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This Week in Learning: July 31st, 2015

We began Term 3 strongly and have continued to power along in the two weeks since.  Rather excited as this is the most intense and productive our learning has been all year, lots of terrific learning happening:)

Though admittedly it’s been a little challenging having to compete for their attention with the new chooks as they are checked regularly in case they have yet laid an egg;) Having our adult children still home visiting has also been a slight attention stealer.

Speech Therapy
Bass is back at weekly speech therapy, therefore speech ‘homework’ is on the ‘must do’ list again, I’m failing miserably here, which doesn’t make the therapist happy, wince. Whilst big brother Einstein has been home, he has kindly taken Bass to his last two appointments and fortunately Anna Maria is available to step into Einstein’s role for the next three lessons.  Weekly speech lessons have been a huge disruption to our learning this year, having assistance and therefore not interruption has already made a massive difference to our learning.

A Realisation
Jelly Bean made it clear that she is keen to be learning independently, except for Language Arts lessons with her brothers, she is happily undertaking her Faith, Science, History and Geography readings on her own. Working towards encouraging her independence in reading we selected books of larger, non-intimidating print. Already within only two weeks of consistently and frequently reading there is a marked improvement in her speed and enjoyment and she has been requesting extra books to read! Thanks to my friend M who encouraged me to expect more, as she said, “they(our children) are capable of more than we sometimes think.” so true.

Faith

Maths

  • All five children have been consistently working at their lessons with Maths Online and making solid progress. Jelly Bean and Princess though are struggling a little with some concepts and Jem’s reading status means he needs assistance with reading questions.

Science 

Geography



History

Logic
Michelangelo is enjoying reading and pondering Critical Thinking
Spanish
Princess is 45% fluent in Spanish!!  She has put so much effort into achieving this and has blown us away! In fact she has inspired her father and a graduated brother who are now also madly trying to compete with her.  34 hours of Duolingo is considered to be equivalent to one semester of College.
Creative Arts
  • The girls attended our local homeschool group and learnt how to make Shambala braclets.
  • Extra curricula of three dance classes for Princess and soccer games for Jelly Bean, Jack Jack and Jem still continuing.



Handwriting
Some of our children have lovely handwriting, for which I deserve no credit and others have atrocious handwriting, for which I feel responsible. I have longed searched for a ‘magic cure’ to solve ‘all ills’ however last week I was struck by another revelation. A ‘magic’ resource isn’t going to fix this situation only consistent vigilance will, actually I’ve long suspected this but last week I owned it.

A couple of times a week I now gather together all children needing handwriting assistance and demonstrate on the blackboard, and the children practice. I circle the table, checking pencil grip, hand slope, letter starting points, neatness etc. The lesson itself isn’t long, probably only a little longer than it takes to gather them all together;) but I’m feeling most hopeful it will be effective.


Dictation/Spelling

  • Princess learning 20 words weekly from ‘Spelling for Secondary Students’ a challenge for our competent speller
  • Placing a big focus on dictation with Spelling Wisdom for our teens. Michelangelo is completing daily exercises, Princess a couple of times weekly. Already seeing a positive result.
  • JB and JJ have begun dictation lessons using one of JB’s readers. They are transitioning better than I expected and I believe will be ready for more challenging passages soon.
Grammar
  • I’m finding grammar most effective to teach in two groups, this generates a synergy which makes grammar popular.  The children naturally fall into; our teens and JB(11) and JJ(9).
  • I’m using an old text with JB and JJ, Marist Brothers Grade 5, which is a challenge for both. This fortnight we’ve focused on comprehension passages, vocabulary, nouns and their genders.
  • Our teens have been focusing on participles (and I’ve been learning with them;) and adjectives qualifying nouns.
Composition/Creative Writing
  • JB and JJ have been writing a creative essay weekly. We begin one day, continue another and polish on the third.
  • Michelangelo and Princess are working through Precis Writing – Ronald Lane with me, this ties in well with teaching note taking. 
  • They are also enjoying some creative writing, this last fortnight we used Story Starters as a jump off point. PC and I are really enjoying reading what the children write, as always an insight into their minds and souls.



Poetry/Short Stories

Enjoying with the younger three, A Child’s Book of Verse
Princess and Michelangelo are both reading poetry from Four Corners, a mix of Australian and English poems.
Michelangelo is reading the short stories of O’Henry.

Reading

  • JJ has the skill set, he just needs consistent practice. Always a challenging time for both the reader and the listener;) He certainly isn’t reading of his own volition, he needs ‘reminding.’
  • Jem has nearly completed AAR Level 1, and it continues to impress me. He is keen to leave lessons, which he isn’t ready to do, and begin reading, in which he surprised me that he can actually do!!
  • After pleading to ‘read’ I handed Jem a selection of Mem Fox and other repetitive books and he surprised me totally by being able to read them, only a little guess work was involved!

Literature

Family Read Aloud: 
Mrs Piggy Wiggle – Huge hit with the younger three, hilarious, they are upset the book is finished.
All The Green Year – Reading to the older two. It’s literally been years since I’ve read to my teens, but I am so determined to begin reading to them again. This is proving to be an interesting read to them both.
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8 Comments

  • Cassie Williams

    I was curious how it was going. All sounds good! Your realization of the handwriting thing has kind of been mine too. That thought has been in my head but I've been refusing to act on it. : ( I also have a "difficult" student who refuses to try it a new way. Another reason I'm not jumping to work with him on it. Total parenting failure for me! What is it with speech therapy? My youngest is going to those too and I'm certainly not consistent in doing the homework. He is even just right at the edge where he could be done with therapy . . . . just a small hump to get over. Thanks for the reminder to work on that today! ; )

    • Erin

      Cassie, I totally get the not acting upon {} Understand about children who won't take correction. Today my 6 year old refused to start his letters from the top of the line, can't understand why they must do it a certain way. Oh encouraging you with speech homework, I'd so love to be done with it all.

  • loving, laughing and learning

    Therapy homework, I have 3 in therapy and 4+ therapies for one child, it's a nightmare to do. My best tip is put all homework instructions on the fridge and try to tie in therapy with other daily tasks e.g maybe read aloud time is done just before or after speech. We are in the thick of sacramental prep too but only for one, the parish program did not work for us but was compulsory, so thankful we have already been doing our own.

    • Erin

      LLL
      Oh my!! Oh my!!! Well that puts my little woes as precisely that. I'm bowled over.
      When is your little one making their Sacraments?

  • Bron Maxabella

    I am certain your kids are learning 10x what my kids are learning each month, Erin. And yes, they are definitely far more capable than we generally give them credit for. x

    • Erin

      Bron
      That's too kind of you! Not sure if certain true or not though. Sometimes as a home-educating parent you wonder how they 'line up' with their school peers, though usually I don't worry too much.
      More capable in many areas

  • Angel

    Yes, your comment about handwriting sounds very familiar :-). I am not sure if we can really be held responsible for the bad handwriting either, and I'm not sure why we as mothers will take full credit for anything bad but very little credit for anything good. Anyway, I do agree about consistency… it certainly helps! You know, something else I discovered recently when I went in for my 8 year old's vision therapy consultation — his handwriting improved by leaps and bounds as he learned to use his eyes to track better. The difference was remarkable. I plan on talking to the eye doctor about my twins at their next visit.

    Also… the therapy… ugh. I am right there with you. I have one in vision therapy right now. We are supposed to do homework four times a week and I am managing about twice. This is not good because we are paying out the nose for this therapy. Then I think my five year old will need speech this year as well. It's a little easier now that I have teenagers to stay home with everyone else, but still, it's a big chunk out of the day. Vision therapy is a 45 minute drive (one way). It basically takes all afternoon, once a week.

    • Erin

      Angela
      Excellent point, why do we take credit for the bad but not the good?
      Love to know more about eye tracking?
      Wow so far to go for therapy!! This week the teacher did up a little chart with the days, what to do and room for stickers, for some reason it's working for me. ie she'll see when I haven't done it if we don't have all stickers in. Some days too the other children are doing therapy with him. perhaps not as effective? but better than not doing it at all.