Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fiona's Morning School

This has been a homeschooling blog for years, but now that we're finally doing some structured schooling I thought it would be appropriate to post about what we're doing. Fiona's morning starts at about 8:30 am. She usually grabs some breakfast first and then settles in for some bookwork. These days she is pretty happy with what we're using and is moving up levels almost as fast as I can order them. Left to right, in photo...

Real Science 4 Kids Biology I. This is pretty lightweight stuff, but it's clearly presented, not patronizing in its narrative style and lovely in its layout. The author is apparently a Christian fundamentalist but this book is perfectly fine in a secular context.

Editor-in-Chief Beginner Book. Nominally for Grades 3-4. A little challenging for Fiona, suitable for older kids filling in gaps. I've written about this before. It's a great approach for helping kids, especially perfectionistic ones, learn to write well by having them find and correct other people's mistakes.

Singapore Primary Mathematics. Fiona did a good bit of Miquon Math but preferred the clarity of Singapore Primary Maths and so she transitioned into that after the Blue Book. Singapore PM works beautifully for Fiona because she has a very intuitive understanding of math, easily handles the mental math demands and needs very little practice. It also stays refreshingly friendly and to-the-point right through to the 6B level (approximately equivalent to Grade 7 in North America).

The Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting series. I first bought these years ago because they seemed likely to work well for Erin who is a lefty and who liked the look of the italic font. They seem to work well enough for the other kids, who appreciate the fact that there's almost no transition to cursive once the manuscript font is well-learned. Fiona is my first kid whose handwriting hasn't lagged behind her supposed age-grade. She's just beginning Level C which is I think 2nd grade level and can print reasonably neatly with proper letter formation. What a surprise, after three late-bloomers!

Theory Time Grade 3. She started with this at the Grade 2 level and enjoys it. It's friendly and unintimidating, the best theory program I've seen for kids and pre-teens. She's pretty advanced in her instrumental studies, so she's encountered a lot of the theory in this book already in informal ways. But it's nice to do a little systematic gap-filling.

We don't do all this every day. We do math and one to three of the others.

Most days also involve violin and piano practicing, and some independent reading (currently Harry Potter). And although we've been slacking lately, we were also reading a bit of Story of the World Volume 2 most evenings, and/or watching the corresponding Teaching Company High School History DVD course lectures. And we always have a nightly family readaloud on the go. Currently that's the first Percy Jackson novel, the Lightning Thief.

And then there's all the unstructured stuff, the learning I've mostly been writing about for years, which still seems to fit in around the edges.

7 comments:

  1. This is great for me to see what other families like to use. I love seeing what works for different kids and different learning styles, especially from families a few years ahead of us. Thanks for posting!

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  2. flinny3:24 p.m.

    How do you find Real Science 4 Kids to use? (I don't homeschool but I do outreach with hands on experiments for kids, and I'd love to know more about good books to recommend to the parents of the interested kids.) I've looked at the website, and the content seems really impressive - compared to the kind of stuff that kids get to do in school (i.e. the books look great for young children, but the material typically gets taught in school much later), but I wasn't sure whether it would have problems/seem superficial in actual practice.

    (If Fiona likes biology she might like simple science books called "DNA is here to stay" and "Cell Wars" and "Amazing Schemes within your Genes" which we borrowed from the library as children and I loved - mind you, they're probably really dated by now - this was almost twenty years ago!).

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  3. Miranda, I'd love to know where you bought your copies of Theory Time. This may be a great solution for my boy. Thanks!

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  4. Rebecca, we bought Theory Time from the publisher Theory Time.

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  5. Flinny, like I say, we find Biology 1 to be a little "lightweight." The first few sections are pretty good, those on taxonomy, cells and subcellular structure. But after it gets into plant and animal biology and ecology the depth just isn't there. The content is pretty basic. I did the lab work with Sophie when she used this program a few years back and again, it wasn't really all that impressive to us. Perhaps that's mostly because that's an area where our lives have given us a lot of experience already. We've already grown hundreds and thousands of seedlings, experimenting with different light conditions, raised tadpoles, kept caterpillars and watched their metamorphosis and all that. The RS4K labs for the latter half of biology 1 were mostly repeats of things we'd already done. For families that aren't already really involved with nature and growing, the labs would be more useful, I guess.

    Thanks for the book recommendations.

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  6. playing catch up today on my reading. my almost 7 year old has been seeming to want some more 'structure' in terms of math & science. but doesn't really enjoy workbooks, so we too have been exploring moving from the purely RU place to where he gets more of what he needs/wants in terms of challenge. love to see what you are all working on as you include more structured time!

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  7. Hi Miranda:
    We have home/unschooled our 7 kids for the last 20 plus years. I am so glad that there was no blogs back when I was figuring out the structure vs. non-structure thing. We actually never figured it out but found that the family discussions around the topic were very bonding. Holding all needs as important really communicated to them how important they were to us. Now they are almost all grown but we are still really close. They are all really social yet we still spend so much time enjoying each other.I feel lucky.

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