulled random sentences or passages from what was our read aloud that day). And we did copywork every day. Just a sentence when they were small and now a paragraph or a stanza. I started them with cursive as soon as they were ready (as soon as they were ready being the important part).

 

Ok, back. Sorry, had to run a kid somewhere.

 

I read to them a lot. A lot. Really, a lot. At breakfast every day is the 'read aloud' that I've chosen. When they were small it was all the Pooh and Beatrix Potter, Charles Perrault's fairy tales, Arabian Nights for kids, -just cramming them full of stories. And not in a 'cramming' way, but you'd be surprised how many books you go though when you make it a habit of reading to them every day.

 

Tina is right, gaps can be filled, but they're hard to fill so know your kid, do your research and try and make the best choice you can. She's also right when she says that tears of frustration and her age is young, pull it away. I pretty much destroyed my oldest's love of learning and school career by pushing too hard, demanding too much and piling up too much. There's a balance there, it's tender and with each child it's different. You need to pay attention and find it. This is the beauty of homeschooling. What makes their heart sing? What do they talk about for days? What engages their imagination? Were are they pointing? What makes them sound? They'll tell you (without words) but you have to pay attention and listen.

 

Keep reading, keep looking for other homeschooling books, keep researching, go back and read them over and over because as you and they grow different things will mean more to you at different times. Overturn the rocks and search those answers out.

 

My daughter is 5, almost six. She has always been a bit ahead academic wise. I decided to do first grade with her this year because Kindergarten seemed too remedial. This is our first year of formal schooling prior to this she learned everything she knows just by our daily life and me exposing her to things, etc. Things are going really well and she seems to do well. The only aspect that we seem to be encountering the very beginning of resistance on is reviews questions after we've read something (history mostly) and to a very small degree narration. Her narrations do not usually speak to the major point of the story. I assume that is normal at this stage and it is to be ignored and that later on down the road she'll be able to decipher what is truly important?

 

What have you done, if this has been your experience too, in regards to a frustration with the chapter questions. I'm speaking particularly to Story of the World. My daughter really enjoys it when I don't try to follow up with questions. So yesterday, for the first time, I skipped the questions on Story of the World and she asked me to read more. She dreads reading the book knowing that I'm going to ask questions. So my non-experienced instinct says read through the book as an oral read aloud simply for fun without really delving into it and if we have time read the other books in the series this year and then next year (when she'd be 6/7) try again...OR read through all the books in the series for merely enjoyment and begin ancients again around 8/9 at which point we'd focus more on questions/narrations/activities. Basically, should I make her suck it up or do I back off. She'll be six next month. It hasn't been a big traumatic thing or anything it's just one of those "do we havvveee to???"

 

My 7 yo is like your daughter. The funny thing about him though, is that he's such an all around funny happy guy, you never knew he was learning all this stuff, so when he got to 1st and I started doing some work with him (way the hell informal) he knew it all. His sisters were in 2nd, so I just started doing their work with him and he knew all of that, too. (It's pretty weird to hear this little kid just randomly answering all the 2nd grade math questions. Blew me away.) Now he's bit behind them, but that was because he reached a maturity point where he had started to struggle with the work and I knew that I needed to lay off a bit. So, if that's where she is--that she's just starting to resist a bit, notch it down and idle for a while with the narration and questions. Or, let her narrate in her own way. At her age different things are going to stick oin her mind and that's what she's doing-she's telling you what was important to HER in the story. Look at that and read her. She's showing you who she is. Be very leery of sucking it up-or, I should say, make sure when you do make her suck it up, it's for something important, like learning to write. Memorizing math facts. Those are the things you cash in your suck it up coins for, not history questions. As for the SOTW workbook, just do what she wants to do or make something that she wants to out of ideas you've gleaned elsewhere. We're doing medieval ages now and we're on monasteries and monks. I went and got them the quills to make pens out of and they ended up *loving* it and writing for hours with them--but going into it they seemed ambivalent. So if she doesn't *really* want to, see if you can tickle her palate and perhaps she'll love it, but don't make her do stuff she dreads and shows no interest in.

Edited by justamouse
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As of January, I'll have completed my 11th year of home schooling. I went classical in my 3rd year, in the middle.

 

1. I second the reading for yourself on learning styles, teaching methods, etc. You can even give certain evals on your dd to see what suits her well, remembering that may change as she ages, so get educated as a teacher, NOW, while you have the most time.

 

2. Avoid gaps by finding excellent resources now. Gaps are fixable, but they are a real pain and take a lot of time to remediate. Do your research diligently.

 

3. At her tender age and through 3rd grade, I'd say, if the tears are consistent, Put.It.Away (assuming it's dread and not disobedience or bad attitude). I squashed a love of learning once and it took a lot to rekindle the fire. The boy is still scared, even if well healed.

 

4. The materials I love not only provide outstanding education for my children , but also for me. There are 2 things I swear by and a portion of the reason is b/c I truly believe they make me a better teacher. They educate me not just on the what of classical education, but also on the "how to implement practically, in my classroom" aspect. This is so important. (The Phonics Road, Tapestry of Grace). Truth be told, in this age, there are a bazillion choices in home education and they are not all created equal. Having said that, you may find value in other places then me or your friend in home school coop (as an example). Whatever you find, just find it and be sure you're both growing.

 

5. Particularly in your case w. an advanced dd, and I say this often, just b/c they start young, doesn't mean they'll stay way ahead forever and/or be mature on the same level as she is intelligent. Don't forget this. She'll still only be 8 years old when she's 8, even if she's reading on a 7th grade level. This can be difficult as you try to determine what is academically challenging and still allows a child to be a child, who can do some upper level work, but still wants to behave like a wiggly, giggly child. Sometimes, it can really be hard to separate the teacher in me from the mother in me and most of the time, my children need me to do that. I banged my head against the proverbial wall so many times thinking I was doing something wrong, when in fact, she was just being a kid her age. (I hope that makes sense).

 

6. When you find your philosophical mentor (SWB, CM, Montessori, Waldorf, etc. or any combo thereof ;) ) Keep re-reading! Stages change and the reminders are great.

 

7. Ask experienced home schoolers for advice. We really have BTDT. We can help!

 

8. Hands on is what sticks for history and science. Keep it hands on and read to your hearts content, even in middle school! Fun and messy are good. The clean up is worth the retention and joy of learning.

 

9. Finally, enjoy home schooling. It is a gift.

 

Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your insight. Everything you wrote is so, so helpful.

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I also have an advanced dd5 who is doing 1st grade work, and we have had the exact same issue with narrations. It may be her perfectionistic quality or just something developmental. In any event, I decided not to make it an issue, because it is not age-appropriate work. I only advance her in areas where she is more comfortable being advanced than not. So I have put off narrations until next year. I am considering using WWE next year, because it asks for narrations after a very brief amount of reading. It may help to ease her into it.

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When my kids where that age I never used the review questions in SOTW. I never tested, and I never 'required' narrations.

 

What we did do:

 

Read a section in SOTW.

We did tons of projects (my kids loved the projects), the messier the better.

We did the coloring pages.

My kids also loved doing the maps. My younger son had all the SOTW maps hanging on his bedroom wall.

We read tons of additional books, mostly picture books.

 

It was great! We took almost 2 years to go through SOTW 1. As the kids got older things changed slowly. We started to talk more about the reading and eventually I started writing down narrations. Over time they did that themselves.

We still do NOT do any review questions. Review questions kill the joy for us. I read them myself often to make sure that I know what may be important. With the kids I simply have a conversation about the reading just like a conversation of something we might watch on TV. This does require me to read everything I want to have a conversation about. So I read almost everything my kids read. This includes lots of their free reading. Thankfully, I love to read.

 

The great thing is that my kids want me to read their books so that we can talk about it. This is what I spend most of my time doing. All this rambling just to say -- skip the review questions! You do not have to use them.

 

And YES! I would do it this way again. My boys are now 10 and 11. They are great conversationlist and know tons of history/science/literature.

 

Susie

 

Thanks! We don't do any type of testing over here yet either. I just started with the review questions and did the narrations. I think I'm going to back off for now. The important thing is that her exposure to history is fun and exciting.

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Thank you so much for your specific book recommendations. They will be very helpful and I will start looking into them. So far I have only read TWTM in regards to Classical Education, specifically. I've also read many articles, websites, threads, etc but I was wondering what other texts were out there in regards to the method. I was so happy to have found TWTM because we were kind of floundering on where to go.

 

Initially, as my daughter was a toddler I'd been very attracted to Unschooling and had read a few books on the topic. However, after being around unschooling families in our community I have not been able to see fruits that I am comfortable with in the long term results.

 

Then I came across ambleside and really enjoyed the information there but I really prefer the more chronological approach presented in the WTM.

 

In regards to reading and learning about how to teach the subject matter and how kids learn best, etc. Where are you finding your reliable sources (or are those the books that you've shared)?

 

I ask because the experts seem to be changing their opinions all the time and frankly I'm not interested in how public schooled students learn best, etc. So I am very interested in learning about good resources or individuals that are well respected in this field and also something that is not a "fad".

 

Thank you so much for your help.

 

 

We've been classical since the beginning, so this is our 10th school year classically educating, if you count kindergarten. I was fortunate enough to find TWTM on the shelf the week that I spend researching homeschooling in the big public library. I found these boards and other classical resources shortly thereafter. I was heavily influenced by Veritas Press early on, as well as Doug Wilson (Recovering the Lost Tools and Classical Ecuation and the Homeschool) and the Bluedorns' books. Read the classics (SWB, Wilson, Bluedorns, Beechick to some extent) not the newer, watered down repetitions or "classical in a box"/ "classical can be easy."

 

My biggest piece of advice is to not get so caught up in curriculum that you lose the bigger picture. Anything that can be taught without cuuriculum should be, and curriculum should only be a tool used to help make life easier for mom (or dad,) not a task master with its own agenda.

 

I am not an "ages and stages" kind of classical homeschooler. While we do focus more on memory work in the first years, and I don't start formal logic on logic until dc are 10-12, I don't see it as a movement from one to another as much as the development of three skills of learning: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. They are all being learned on a continuous progression, with more emphasis at certain times than others. The *skills* are always primary, not the completion of a curriculum. Always think most of what skill you are working on, no matter what the content is. Teach dc strategies to teach themselves, not by making them just do it all the time and try to hopefully figure it out on their own, but by spending long, hard hours teaching them how to do it.

 

I guess more advice would be to read, read, read (and listen.) Spend some months (maybe a year or two) reading many books and listening to speakers about education, teaching and learning, and sepcific subject areas. Come up with your basic plan: not specific curriculum, but an idea of what your family's goals are in general. That way, you will not be as swayed by the fact that the vast majority of homeschool resources do not support classical education.

 

As I said in another thread, spend more time learning about how to teach and about the subject matter you are going to teach than becoming an expert in curriculum choices. A teacher who knows her subject matter and how students learn will teach any curriculum well. Read The Seven Laws of Teaching sooner than later.

 

Finally, remember that what you do is what your child will do. No matter what you say about the value of reading, art, Great books, unless you are modeling that value, it won't influence a child. A child who has been taught that learning and joy and has seen that it is how parents spend their time is an easier child to teach. :001_smile: That is what allows for classical education, which can be very challenging.

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Thank you! This is how I also felt and what I knew instinctively but it is nice to have some hand holding in the beginning when you are questioning what you are doing all the time.

 

She actually really seems to enjoy Writing With Ease and she is getting really good at answering the questions in complete sentences and she can do a narration just fine it just tends not to be central to the "point" all though I haven't told her that. I'm just praising her for her efforts.

 

For some reason she just really dislikes doing the questions and somewhat the narration with SOTW. My guess is that there is so much more information in SOTW and to try and retain and answer the questions is more difficult than in the stories in WWE. Especially because she is very familiar with every story we've come across so far in WWE and so she has background knowledge that allows her to answer the questions with much less thought and less actual recall.

 

That is why I think it would be better for us to read through SOTW now as a fun introductory read-a-loud and then come back to it again and I think that familiarity and additional age will make all the difference in the world. She's really enjoying the book and learning itself just not the pressure to remember specific details.

 

Now, specifically...

 

Yes, it will come later. She is too young to be expected to do this on her own (some kiddos might, but it is not the norm.) Don't frustrate her by asking things of her that she isn't capable of. Instead, model it for her. Ask her questions about the most important points and then answer them yourself. She will learn from the example. Let her narrations be all crazy for now :D; she will slowly learn to model them after yours through guiding.

 

If she doesn't like the questions, don't do them. There will be so much time later to teach reading comprehension and the content. Right now, focus on teaching her an interest in history and the discipline to listen to or read a bit of work and then discuss it with you.

 

:001_smile: History is not about answering boring questions, but that is what she is learning. Show her that it is about interesting stories and fascinating people, and leave the questions until she is old enough for them.

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Yes, it helps immensely!

 

I so appreciate everyone that has taken the time to share their experiences and wisdom.

 

I've considered putting it away until next year but I think we'll continue on with it, with just a different attitude. I thought at first it was learning history in general that she was bored with but we are also reading A Child's History of the World and I read that to her while she is doing the coloring page from the SOTW activity guide and she always asks me to read "more", "more"! As soon as I stopped asking the questions with SOTW she asked to read more of it too. So I will just lighten it up, skip the questions and review what we've covered informally and through discussion and through additional reading and activities that we're doing with the Activity Guide. If the whole thing starts to explode on us, we'll shelve it for awhile.

 

I really like your suggestion on having me start the narration and letting her finish it. She really likes coming up with her own thing but maybe what I'll do is do the first narration with me starting it and having her finish it and then asking her if she'd like to do one of her own.

 

I think it is wise to have them write their own narrations. I am really liking WWE and the nice thing about it is that it gradually builds them into writing their own narrations as well. We had our first week where she wrote her own narration last week and it went well.

 

Thank you for sharing everything else as well. Very helpful.

 

I started to do SOTW with my oldest son when he was in K and then we put it away until he was six. I was glad that we did. At six, he had the patience to sit and listen and was able to do more of the cool projects on his own. He was not reading at the beginning of first grade, but I did ask the questions, at least a few and we would talk about it.

 

I should have made the questions more of a guide to see what he needed to have explained rather than a test to see how his retention was. With my younger sons, I use the questions as a guide and if he can't remember, I supply the answer and ask if he remembers that part of the story.

 

Another thing I had to do for a while was to tell model what a narration should be like. I let him finish my sentences. "Khufu built the..." and he would fill in "Great Pyramid" and I would say, "Let's write that down." Then we would and he would draw a picture to go with the page if he wanted to do that.

 

I did always require discussion about what was read and I always required narration and starting in second grade, I MADE them start to write their own. I am SO glad I did this, though they didn't like it much. Now either boy can easily write a page or more on a topic without it being burdensome.

 

I made the boys do handwriting books and I corrected them and I am SO glad I did. They have childish handwriting, but it is at least legible, and many of their friends' handwriting is not.

 

I'm glad I switched from Saxon Math to Singapore. It has been an incredible thing for all three of the boys, but especially for my oldest who is very good at math and needed a challenge beyond just acceleration.

 

I'm glad we have made it a point to expose the boys to art and music by purchasing classics on itunes and playing them over and over and by treating the art museum as a special place to visit. It helps that we have access to good art and music within minutes of the house.

 

I'm glad that we started Latin as soon as the boys were reading well and have stuck with it. My oldest is completing his fourth year of Latin and will continue on through high school, I think. He enjoys it.

 

I am glad that from the beginning, we have had a schedule and we make school the important event of our day. If school doesn't happen, nothing else happens baring sickness and planned days off. We start at 8:30, my K'er is usually done in an hour (but he break his day up quite a bitso an hour total), My 3rd grade is usually done by 1 pm when his dad comes home for lunch, and my sixth grader is usually finished school by 2:30 or 3.

 

We are working at a rigorous education for the boys and we are certainly seeing the payoff now. But, I am also glad that we take time off when we need it, or on a fall day when the weather is GLORIOUS, we can and will throw it all aside and go outside. If we have snow, all bets are off and we will be out sledding until the snow is gone. We take advantages of those days as school cancellation days by "Act of God."

 

 

 

Does that help?

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Thank you this is all wonderful advice! We do have the activity guide and are trying to get into the activities. We're getting ready to make our scrolls and clay tablets.

 

So did anyone actually mummify a chicken. Nasty but fascinating.

 

My older son could do the questions at a very young age. With my younger son, who is going to be 6 in January, I ask him to tell me two things he remembered about what I just read. I then rephrase those two things into complete sentences and write them down while he watches.

 

I am on my second trip through the ancients with one child and starting with a second. I am not quite an 'old timer' am I?

 

But, what I have learned from the first time around is:

 

do as many history projects as possible the first time around. Especially with the first two cycles, ancients and middle ages. They have the best projects and it is worth your time and effort. Really. I have never said 'well, that was a waste.' I have had regrets for things we didn't do and effort I didn't expend.

 

Spend a little time and that extra 25$ on the cool science something or other. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had just coughed up the money and got the fun/cool/memorable science thing. This year I did and we are having a wonderful time.

 

When in doubt just reread what SWB suggests. I am not talking about curriculum. I mean with method. I cannot tell you how many times I made my life more complicated than it needed to be. When I look at what she suggested it was almost always easier and better than what I was attempting. I was tying myself into knots prepping for my first year in the logic stage. Then I just regrouped and decided that rather than buying this new curriculum and that new method I would just try what she suggested. I am so happy I did. I learned a good lesson: Sometimes it really can be that easy!

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Thank you for sharing. It is good to make sure we keep things in balance especially when we are presented with a little one who will not fit into our preconceived molds of how things will go.

 

I'm pretty sure my son is going to make me start from scratch when it comes time to start formally teaching him. My daughter is so easy to teach, she pretty much teaches herself and I'm just here to expose her to things and guide what we're learning. My experience parenting my son so far is teaching me that things will go much different with him.

 

We have been homeschooling for a little over 10 years now. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. When you start homeschooling your first child sometimes you don't know what really works until you are moving on to something else. I now know more of what works for elementary school, but my oldest dd is going into middle school grades now. By the time I figure out what works for middle school, she will probably be in high school.

 

We are more of eclectic homeschoolers so we try to incorporate some parts of classical education. I never required my dd to answer specific questions like the way SOTW outlines. We also never did narration or dictation. I have to say that I was really excited when we began homeschooling and read through The Well-Trained Mind, bought SOTW1, and was all ready to go teach classical style. Then I discovered that my dd was not that interested in learning history in 1st grade and she was a really creative individual that needed more time to play and explore.

 

So, we spent the first year mostly reading books, playing, going to the park, and doing artwork and projects. The only formal curriculum that we stuck with was math. I think back then we were doing K12 math.

 

Every year I would research curriculum and think I had found the perfect thing to help teach my dd, but ultimately most of it ended up being too much busywork, boring, not a fit for her learning style, or just plain not necessary. The goal of these curriculum companies is for you to buy their stuff. Really, not much is needed to get from point A to B. Despite knowing this, I am such a book and curriculum junkie that I end up buying stuff anyway.

 

If I could go back and teach the elementary age again, I would:

-not worry about academics so much and play more

-research and read as much as I could about homeschooling philosophies and teaching methods (I just don't have as much time anymore to do this and wish I would have been more prepared for middle school)

-not spend so much money or buy so much curriculum (the money would have been better spent on classes or enrichment activities outside the home)

-started history later on maybe by 3rd grade or so (I think it is more important to spend those first few years developing good readers and creating a foundation for basic math skills)

-do at least some dictation or narration from about 2nd grade on (I just kept putting it off and I think it would have helped my dd's spelling skills)

-relax in my teaching style a little more (sometimes you have to sit on something for a while before it sinks in)

-avoid curriculum with schedules (I never followed schedules even though I wanted to and tried really hard, it just was not for me)

-avoid curriculum that was overly scripted (I struggled with curriculum that had too much information for the teacher to digest before teaching, I spent too much time on curriculum like that and preparing to teach rather than just teaching)

-help my dd become more independent in her learning earlier on probably from about the 3rd-4th grade level depending on the child (I let my child take the easy way out too many times and did not realize that she was capable of much more)

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Yes, you nailed it!

 

We do have the activity guide and have really enjoyed the coloring pages and maps and are just getting started with the activities. We're getting ready to make scrolls and clay tablets. We did do cave paintings and that was fun. We are also going to make our nile river but we keep getting sidetracked from building our activities. She always wants our spare time to be spent reading or doing art so honestly the history activities keep getting bumped but I think she'll have a blast when we get to them.

 

So. Million dollar question. Did you mummify the chicken?? Anyone mummify anything else even more exciting??

 

how about dropping the very specific questions for now and just talking about what you've read - informally, not "okay, now we'll have a discussion"... she asked for MORE, so she's enjoying it when she's not being quizzed ;)

 

i bet if you just skip the questions and enjoy the book right along with her, you'll be surprised at what you find out she's getting from it ...it might come out in discussions, it might come out in play, it might come out when she says "hey grandma did you know _____" during christmas dinner. :p

 

are you doing the activities? (making up your own works too - especially if you'd rather not have a chicken mummifying in your house somewhere!)

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I use the "tell daddy" all the time too! It works great. :)

 

So what has helped you the most? What has gotten you into your groove?

 

:iagree:

 

This is how I evaluated what my kids were learning when they were that age. I watched and listened as they played and talked in the course of a normal day. I still do to some extent, although I also do more formal evaluation with ds. I also would frequently get them started talking about school at the dinner table with "Tell Daddy what you did to day in ________." They were always excited about telling Daddy what they'd learned or done that day.

 

I think, I just barely meet the op's criteria for experienced. We have homeschooled classically from the beginning since ds was in K; he is now in the 5th grade.

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Do you have a book/article/link or source that has helped you learn to apply Socratic questioning/discussions or other ways to facilitate good open ended discussions.

 

I mean, we do this, to an extent but I would love to read something on this topic as this really seems worth being well versed in.

 

Only have a sec. :D

 

My #1 piece of advice would be to approach ALL subjects as conversational, socratic discussions during reading. I never read all the way to the end of something and then ask a list of contrived questions. Schools have to do that to determine whether or not something was actually read.

 

I read something and get excited or extremely interested ;) and stop and ask open-ended (not yes or no) questions. I really try to get them to think/compare/contrast situations, reactions, people, outcomes, etc.

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Thank you. I appreciate knowing I am not alone in this experience. We love the maps and coloring pages too and just checked out the SOTW Cd's from our library to try out. I'm excited to listen to them in the car tomorrow.

 

I think that is how my son will be before too long. He is only 2 so very limited in what he is physically able to do but he follows us around all day and when he's not actively trying to destroy what we are trying to do, he is trying to copy us. When my daughter is spelling her spelling words or spelling out the words to a word she is writing he copies her. It is funny. Especially since he can hardly even speak in full sentences yet.

 

I'm fairly new, only three years into it, but I never ask the review questions. My dd is newly 7 and my ds 4 and both of them know amazing amounts of ancient history already. We listen to the CD and read suggested books and do the activities and maps, coloring etc. They love it! I feel like it all about filling them up right now and during the logic stage I will require a bit more, but it will be in writing. Right now I just ask what happened? And then follow questions up with what they say. They both can recite things word for word at times. My ds started answering my dd's WWE questions the other day.

 

My goal is to just create our lives to learn throughout each day. Their is no school day per se, just various engagements of our minds.

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I think it is important for us to all hear stories like these. While teaching classically is a very valid and helpful approach we can not get so lost within a method that we lose the child or ignore warning signs. There are so many ways to learn and I feel so blessed to be able to homeschool my kids and have the freedom to change things up, if needed.

 

Good for you for being so in-tune with your daughter that you were able to really help her thrive in her learning. I think that is what it is all about.

 

I think there is so much truth to the unschooling method in terms of following a child's passions, which I was originally attracted to. We've spent the first 5 years (minus the last 1 1/2 months) with my daughter navigating all of our learning. Now granted, I exposed her to things and guided her a bit but it was all "interest led". It has taught me a lot and helped me to understand what she enjoys. I am trying to meld that with what we are doing and I also keep it in the back of my mind as we implement new areas of study.

 

 

 

 

I started out homeschooling my older children with a very classical approach. I found the Well Trained Mind around our 2-3rd year of homeschooling (started homeschooling when oldest was 5yo). I did nearly everything by the book and life was easier then...not so many activities or other interferences.

 

After awhile, I felt like they didn't love to learn as much as they had when younger. It seemed like they, like your daughter, dreaded the questions and narrations after the readings and didn't ask me to read more to them like they had when they were little. I think I was too "by the book" and needed to learn to think "outside the box" as far as how I approached schooling and how I kept track of their learning. I did get more creative with the boys and went more hands on but I think the "damage" was already done in that they seemed to want me to give them knowledge rather than learning for themselves (unless it was a topic they were passionate about) or just wanted to "get school done".

 

When my youngest came along, I watched the difference in her...the passion she had for learning...the same passion I had seen in my boys in their younger years. I didn't want her to lose that spark so I did more of her learning through play, did more hands on learning, allowed her to chose some topics we studied, and I followed her lead in what tangents we followed. I guided her to new topics and subjects then kept all her learning materials within reach and sat with her when she picked them up.

 

Her learning ended up being much more rigorous than her brothers had been at the same age but it was different because she was actively learning. Rather than listening to me read just to be able to write her narration, she was listening because she was interested, asking questions, wondering what happened next, labelling a map, looking for more information about something that interested her (what they ate or wore at that time or what music they listened to), then discussing it with me. After all that, she might want to "write her own story" to sum up what she learned. We keep notebooks (spiral bound that she can add pages to) like scrapbooks for her learning so a page might be a narration, maps, drawings, labelled diagrams, or something more creative.

 

I have certain goals for her every week and topics I want to cover. She has work she must complete but I give her the choice of what we do when. We still do history and science in very hands on ways with lots of projects and experiments and go broader in those subjects so she has learned to research and question everything. She ends up doing school now (at 8yo) for about 3-5 hours a day but it is spread out throughout the day and sometimes in the evenings (sometimes on weekends). She is a violinist so practices about 2-3 hours a day and has lessons a couple days a week making her schedule is a bit different and more complicated than her brother's lives at the same age.

 

As to your specific questions...

 

At 5yo, doing SOTW, I covered chapters in a variety of ways...narrations, discussions, let her draw pictures about the chapter. I wouldn't expect her at that age to do a narration without first discussing it with her...giving her leading questions to help her get to the main point of the chapter.

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Whew. So many good points in here. Where to start. In order, I suppose. :)

 

1. This has come up a couple of times in this thread which must mean it is important. I asked another poster but I will ask you too. Can you elaborate for me? What teaching styles, methods and such are standard to be familiar with. The first I ever read was John Holt and I loved it. Then I came across unschooling and some of it resonates but for me it isn't the answer. Then I came across Charlotte Mason and then The Well Trained Mind which is where we are now. Is there a nice basic list of authors/books or other such material that should be the spine, per se, of any home educator?

 

2. Where do I look into gaps at? Gaps? What gaps? I have gaps? Someone help me??!! Teasing. LOL. But seriously, elaborate please.

 

3. This is good advice. We haven't had any tears. Well, okay, when her brother drew all over her copywork there were tears but I can't shelve him. Harumph.

 

4. Yes, I think we need Phonics Road. I was going to invest in that for next year or the year after. What is a good year to start? I am a great writer. I write all the time and I love to write. Someday, I want to publish books. But I know nothing, absolutely nothing, but the very very very basics when it comes to grammar and punctuation. What makes me angry is that I didn't even know that I didn't know anything about this until I went to College. So, I want to learn alongside my daughter in terms of grammar and writing in general. I've got ideas of plenty but apparently putting them on paper appropriately is not my area of talent. I have not heard of Tapestry of Grace. What curriculum is that for? I know I could go google it but I'm lazy right now. Humor me. :) Is it a boxed type curriculum or does it teach something specific?

 

5. Yes, yes and yes. I have had to remind myself of this for her whole life. She has alway been extremely verbal (talking in full sentences and having complex conversation at 18 months) and it makes it very hard to keep her real age in mind. Academically she is ahead but emotionally and maturity wise she is just like any other 5 year old for the most part. It is a constant battle to not treat her like she is 7, 8 or 9. It helps to be around other kids her age to have reminders of what my expectations should be. I'm just trying to follow her lead academically, so far I haven't pushed her academically at all. But I definitely forget to keep my expectations of her behavior and emotional maturity in check.

 

And thank you for everything else! :)

 

 

 

As of January, I'll have completed my 11th year of home schooling. I went classical in my 3rd year, in the middle.

 

1. I second the reading for yourself on learning styles, teaching methods, etc. You can even give certain evals on your dd to see what suits her well, remembering that may change as she ages, so get educated as a teacher, NOW, while you have the most time.

 

2. Avoid gaps by finding excellent resources now. Gaps are fixable, but they are a real pain and take a lot of time to remediate. Do your research diligently.

 

3. At her tender age and through 3rd grade, I'd say, if the tears are consistent, Put.It.Away (assuming it's dread and not disobedience or bad attitude). I squashed a love of learning once and it took a lot to rekindle the fire. The boy is still scared, even if well healed.

 

4. The materials I love not only provide outstanding education for my children , but also for me. There are 2 things I swear by and a portion of the reason is b/c I truly believe they make me a better teacher. They educate me not just on the what of classical education, but also on the "how to implement practically, in my classroom" aspect. This is so important. (The Phonics Road, Tapestry of Grace). Truth be told, in this age, there are a bazillion choices in home education and they are not all created equal. Having said that, you may find value in other places then me or your friend in home school coop (as an example). Whatever you find, just find it and be sure you're both growing.

 

5. Particularly in your case w. an advanced dd, and I say this often, just b/c they start young, doesn't mean they'll stay way ahead forever and/or be mature on the same level as she is intelligent. Don't forget this. She'll still only be 8 years old when she's 8, even if she's reading on a 7th grade level. This can be difficult as you try to determine what is academically challenging and still allows a child to be a child, who can do some upper level work, but still wants to behave like a wiggly, giggly child. Sometimes, it can really be hard to separate the teacher in me from the mother in me and most of the time, my children need me to do that. I banged my head against the proverbial wall so many times thinking I was doing something wrong, when in fact, she was just being a kid her age. (I hope that makes sense).

 

6. When you find your philosophical mentor (SWB, CM, Montessori, Waldorf, etc. or any combo thereof ;) ) Keep re-reading! Stages change and the reminders are great.

 

7. Ask experienced home schoolers for advice. We really have BTDT. We can help!

 

8. Hands on is what sticks for history and science. Keep it hands on and read to your hearts content, even in middle school! Fun and messy are good. The clean up is worth the retention and joy of learning.

 

9. Finally, enjoy home schooling. It is a gift.

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Oh your post was beautiful. Thank you so much. And you are so right, it is such a balancing act.

 

I wish someone would give me a fake kid to homeschool from k-high school, screw up a bit and then give me my real kids and start over. LOL. I suppose that is what forgiveness is for. None of us will do this perfect.

 

What I have to stop and tell myself on occasion is that my relationship as mom is MORE important than my relationship with her as teacher. I can find a whole slew of people to be teachers for her. But I don't want to find anyone else to be her mom. Basically my long term goal is to raise kids that want to be around us when they're all grown up, that enjoy learning and that find the meaning of life.

 

So, back to things you raised in your post. Finding read-a-loud time is tough right now. But I'm trying as hard as I can. My 2 year old makes it really tough. He is a handful and enjoys with glee disturbing people. Don't ask me why. He is so precious on one hand and just as cute as can be and the other part of him enjoys getting a rise out of any and everyone. Seriously, the other day while we were grocery shopping he was in my arms and a man walked by and he threw himself to the side and hit the mans arm. Not hard or anything, not to hit him as in hurt him but hit him like "ha, ha, I got you!". Anyway, that's a tangent but this little guy is making me reevaluate everything I thought I had nailed down as a parent. OK, so we are reading as much as possible and I'm sure in another 6 months or so we'll be much better off there. I stick to chapter books at night before bed after the 2 year old is asleep.

 

So, from those of you who have pushed too hard, what are the warning signs? Especially once your children are older. I think when they are young it is pretty easy to see (maybe not always) but for me I know to back off if she is not enjoying it because a. she's five b. we have her whole life to cover the material c. she's five. But how do you find the fine line when they are older. Obviously sometimes they just don't want to do it because it's not fun, because there are more exciting things to do/learn so sometimes we must push on but when do you back down?

 

I really appreciate your post. I keep reading back through it. My mind is getting so tired now so I'm having a hard time with specific responses but thank you for all the thought you put into your post.

 

I was lucky enough to find TWTM right off the bat 8 years ago, we're in year 9.

 

First thing, this is a marathon, not a race, not a sprint. So, that means you have to pace yourself and always choose the best. There's so much out there and they only have 24 hours in a day, so make the best choices you can for their time.

 

I've always had my children narrate-they just don't know they're doing it. And I ask them lots of questions alla the Socratic method. I start questions, they finish them-I use many tools. Whatever I feel is going to work with where they're at for the day is the tool I pull out of my arsenal. They've always had copywork (I have many poetry books and a library and just pulled random sentences or passages from what was our read aloud that day). And we did copywork every day. Just a sentence when they were small and now a paragraph or a stanza. I started them with cursive as soon as they were ready (as soon as they were ready being the important part).

 

Ok, back. Sorry, had to run a kid somewhere.

 

I read to them a lot. A lot. Really, a lot. At breakfast every day is the 'read aloud' that I've chosen. When they were small it was all the Pooh and Beatrix Potter, Charles Perrault's fairy tales, Arabian Nights for kids, -just cramming them full of stories. And not in a 'cramming' way, but you'd be surprised how many books you go though when you make it a habit of reading to them every day.

 

Tina is right, gaps can be filled, but they're hard to fill so know your kid, do your research and try and make the best choice you can. She's also right when she says that tears of frustration and her age is young, pull it away. I pretty much destroyed my oldest's love of learning and school career by pushing too hard, demanding too much and piling up too much. There's a balance there, it's tender and with each child it's different. You need to pay attention and find it. This is the beauty of homeschooling. What makes their heart sing? What do they talk about for days? What engages their imagination? Were are they pointing? What makes them sound? They'll tell you (without words) but you have to pay attention and listen.

 

Keep reading, keep looking for other homeschooling books, keep researching, go back and read them over and over because as you and they grow different things will mean more to you at different times. Overturn the rocks and search those answers out.

 

 

 

My 7 yo is like your daughter. The funny thing about him though, is that he's such an all around funny happy guy, you never knew he was learning all this stuff, so when he got to 1st and I started doing some work with him (way the hell informal) he knew it all. His sisters were in 2nd, so I just started doing their work with him and he knew all of that, too. (It's pretty weird to hear this little kid just randomly answering all the 2nd grade math questions. Blew me away.) Now he's bit behind them, but that was because he reached a maturity point where he had started to struggle with the work and I knew that I needed to lay off a bit. So, if that's where she is--that she's just starting to resist a bit, notch it down and idle for a while with the narration and questions. Or, let her narrate in her own way. At her age different things are going to stick oin her mind and that's what she's doing-she's telling you what was important to HER in the story. Look at that and read her. She's showing you who she is. Be very leery of sucking it up-or, I should say, make sure when you do make her suck it up, it's for something important, like learning to write. Memorizing math facts. Those are the things you cash in your suck it up coins for, not history questions. As for the SOTW workbook, just do what she wants to do or make something that she wants to out of ideas you've gleaned elsewhere. We're doing medieval ages now and we're on monasteries and monks. I went and got them the quills to make pens out of and they ended up *loving* it and writing for hours with them--but going into it they seemed ambivalent. So if she doesn't *really* want to, see if you can tickle her palate and perhaps she'll love it, but don't make her do stuff she dreads and shows no interest in.

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I also have an advanced dd5 who is doing 1st grade work, and we have had the exact same issue with narrations. It may be her perfectionistic quality or just something developmental. In any event, I decided not to make it an issue, because it is not age-appropriate work. I only advance her in areas where she is more comfortable being advanced than not. So I have put off narrations until next year. I am considering using WWE next year, because it asks for narrations after a very brief amount of reading. It may help to ease her into it.

 

I think you will like Writing With Ease. We are doing this as well and my daughter enjoys this program and has no troubles with the narrations or questions in this program. I think because she is familiar with the stories we have covered so far and because the stories are short and sweet. Granted she likes the copywork much more than the narration exercises but she doesn't mind them. She just doesn't always produce a narration that is central to the point. For example, when we did a narration for Alice in Wonderland when they were in the courtroom for the Knave of Hearts who stole the tarts her narration sentence was, "The White Rabbit held a trumpet in one hand." LOL

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Hi there! Just reading through this thread and I'm loving the thoughts and advice from the more seasoned classically homeschooling moms! We have only been doing this 3 years now but we are already 1/2 way through SOTW2. I just wanted to share with you how we use the questions so that maybe you can incorporate something like this for your daughter--it might help! :)

 

I type (or write, when we're out of ink! :glare:) the questions out for ds(9) and have him use them as a reading guide. They are usually in chronological order of how the information is presented in the section so I have him read the questions aloud, before he starts his reading. That way, he knows what he's looking for. He answers the questions as he reads and when he's at the end it's like the questions have highlighted all the important information for him. Then, he is able to condense the important information into a couple of sentences for his narration. Theoretically, anyway! :tongue_smilie:

 

We've had to tweak SOTW a few times to get it to work for us, but it hasdefinately been worth it to use it as our primary history because my ds (and MYSELF-OMG!) has learned a TON already and is only 1/2 way through the second book!

 

I hope this helps you guys some! :)

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Whew. So many good points in here. Where to start. In order, I suppose. :)

 

Let me start with the fun stuff...YES! We mummified the chicken! I suppose the only reason we don't have it (9 years later) is b/c we lost it in a house fire. It was so much fun and a spot of pride for the dc!

 

1. This has come up a couple of times in this thread which must mean it is important. I asked another poster but I will ask you too. Can you elaborate for me? What teaching styles, methods and such are standard to be familiar with. The first I ever read was John Holt and I loved it. Then I came across unschooling and some of it resonates but for me it isn't the answer. Then I came across Charlotte Mason and then The Well Trained Mind which is where we are now. Is there a nice basic list of authors/books or other such material that should be the spine, per se, of any home educator? TWTM, Simply Charlotte Mason, Charlotte Mason Companion, I can't speak to Waldorf or Montessori, but I have found some great websites via Bing or Google and read through those. You may find, like many here that you end up ecclectic, combining your favorite parts of each. Some other books I enjoyed, not particularly on philosophies, but just on education are In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong, author John Taylor Gatto has several books, home organization books are very helpful for school, The Well Educated Mind, Lies My History teacher Told Me, History in the Making by Kyle Ward, Pocketful of Pinecones by Andreola, Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study (for school and self education this is outstanding). There are also many wonderful audios now for SWB and Marcia Somerville at TOG. Really, really worth it. The one on Socratic discussion from Somerville is outstanding. This link was posted last week on Socratic, too. It is great! Read the unschooling stuff and take what works for you! THAT is the very nature of home schooling -- you choose your direction to meet your goals!

 

2. Where do I look into gaps at? Gaps? What gaps? I have gaps? Someone help me??!! Teasing. LOL. But seriously, elaborate please. I did too much curricullum hopping early on and since different authors have different scopes, sequences and foci, we ended up with places we should have mastered, but instead only glimpsed. For example, many people (like me waay back then) have a weak prepositions base b/c they rush through or never get to the last chapter of Rod&Staff (just using an example, nothing bad about RS). Gaps. I wrote a silly story once about how I created those gaps (my hopping). Another thing I did wrong that made gaps was dropping phonics...actually hardly teaching them at all. I discovered the only place we didn't have gaps was math and that was b/c I used the same thing all the way through elementary school (Singapore).

 

3. This is good advice. We haven't had any tears. Well, okay, when her brother drew all over her copywork there were tears but I can't shelve him. Harumph. :lol:

 

4. Yes, I think we need Phonics Road. I was going to invest in that for next year or the year after. What is a good year to start? I am a great writer. I write all the time and I love to write. Someday, I want to publish books. But I know nothing, absolutely nothing, but the very very very basics when it comes to grammar and punctuation. What makes me angry is that I didn't even know that I didn't know anything about this until I went to College. So, I want to learn alongside my daughter in terms of grammar and writing in general. I've got ideas of plenty but apparently putting them on paper appropriately is not my area of talent. I have not heard of Tapestry of Grace. What curriculum is that for? I know I could go google it but I'm lazy right now. Humor me. :) Is it a boxed type curriculum or does it teach something specific? PR is amazing. I can't say enough positive things about it. It will cover all your language arts! TOG is a humanities curriculum that is approached in chronological (classical style), unit study approach. Essentially, you get the best of many worlds. I blogged about it here. I have many TOG posts on my blog. It's honestly brilliant! You'll see all the subject areas covered in my blog post. Between PR and TOG, my "What I use" has really slimmed down!

 

5. Yes, yes and yes. I have had to remind myself of this for her whole life. She has alway been extremely verbal (talking in full sentences and having complex conversation at 18 months) and it makes it very hard to keep her real age in mind. Academically she is ahead but emotionally and maturity wise she is just like any other 5 year old for the most part. It is a constant battle to not treat her like she is 7, 8 or 9. It helps to be around other kids her age to have reminders of what my expectations should be. I'm just trying to follow her lead academically, so far I haven't pushed her academically at all. But I definitely forget to keep my expectations of her behavior and emotional maturity in check. I went through this with my first daughter and 1st son, too. It occurred to me one day, when dd was in 4th grade that she was only in 4th grade b/c I was mad at her for not doing something like a jr. higher....duh. Poor kid. I was not nice and she was just being a 4th grader. We fixed that, but I like to remind others so they don't have the regret I did. It's great that you're aware of it now.

 

And thank you for everything else! :)

Welcome!
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New to doing this full-time, but have been afterschooling SOTW from K.

 

Definitely not an expernt, but wanted to say, with regard to the SOTW review questions - I would say just read to her. Review the most important facts either while you are doing a craft, or while reading additonal books, or when you see something relevant on TV etc. You could do this either as casual questions, or simply as a discussion where you judge how much she is retaining. Take a photo of whatever craft she does, and have her narrate something for you to use to label the photo.

 

That said, my big mistake so far has been not doing memorisation work. Dd is now 10, and I am going to have to work hard to fill what I perceive as a gap in her education.

 

Nikki

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Do you have a book/article/link or source that has helped you learn to apply Socratic questioning/discussions or other ways to facilitate good open ended discussions.

 

I mean, we do this, to an extent but I would love to read something on this topic as this really seems worth being well versed in.

 

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. – Socrates (470–399 B.C.)

 

I only had a sec and these are a few links I found doing a quick search:

 

http://www.journeytoexcellence.org/practice/instruction/theories/miscideas/socratic/

http://lonestar.texas.net/~mseifert/crit3.html

http://ed.fnal.gov/trc_new/tutorial/taxonomy.html

http://changingminds.org/techniques/questioning/socratic_questions.htm

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I would say that you need to remember, as someone said above in a similar vein, that the curriculum is not your master but your servant. It is a guide to scope and sequence but you are not a slave to it. If your child gets it, skip some and move on, don't do everything. If they aren't getting it, look for creative ways to help them get it and that may very well mean explanations and exercises from other texts and from within the creativity of your own psyche. Trust your mommy instincts.

 

Don't let your child get bored with learning but do gradually increase the time and work it takes to get school done. I've known some classical homeschoolers that kept things very short and sweet but for far too long and then when logic stage learning came and it suddenly took a bit of time to do book discussions, write summaries and outlines, do logic puzzles such as mindbenders, two and three step story problems, etc. they had discouraged, if not rebelling, little students on their hands because school suddenly became long and hard. So, no, it shouldn't take long in kindergarten, but even with the most quick of learners, you should look for ways to incrementally increase the time it takes to do everything with each grade so they won't be blind sided by how long it takes to get middle school, much less rigorous high school work, done each day.

 

I'm still in the trenches with a 5th grader, 7th grader, and an 8th/9th grader. DD graduated. She had a great classical education and is such a wonderful success as an adult. But, I do wish that I had taken more field trips and had a bit more fun with her. I am trying harder now with the boys...there was quite an age gap between our first and then the three musketeers, so I am trying to learn from that mistake.

 

I also deviated from the WTM recommendation of studying science informally. I think that in the age of science and technology, the sheer amount of scientific information that most children need to absorb makes it imperative that we take those grammar stage years when memorization comes easily and cover more science ground then. We've used Rainbow Science, Real Science for Kids, Apologia elementary texts, tons of science kits and experiments, plus lots of read alouds.

 

I'd probably also emphasize dictation more. DD didn't get much of this and thankfully never needed it. Neither did the next oldest, but the youngest two have needed it and I probably should have started as early as the middle of first grade or at the latest, the beginning of second. Instead, I waited until the middle of third and then had to make up for lost ground.

 

Faith

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I also deviated from the WTM recommendation of studying science informally. I think that in the age of science and technology, the sheer amount of scientific information that most children need to absorb makes it imperative that we take those grammar stage years when memorization comes easily and cover more science ground then. We've used Rainbow Science, Real Science for Kids, Apologia elementary texts, tons of science kits and experiments, plus lots of read alouds.

 

I'd probably also emphasize dictation more. DD didn't get much of this and thankfully never needed it. Neither did the next oldest, but the youngest two have needed it and I probably should have started as early as the middle of first grade or at the latest, the beginning of second. Instead, I waited until the middle of third and then had to make up for lost ground.

 

Faith

Excellent advise. I agree whole heartedly.

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Wow! Lots of good advice already, but here is my 2 cents.

 

This is my ninth year of classically homeschooling. My youngest just entered first grade, so I get a chance to redo with her as well as continue the things that have worked well for us.

 

I would not use a curriculum for literature or history. I would just use great books and read, read, read, read. I would listen to SWB's audio products before deciding on curriculum and then I would stick with it and not doubt myself. I would not use a formal curriculum for science in the early years--more books and lots of nature study.

 

I will continue with First Language Lessons and Rod and Staff for grammar. I will make my first grader work with her math manipulatives until she has the concepts down firm--no rushing and lots of asking her to explain concepts back to me. I will sit with her when she does copywork and handwriting to catch those handwriting mistakes before they become a habit (Didn't do that with my middle two and their handwriting is horrible).

 

As far as your narration troubles, my opinion would be to just read SOTW and let dd enjoy. She's young, so there will be time for narration. You might also choose something different to narrate to protect her love for SOTW. Probably at five, you can let it go.

 

Good luck with your little one whatever you decide and have fun!

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I use the "tell daddy" all the time too! It works great. :)

 

So what has helped you the most? What has gotten you into your groove?

 

I'm not sure if this was directed at me in particular or everyone in general, but I'll answer it anyway.

 

I think one of the things that has helped me the most with early elementary is that my goal at this age is exposure and fun especially with science, history and electives. Of course we work toward mastery in the skill subjects and as part of that we work on character and discipline. I am not one to just focus on the 3Rs though. We've always tried to include science, history, some art, a little music, and great field trips just to expose them to lots of things. I've always exposed them to far more than they have any real chance at mastering. I never know how much or which things will stick, but some of it always does and then it comes out in their play or conversation.

 

I read somewhere early on that the purpose of elementary school science and history was to build enjoyment for those subjects, and the purpose of middle school history and science was expose them to the high school subjects so that the high school science and history is not 100% new material. High school, then is the first time mastery of a body of knowledge in those subjects is expected.

 

Although I follow a 3 year cycle to deliberately expose them to a broad variety of topics in each subject, I've focused on fun and interesting much more than mastery in the content based subjects.

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I had the same problem with my younger son when we did SOTW, so I also stopped requiring responses to questions and narrations. He also loved the books without those features being required. For logic stage, while I've added in more depth to the study, I've kept SOTW for him to do as a read alone this time around. He's outlining one section of each chapter as he reads. He's also doing more related written work, map work, timelines, etc.

 

I've always included comments and discussions when I'm reading aloud with him. That's a more natural way to stimulate conversation and thought, in my opinion. He's also doing more non-fiction reading on his own this time around (although I've always included some of that since grammar stage). We've never just read from SOTW for history.

 

Insofar as other curriculums are concerned, there seem to be more and more good choices every year. I used Singapore math with both my boys, but now there are great programs out like Life of Fred and Russian Math 6, etc.

 

I have found that the same curriculum can work for different learning styles. I modified my expectations and approach to Spelling Workout and was able to use it successfully with both boys. My younger son didn't really begin to gel as a consistent speller until last year, but that's okay.

 

I have found that some curriculums just may not work with different learning styles. While Writing Strands and Abeka Grammar were fine for my older son; they just didn't work out well with my younger. And while R&S was okay at the lower levels, when I tried to revisit level 7 this year I absolutely hated it, LOL! So I'm now in uncharted waters with regard to my grammar....

 

I like FLL and wish that both it and SWB's writing program had been available for my use, but my youngest was ahead of her publication schedule, so I only got to use the first level of FLL.... I really like Serl's Primary and Intermediate Language Lessons for younger children.

 

Language work is going to have varying degrees of success according to learning styles, too. My oldest has auditory processing problems and languages are very difficult for him. He did Spanish from K on. I didn't start him in Latin until fifth grade. We took a break from Spanish in grades 7/8 so he could concentrate more on Latin, then did BJU's high school level Spanish I his ninth grade year (after that, he returned to private school).

 

For my younger son, languages come more easily and he's been doing both Latin and Spanish work since first grade (he also did some Spanish in K at a private school). He wanted to add in Greek last year and so I let him. He just played around, but wanted to continue, so I have him in Elementary Greek this year and he's doing well with it.

 

I've never found anything I love for logic. I've always put together my own things for science, too, as there's never been any one single curriculum that satisfied my desires for our study for the year.

 

I continue to add more personal reading for them as they get older, both non-fiction and fiction (science as well as history related). We can never read all the good books (but we can try)!

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