Jan. 24th, 2011

mommydama: (Default)
So I've been doing a bunch of thinking and research about school next year. I feel like Maria is really transitioning to a much higher level academically. Sort of "turning a corner" I guess. I don't remember fifth grade being difficult or more intense when I was in school, but perhaps it was? I just want to make sure I keep her challenged and involved. She has used the same programs in some areas for three years now and I can see that they are wearing out their welcome. Heh. I guess maybe she is starting to transition to the logic stage, in the classical schooling trivium. That stage when facts begin to be applied instead of just gathered. It is interesting to watch. Another issue that has come up this year, is my level of involvement. Up to this point, I have been extremely hands on with my kiddos education and that is great, but I'm feeling the need to back off a bit. Not enough to hurt them in any way, just enough for me to get other things done. My kids education has been my number one priority and everything else has fallen by the wayside, to the detriment of my home, my body, my marriage, etc. I am not good at balancing it all, keeping all the balls in the air. I have a bad case of tunnel vision and always have.

In the spirit of these realizations, I'm really working on next years curriculum plan. First of all, my girls will be enrolled in the Options program through the public school system. It is one day a week (in the case of the one they will attend that is a Monday) from 8:30am to 2:30pm. They take five different "classes", all of which are enrichment programs. I think the list is art, science labs, language arts (which focuses almost exclusively on writing), P.E. or drama, and Spanish (focused on conversation and culture). This is meant to supplement a full curriculum at home and fits really well with my weak points in teaching. I'm excited about it and so are the girls. They want to start RIGHT NOW and not wait for September.

I'm also really studying our curriculum, making lists of pros and cons and researching alternatives. First off, I'm fairly sure we will be doing Veritas Press's online history program next year so that the facts are taken care of by someone else and I can focus on what I do best...literature and analysis. I can focus on reading them great historical fiction and talking with them about the lives and times of great people, instead of working on names and dates. I'm excited about this. I have great lists of read alones and read alouds and am really happy with Veritas Press helping me put it all together.

I'm very torn about language arts. I think the Pathway program, which we have been using for about three years now, is excellent. It teaches so much, covers so much, for so little money and very simply in short, concise lessons. But my girls are bored, bored, bored with it. The format never changes. Luci, my "orange" child, my child always looking for the next adventure, has begged me to "do something else" when she is done with her current grammar book. All of them seem to enjoy the readers, but they are definitely NOT great literature. They are good, but not great. Not fluff at least. I have yet to find another program that does what this one does, however, covering reading comprehension, vocabulary, basic language skills (like suffixes, prefixes, homonyms, synonyms, etc), early research skills, dictionary skills, and so on, in such an easy and concise way, building slowly. The grammar and reading programs fit together really well too, which is not something I have found in any other program so far. Shurley Grammar looks good, but that leaves us hanging for reading. I'm ready to move Maria on to Junior Analytical Grammar, which I've been waiting to do, but I don't know what to do with the other girls. I guess we could keep Pathway for reading and do something like Daily Grams with the other girls. Ack!

And science! Grrr....I love science-reading about it, learning new stuff. I'm not so good at teaching it. Part of it is the organization involved. When it is time to do a lab or something, I never seem to have ALL the little pieces I need! That is maddening and makes me give up. We read a LOT, but Maria and Luci especially need some hands on stuff and I'm so bad at that. I'm really hoping the options program will at least help some with this.

This is what Maria is looking like, so far, for 5th Grade:
Math: Singapore Math 4B/5A
Reading: Pathway-Building Our Lives
Copywork: continue with Paidea Classics GB Cursive
Spelling: Phonetic Zoo Level A (Institute for Excellence in Writing)
Grammar: Junior Analytical Grammar, then Wordsmith Apprentice or Writing Strands 3
Typing: Games online (freetypinggame.net)
Spanish: Rosetta Stone
Art: Artistic Pursuits, Grades 4-6 Book One (Zoe will be doing this too)

This is stuff we will be doing all together. And I have book lists for literature and historical fiction.
Geography: Usborne World Geography, Brain Box States and Capitols
History: Veritas Press Online
Science: Noeo Chemistry II (this is still way up in the air)
Music: Piano Lessons


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January 2012


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