Not Back to School

I’m pretty much putting some icing on the cake, getting us all ready for the “school” year to start.  The kids are in summer camp as I write, but next week the public schools go back and my most favorite co-op has agreed to meet at our usual island (no, that’s not a metaphor, we have meeting place on a certain woodsy island nearby) on Monday to kick things off for a week of just hanging out.  Plus, there’s sort of a fall feel in the air.  By the way, weird weather we’re having, huh?

So, here it is, the obligatory what are our plans posting:

  • Math: MEP, with lots of other stuff thrown in for enrichment, including probably some Miquon.
  • History: Story of the World 2, which covers the Dark Ages through the end of the Sixteenth Century.  We mostly use the book as a loose jumping off point and don’t have the Activity Guide to go with it.
  • Science: I never found what I wanted, so I made my own plans.  The kids were interested in doing physical science, so I made a curriculum map using the Usborne Science Encyclopedia as a spine.  It relies heavily on the Magic Schoolbus and Let’s Read and Find Out series.  I may actually post it here abouts at some point for others to use if they’re interested.
  • Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears for grade 1
  • Reading for BalletBoy: A little Explode the Code 3 and 4, a few games and lots of books, books, books.
  • Reading for Mushroom: I had gotten Explode the Code’s online program thinking that it would be a good thing for him to work on getting up to speed on some of the basics he’s missing while I worked with BalletBoy on actual books.  Just from the times they’ve played it, I can already see that it’s going to be the opposite.  It’s good for BalletBoy to work on some of the gaps he missed as he flew through reading mostly on his own in kindy, but it’s useless for Mushroom, who has already cannily figured out somehow how to game it without learning a darn thing.  I’m sure he’ll still use it some, along with Starfall and a some other online reading games.  We’re back to the BOB books and we’re going to start over with some more basic phonics work in a more deliberate way.

We’re also pretty out and about every day with something to do.  BalletBoy will continue with Ballet.  Mushroom wants to start the drums.  Both boys will probably take a homeschool art class or two and they attend the free theater classes offered by a local performing arts organization.  We’re doing soccer again.  These choices have been really hard this time around.  BalletBoy expressed an interest in doing the violin but it was tough to get the right class and the price boggled my mind so in the end we decided against it, though BalletBoy says he wants to reconsider for next year, which I’m totally open to doing.  He’s a young 1st grader and I want him to focus on ballet as his daily practice thing.

Then, of course, we have our wonderful two co-op groups.  But that’s enough for now.  Next week I’m sure I’ll be posting love poems about being back together with some of my favorite homeschool moms.

2 thoughts on “Not Back to School

  1. I was curious how old your kids are, using the explode the code online. I am curious because my kids used it from preschool and did really well with it. My youngest was reading before kindergarten just using the software and reading to him at night. Please let me know because I was thinking about using it as a teaching tool and need to know if there is a glitch or not.

    1. They’re going into first grade though they’re on the young end of the age range for 1st. One can read pretty well but needs some phonics brush ups, one cannot. I don’t think there’s a glitch with it per se. I have three basic complaints. First, that the pictures are sometimes pretty obscure. For example, a foot hanging off a hammock was “nap.” Second, that the program includes a surprising amount of typing, which was not mentioned or shown in any of the preview lessons I looked at. From having looked into this a little, my understanding is that there is some evidence that writing words when learning phonics can be beneficial but that typing may actually be somewhat detrimental at a young age. Finally, the speed element seems to be weighted extremely heavily in determining whether the student is “good enough” to move on to the next level, such that I watched one of my sons fly through a lesson going as fast as I would expect he possibly could and yet the program still thought it wasn’t fast enough. I was pretty surprised.

      But, you can manually set the program to skip the typing lessons (it’s annoying, but can be done simply). In fact, you can manually set it to any lesson, so you can circumvent if you watch your child and decide they clearly know it well enough. The thing that won’t work is my non-reader, who within just a few times using the program, had memorized the pictures and their matches and discovered that speed was the key, not so much accuracy. He flew through clicking things and managed to get the highest mark… but when I checked him after reading the CVC words he was working on, he didn’t actually know them. That’s just him, though… he’s a video game savant or something. On the other hand, I can see it’s going to be good for my reader, who will fly through it and practice some spelling rules and phonics stuff that he sort of knows and can read, especially in context, but was never specifically taught.

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