So, we’re at the end of our first week. Most of our outside activities don’t start until next week so we spent most of our time at home, which was good as the children struggled with the return to work after our long summer break. The weather has also been glorious so we’ve had lots of time to enjoy the garden. On the downside, we’ve had a lot of character issues this week, which has dominated family life 😦
I haven’t written about our curriculum choices yet this year so I’ll integrate that into this post.
Edward is halfway through Jolly Grammar book 2. This week, we did a page each day plus two spelling tests. I’ve never worried too much about Edward’s spelling – he seems to be a natural speller – but I’ve seen some mistakes creep in over the summer break (eg ‘nihgt’ for ‘night’). Still, he never gets less than 8/10 for his spelling tests, so he’s doing very well. We’ve started working more on building his reading stamina. While he often has his head in a book, in typical boy-fashion, it tends to be a non-fiction book. He has acquired a fantastic general knowledge this way! However, our experience of taking part in a reading scheme over the summer when Edward read five books (perhaps I was a bit mean in that I was only counting beginner chapter books 😉 but this was a lot less than I’d hoped!) has made me think that he needs a set time during the day to read chapter books. We’re starting with short Dick King Smith and Magic Treehouse books. He enjoys them when he does read them (at my prompting!) but fiction just hasn’t gripped him yet.
Isaac has just started Jolly Phonics book 2. He knows all of the phonemes, although still struggles with some of the vowel diphthongs (the Jolly Phonics programme is great for him, though – I do the action associated with each phoneme and he immediately remembers it). Most days this week, he read a BOB book to me (we’re on the Advancing Beginners set now) and we worked through two pages of the Jolly Phonics book. Book 2 introduces dictation and writing is still slow for Isaac (as a left-hander, he often reverses letters) so we’ve just done a little each day. I’m keen to maintain his enthusiasm and am more interested in progressing with his reading than his writing at the moment.
Maths is definitely the focus with Edward this year. It’s his least favourite subject, partly I think because he doesn’t find it as easy as reading but partly because I haven’t found a way to spark his interest in it. We’re continuing with Right Start B because I think the approach is excellent but I made a determined effort this week to make sure we did it every day. I’m hoping that regularity will increase his proficiency and that once he experiences some success, he’ll feel more positive towards maths.
Each week, I also plan to do some ‘living maths’ by using a book to do some maths work, using ideas from the excellent Maths and Literature series. I have the K-1 and 2-3 books and will alternate between the two so that Isaac (and possibly Lydia) can join in too.
We started this week with Centipede’s 100 Shoes. I’ll put the details in another post.
Finally, with Edward, I plan to integrate ‘maths moments’ (if that doesn’t sound too cheesy!) throughout the week – I’m writing this because we have some wonderful resources (games, fascinating and quirky books) but haven’t often used them. I realise that I need to be intentional about doing this or it won’t get done! One of the main books we’ll keep working through is the excellent Life of Fred series. We’re near the end of Butterflies (book 2) so will start on Cats soon.
I made a start with Right Start A with Isaac this week. I plan to work through it slowly with him. We only managed one lesson this week and I hope to increase that to three per week, alongside the living maths activities.
I’ve had Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding on my shelf for several years and this is the year we’re going to use it! Science is one of the areas where I want to work with all the children together and the approach of this book seems flexible enough to do that. We did the first lesson about categorisation this week. As the weather was so glorious, we did the lesson in the sandpit 🙂 I explained about categorisation and why it’s necessary then asked the children how they would categorise the toys in their sandpit. Edward decided that one category could be building tools but ended up with every toy in that category until Isaac said that some of the tools were actually for scraping, so we had two categories. They’d got the idea by this point so we had further subdivisions into moulding toys and smoothing toys. I then said I was going to categorise the same tools in a completely different way and asked them to guess what the categories were: it was Lydia who first guessed that I was categorising the tools by colour. Clever girl!
Foreign languages is still a huge area of interest for Edward. This week he said he would like to learn Latin! However, three languages is enough for now I think! We’re pretty much continuing as we did last year. Speekee is working wonderfully for Spanish.
We start each morning with an episode of Speekee. All of the children love it, even little Carys! We usually follow the episode by reading a Spanish word book together or practising some simple phrases. As they are all so enthusiastic (mainly thanks to the little purple puppet, I think!) I plan to continue with Spanish with all of the children this year.
Edward is also learning French, mainly following the Skoldo curriculum.
Over the summer, I started to read a wonderful book with Edward, which has taken us on a detour from Skoldo. Entitled The Avion My Uncle Flew, it tells the story of an American boy who stays with his uncle in France for several months. The beauty of the book is not in the story, though, but in the way that the author introduces French words throughout the text. At the end of the book is a short chapter entirely in French. We’re at that point now and Edward can translate most of it himself. It’s a fantastic approach to language-learning and I wish that the author, Cyrus Fisher, had written more in a similar vein.
I asked Isaac this week if he was interested in learning French and the answer was a resounding “no!” so I’ll continue with Edward alone.
Our third language is Koine Greek. Andrew has been the driving force in starting this, as he really wants the children to be able to read the New Testament in the original language when they’re older. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the resources available for young learners of Koine Greek, so I’m also glad that we’re starting this venture young (well, the children have the advantage of youth – I’m learning it too without that benefit!). Edward and I have started slowly with the Greek Alphabet Code Cracker from Classical Academic Press, which is a fantastic resource.
As Edward and I haven’t progressed very far through the book, I plan to recap for the first weeks of this term and to include Isaac in what we are doing.
We’re still plodding on with Around the World Through Books. I say ‘plodding’, not because the children aren’t enjoying it but because I’ve taken them too slowly through it. Looking back on last year, I think this programme was the victim of my ‘paralysis by perfectionism’ (that phrase has just popped into my head but it does encapsulate the problems I can get myself into when instead of just doing what I can on a theme then moving on, I just can’t move on until I’ve done every single tiny thing that I’d planned to do – and eventually it gets painful :-O). Anyway, my resolution this year is to get on with Around the World Through Books and to – gasp – finish it by the end of the (academic) year! We all enjoy it, have read some wonderful books and it’s been a great avenue for tying in some learning about different composers and artists.
This week, we travelled to a new country – Germany. More about that in another post…!