Saturday, October 10, 2015

Homeschooling Fish

Fish is doing very well in homeschool this year.  He is in 6th grade. 

When I was talking to the Teaching Textbooks people at the homeschool convention last spring and they told me that the books tend to run about a grade behind, I was dismayed for Fish's sake.  He did Teaching Textbooks grade 5 last year and he breezed through it... that was probably because it was pretty much a repeat of the 4th grade math he did in public school the year before.  So this year I decided to jump him ahead to level 7 in Teaching Textbooks.  I told him this would be a challenge.  It has been a bit of a challenge.   He can do the math, but he gets discouraged that it's not easy for him like it was last year.  He feels bad when he gets so many problems wrong.  Overall, his scores are in the B range, which is great for someone who skipped a grade.  So I see no problem.  But he likes getting top scores, and he's not, and he has a natural tendency toward discouragement.  So we're working on that.  I don't know if my little pep talks about attitude are helping, and I don't know if I did the right thing having him skip a grade.  I figured I would re-evaluate after first term and if he was really struggling I would switch him back.  Well, here we are and he's challenged, but not desperately struggling.  So I think we will stick it out. 

For language, Fish does the following:

Journal writing: he likes to add cartoons to his entries, a la Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  (Side note: he LOVES those books.  I am not crazy about them because although they are hilarious, I feel that the morals are a little off.  For instance, the character cares more about whether he can get away with something than whether or not it is right.  So I've told him he can read them, but we won't own them.  Well, he still finds ways to read them a lot and they really get his creative juices flowing.) 

Copywork: Fish has the most beautiful handwriting.  I love his copywork, especially when he decides to try to make it look like old-fashioned handwriting or Tolkienesque handwriting. 

All About Spelling and Spelling City: Fish is still deficient in spelling, but he's catching up fast.  And he's doing very well learning to type with Typer Island. 

Wordsmith Apprentice: Fish is doing very well with this.  He is extremely creative.  He has thought up this imaginary company called "Whiffs" that collects, bottles, and sells the scent of the morning breath of famous people.  (Only a twelve-year-old boy could think of that!)  Often he works this into his assignments.  For instance, he had to write a help wanted ad, and he wrote one looking for someone to collect the specimens for Whiffs.  It was very funny. 

Other things Fish does:

Latin: he is doing extremely well with Latin.  He seems to enjoy it.

Discover the Life of Christ: he doesn't really enjoy these scripture curricula very much, but someday he'll thank me for it.  I hope.

Critical and Creative Thinking: he really dislikes these; we are actually working to finish up the workbook I bought for him last year.  A lot of the stuff in them is pretty easy, but sometimes they put some really challenging brain teasers or math problems in there, and when Fish sees those he gets overwhelmed and freezes up.  So I have him come to me and we work through them together.  I love puzzles and brain teasers, and I hope my enthusiasm will rub off on him, as well as my example of how to approach a problem that we don't know how to solve at first.  ("Let's draw a picture" or  "Let's try this number and see if it's close to the answer."  Stuff like that.)  So I know that even though he hates it, it's good for him.  That being said, when he finishes up last year's book I don't think I'll buy him the next one.  I was just looking at our old copy of Building Thinking Skills volume 2 by the Critical Thinking Company that I did with Bean a couple years ago and I think I will order one of those for Fish.  I think he will find it much less stressful, while still being helpful to the development of his thinking abilities.

Simply Draw: I want to do all I can to help Fish develop his art talent.  Right now, art lessons outside our home are not a possibility, so we're trying out this Simply Draw curriculum.  I'm not sure yet how helpful it's been; so far he's just been working on shading stuff, and I think he finds it a little bit tedious.  Part of the problem might be that I bought this awhile back and then we lost the DVD that comes with it when we moved, so he's just working out of the book. 

Piano practice: Fish has talent here, although his progress with me as his teacher is slower than it would be with lessons outside the home. 

Scouts: we set aside a little time each week to work on merit badges.  Right now he is working on the Reading merit badge and he is close to finishing it. 

History: he and Roo (and the Rabbit, when she condescends to participate) are working on The Story of the World volume 3.  I'm making him write one summary paragraph each week, as well as do the map work.  He does very well summarizing, though he always tries to make it as funny as he can get away with, calling King Charles "Charlie-boy" and stuff like that. 

Science: we are doing Apologia's Botany as a group and it's not really Fish's thing, but sometimes he gets interested and excited about something we learned and that's fun to watch.  I'd like to see him do more with his nature journal, since he's so artistic.  But I am not sure how to inspire him to do that at this point. 

Overall, he is keeping up pretty well with his workload.  He gets a little behind sometimes, but he usually catches up pretty quickly.  A couple times he has gotten behind in math and it's been miserable for both of us trying to get him back on track.  But Fish is a kid who really wants to be good and do well in school and in life.  I love it when he talks about how satisfied he feels when he decides not to dawdle but to work diligently and finish his schoolwork in good time.  He smiles and talks about how wonderful it feels to have the rest of the day ahead of him with all his obligations out of the way.  I am glad some of the things I try to teach these kids are sinking into some of them! 

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