Monday, October 23, 2006

How We Home-Educate, Part 2

My previous post described how we begin our learning each day with our group subjects - Bible, Art, Science, and History. Now, I'll move on to describing how my children learn Math. I'll save Language Arts for another post.

Math is done each day that we do home learning. I prefer it to be one of the first things done after our group work, since the children (especially Emily) have more brain power earlier in the day. All of my kids (except the 4yo) are using Math-U-See. My almost 12 year old is doing MUS Zeta, My 9.5 yo is doing MUS Beta, and my almost 7yo is nearly done with MUS Alpha.

I like math to be a fairly independent subject. Since Math-U-See comes with instructional DVD's, this is relatively easy for us to accomplish. For each new lesson, the child watches the DVD (usually without me, although I hover nearby) and then works on the lesson. I help if needed, especially with Emily's work, but for the most part, this is something the child does on his or her own.

There are 6 workpages for each MUS lesson, and then a test. The children must do workpages until the concept becomes easy. The first 3 workpages offer practice just on the new concept. The remaining 3 pages offer review of previous concepts along with the new concept. After showing mastery, he or she may take the test. The test must be done without the blocks or any assistance. If he or she cannot pass the test, we go back and review with more help from mom or dad.

Emily and James also work on math drills - either on the MUS website, drill cards, flashcards, audiotapes, or any other method I can find. David knows his facts very well.

Emily particularly has a hard time with math, thus her still being in Beta at age 9.5. However, I am pleased with our approach, as it is mastery-based, and I know she will actually learn the math, instead of just going through the motions. She probably could benefit from a little more instruction from me, so I am trying to add that in this year for her especially.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How We Home-Educate, Part 1

Shall I describe a typical homelearning day for you? (This will be a day that we don't have any committments until late afternoon; days with other things going on are a leetle bit confusing!)

The kids are up before me usually, as I am rather a night owl and like to sleep til the last possible second, and then some. Sometimes that's past 9, but more often it is somewhere between 8 and 8:30. (If I were doing what my ideal plan said, I would be up at 7. Not happening right now.)

We usually get to our lessons somewhere around 9:30, but it can be around 10 before we actually get to it. We begin with our Bible studies. We learn a new hymn every month. This month it is Fairest Lord Jesus. Then someone picks one of our previously learned hymns to review. Currently we are doing a character Bible study on gentleness. We alternate character quality study with a Bible survey course called Bible Study Guide for All Ages, which we have been using for years. We are on volume 3 of 4. I am also reading them the book by the Mally kids called: Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. I highly recommend this book. Bible study usually takes around 30 minutes.

Last year we did art every day, but we finished the book and I haven't found another that works the same for us, so we have not done art consistently this year. However, they all love to draw and color so they do get plenty of that, and lots of crafts too. If we do an art lesson, it comes right after Bible.

Then we move on to Science and/or History. Science this year is Considering God's Creation, which I like. It's not a textbook, but a "notebooking" sort of curriculum. We did not begin at the beginning, but skipped to the unit on Plants and began with that. We just finished it last week. I like the fact that it is adaptable to many age levels. Next year, I imagine David will do Switched-on Schoolhouse for Science, or some other independent text, as I have decided against using Apologia, at least for now.

Mystery of History Volume 1 is our history curriculum and I love it. The lessons are just the right length. I love the mix of activities - some hands-on, some quizzes (which we often do orally or as a game), some review. Very strong program and from the point of view I believe in. I am hoping to get through the second half of this book rather quickly this year and begin Volume 2 before the "year ends". Currently we are at about 500 BC and just recently learned about Confucious, Buddha, and Daniel.

Once we have finished with these subjects, the kids begin their separate work. I'll write about that in a separate post, since I am, quite frankly, itching to move on to other things! LOL