22 October 2009

Home Schooling - Back to Basics!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve neglected the basics of home schooling a little - okay a lot.

There were a few reasons for this
  1. We, especially me, are tired and in urgent need of a vacation (we are leaving in a few days!);
  2. I am 6 ½ months pregnant and can feel the strain on my body;
  3. When I’m tired I get distracted very easily (I am an ADD-adult!);
  4. We were so busy learning the skill of growing our own vegetable garden and reading/forecasting the weather (we are busy with a cloud lapbook) that we didn’t have time for Maths and Language Arts; and
  5. After a very long, cold and rainy winter, who wants to be between four walls, when the sun is shining warmly outside?

Since Monday I could see there was lack of commitment and self-control in the older children – Heidi-Mari, Josua and Danika. As always I took these attitudes to the Lord and asked Him to please show me what I am doing wrong. In His faithfulness the Lord answered my prayers and I sensed that we need to get back to basics.

And this is what we did:

I just love to use “Clever” to teach first language - Afrikaans.

To give you some back ground: my mother was a preschool teacher in the good old days, before the educational department of South Africa started experimenting with various curriculums. When we announced in 1999 we were going to home school CJ, she immediately dumped boxes of learning material on me! At that stage Martie du Plessis advised us to do unit studies and NO formal curriculum. I dived into the boxes of material my mom gave me and found worksheets for Grade 1 Afrikaans.
My mom also advised me to teach reading on the syllable method and not the whole word or sight word method. The Grade 1 Afrikaans worksheets were from Clever and taught reading and spelling by sounds / syllables. Over the years I could not find a better Afrikaans spelling curriculum and used it with every child as the basic for reading and writing.

On Wednesday morning, I pulled out Danika and Josua’s Clever worksheets.

I introduced Danika to the letter ‘b’. I slowly pronounced words beginning with the letter b, showing her the pictures in the worksheets, to help her get the rhythm of b as in bed, b as in ball, etc. (we obviously did this in Afrikaans) After a few words, I all of a sudden saw the “a-ha” in her eyes! That moment is always so special, seeing the understanding in her eyes.

She practiced the letter b, first in her Clever worksheets and then independently on lined writing paper (I’ve download this from the first school website). She also coloured some coloring pages on the letter b.

Josua also did his Afrikaans through Clever. I believe in “Better Late than Early”, especially with boys and give them a lot of playtime until they are 10 years old. He is currently halfway through the Grade 2 worksheets. Today I introduced the Afrikaans prefix ‘be-‘. The worksheets make use of pictures and he had to write in the words, according to the pictures. He did 4 worksheets, writing the words and I made sure he understood the meaning of each word.

I asked him to write the words on a separate piece of paper, to make sure he knows the spelling of each word. I then allowed him to choose 5 of the words and wrote sentences, illustrating the meaning of the word.

I also had to do some catch up with Maths. Danika struggle with writing the numbers zero to nine. With CJ we started with Maths-U-See. Over the years I have never found a maths program that is more visual or simple in explaining the concept, than Maths-U-See. In my opinion the main reason why Maths-U-See is such an excellent maths program is because it is based on the decimal system. Over the years I’ve observed, as long as you keep the decimal system in tact, the calculations itself is ‘chicken feed’!

I let Danika count out loud, and then had her write the numbers 0 to 9. She has a tendency to turn around some of the numbers. So we practiced the two and seven. She also gets confused with the six and nine. So I told her a story about six and nine to give her an association with the number. Only then could she do a worksheet in her Math-U-See primary student book. She is a very eager learner and would do 3-4 sheets if I allow her.

With Josua I had to mark about two weeks’ work. Often when I’m busy with CJ or the young ones, I would ask Heidi-Mari to help Josua with his lesson. She is such a right hand in our home schooling and can explain Maths with great patience and often translates the word problems for Josua in Afrikaans.

Thankfully Heidi-Mari could work on her own this morning, doing her Maths-U-See and LLATL. We also started with LLATL years ago and since I am not very strong on English and it is our 2nd language, I’m very comfortable with LLATL. Heidi-Mari is doing her LLATL worksheets in the form of a lapbook and that gives her lot of satisfaction.

CJ is very much working on his own and he was the only one that stayed on track during these past few weeks. Every morning before doing his maths worksheet, he does a maths drill on the Maths-U-See website. Yesterday he finished the last two worksheets of his Math-U-See lesson, so I needed to mark the worksheets before he could do the test.

After the test we decided to watch a new lesson on the DVD. We want to finish his current workbook in less than 36 weeks (the work for one year), so we try to do two worksheets a day. I prefer to be present when a new Maths-concept is been explained. Every Maths-U-See workbook comes with a teacher’s manual and DVD. Steve Demme has the gifting to teach a new concept with great patience and fun on the DVD. So there is no need for me to get stressed out about division, decimals or algebra! After we watched the DVD and I was sure CJ understood the new concept, he did the first of the six worksheets in the new lesson.

By now it was 11h30 and Daniel had fallen asleep in my arms. Andrew and David was quietly playing with Lego the whole morning (this does not happen very often), but needed some attention by now. Heidi-Mari cut us some apples as snack while lunch was being prepared and I just sat with them – exhausted after the morning’s output.

I prefer to have lunch by 12h30, so Heidi-Mari and CJ started to prepare tuna and avocado sandwiches. After lunch, CJ finished a Science assignment, Heidi-Mari continued with her LLATL lapbook, Josua watered the vegetable garden and build a few extra pieces of his 300 piece puzzle, while I took a nap with Andrew, David and Danika. Daniel woke up, just before I took them for their nap, but between CJ, Heidi-Mari and Josua, they gave him his sandwich and kept him happy.

When I woke up at 14h00 I took Daniel from Heidi-Mari, I saw Josua was busy putting towels on the line and went to CJ to check on his LLATL. He works through each LLATL lesson on his own and then I check the assignments and make sure he understands the grammar rules. This afternoon we gave attention to prefixes and their meaning.

He is also doing the Excellence in spelling program. Since English is not our first language, we all struggle with the spelling rules and I’ve experienced very good results with this program. I took the last three lessons and dictated the spelling words and he did very well.

And here we stopped with our school day. CJ had to be dropped at the horse riding at 15h00, to give horse riding lessons for young riders. Meanwhile the little ones were waking up and wanted to play with Josua. I needed to get supper going as we eat at 18h00. In-between all this I’m trying to make shorts for myself to wear on our vacation. It is no easy task to get comfortable maternity pants. It seems like the market is for young women in their twenties, who don’t mind to wear uncomfortable pants, as long as they are in fashion!

We didn’t get to our weather lapbooks and I couldn’t do an art project with Andrew and David, but I feel good about the day. We cannot fit in everything, everyday. I’m definitely going to try and stay on this schedule for the next few days, before we leave for our vacation!


Sonja said...

Is die maths-u-see dieselfde as Wiskunde aan die werk, Linnie? Ek het ook van die Clever boeke wat die kinders van tyd tot tyd gebruik, dit is baie oulike boeke.Dit is atlyd wonderlik om te sien hoe tuisskolers kan saamwerk om deur n dag te kom,behalwe dat dit alles soveel makliker maak, glo ek hulle bou goeie karakters.
Ja-nee, dis waar, die winkels hou deesdae sulke snaakse klere aan vir swanger vroue, dit maak net nie vir my sin nie!Ek is net vreeslik dom met n naald en garing....
Dankie dat jy jou dag gedeel het, dit was lekker om te lees wat julle alles gedoen het,dit voel of ek daar was!

Petra said...

What did our friend Mr GM say? - You should have a plan to be able to divert from your plan! Good that you feel you're getting some structure back. Enjoy your vacation!

Linnie said...

Thank you my Friend!

Linnie said...

Liewe Sonja, ek dra ongelukkig nie kennis van Wiskunde aan die werk nie, so ek kan nie 'n vergelyking tref nie.
Dankie dat jy die dag met ons 'gedeel' het!

jvtv said...

where can I buy the "maths is fun" or "wiskunde is pret" workbooks

Linnie said...

Hi J
We only use Maths-U-See. I cannot help you on "maths is fun". Sorry!
Have a blessed week.

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