Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Homeschooling the Rabbit
The Rabbit has been very challenging to homeschool this year. She is very bright and has absolutely no problem understanding second grade work. She just won't stay on task, and I am spread so thin that I can't ride herd on her. But we try, and often I find a little time to work with her in the late afternoon or evening.
I remind myself that she is only seven, and Bean was pretty much an impossible nightmare to teach until he was about nine, and he is turning out okay in the end. Seven really is pretty young to have to focus for long periods of time, and seven is also a great age to spend a lot of time using one's imagination. Which the Rabbit does a lot of. Sometimes I let everything slide with her because she has engaged Peanut and Frog in some imagination game and is keeping them out of my hair. And they are usually in my hair (literally-- Frog loves to climb on my shoulders and pull on my hair and make loud noises while I try to teach... but I digress.)
In an effort to make things work, I have scaled back the Rabbit's assignments to only what is most important: language and math. I was going to get her a geography workbook and a critical thinking workbook, but I'm glad I didn't. I did start her out in Discover the New Testament (Grades 1-3) with the idea that she could mostly do it independently. She seemed to like it and she did a very good job of it at first, but then she just wouldn't do it anymore for some reason and it was a battle I did not have time to fight. Maybe we'll try picking it back up again after Christmas.
For math, I started her out in Horizons Grade 2 Book 1. Horizons tends to be a little bit advanced, but the workbooks are colorful and I like the spiral approach. Well, math was a huge battle. When she would decide to do it she would do just fine, but it did seem to take her a long time even when she was actively trying to complete her assignments. I had an old copy of Grade 1 Book 2 that had only been about 1/3 completed, so I decided to have her work out of that instead and I think that was a good move. She is more willing to work when the problems aren't quite so challenging for her. I don't think that will put her too far behind because I intend to move her into Teaching Textbooks next year. She will love Teaching Textbooks because it's on the computer and she LOVES working on the computer, and I will love it because it will do the grading for me, tra la!
For language, I decided to try the new Jenny Phillips curriculum, The Good and the Beautiful. It is free to download, but then you have to have it printed, which can be pricey. For now, I elected to have a local print shop run color copies of the pages that absolutely have to be in color and run the others off in black and white on my laser printer. We have had kind of a mixed experience with it so far. I love the good and beautiful art, stories, and poems. It is full of good morals as well, and I appreciate that. But the workload is sometimes uneven-- lots to do one day, hardly anything to do the next-- and I keep finding that when it comes to teaching spelling/phonics I just like All About Spelling the best. Finally, I figured out that I would skip all the spelling/phonics pages in The Good and the Beautiful and just do the geography, the art appreciation, the reading, etc., and then I would take some time to work on All About Spelling with the Rabbit as often as possible.
The Rabbit LOVES All About Spelling because she loves the tile board where she can slide the tiles around to build words. To me, one of the best features of AAS is this kinesthetic approach. The other thing I love is its thoroughness. The Good and the Beautiful does seem to cover the same spelling rules, but AAS just does it more clearly and more thoroughly. If I didn't already own AAS the Rabbit would probably do just fine with The Good and the Beautiful, but for any kid that is particularly difficult to teach or needs a more kinesthetic experience I would go with AAS every time.
I want to interject here that teaching the Rabbit is a unique experience for me because she is the only one of my children that went to Kindergarten. So I did not teach her to read and write. She really learned a ton there (they pushed her hard and she totally kept up) and that has made things easier for me. I think The Good and the Beautiful might be more beneficial to me if I was starting from scratch with a kid who had never been to public school.
The Rabbit is also supposed to write in her journal and read in her Pathway Reader each day. She draws more than she writes in that journal, but she can write extremely well when she decides to (again, thank you Kindergarten). She has no problem reading in Pathway Reader or anything else: the kid reads for at least an hour every day on her own. Which is one of the reasons I really don't worry about her very much.
She is supposed to practice the piano every day. The Rabbit has amazing musical gifts and can play by ear extremely well. She is happy to sit at the piano and mess around... getting her to focus on learning to read notes in her lesson book is the challenge. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.
She is also supposed to pay attention and participate when we do our group history and science, but I have had a very hard time getting her to do that. It's funny: last year when I would do history with Fish and Roo the Rabbit would throw a fit if I didn't print her a coloring page too. Well, this year I assigned her to do the coloring pages for us. And she won't do them. Go figure.
The Rabbit LOVES the computer. I let her use the Spelling City website to reinforce spelling words a couple of times a week (I just entered all the lists from The Good and the Beautiful curriculum, and then we'll add words from AAS if she needs any help with them, which she hasn't so far.) She also LOVES to use the Typer Island software we have for the kids to learn to type. She will also spend hours drawing pictures on the computer's "paint" application.
The last thing I will mention about school for the Rabbit is that in an effort to keep her busy during school time I have assigned her to work on various manipulatives (such as pattern blocks) and logic puzzles and things at various times. We have this cool think called the miniLUK which is fun and very brain-stretching for kids her age. Sometimes she does this, most of the time she doesn't, and I haven't been pushing it. But I really believe in actively working on thinking skills with my kids and so I like to have a lot of stuff like this around, even if they only use it every once in awhile.