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What to do with a self learner? Third grade

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My oldest is 9. She is accelerated in most areas, but especially reading. She is taking 3 classes with Athena's this semester, which she likes. The problem is, I don't feel like I am getting enough done the with the rest of her curriculum. Today we talked about her "attitude", etc. I asked her to tell me what her best day would look like. She basically described a self learner to a tee. She said she just wants me to give her work, and she will go learn it herself. Hmmmm... how would you do this? Thanks

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DD11 is totally a self-learner. She will accept brief explanations when she doesn't understand a concept, but otherwise she prefers to have her assignments written down in her planner each day so she can do them herself.


I select materials for her that are student-directed and have the lessons in the student material for her to read. The only thing we ever use a TM for is to check answers and get the schedule. This year, it was Saxon math, History Odyssey, Easy Grammar, Lightning Lit, and Apologia General Science. We use plenty of textbooks, but also plenty of real literature. As DD gets older, it's easier to find student-led materials.


This works great for us because DD is a "just-get-it-done" kid with regards to schoolwork - she has many other interests that she would rather pursue.


ETA: we've been using the planner system since she started homeschooling in second grade. We just use a cheapo daily planner and I spend my Sunday afternoons writing out the next week's work and gathering materials.

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Yes. My son likes it that way too. Math at 9 was MathUSee, but MathMammoth and Mathematical Reasoning have also worked well for self learning for us. Reading is he reads what he wants to read. Science tends to be projects and kits, or reading what he is interested in. History at that stage was Story of the World, mainly listening to audio, sometimes going off on trails of interest. (Currently it is reading Zinn's A People's History of the United States, but he is now 11.) Writing was not working as self learning at 9, but now he does 1/2 hour or so of writing daily, using a prompt sometimes, sometimes he makes it a letter, sometimes poetry, sometimes essay, sometimes fiction. Art is usually related to what he is reading currently. We have Critical Thinking workbooks for Word Roots and logic (also grammar right now). We are not doing any foreign language at this moment, but are trying to find one.


He has had a say in what the work and materials are, and to some degree in what is being studied. Math and writing--or anything else he does not just do and needs to be done has been in any particular year--are required subjects, but he can choose as to what to do in history and science, and right now even whether to do them at all on any particular day, and also set the times to be spent for each subject recently for himself, with my approval. (He chose 1 hour math, 1 hour writing, 1/2 hour history, 15 minutes art, 15 minutes optional subject. He does not always do a whole hour of writing, but he is making progress, so that is all right with me. Reading is not given a time because he likes to do it, so it just gets done without having to think about it. My guess is he reads about 3 hours most days.) He calls me when he needs me for help, reads me his writing when he is ready to do that, and usually checks his own answers in subjects like math where that is now possible for him. The times are actual work times, not snack or bathroom break times.


Generally we are "do the next thingers" so what to do is to continue in current book in things like math for the given time. Currently though for variety he does a certain number of pages in one workbook in math (reviewing basic math), and if that is done before an hour is up, then he can do some balance math or computer based math practice (for fun pre-algebra) for the remainder. Less boring that way and an incentive not to dawdle out the more boring review part.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I find CM Help's Booklist to be great for assigning history/literature/science independently. My ds reads a chapter from each and narrates orally or written after he finishes.


Math Mammoth is also great for my ds.


Spelling City and Mango Spanish on the iPad, as well as Montessori map apps for geography.


Getting Started with Latin ebook on iPad (to use links to listen to pronounciation for each lesson) also works great for us.


Splash math app for math practice is another great independent activity.


Ds also really enjoys the Audible audiobooks for more history and literature. Right now he is working through The Story of US by Hakim.

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My oldest is 9. She is accelerated in most areas, but especially reading. She is taking 3 classes with Athena's this semester, which she likes. The problem is, I don't feel like I am getting enough done the with the rest of her curriculum. Today we talked about her "attitude", etc. I asked her to tell me what her best day would look like. She basically described a self learner to a tee. She said she just wants me to give her work, and she will go learn it herself. Hmmmm... how would you do this? Thanks



I have found 9 to be a good age to let a self learner fly free. But I make it a point that my DS still checks in with me on what he's done for the day and I keep a running list of that on Excel, sorted by rows for the date and columns for the subjects. I have also been giving him a schedule with suggested working blocks. E.g. Block A might be Math, Science, German and Logic, Block B might be Logic, Science, Reading and Japanese, Block C might be a mix of some of the Block A and B subjects or something else he wants to work on and so on. We have Blocks A, B, C and D because we homeschool 4 days a week (the 5th day is a mix of self-chosen subjects or classes, playdates and so on). He chooses the block that appeals most to him for the day. I do suggest that he try to spread the blocks out throughout the week instead of always doing one particular block 4 days a week. He usually complies. I'm going to try letting him do the block planning (which subjects when) from summer onwards (we homeschool year round). That's going to be an adventure lol! We'll see.


DS started doing classes on his own from age 7 but he always needed that little handholding, e.g. familiarizing himself with the computer, how to use a pen tablet, how to get homework done on time, how to stop wasting time erasing so much lol. Now, he is so much more confident but I don't believe in complete freedom at this age. It's very easy for bad habits to creep in. I don't recommend hovering of course but I also don't recommend complete freedom. So I do suggest working out a compromise with your DD in that area. In order to feel like we're doing more together, I usually choose one or two subjects to work on with him, as a co-learner, and this is really working out well for us. We usually do literature together and often, a little math as well.


When my child really wanted to accelerate, I found that I was always fighting this "but-when-are-we-going-to-get-to-X?" mindset. It was always about not having enough time for something else and it would drive me crazy. Don't ask me how many times I change DS's blocks (yes, I still do it sometimes, I'm only human :laugh: !), hoping that I will be able to fit one more neglected subject in there. Once I found peace with myself that he IS learning a lot and that the holes DO take care of themselves eventually, I could rest easy. What I found helpful was to change my mindset, find peace with myself that he IS learning and there's no way we can do everything. The moment I try, things are not as happy and smooth and there is obvious friction and unease on both sides. And that's not the message I want him to carry with him all his life...that he is always missing something kwim? I want him to focus on the learning that makes him happy and productive. He is also somewhat prone to anxiety (and being in the throes of puberty does not help) so this is another reason I need to do this.


So my mindset shift = treat what he's doing more like high school where you really need to prioritize, you can't just spend time on everything and go willy-nilly because in high school every hour of learning counts for a college prep education. And every hour of leisure counts too. My idea of well-rounded is not a child who is very good at everything. My idea of well-rounded is a child who is at peace with himself, who learns a few things voraciously and very, very well because he loves to but who also knows when to relax and breathe (and hopefully have a solid understanding of how to take care of his physical and emotional wellbeing).


I hope this helps!

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What about curricula that is out there that is better for an independent learner? (Aside from what has been mentioned already) :)



Audiobooks, plenty of audiobooks. If you have a learner who doesn't mind working with passive noise in the background, then audiobooks are worth their weight in gold. We did a lot of history this way when DS was younger. SOTW and A Little History of the World by Gombrich are on audio, there are classical music and music history CDs on Amazon (names escape me at the moment) or your library may have them too. You could download a bunch of classic lit from librivox as well.


Thinkwell, ALEKS, Khan, Alcumus for online math (I personally prefer Thinkwell and Alcumus). As for print curriculum, I think almost anything can be done independently, the hardest part is finding the right fit and the only way I could do that was to buy a ton of things and make use of the return policies lol.


Science has been a hard subject to find curriculum for. Our elementary and middle school science was mostly reading living books, watching The Happy Scientist videos, some Adaptive Curriculum, and tons of documentaries and kitchen science experiments plus the occasional full blown, weeks or months-long projects. And talking and observing everything, asking questions, questioning the answers. ETA: I forgot to add that he used Ellen McHenry's Chemistry titles and The Brain independently too. Excavating English was done with me.


Foreign Language: powerspeak, Rosetta (we didn't like it though), Duolingo, Irasshai, Live Mocha (also not suited to my DS's learning style), and now OK State's German Online program.


Logic: Critical Thinking Co. books, Thinking Toolbox, Fallacy Detective, and now eIMACS.


ETA: DS reads mass market paperbacks for fiction and nonfiction and that's how he is currently "getting his history box checked". I stopped pre-reading when he turned 9 because I just couldn't keep up.


Please ask if you need specific info.

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That doesn't describe my oldest dd but she is becoming more independent. Just recently I have several independent assignments for her. They are:

books to read about the science and history topics we are studying

Latin: Getting Started with Latin

Greek Myths



I'll be watching this as I am wanting to make her a little more independent next year, though we'll still be doing some things together.

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