Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homeschool Update

Nearly every day I get asked the question "Does Catherine like home school?"  If you ask her, she will give you a thumb's up sign or say "yes!"  She has never once asked to go back to school.

As for me, I am still deciding if I like to home school.  When Catherine is paying attention and learning, I love it.  When I have to harass her incessantly to get her to do something, I hate it.  I confess that I have yelled at her several times, a few times until she has cried.  I feel absolutely horrible about my behavior.  I do not want her to hate me, hate home schooling, hate learning, or lose confidence.  I pray daily for increased patience.

We have been working on addition & subtraction facts a lot.  She does not like doing worksheets and often stares off into space when I give her one.  So, I have had to be creative to get her to do math problems in some other manner.  She likes using the white board. I have no idea why this is so much more fun for her than using a pencil and paper, but she loves the white board!  I was thrilled beyond belief when I saw a bunch of lined white boards in the dollar section at Target.  I bought a bunch. I write out the problems and she does them on the white board.  Today for the first time she wrote out problems for herself to do.  Then she wanted to test me, so she wrote out an Addition Test for me.

For math I have also found a few games for her.  Most of them involve dice: rolling them, adding them, and then coloring the spot on the paper which represents the total.  Or there are a bunch of numbered spots on a paper.  We have a page for "doubles" and a page for "add ten."  She rolls one die, doubles it, and covers the space.  Ir she rolls one die, adds ten, and then covers that spot.  These games seem enjoyable to her (i.e. she doesn't complain about them) and I think she is learning.

One of the hardest struggles I have had is knowing whether she is actually learning or not.  At the end of one week, I noticed that we had done a large amount of work (about a month's worth from what came home from her school).  But, looking at that pile, I thought "Did she actually learn anything?"  The pile of work doesn't even include the reading, games, and online stuff we do.

To try to figure out if her math skills are improving, today I gave her 2 of the online tests and I finally saw a huge improvement in her quick recollection of facts.

I read to her about 30 minutes a day and she reads to me about an hour a day (not all at once!). I think her reading is improving.  So far both girls are much better at listening to chapter books then they were a few months ago.  I do not see much improvement in Catherine's reading to me, but maybe that is because I deal with it every day and the improvements may be too incremental.

We have also been doing other subjects which she loves: history, science, and health. All of that is new info to her, so she soaks it up and really pays attention.

In history so far we have studied basic geography and nomads.  She has learned a lot of facts: the 7 continents, what the equator is, how to read a compass, etc.  Both girls love playing with the inflatable globe we got with the curriculum.  Next we will study the Fertile Crescent and Ancient Egypt.  I think we will do a lot of projects with that unit.

In Science we have studied the various tools scientists use and the "scientific method."  Catherine asked me at one point "Am I a scientist?"  Both girls loved playing with the ruler, graduated cylinder, thermometer, and scale.  I did not stress the use of units as much with the girls (like writing 5 g, or 5 cm) as I think I should have.  

For Health, we have been studying parts of the body.  I get books from the library and we read them, talking then through.  Then we come up with some kind of project or activity related to it.  The first two books we read were on Hands and Feet.  For the whole two weeks since we have done those books, the girls will still make random comments showing they remember what I taught them (this is the heel part of the sock, I drew a circle on my palm, this one is my ring finger, I am tickling the arch of my foot).

Then a few days ago I read a book on the five senses with Catherine.  She still surprises me with how much she can learn.  The hearing section of the book spoke of the ear drum, the 3 bones, and the inner ear.  Catherine asked me where they put the tubes in her ears.  She was shocked that there were bones in her ears and the fact that sound waves passed through fluid was "silly" to her.  I am not sure she believed me on the ear anatomy lesson.

I did Phonics with her at first but it was too easy and she hated it. So, I had her take all the tests and the teacher let her skip the whole year. Now we do cutting & pasting activities for phonics to either put things in ABC order, sort rhyming words, or something like that. Tomorrow she is going to sort OY and OI words. That is sort of phonics, but the phonics worksheets were just too torturous and she is already reading, so we skipped them.

I also make her write a “story” every day. Right now it is only one or two sentences, but I will probably insist on 3 sentences per story starting next week. She has asked for spelling words, so I gave them to her. Last week we did parts of the body and this week we are doing items of clothing. The online curriculum does not include spelling, but Catherine asked it. She likes to be sure when she is spelling. Every time I tell her to write a story she thinks about it before hand and makes me write out all the words she will need on scrap paper so she will have it correct. She does not like phonetic spelling.  She wants every word spelled correctly.

The biggest problem I have is getting her to focus and work independently. But, if it is new information, she will easily focus. She wants attention non stop (as does her sister). So it is exhausting on me because I have to interact with them non-stop all day. I know we will get into a rhythm, but then that rhythm will be upset by her medical needs. This is a big leap of faith for us, but we do feel it is God’s will.

This week is touch because I have court hearings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  The girls are staying with a friend for the morning and we do school in the afternoon.  But we don't get started until about 1 pm.  We have done more reading and online stuff, so there has been less activities and written work.

Tomorrow we plan to go to a Music Class.  Thursday we plan to go to a Puppet Show and Sabrina's 4 year check up.  Friday will be a big desk work and project day to make up for having such a chaotic week.

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