Slowly preparing for school

I was going to start school on the 23rd of August, the same 23rd that has already come and gone.  Historically, I start to obsess about curriculum and plans for each school year, oh, in March, if not sooner.  But, I tell ya, for better or worse, having my boys take the Iowa Test back in May, and having them do so well, has really mellowed me out.  I’m not panicking about their educational future.  That said, I don’t want to be so relaxed that I lose all focus…

Mostly because of the book I’m ghostwriting, I was just not ready for school on the 23rd.  But, that’s done with, for now, until we get some edits back, when more changes/additions will have to be done.  It went to the publisher on Monday…

This week, I have been doing a little bit of placement-testing, and ordering of materials.

My biggest joy has been over Wesley.  He has been my slowest learner:  Literally, this past school year was the first one — at third grade, age eight — that he could consistently remember how to spell his whole first and last name.  He also had a terrible time with handwriting.  Evidence is showing though, that perhaps he is/was a slow starter, and not necessarily having a hard time learning in general:

  • His composite ITBS grade equivalency was 4.7, nearly a year advanced.
  • I decided to switch him to Teaching Textbooks (switching over from Singapore) this school year, and he got a near-perfect score on the 4th grade placement test, so I had him take the 5th grade one, and on the first section, he got 14/15, and on the second section, he scored an 8/15.  (He needed a 10/15 and an 8/15 to pass.)  Some people say that TT is easier than many homeschooling math curricula, and that their children routinely place higher than their grade level.  Still, this has NEVER happened with Wesley, and I’m so proud of him.  We have been celebrating his success all week.
  • Last year, as Wesley was literally unable to spell rule-following three-letter words, I didn’t even attempt to place him for spelling.  We simply worked a LOT on phonics, sight-spelling, and pronunciation. (He has some auditory processing issues — if you don’t hear a word correctly, you won’t say it correctly, and you certainly won’t spell it correctly.  Wes has particular trouble discerning soft vowel sounds.)  With the spelling issue and with handwriting trouble, Wes was one to two years behind on virtually every aspect of English.  Today, I did a Spelling Power placement test with him, and he scored at 3rd grade 5th month.  I was SO VERY encouraged by this!!  You have no idea how amazing it is to me to have him only be a half-year behind in spelling.  He correctly spelled words like going, paths, and fish, stumbling on words like picked, dollar, and when.  In one year, progressing from, “Mom, how do you spell my name?” to spelling paths, is, in my opinion, a HUGE leap.

I haven’t finished spelling with Ethan and Grant — we did the first 25 of 50 words this morning, and they both haven’t had a misspelled word yet.  For math, Grant, who is in 6th grade, qualified for 8th-grade Pre-Algebra, which was unsurprising, as he did Math 7 last year.  Ethan got a near-perfect score on the Pre-Algebra placement test, which would lead me to believe that he could successfully navigate Algebra in this, his 8th grade year.  But, he doesn’t want to, and I’m fine with that.  He’d rather grow and stretch gradually, rather than jumping ahead at every opportunity;  he’s cautious in general.  And, I’ve seen him, before, get over his head in math, and it’s not pleasant for either of us.  So, I completely support his desire to take the easier path.

And, today, I sorted through the homeschooling closet, putting away last year’s workbooks and folders and notebooks, and otherwise getting things in order.

Audrey, who turned four in April, wants to do school.  We’ll pick up in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons — she’s completed 40 of them or so.  And, I found some occupational therapy-related stuff that I’ll probably do with her…  Not that she needs OT;  just to work on fine and gross motor stuff, and so that she can feel like she’s doing something.  😉

I’ll be trying Easy Grammar for the first time this year.  I’m going to do Easy Grammar 4 with Wesley and Easy Grammar Plus with both Grant and Ethan.  We’ll see how that works.  I have done Rod & Staff in the past, but I’m finding that a tad too… pedantic.  Yet, I don’t want to drop parts of speech altogether, which many current English Grammar currics now do.  I’m hoping Easy Grammar is a happy medium.  From what I understand, Easy Grammar starts with having the student memorize all the prepositions to assist in ID’ing the other parts of speech, and to help break down sentence structure.  I think that is a good approach.

We’re also slowly working our way through Sonlight Cores.  Ethan and Grant are weeks away from finishing Core 4, and Wesley has a bit yet to go in Core 2.  Once Wes is ready for Core 3, I’ll have Grant jump back down to doing school with Wes, since I had him skip Core 3 earlier, in order to join up with Ethan.  (If that made sense to you, I congratulate you;  you must be trying to combine schoolwork with a passel of your own!)  In general, Grant is always a challenge for me:  book-smart, but without the maturity required for more advanced reasoning and focused learning and working.  So, I have him jump back and forth between working with his younger brother, and working Ethan, who is two years older.

OK!  That’s it for now.  Must run, as my little one, Fiala, is waking.  🙂

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 10, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I am a natural childbirth advocate and an erstwhile birthing class instructor. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on August 25, 2010, in Books for children, Encouragement, Family, Get Organized!, Homeschooling, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Karen, I used Easy Grammar to teach adults! It was the best source I could find to teach adults who had no grammar background. It worked. I’m glad you found this source.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, we never start school until the day after Labor Day. My husband insists on this (pointing out that that’s how they used to do it), and since he’s the principal and it gives me two extra weeks, I do it.

    • I used to start after Labor Day, too. But a couple of years ago, I started doing a schedule of 6-8 weeks of school, then a week off (depending on how the weeks fall on the calendar). Plus, I take a whole week off for Thanksgiving and usually 3 weeks off at Christmas… and that was having us end up being done in mid-June, or even the end of June. Arizona (where I live) removed the requirement for doing 35 weeks every year, so I guess I could just take all those mid-year weeks off and still be done in May, but I feel like that’s cheating. 🙂 So, I just start a little earlier, now.

  3. Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t start when I intended to. Thanks, btw, for your commentary on how you do the Sonlight cores. It sounds similar to what I’m going to have to do in coming years. 🙂

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