LarrySanger Posted November 24, 2011 Share Posted November 24, 2011 All, I'm new to this forum and semi-new to homeschooling. I've been teaching my son since before he was 1, and he's now 5, and we're "officially" homeschooling now, I figure, since most kids born when he was are in kindergarten. I've read a number of homeschooling books and thought and written (mostly for myself, but also on my blog) about education goals and methods. But I know I don't have all the answers and I thought it'd be fun to seek out your input on what we're doing! I think we're taking a roughly classical education approach. I guess I'm more in line with The Well-Trained Mind than any other of the books I've read, with a healthy dose of "real books"--we have five bookcases full of children's books, and I've read about 80-90% of these to my son over the last five years. I work at home and homeschooling I view as a (very intense) hobby, so I can actually be the main homeschooling parent. My wife helps, of course, and she is home as well. An ideal (if not typical) homeschooling day would involve my son doing Rosetta Stone Latin for 10-15 minutes before breakfast, then I read to him from a rotating stock of 6-7 books during breakfast. After breakfast I give him a "micro-lesson" on piano and then we spend anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes on math, and anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes on writing. After that, we often stop with the planned-out homeschooling and I go up to work, but sometimes he goes on to do drawing or typing. Lunch has more reading, another micro-lesson on piano, then something like 2-6 pages of geography reading, then he reads by himself for an hour, though sometimes this stretches into more than that. (I started teaching him to read when he was 22 months and is now reading at a very advanced level.) Dinnertime is more reading, another piano micro-lesson. Then before bed we read 2-4 pages of history (using SOTW as a background--we're now on volume 2) and then, usually, a chapter book for about 30 minutes. At the YMCA we do a sports class and an art class, and we also do a chess class. Here's how we approach the main subjects. Math: we're almost done with Singapore Math 1A. At the same time, we're mostly done with Two Plus Two Is Not Five (highly recommended), and every other week we do some of Life of Fred: Apples (not so excited about this--it's fine). We switch back and forth, day by day, between Singapore Math and 2+2=/=5. He likes math pretty well (didn't used to, but he does now), and has mastered most addition and subtraction facts. There are some things in SM 1A that are outside his comfort zone, but I'm trying to give him mastery and not just "get through the books." This is why we're doing 2+2=/=5. There's no race, the main thing is that I want him to have the stuff down cold, ultimately being able to do mental arithmetic and having a very solid foundation for higher math. Reading: well, we don't practice reading per se, because he is decoding words at a very advanced level and comprehending books somewhere around the 6-7th grade level. To give you an example, lately he read Henry and Ribsy (grade level equiv = 5.1) to himself, which was fun and not very challenging. He also read Harry Potter #2, which was a little more so. He re-reads SOTW and other history books during his hour of reading time. I give him comprehension questions (orally) and he usually gets them quite well--on factual material he often surprises me with what he remembers and understands. Beyond that, however, we don't do any special "reading comprehension" stuff, and I frankly I am wondering if that sort of Language Arts exercise isn't basically a waste of time if a child is reading a lot. We also aren't doing any significant amount of grammar, although we read a Basher book about punctuation which he greatly enjoyed and sometimes browses, and we'll read the one about grammar pretty soon here. Basically, I'm in the camp which believes that grammar is a subject that you can study once or twice in your academic career, but when you do you use a real grammar book and take a hard-nosed approach to it. Otherwise, you learn your grammar through daily writing and critique thereof, as well as copious reading of good models of writing. Writing: he's writing upper- and lowercase pretty well now. I assign him three sentences (minimum) a day, sometimes I say five or more. Sometimes I say "about anything," sometimes we "negotiate" a topic. Sometimes I hover over him and correct him as he writes, but more often lately he writes by himself, he shows me, I give him things to correct, and he erases and rewrites bits. I'm interested in looking into a writing program, but frankly I don't think either he or I have the patience or discipline to stick to somebody else's idea of good writing exercises. Sometimes he wants to write a "book": this involves me taking 2-3 pages of printer paper, folding them over, and stapling them across the "spine." He then gives it a title and writes something (1-2 sentences) on some of the pages, and also illustrates it. Sometimes he retells a story we've read. Sometimes I give him a rough outline to follow. Basically, this is the part of homeschooling that feels most "by the seat of our pants," but I do think we're making good progress. His spelling is excellent and effortless, I'm happy to say--not to say he doesn't make quite a few mistakes, but I never had to teach him any basics, because he has seen so much written language. He gets enough spelling practice from the words he picks himself in his compositions (that's what we call them) that I don't yet see a need to teach him spelling as a separate subject. History: we're reading four books concurrently: SOTW, which we love; Usborne's history encyclopedia; Gombrich, A Little History of the World; and The Kingfisher Atlas of World History. We also read a lot of other, shorter history books (during mealtime, mostly) and complementary literature selections. We've gone through ancient history in this fashion and started medieval history a couple months ago. We don't do any worksheets or history projects, which seem like a total waste of time to me (sorry! I gotta be me!), although we did go through the SOTW quizbook orally "for fun" during mealtimes. He has really liked history, although literally in just the last three days he's been suddenly cool on the before-bed history, so maybe we'll take a break. We do that a lot...take breaks when he's getting tired of something...but he always comes back with renewed motivation. Geography: see my post on this. Science: we used to do a lot more experiments, and I guess we still do at least a couple a month, on average--I believe we'll get more into that, soonish. We've read hundreds of science picture books and a few dozen longer ones. In the last year have gotten into some more advanced stuff, beyond the "Let's Read and Find Out" level (though we really loved those books). We read the Basher book about the Periodic Table, for example, and are now going through Physics--he likes these. I might do as much explanation of concepts as actual reading. We've also read a couple "100 Facts On" books, which is a nice series actually. Frankly I have no idea how much he's absorbing, and at this point, I don't really care if he can't articulate what's he's learning so much. I do sometimes ask him comprehension questions as we read, and I'm satisfied that he's absorbing a significant amount, enough to make it worth our while. Basically, I view the reading we're doing now as getting some basic and I hope reasonably interesting exposure to concepts, so that when he's older, he can really sink his teeth into more systematic, less childish introductions to the subjects. I'm comfortable with our exploring science topics more or less at random. Latin: we're going through Rosetta Stone Latin. He's halfway through Level 1. I could go on but this is already too long. I'd love input or suggestions on any of the above! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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