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Independent work for 3rd grade


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I am formally teaching first and second grade. My dd just turned 5, she reads very well but otherwise I don't do anything specific with her, she tags along for history and science and art and other projects if she wants to.


Next year she will be officially k age and I'm beginning to see how unsustainable my workload is. All of the curriculum we are using is very teacher intense, requiring me to be there for everything. It wouldn't be so bad but there are lots of interruptions. Feeding and changing the baby, putting her to nap and getting her up, helping my 2 year old go to the bathroom, etc. I leave the room and if the boys are done with their math worksheets then there's not much for them to do without me so they go off to play which breaks up their morning quite a bit.


I guess I'm looking for curriculum to use next year that is more self taught for my oldest boy who will be in 3rd. Also any ideas on how to keep things moving when I'm not available.


Currently I have the boys start on their morning time math stuff and worksheets while I clean up breakfast and feed the baby. Then I'll do a lesson with one of them, then by the time that's done it's usually time to get the baby back down for morning nap. While I'm doing that they finish their math worksheets, 2nd grader practices cursive, then when I'm back I'll do the other math lesson. Other than those things I pretty much am right there for it all. Here is what we use now:


Math - Saxon 2 and 3

Writing - WWE level 1 (doing this together)

Spelling - AAS level 2 (doing this together)

Grammar - FLL 1 and 2

History - SOTW 2 (together)

science - Not an actual curriculum but we do this together

Cursive - writing without tears (2nd grader only)

It seems like I'm forgetting something but maybe that's it!



We do school 4 days a week. Every other Friday is co-op day, then the other Friday we'll spend catching up or just playing or maybe doing art or something else fun.


It doesn't seem like that much on paper. I'm just looking towards next year when my daughter will not be able to be with the boys for anything except for history and science to some extent. So spelling, math, grammar, writing, all will be by herself with me, plus I'll have all the stuff with the boys and history and science all together. Plus trying to corral the two youngest.


How do you manage it all? Any suggestions on anything would be lovely. Do any of you use these curriculums but have ideas for ways to make it less teacher intense? Also I'm extremely introverted, my house is LOUD, and I make everyone have silent reading time in the afternoon while the littles are napping. So schooling during this time sounds ideal but I'm not sure I could function without having my quiet time in the afternoon during which time I'm usually trying to catch up on housework or office work or whatever.


Also a side note, I do feel my dd is bored and capable of doing much more than she is doing now. Any suggestions on workbooks or something that she could work on independently if/when she feels like it?


So sorry for the rambling, hopefully I've made some sense here!

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Spelling, math, grammar, writing...for a K?

In your shoes, I'd probably rework the K plan.  Saxon seems to be working for you, so does AAS - would changing those up to less intensive curricula mess with your long term plan?

I'd suggest looking for Luk.  BambinoLuk, MiniLuk, whichever would suit your 4yo best.  That way she could do the activities over and over.  Add new books every few months to keep her on her toes.  Extend out the science and history by finding readers, picture books, activities, etc to share with the kids.  Add maybe some copywork if your daughter is already reading.  Just build to go with what the big kids are doing.  If you're doing AAS, give her free play with the tiles as you teach the sounds.

One thing we've found to stave off boredom is to introduce a new skill every month.  Peg knitting, weaving, cloth folding, patterns with beadwork..things that can be done alone, at any time.  They are simple enough for a 4yo/5yo after a little bit of guidance and they produce a bit of work at the end.

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So next year she'll turn 6 in October, she's been reading for about a year now. Technically she's too young for k this year in public schools but I feel developmentally she's ready for more it's just that I'm struggling to find the time to work with her. We did start working on writing but it just wasn't clicking so we're taking a break from that until she's a bit older. We'll probably start again on handwriting in the next couple months. I'll look into the books you mentioned, thank you!


Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

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I have a 7yo (2nd grade) son that I take school pretty seriously with, a 6yo (kinder) son I'm working up to a full schedule, a 3yo generally wrecking havoc on my plans and because we are a foster family sometimes 1-2 more kiddos under 5, who sometimes need to work with me to prep for K but are generally too young.


I focus pretty heavily on training my oldest to be independent in his schoolwork. My next...we will see but I'm not holding my breath. So my first bit of advise is to honestly look at your kids and decide if independence is even an option with that child at this time.


My second is to use programs that at least have SOME element of independence. I love Spaulding offshoots as much as the next lady but I switched my oldest to rod and staff spelling after he was really reading, because it's way more independent.


My third is to consider giving up that quiet time. Sorry :(. I am also an extreme introvert and I literally cried when I lost mine but....homeschooling is sometimes a full time job. I just recently got a 4-5pm leave momma alone time back, so it doesn't have to be forever. Just for certain difficult seasons. Or ignore me. That's cool too :)


My 4th is to rotate subjects so you aren't teaching every one every day.


What we do:

We do half an hour to an hour all together reading aloud mostly but also working on memory work, doing picture study or weather charting or whatever little bits I've decided to sneak in to the am as a group.


Then child 7 "babysits" the littles while child 6 gets a half hour with me. I rotate ELTL and LOE and he uses Miquon for math. Sometimes I can have him finish a started Miquon lab alone, or a LOE worksheet. Sometimes. Usually we just do what we can and call it good.


If there's a foster kid who needs help this is where I sneak him in, with 7 still in charge. I'm lucky in that he's a true baby whisperer and can handle this long babysitting.


Then I take 15 minutes to change diapers, make bottles, do laundry, make a snack, break up fights, ect.


Then child 6 babysits (generally overseeing a snack to buy him time, sometimes overseeing a viewing of Signing Time if things are really bad) while child 7 gets 30-40 min with me. I focus on what he's having a hard time with. He uses Beast (half independent, half with me) or Kahn (completely independent) daily. ELTL (half independent) rotates with rod and staff spelling (completely independent except tests) and SSLatin 3x a week (pretty independent after I introduce the lesson). At the end of our time together I explain and write out what I want him to finish before the end of the day.



- pages 12-13 in Beast

- 20 minutes on Kahn academy

- listen to Peter Pan on audio

- copy this sentence from ELTL

- do part A of lesson 6 in spelling

- watch Latin dvd lesson 7

- read book of your choice for 30 min


*not ALL of that, it's generally 3-4 things!


At nap time is when we do things like science, history, art, ect with all kids too old to nap.

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You could use the sotw audio and all listen while you are cleaning up kitchen and feeding baby, folding laundry, etc. Corresponding sotw books could also serve as reading practice. Maybe the older two could take turns reading them aloud.


I would switch to independent spelling for the oldest, and possibly the second oldest.

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We use AAS mostly because my oldest is not a natural speller but was a natural reader, so this is her first time through phonics. If your child is a strong speller and got phonics through reading instruction, I'd probably do Spelling Workout. My third grader does the workbook for HWOT cursive alone. (I do HWOT kindy printing together with my five year old; I think whether this can be independent depends a lot on the kid.) My oldest does Beast Academy for third grade math independently. My oldest also does Spanish independently (Rosetta Stone plus online with a tutor once a week without me), and geography (Draw Around the World USA). We are using Ellen McHenry The Elements for science, and she does the individual activities and readings alone, but the group activities together.

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We were in a similar situation this year. It's actually going pretty well, and I plan to make at least one more change that should help. One huge help was having the older kids do VP self paced history. We also outsourced science -- all 3 go to a 2 hour science class 1X/week. My 3rd grader doesn't do much alone-- some math (not much), history, reading, cursive, math fact practice, and copywork. I am still doing AAS with him, but as soon as he finishes level 3 (6 more steps!!!) I am switching him to PZ so spelling will be independent.


Keeping kindergarten simple helps a lot. My Ker is doing phonics, math, handwriting, and MP enrichment. Bible and science together.

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I would rework your kindergarten plan. For kindergarten all I worked on with mine were reading. We started math and spelling in 1st, grammar in 2nd, and writing in 3rd.

Ditto this. Reading (if there is readiness), read alouds, and free play are a rich kindergarten education. You can slowly ramp up from there. I didn't even do an official math program in Gr.1, just explained some basic concepts as they came up and we had no problem jumping right into MM2 from that. My mom had success in the past with jumping into Gr.3 math.


Even if you aren't comfortable with that much delay, there is a LOT of research out there that says play is the most valuable educational tool in the K years, possibly later. So I'd take the pedal off there before adjusting anything else.


And I'm with you - we will lose quiet time... never. ;) Honestly, I have kids who need that break from a housefull of people as much as I do and I've seen so much benefit from their individual time - it's a rich benefit for us all.

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Cle math is fairly independent. I'm encouraging my current 2nd grader to read the problems herself so that hopefully she will be mostly independent in 3rd.


I don't have time for formal history and science. They get that in 4th grade and up when they can work/read independently.


FLL 3 is independent I think.


Your K child is probably capable of more work, but that doesn't mean she needs more work. I would suggest that you do the bare minimum, practice handwriting, a little number sense, reading practice, and let her play.

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FLL is not independent at all...it is very parent intensive.

Oh, in that case you could try R&S. I encouraged my kids to read the lesson to see if they could understand it on their own first. Usually I had to go over the lesson with them,but that didn't take to long, and they would do the exercises independently.


I use ELTL now and it's pretty independent for my older kids. I have to read their dictation to them, or do a picture study with them, but they do the rest.

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Could you require your oldest to keep a reading book at hand, to be read when waiting for you to come back to help? That way the time is not wasted.


The Helping Yourself or Learning Through Sounds workbooks (availlable via Rainbow Resource) might be good for your DD.


I didn't do any grammar, spelling or writing (other than handwriting) with DS in K.

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My oldest two kiddos are 1st and 3rd this year. I aim for about half their language arts time each morning to be independent so I have time to work with one while the other is doing independent work and then swap. They can do explode the code independently (2 pages per day, 3rd grader will finish the last book next week though, oh no!), handwriting page or scholastic workbooks (I am using vocab, grammar, reading comprehension etc that I buy on dollar sales), generally 1-2 pages of assorted scholastic books depending on how hard/long they are, and also a nice long reading time. This gives me time to do FLL, AAS, OPGTR (1st grade only), Writing strands (3rd only), listen to them read a chapter to me aloud etc with one kid while the other is busy and then swap. We were doing WWE but I gave that up, it was just too mummy intense and I did not have the time or mental power to do that twice a day at different levels, additionally from 4th grade writing strands is meant to be independent so it is really only the first year of using writing strands that is mummy intense which will make the LA times easier longterm. I also have a 1yo and a 3yo which take a lot of time but this LA schedule is flexible enough to be able to sort out the little ones while also working with the school kiddos. My 3yo often sits at the table and "works" with her older sisters, drawing, puzzles, pattern blocks, teddy counter worksheets etc which keeps her out of mischief and stops her distracting everyone. This morning she spent an hour "designing a watering system" (ie drawing picture that looks like random squiggles to me) lol, she is a funny kid!!!


My 1st grader is almost completely independent with math (MM) and just needs me to check things or help her understand some concepts once she has read the info. My 3rd grader was always completely independent with math right up until 2 weeks ago when we started BA, now she needs a little assistance but they are both independent enough that they can work on math at the same time and I can help each one as needed with time to spare.


We also do SOTW together and R.E.A.L science together but these are both done 1-2 times a week and I do them while the baby is napping as it just takes less time with less interruptions and distractions.

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We use MUS for math, so it takes very little time on my part.  They watch the DVD and I help if needed.  I usually grade their pages right away.  


For LA, we use ELTL.  My older two are mostly independent with it.  I do most of the 3rd grader's lessons with her, but most of our time is spent on reading the literature books.  Some moms use Librivox for the literature readings, so they can do these on their own...I like to read DD's aloud for now, and my older two read their books independently.  What I love about ELTL is that there are only 3 lessons per week and no time wasted on busywork.  



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I may be in the minority but I prefer play-based kindergarten.  My daughter turned 6 in October the year she started kindergarten but went to a private play-based kindergarten program and thrived.  This doesn't mean she didn't learn.  She learned a lot.  The children would choose what they wanted to do...read, write, pretend play, cook, garden, etc.

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Thanks everyone. Those LUK books look pretty exciting, I might get both the Bambino and the Mini, and if the Bambino is too easy then my almost 3 year old can probably start using it as well so it won't be wasted.


She plays a lot, a lot a lot. Like all day, Whether that is pretend play, dress up, building with legos, playing with dolls, working on puzzles or playing games, working on her own art or joining us for whatever projects we are doing. Or playing outside. Or whatever she wants to do, within reason. Sometimes that is reading to her little brother too.  We watch no TV, only every once in a while as a treat or sometimes if there is a video that goes well with science or history we'll watch that.  


We will start working on writing again (handwriting, not sentence forming) here shortly.  I'm not calling this year kindergarten but really it kind of is.  You are right though in that I can probably hold off on grammar and spelling. She's 15 months younger than my 1st grader so to put her 2 years behind I think is silly just because of her age, when she seems to pick up so things so quickly and be so excited about learning.  Based on the online tests I was looking at tonight she is reading at about a 1.5 grade reading level, which I think is pretty darn good!


Thanks for the ideas on the different curriculum and scheduling, definitely gave me some ideas and some things to look into.  VP self paced history looks AMAZING but so much money. Gulp. I do only do science 2 days per week and history the other 2 days, grammar is usually 3 days per week, spelling is supposed to be 4 days per week but I'm lucky if I can get it in twice a week.  So we don't do everything every single day.


Maybe I'm trying to do too much with science and history, I'm not sure.  For history I try to do the read aloud, the questions from the SOTW workbook, the coloring page (the kids color it while I read the book to them to them), map work, at least one library book and a bit from the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, and an activity (all this split between the 2 days). And maybe a short narration page, 1-2 sentences on one of those things, but many times we skip this part. For science we generally read 2-3 books, and I try to find some sort of activity as well as have the kids do a narration page. History definitely does take a lot of time but it all seems important to me. Maybe it is not that important since they are so young.  Any thoughts on that?  


I tried skipping the nap time one day this past week. Unfortunately my 16 year old was home from school so he was interrupting our school time, then when I sent the 6 and 7 yo boys to read by themselves after I was done with their stuff to try to salvage the last little bit of nap time, 16 yo talked my ear off.Then of course it was time to get the others up, and with 7 people in the house it's just not very quiet, like, ever. I was so grouchy and my ears were literally exhausted, when my husband got home I went to my bedroom and shut the door for 20 minutes to just have some quiet!  But did I die? No! So that is worth a shot, and honestly getting through science was so much quicker without being interrupted by certain people requesting to have their diapers changed etc.  


Thanks again for all the responses. I just love this community  :hurray:

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With a family as large as yours.... I'd consider leaving formal science/history until they're old enough to read independently for it, and then make it an entirely independent subject (with oversight). That's my plan anyway. The thing is, what a parent of an only child can do is very different to what a mum of 6 can. We have 3 with plans for more, so front the beginning, programs like AAS and SOTW were just not on the table for me. 


I disagree with making K reading only, my kids would never have settled for that, but it shouldn't be TOO much, and it's possible to aim for semi-independence, so that you can have the Ker at elbow while working with another student.


And finally... multitasking. It's hard, not everyone can. But me, personally, both kids are at the table at the same time, and baby usually in a high chair or having a morning snack. I'll instruct one on a page, then check the other, then switch back, back and forth the whole time. It's a little overwhelming, but if you can manage it, it helps a lot. Things like Explode the Code, Math/Logic worksheets, and handwriting are perfect for this, because you can instruct them on what to do for that page, then glance over every minute and see what their progress is like while instructing the next one. 

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The only things I've done separately for my kids (curriculum and ages in my sig) is reading and spelling and math.  I even have a math time for my two oldest at the same time.  I second the option for CLE math for a pretty independent solid math.  15 or so minutes of daily instruction and the rest is review.  It's exactly right for my third grader and he can usually do the entire review section with minimal help for me.  My youngest is a natural reader and has now out-paced his two older sibs so I'm starting to use our reading time to cover history and science since that is usually the lesson time in the day where his focus is shot and goes to play with the toddler.  He's at the point (maybe?) where we can move on to reading-to-learn as opposed to learning-to-read.


I've noticed that over the years he's retained a good chunk of what we've covered while he's sitting in on the older two's grammar, history and science lessons so I didn't worry too much that he doesn't do all that during our one-to-one time.  For a six year old first grader he's got a pretty good grasp if all kinds of things.  And, for what's it's worth, we do group time first thing, all four kids - including the two year old with play dough or colour wonder felts or whatever catches her interest: calendar math or word problem, CAP Fable (he does the narrations and modified copy work - if there's nothing for him that day he'll work in a page or two of HWOT), FLL 3 (he unloads the utensil tray of the dishwasher and listens in), history related read aloud (reading about Mary Queen of Scots right now), he loves Song School Latin, some of Ecoutez Parlez French and we're trying to get to regular private blog posts for family, but so far it's been sketchy at best.   After that he does some RAZkids (considering dropping this for math fact mastery apps) and he's free to go play while the older two do math, then science or history.  After lunch and a break, they have quiet time while I work one on one for about 45 minutes each, one at a time.  For him, that means reading (finishing up the last few pages of OPGTR then moving on to reading-to-learn), MM1 (we're skimming until we hit something challenging) and about to start AAS


Maybe your youngest could join in what you're doing with your oldest in a modified way?  It's been amazing for my younger ds.  My oldest is nine next week and she is just NOT an independent worker.  She just isn't.  I'm working on that, but I know we'd just be sooooo frustrated with each other all the time, we'd make ourselves miserable.  I know this isn't what you're looking for at all, just saying that you can still do everything you want to do even if you don't want to change curriculum.  Maybe lol.  Some days I think I'm crazy!!

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