09 10


A new year, a new schedule, right? This year, Hero(8) is starting 4th grade, Dragon (5) is doing Kindergarten, and Tigress(2) is pretty sure that she should be learning too... so she is. There's some exciting new developments now that Hero's reading well enough to be doing more independent assigned reading, and we're doing 2 (3) kids for some of our work.

Anyway. Here's an overview of what we do with Preschool and Kindergarten. In our home, to try to find a division between them would be artificial. It's just a gradual building of expectations as the munchkins grow and their capacity increases.

This is what we're using, as of September 2015.

Posts on Classical Education.
Posts on planning school.
Posts on LDS lesson plans.
Posts labeled Preschool
Posts labeled Kindergarten
Posts labeled Grammar Stage (aka elementary school)

Posts labeled Charlotte Mason

We read daily as a family from the Book of Mormon. Hero and I are reading, at his request, the Old Testament, chronologically. This is an extremely slow process, as we frequently stop and discuss what is happening. Dragon wanted to hear stories about Jesus, so we are reading the Four Gospels together. He's starting to stop me more frequently and ask very good questions about the text. Tigress is still working on her first trip through the Book of Mormon, which is roughly on track with where the boys were at the same age. All three of them love our time that we spend reading the scriptures at bedtime, and frequently ask for more.

In school time, we are currently working primarily with the Old Testament stories. Hero reads and then narrates the stories. For Dragon, I am telling him the stories, and drawing them in his Bible, so he can find them and know where in his books these things are happening. I also have him narrate after I've told the story. Tigress is very interested in the process, and likes to have her book out while the boys are working with theirs, but is too little for narration still.

We also do a scripture box for verse memorization: all three kids have their own that they are working on. My goal with all this is to instill a love of the scriptures early, and to help my kids be first-language fluent in what I fondly refer to as "scripture speak." It's just not the same as every day language!

Posts about Matters of Faith.

Happy Phonics is what Dragon sees, along with some extra games I make up. He's making good progress. I also use The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading to make sure that I don't miss anything. I love the games in Happy Phonics, particularly for a young learner, but the instructions could use some work. On the other hand, the Ordinary Parents' Guide, on its own, is so dry and dull I can hardly stand to read it myself. But they make beautiful music together.

Tigress is at the very beginning of the journey, and extremely curious about letters. When she wants to play, we let her. When she doesn't, that's OK too.

For a more complete review of the programs we use, look here.
Posts on Phonics.

We use Miquan for our math program. Hero is nearly finished with the program, and I'm thinking that he'll be in Singapore after we're done, but haven't made a for-sure call yet: no money is spent. In the mean time, we're shoring up math facts and solidifying the things that Miquan covers. He does well with algebraic thinking - Miquan has laid an excellent foundation - but needs to be more fluent at his facts. We're playing with math cards and Wrap-ups, as well as other fun game-based practice. He's getting there.

Dragon is doing great with his counting, in both English and Japanese. He's starting to do the very first exercises in Miquan, which means number lines. Counting forwards, backwards, by twos, and we're doing it in both languages.

Tigress is starting to recite lists of numbers, but she hasn't figured out counting  yet.

Posts on Math.

Nature Study:
For the past year, we've been going to a pond with some friends of ours, and learning about what we find there. Most of what we do is very informal, but we're learning a lot, and it's consistently one of the most delightful parts of our day. It dovetails very nicely with my own work in botany, which I study in concert with my learning about herbalism. As I learn, I'm able to show the kids more and more as we're out, and it's really amazing how much they pick up over the course of a season! And much of it is so organic that we hardly notice how much we are learning and absorbing about the world around us.

Posts on Nature.

After a year of doing things very organically, I'm feeling the need for slightly more structure. Hero is a strong reader now, so the plan is to start going through some nonfiction on topics that interest us, and doing it together. This reading is in addition to work on earth science/botany/bird studys that we do in the course of our Nature Study, so the plan is to keep it consistent, but not necessarily a huge amount of work in any given week. These are the books we're working through:

The Moons of Jupiter by Leutwyler

At this point, Dragon and Tigress are both participating in (and loving) Nature Study, and I feel that it's enough. They will, of course, have exposure to other science topics, but not in a formal way for some time, yet.

Posts about Science.

Language Arts:
Dragon is doing very little of this, still. He's learning to write, little by little, focusing on writing a few letters, but his very best, rather than large amounts of writing with little discipline to his work. Until he masters the alphabet, both uppercase and lowercase, that's all he's going to do with formal language arts.

For Hero, Rod & Staff grammar is not exciting, but I'm seeing good come from it. We do it about a page at a time, and he has finally grown into that amount of writing - it took time for the act of writing to stop being a struggle! Now that he's not thinking so hard about actual letter formation, he's doing much better with the mechanics such as capitals, punctuation, and the like. I love that Rod & Staff has a biblical element to it, and also serves to reinforce the stories in scripture and the values of Christian living. Thus far (we're 1/2 way through volume 2, but did not do volume 1), there have not been any doctrinal conflicts: the work that focuses on the Bible tends to focus on the text itself, rather than any denominational interpretation of the text. Grammar is not his favorite, but I never expected it to be.

All About Spelling 1 is working very well. Now that his reading is solid, we're starting to work with spelling more seriously. I like how thorough this program is, and how it reinforces the phonics rules we've already learned. I also like how it's got hands-on and aural components worked right in there.We've taken it slow, but his desire to write is growing, so the pace is picking up, and we are nearing the end of the first level.

Copywork is a regular part of our routine. Example is so important for learning music, drawing, manners, and so many other things; writing is no different. I haven't purchased a handwriting program, instead I print out whatever letters I notice he needs work on, using this free Zaner-Bloser tool (Zaner-Bloser is Common Core, and I would not use their actual program). We copy scripture verses, lines from books, verses from poems, hymns, and folk songs, and occasionally practice whatever random letters I notice that Hero is still struggling with. We also are doing small amounts of Japanese copywork to start learning their alphabet, though this is still a much lower priority than the English writing at this point. He is working in both print and cursive, depending on the day.

Posts on Narration.
Posts on Spelling.

We're using the Story of the World 3 as our main history text, supplemented by all kinds of picture books, read alouds, and websites. For Hero, there are also sometimes literature selections for him to read independently. The SOTW activity guide has some great suggestions, more than we'll be able to use,  and the Usborne Internet-linked History Encyclopedia has additional resources for some topics. We can also print coloring pages, flannel board characters and other items from the Childrens' Friend archives. Increasingly, we are also integrating LDS church history and family history into our study as well.

Posts on History.

Read Alouds:
I try to have a chapter book that I am reading out loud on a regular basis. I love doing the actual reading, but picking new books can be difficult. If we get stuck and I can't find one that makes me happy, then I read poetry for a while instead. Titles the kids have enjoyed recently include:

The Hobbit
Fellowship of the Ring

Posts about Read-Alouds.

I have two main areas of focus for this: aural input, which is the native materials that we listen to and watch, and then explicit study. I aim to have some of both in every day. I enjoy the JapanesePod101 materials for myself, and have worked my way through 100 lessons so far. However, Hero doesn't like these very well: the pace is too fast for him to work with comfortably as he's trying to repeat after the speakers. And they don't leave a lot of room for the student to have time for speaking. But we have discovered that the textbook I used in college (Introduction to Modern Japanese) is a good fit for him. We, of course, take is substantially slower than my classes did! We take several weeks to cover what they did in a few days. But it seems to be working very well, and, even better, Hero really likes it when we get out stuffed animals to practice dialogs. Even though the little kids are not required to participate, they often will join us, and it gets very silly - but it's working. We also use Reading Japanese to help Hero (and sometimes Dragon wants in) to learn to read and write. This is a favorite activity because I usually get out my fancy Japanese brush pens. We also do our "calendar time" in Japanese - right now we're practicing the date, a toothbrushing song, and we have a counting/adding activity as well. The next thing that I want to add is a clock for learning to tell time. Hero and I both use Memrise for vocabulary flashcards, and have been doing so long enough that I am convinced that it is a big key to the success I've been having in improving my skills in this language - and the better I get, the better I am able to help my kids with their learning. For listening, I have some podcasts that I will sometimes play as background noise in the afternoons. We also have a couple of playlists of Japanese cartoons and toddler music that the kids enjoy. It is remarkable what you can learn from endless repetitions of simple songs!

Posts about Japanese.

I was not sure that we would do this, and thought that if we did, we'd do it later, since we're already doing Japanese, but recently felt very strongly prompted to start it, now. So we're starting. We use Song School Latin, and Hero appears to be enjoying it quite a bit. Dragon also often chooses to participate.

We've also introduced picture studies, and while there is room for improvement, I feel like this is mostly successful. We've done quite a few of the classical artists, and a couple more modern ones, too. Currently, we're looking at works done by Norman Rockwell.

John James Audubon, naturalist
Winslow Homer, watercolors
Dan Scott, a current-day fantasy artist.

Posts about Arts N Crafts.

Hymns and Folk Songs:
Ambleside Online suggests learning hymns and folk songs as part of the curriculum. We do this primarily informally: I created playlists for our hymns (the AO lists don't work for us, due to doctrinal differences) and folksongs, and we listen to them a couple times a week. I encourage the kids to sing along. Because our hymns thus far are from the hymnal, we will sometimes sit down at the piano and sing those as well. It's just lovely! I love this addition to our day.

Posts about hymns and folk songs.

And that's what we're learning!


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