Thursday, February 25, 2016

On the school-stead

February marks the halfway point for us in our first year homeschooling. Yaaayyyy! I'm happy to say we're still going strong! New baby and all, we continue to learn and grow with one another every day. I have become so much more flexible than I ever thought possible, and am learning daily not to sweat the small stuff. I'm currently working on a separate post detailing more of our trials and errors, but for now here's a short(ha!) snapshot of where February finds us in our homeschool year.

The biggest change we've made along the way has been to our daily schedule. In a nutshell, it's much less rigid. We aim to start school-teethe brushed, hair slicked, and storm trooper costume on- around 9am, after dropping Bennett off at preschool. If we have to start at 9:15 after I've reheated my coffee for the third time or 9:30am after super baby is down for his first nap, then that's okay too.

Since I've given Evan more responsibility over the order of his day, he usually starts with Spelling. I have just recently added "Spelling Workout" to our curriculum and he really enjoys it. I initially kept a formal spelling book out of K in order to give more attention to a solid reading and phonics foundation. Six months into reading and with measurably improved handwriting, I thought it was a good time to introduce the "Spelling Workout" workbooks as a new fixture of our school day. Thankfully it has come very naturally and he seems to really enjoy it. He is eager to turn the pages and the short lessons are perfect for his attention span. I'm happy to see him building the words by their individual letter sounds and rules rather than by rote memorization. Win!
In math we are currently taking a hiatus from our regular curriculum to review "Math-U-See." The content overlaps well so it's nice timing. We're currently working on place value, and Evan has really enjoyed using Math-U-See's hands on manipulative set to re-enforce those lessons.
Reading is coming along nicely these days, and remains a work in progress. The English language is so complicated, I feel like I'm learning right along side him. As if explaining the differences between "to," two," and "too" wasn't difficult, our lesson today was on the a-i pair.  Now that we've mostly mastered that sneaky silent "e," enter yet another way to change a vowel sound. Introducing(in big show host voice).... words that sound the same, but are spelled differently AND have different meanings. Waste/waist, male/mail, sale/sail, tale/tail to name a few. This is quite the wrench to a five year old, and needless to say we'll be reviewing this lesson in more depth tomorrow, and likely the day after that lol. Otherwise he's doing really well with his little readers and sight words.

We do geography several times a week and it's become a fast favorite. We are loving our "Little Passports" subscription, and look forward to our special box from world travelers Max and Mia every month. Otherwise geography time looks like tracing maps, coloring continents, and studying animals by where they live. This week he has a special AWANA handbook assignment to share about a missionary, and because we have two friends currently living and working in Uganda and Cameroon, we are focusing on the sights and sounds of Africa. We've listened to music with the djembe, watched BBC clips of flying fish, learned about several safari animals and the location of Victoria Falls. I may be a serous contender for jeopardy at the end of all this! Just kidding, that's hilarious. ;-)
In other news I've recently taught Evan how to use the computer, and he picked it up at lightning speed-no surprise there. We've found tons of fun learning games and videos online, and I'm excited to incorporate them more and more into our classroom.
Here he is counting on his fingers to a math game. This level is called "broken calculator" and is basically asking you to find another way to make 3+6 without using certain numbers. So you could make 9 by 7+2, 8+1, and so on. I say all this because just a few months ago, he would not have been able to do this. That's why I love this year so much-I get to see his brain explode right in front of my eyes. The daily doing can get monotonous and sometimes even discouraging, but this right here is golden. Yesterday he read an easy reader to me, and didn't stop to ask me what the word "where" was-he read right through it. Just this morning he dictated his new list of spelling words to me to write on the whiteboard.

We have come a long way in these past six months, and I can say with confidence that I'm not at all dreading the next six. ;-)  In fact, I'm encouraged by what we're doing now and am excited to introduce some new things in the next part of our school year-piano and world history!  

Making other headlines in Scott family life, we just signed both boys up for an all boys tumble class, and Evan is literally jumping up and down excited for a new session of "Swim America" starting in March. Also lately we've had our share of crazy weather here from ice storms to flash floods and tornado warnings. I thought this fun meme was hilarious and so true... 

PS-I mentioned two special families earlier in this post who are currently serving in Africa. You can follow our dear friends the Purvis family on their blog at Adam and Mandi are working in Kisoro, Uganda with the local communities there to educate about orphan care in collaboration with Amazing Grace adoptions out of Raleigh, NC. You can also check out the Maust family at  Emily is a nurse and Drew is a linguist working as a bible translator consultant in training with Wycliff Bible Translators in Cameroon.

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