Thursday, November 20, 2008

Progress Report

As the time draws closer for the baby to be born, I thought I should write out how Luke's doing with his school work at this time. We'll be taking three days off next week for the Thanksgiving holiday and it seems like a good time to give a progress report. We started the year working on Book D of Modern Curriculum Press's Math. I used Saxon for first grade and then switched to MCP for 2nd grade through 4th grade. Last year, we did one page a day and I had him do every single problem or question on both sides. This did not, however, create the results I anticipated. I noticed last year that I got quite diminishing returns by sticking to this method even though my intentions were for him to grasp math at his level extremely well. This year, I decided to try something new even though it goes against what I would prefer. I like to be thorough and I figured that having him do each page carefully would help him really understand each skill. I started working with him more and then assigning odds or evens, but having him do all word problems. I added a math problem solving book for fun as well so that he can work on consolidating all of his math skills and we're breezing through Book D. I anticipate that we will complete at least 11 out of the 15 math chapters by the end of 2008. So, he will definitely finish this math book early giving me more time to for some creative math adventures in 2009 before we begin a new math program (most likely Saxon) for the Fall of 2009. So, I'm pleased with his progress. It's so strange that I seem him improving much better when I don't assign every problem. We're still working on memorizing the multiplication tables and he's improving there as well. I stress that the only way to make math faster is to memorize those times tables!

I also stress working on handwriting. He works on handwriting from the Getty-Dubay books every day. I really like cursive italic and frankly wish I could have learned this method when I was in grade school. I want his writing to look nice in everything he writes. So, I critique his writing in every subject- Grammar, Latin, Copy work (writing out poetry). I'm trying to make sure that he understands that good penmanship is not just for his handwriting books. Just recently, I was looking over his work from last Spring and I've seen a great improvement in his writing. He's writing cursive italic more and his letters are smaller. Even the spaces between words and letters is getting more consistent. I am pleased.

I intended for Luke to finish Prima Latina, a primer for Latin last Spring, but it's better that I didn't. After summer break, he needed review and we're on target to finish Prima Latina by the end of 2008. We will begin the next Latin book from Memoria Press in January. I'm really liking this approach to Latin because he's getting a good grasp on words that derive from Latin words and reinforcement in English grammar. What a bonus! I also ordered a Latin word games book that will go along with his new book. It looks fun. He'll do crosswords, hangman, and word searches for Latin words.

As with constant practice of handwriting, he copies a fair amount of poetry for not only handwriting practice, but also to get a grasp on the mechanics of poetry. He has to be mindful of punctuation and capital letters. So, I think these exercises are good for him for more than handwriting practice. He's been copying a lot of poems with Autumn themes. We've used several books, but A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme has been a favorite!

Continuing on in grammar, we've had good success with books by Brian P. Cleary. He's written a series of fun books about nouns, verbs, adverbs etc. Luke has been reading these short books and then compiling a book of the parts of speech. We have read a few of Ruth Heller's books too about the parts of speech and they are great too, but I think Luke prefers the silliness in Brian P. Cleary's books. He looks forward to each book which is refreshing. So, I think he's getting a good mix of English grammar with these books and his Latin studies.

Okay, where are we failing? I would have to say that we have done way less drawing and art this year. Last year, I had more time to sit and draw with Luke. He really likes it when I can spend a lot of time working with him or doing something with him and last year Sammy was taking longer naps giving us more uninterrupted time. I need to get the crafts back into the curriculum. I have a few things that I bought last year that I intended to do during Advent. So, I will pull out those crafts in December for him. Also, I had planned to follow the Serendipity plans for Colonial studies, but we have fallen way behind. I think we can pick it up in December if I modify the plans and then work on the Lewis and Clark expedition during the new year.

I still read to Luke in the evenings and currently we are reading E. Nesbit's The House of Arden.
(I have to say that I'm so glad to be done finally with The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. I think because it took us so long to finish it, I just lost my motivation to keep reading it to him. During the summer, I didn't read as much in the evenings as I usually do.) Luke is enjoying the adventure and he likes that both C. S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling were fans of E. Nesbit's writing. Luke reads about 30 minutes on his own daily and listens to an audio book as well. I actually don't know if it's good for him to be listening or reading three books at once. Is it too much?? Do the stories not stay with him because his attention is divided among so much fiction? This is something I want to investigate. I think it is time to add in the book report. Beginning in the new year, I will have him narrate more of the books he reads in his own words and writing about what he reads. I think this will give the added bonus of reinforcing what he reads or listens to.

I, myself would like to bring back more creativity into our day. So far, this year, we've been working on reinforcing the basics, but I have more plans and ideas. I would like for Luke to begin to become way more independent in his studies. Of course, I want to be there for him, but I want him to add in some more life skills, chores, more money management. He's taking Religious Ed at our church and he's still knitting on his loom and working on knitting on needles. He will be taking swim lessons again this winter as well. I'm hoping to keep him well-rounded while having him master the basics. I don't want him to have a superficial education. I need to keep the wonder of learning alive in him so that he will see learning as a gift.

So, as we get ready to take a small break next week and hopefully for me to have this baby, I'm still thinking about how to make our school year wonder-filled and somewhat magical.

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