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Amber in SJ

Need quick Elementary recommendations for my homeschooling sister in crisis

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Here is the situation:

My youngest sister has 5 kids ranging from 11yo to 2 months (11, 8, 6, 3 and 2 months.) They live in another state. She is a strict CM homeschooler (No twaddle!)  The kids are not allowed to watch TV or non-educational movies, no video games, or other screens are allowed (the opposite of me!)  She homeschools in a very mom-intensive way.  Unfortunately, her oldest is struggling with a major health issue and will be hospitalized for several months.  Her dh is taking time off of work but he can only take so  much.  My dad who is a semi retired 73 year old is headed there to help take care of the three kids in the middle.  His only experience with homeschooling is that all three of his adult daughters do it 🙂  I am trying to look at some resources that are pretty "open and go" for my dad to help finish off the school year.  My final two homeschoolers are in high school so it has been a little while since I did pre-school or elementary.  I am sure she is going to have to loosen up on her rules some for the kids to spend a major amount of time with my dad because he is a big "TV is the grandkid babysitter" guy.  

So gimme all you got, oh hive mind.....

If you had to let a clueless but loving grandpa be in charge of your kids during an extended family crisis what would you give him to do?

Thanks,

Amber in SJ

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It's so close to the end of the school year and they are pretty young, so scaling back during this season is pretty reasonable. She can still have the kids do reading. I am assuming that the 8yo can read. Just get lots of books. Perhaps you can help by selecting books or even videos to place on hold. The only thing I would really ask him to do is to do math. Is she using a curriculum for math? I'm never sure when you say CM folks..MEP for example is free. Perhaps BrainQuest or other grade leveled workbooks would be good. Hmmm, perhaps also some handwriting practice books? Thoes are pretty self-explanatory and open and go. It's getting to be the time of year when those show up at Costco.   

 

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I would say to finish their math for the year if possible, and otherwise only ask him to do lots of audiobooks (or RAs if he doesn’t mind doing them), and lots of outdoor time.

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I would add that if your father will be concerned it is too light—if he has qualms about homeschooling—maybe go ahead and keep the three Rs going for the eight-and-six-year-olds.

We just came off a season of needing to scale back. I had my 8-yr-old copying a page of McGuffey’s first reader every day, then correcting her spelling and punctuation errors. When they became easy (few to no errors) we started one sentence of dictation, as well. If she knew she didn’t know how to spell something, I dictated the spelling to her. She always felt supported and proud.

She was reading above this, but for copywork and dictation, the first reader was perfectly scaled.

He could have the school-age children spell the words from the beginning of the lesson, copy it, practice reading it for fluency, and dictate it. Take a week to do all that in one lesson, plus reading every day. Reading, writing, spelling, grammar taken care of.

or, look at Cottage Press. They have an all-in-one Language Arts, Picture Study, and Nature Study that is for the eight-year-old. They can just buy the one for Spring and jump in. The whole family can join in that picture and nature study. And listen to the story portion that is read.

If her math is mom-intensive and he needs something else, could he use the steps of arithmetic from Sam Blumenfield’s How to Tutor, just fifteen-twenty minutes a day? Free to print from CampConstitution.net.

How wonderful you can all support each other. There’s going to be enough uncertainty in the young children’s lives that scaling school back will probably be best. Lots of snuggle time with grandpa telling stories of when he was a little boy, or when their mother was a little girl. 

For the littles, Pick a nursery rhyme and folk song to teach them each week. Or a letter of the week. When I had a few littles that age, I started buying cheap paper plates with the ridges around the side for them to color on. They held paint better than regular paper, were smaller than special paint paper, and and the kids loved to just color around the edges on those ridges. Saved my sanity in the late afternoons many a day.

Also, I don’t know if your sister follows AmblesideOnline, but regardless there is a place on their website that is devoted to emergency plans for occasions such as this. That might alleviate your sister’s qualms, as AO is Twaddle-free.

 

 

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I would try to keep math and reading going as others have said. Otherwise, maybe field trips (not necessarily all formal--trip to a farm, etc.) and interest-led projects that Grandpa is comfortable with--Grandpa's interests, if possible.

If Grandpa likes art, then art. If he likes history, then find some history stuff--projects, acting out, etc. Science--safe experiments? Starting a garden?

Educational games? 

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So schoolwork just for the 8 and 6 year old right?  

I'd let everything, including math go for the 6 year old. I'd ask him to read aloud to them and go outside every day. If the 6 year old can read, have a stack of books and tell him to keep reading however much he already does. 

For he 8 year old, I'd get one of the Cottage Press Primers. If he can do his math on his own, then fine keep doing that. If he can't, because it's something he does with mom, then I'd let that go completely too.

In general, I'd concentrate more on keeping nice things going, that are probably soothing (even if they don't characterize it that way) for the kids. That's why *I* would prioritize something like the Cottage Press Primer over math--and reading above everything-- because the little rhythm of reading, narrating, drawing, etc is nice. And it's in workbook form, so it's completely work-free for a grandpa type... Just listen to a short narration and say 'ooo nice' when the kid shows you his drawings or reads a poem aloud to you. I mean , there's a little grammar in there too, but it'd NBD to either do it or skip it. But if the kid interprets independent math as soothing, then have at that instead.

But whatever will be nice for the kids, and anything that will  make the kids "feel" more like a unit. Like a group banding together in a tough time. Games. Books. Nature walks. Movies. Sports. Whatever does it. 

 

...and I'd let them go hog wild on teevee without worrying about it at all. But have a nice (long) list of allowable shows and movies, so that it's not left up to grandpa WHAT they will watch, but he can choose MOW MUCH they can watch. 

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Echoing others- finish math and read everyday. Perhaps narrate and draw. Five in a Row, maybe? That is super easy to do even for clueless Grandpa’s. 😀 Call summer early. Do they usually have a summer break?

The kids are going to be worried about their older sibling, too. Keeping to as much as their usual routine will help them to feel secure. 

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The following all are open and go, with a nice script telling you what to say and do, and I've loved them all...

All About Spelling/All About Reading*  (So easy to use and well done).

ProgressivePhonics.com (reading and handwriting...both FREE, which is a perk).   Really, really super simple to use.   Short lessons about the phonics followed by funny little poems that are color coded so you read some, and the child reads some.  

The "Facts that Stick" series (Addition/Subtraction/Multipication Division Facts that Stick) - so easy.   There's a short scripted lesson followed by a week of playing a game to help memorize the facts, but the it's not just rote memory.   The lessons really get to the underlying structure of math.   They are sold right here on Well Trained Mind.

Right Start Math - Not as simple as the "Facts that Stick Series" but was what was suggested to me when I asked about something more complete than the "Facts that Stick" series.  While scripted, it does multiple things each lesson, so it is harder to implement than FTS.   So I just suggest using Facts that Stick on any children still in the stage where you are learning those math facts, since this is only for a couple months.   But, this might work for whatever math state the 11 year old is in.

 

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Does Grandpa have a skill or particular interest? I'd let them do projects around that and let Grandpa take the lead. If there's nothing suitable for kids maybe they could do a family history project. They could interview Grandpa, make a timeline of his life, have him recount stories from his childhood which the kids could illustrate, pinpoint on a map all the places he's lived and learn something about that place, draw a family tree.

Definitely keep up audiobooks or read alouds. If sister wants to do some kind of LA and math, consider printing out a couple months worth of Ray's Arithmetic a level behind for review and do it all orally, and Dictation Day by Day (6yo could just copy the sentence if that is more level appropriate).

If the issue is more keeping the kids occupied, it will be summer (presumably) so perhaps she can invest in a few outdoor free play items like a sand/water table (my 7yo still plays with one building things related to history or science), small pool, basketball hoop, pop up tent.

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What about adding in some online lessons? My 9 year old just started VP Self-Paced Bible & History and is enjoying it and my 6 year old loves watching him do it. My 6 year old loved the VP Phonics museum app. Beast Academy online could be a good fit. 

If Grandpa wanted to do phonics MP has great workbooks for First Start Reading that are cheap and you don’t need the teachers guide so they can be pretty open and go.  

I think my dad could handle the above. Maybe add in some writing or penmanship practice. Kumon has easy books depending on the skills for the youngest. Maybe some art? Something fun and to keep some structure would probably help. Can he put them in any classes to break up the time? Does he have any skills or hobbies that could be fun to share? Or area he would like to teach? It could be fun to put a positive spin on that time they spent so much time with Grandpa. 

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In thinking about this some more, I would ask the grandfather what he would like to spend the summer doing. In thinking about my dad, who would have been an older grandfather, he would have appreciated the fact that it was almost summer. Driving the kids to swimming lessons or the local swimming pool, art camp, (or any other local summer camps), gymnastics, library story hour, etc.....those would have helped him maintain his sanity bc he wouldn't have felt trapped in the house. (He wasn't used to being around kids all the time or being at home. Throwing those 2 together in a stressful for the family time would have been hard on him.) 

My Dh and I, otoh, are young grandparents to older grandkids (my oldest grandchild is getting ready to turn 8 while our youngest daughter is 9). For us, we are used to our grandkids living with us for weeks at a time anyway. So, it wouldn't be a huge transition. So maintaining their routine would be an ok approach.

Anyway, if this is an older grandparent, maybe some outlets for the kids to burn some energy outside of the home should be a goal.

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