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Starting in the Middle...


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Hi, I'm new to this board. I am in need of some direction and practical advice on making the "switch" to classical homeschooling. I have 3 school-aged children. Oldest DD is almost 9 and in 3rd grade. She went to a private school for K, and then was brought home and did the K12 program for 1st and 2nd, which I was very pleased with overall. This year we had a new baby and I decided to go the Abeka DVD route for her and her younger brother, almost 7 yrs. THEY HATE IT. I don't know why, they just absolutely hate it. For the first time, I have had to coax them into "doing school". So I finally stopped the DVD's, and am just teaching them the material myself. But I have got to make a change for next year. Our next youngest daughter just turned 5, and is chomping at the bit to read and write.

Over the last three years, as I have tried to make homeschooling decisions, I keep coming back to the Well-Trained Mind book. I read it, and I just long to try that approach. I think my kids would flourish with the classical style. But given that I've waited and they'll be straddling the stages, I am nervous. And I'm so scared that I'll screw it up and they'll miss something important that they should know.


So, in a nutshell, I'll have a Kindergartner; a 2nd grader who has lagged behind this year due to hating the curriculum and whose poorest skill is penmanship which Abeka is death on; AND a 4th grader who will be at the final "grammar stage" grade level, whose weakest skill is Math, but who is an excellent reader and writer.


Any advice for me on how to make the switch midstream....and since they dislike Abeka so much, should I just make the switch now, this year? And any advice on doing the classical approach w/ kids who are all 2 years apart in age?


Sorry this is so long. Thanks for any help you can give this frustrated Mama! :)

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There are many many ways to do it--and yes, make the switch now!


You'll have to introduce things gradually--take a few months to get up to speed, so to speak. I have about the same age split and we do most things together.


Concentrate on the three "r"s for now--but do start with "Ancients" if that's a good fit.


Use the AG to bring all your students together.


Each should have his or her own math programme. But for the rest, bring them together.


Reading and writing:


1) copywork for those who need it. Use selections from SoTW at first, add in some of the stuff you use from the picture book recommendations as you get up to speed. K--one sentence, 2ng grader--a longer sentence or short paragraph, 4th grader--paragraph. You can use Bible verses, poetry, stories, anything which models good language.


2) Do one chapter of SoTW a week. (there are several sections). Have each child do a narration. Write it down for them. Have each child copy out her narration (more penmanship!) --except the K'er. You write his/hers down and have him/her iluustrate it. But I would start with writing down 1/2 of it for the 2nd grader--and then have her/him do it all. The elder--have the child copy all of it.


With the two older ones, edit it for punctuation, spelling and word usage. That's your "writing" for now. Dictate the first sentence of it back to the older one --and that takes care of dictation. Gradually work up to two sentences, then three, etc. until he/she can write the whole thing (and you are no longer writing it out at all! If it takes a year to get there, no worries.)


3) Read the suggested books in the activity guide. Do narrations for those. Write them out if you feel they need more practice. Just do oral ones at first, especially with the youngers, especially if they aren't used to them.


4) Read aloud a lot. 2 hours a day, broken up isn't too much. Stop every once in a while and do oral narrations from the kids.


Then, add Bible, science, art, latin, and a formal spelling program (if you want) etc., as you can. Get the older one started on some mind bender books once you've got your head above water.


Good luck.

It's not too late!

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As far as how to make the switch to a WTM inspired classical approach, I'll let other moms answer.


My suggestion, heart to homeschool heart, is to let go of the idea you have to finish this curriculum. Drop it immediately even if it means "all" you do is read aloud from classics, do dictation and narration from it, do math facts and a nature journal.


Take the rest of the time to read TWTM, Educating The WholeHearted Child and For the Children's Sake.

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I wouldn't start SOTW, etc. until next year. Just read (aloud and silently) and enjoy and narrate and short up math skills for the rest of the year.


There is a plan at the beginning of WTM that Jesse Wise used with her kids - going to the library once a week and having kids check out at least one book in several categories (biography, science, how-to, etc. - I can't remember them all). Maybe that would be a good way to "de-school" for a bit while you plan and prepare for next year with a fresh start.


Best wishes!

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I feel so much better, and just such a sense of peace since getting the advice from ya'll to just go ahead and switch. I sat down w/my WTM book and made a sensible plan for each of my kiddos to finish out this year. I went over it with them this morning, and they were so excited and eager to learn and "do school" again! That's worth a million bucks right there. It's just not worth it to stick with something that's not working at all for your family. What a relief to have peace about the decision.


One other question: what recommendations do any of you have for necessary "drills" for each student? What do you consider to be essential for 1st and 3rd grade drilling and memorization in this "grammar stage"? Thanks so much ladies!

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The basic math facts hands down! Wish mine had done it earlier. Your full home address and phone numbers would rank second. I don't know how mine managed to skip that. May I also suggest the names of the States with capitals, countries, continents, short good poems (my second son loves the Crocodile poem from Alice in Wonderland), and anything else you feel important. We have a HUGE extended family so we go over everyone's names frequently and which cousins go with which uncle/aunt. There are suggestions in TWTM as well. Have fun! It is such a relief to find what works and make it work for you.

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