Homeschooling Ideas for a Reader

homeschooling for a reader

I am amazed at how different children can be-especially siblings!  Earlier I posted some of our ideas on homeschooling a child with dyslexia.  Today I am going to post on some of our ideas on homeschooling a child who doesn’t want to stop reading!  My daughter is a reader.  She loves to read.  We have to constantly tell her to put the book down to get out of the car, to walk into the store so she won’t walk into anyone, to go to bed….you get the idea.  She always has a book in her hand.  Yes, the fact that she loves to read is awesome-however, it can also make homeschooling a challenge.

Reading, spelling and grammar are not really major areas of concern.  She is an amazing speller but I continue her spelling program to reinforce what she knows from reading.  She reads amazingly well.  I do continue to have her read aloud for at least a few minutes each day.  Grammar is interesting.  If she sees a page that has improper grammar, she can spot it quickly (she is a good editor); however, grammar does not come naturally when she writes.  Thus, most of her grammar I have her fix.  She writes a paragraph.   I have her take a break from it and come back to it the next day.  She then edits her own errors and does fairly well.  If she does not take a break, she doesn’t slow down and edit properly.

Math: How do you get a child who likes to read to do math?  Find math story books!  Our favorite series is the Life of Fred series.  All of my children read through the books; however, Sawyer reads them, works the problems and then redoes each book.  She LOVES Life of Fred!  The stories are funny and relevant.

Science and History:  Another area that I have to be very inventive.  I have stated in the past that I am a very eclectic homeschooling teacher.  We mainly use the Waldorf approach but in this case we use as many living books as possible (more of a Charlotte Mason method).  Living books are simply books that children can relate to.  Living books tell a story that becomes real and that you can feel like you are living.  For example, this year one of Sawyer’s blocks included Judaism.  She read books on Judaism but she did it begrudgingly.  I also had her read The American Girl Series Rebecca.  Rebecca is a little girl who grew up NYC and her family is Jewish.  Sawyer learned exactly what I wanted her to learn.  She learned how Judaism effects a person’s everyday life and the historical events that are celebrated throughout the year by people of the Jewish faith.  Finding living books that relate to what you are trying to teach can be a challenge but it is doable (I actually found one about a family that harvests silk worms during our textile block-that took a lot of researching!).

Organization: Now it may just be my reader that is completely disorganized but I hear from other parents that organization is an issue for their readers as well.  When Sawyer begins reading, she does not stop (a good thing right?  not when you are trying to do school work!).  We use the timer on the microwave a lot.  She can read first thing after breakfast for 30 minutes.  The timer is terrific for a lot of things.  We use it to limit her time reading during school time and as a motivator for activities that she does not want to do.  We set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes.  She sees the time going by and she is able to continue with grammar or spelling.  Getting through all of her work in a day can be a challenge as well.  I am still working on this one and am open for suggestions..smile.  We tried a daily workplan, a weekly workplan, a workbox type of system in which she moved a card from needs to be done to the done side and simply me asking her what she has completed.  I saw on a post recently (I cannot remember where so I cannot give them the credit right now, but if I figure out I will) a method with clothes pins in a jar.  The clothes pins are snapped around the top of the jar and as the activity is complete, the clothes pin is dropped into the jar.  I may give this a try this year along with a timer.

What about pesky papers?  We use our main lesson books to place all papers into.  Papers are glued, taped or stapled into the book right after it is completed.  This includes the wonderful art work that used to be floating around the house.  Once a week, she goes through her cubby to declutter.  Again, this is still a work in progress.  As she gets older and more independent, paper organization and time management will become more important goals (these will be in her goal list for this next year).

Do you have a reader?  I love suggestions!

 

 

Homeschool Resources for Dyslexia

Homeschooling is a terrific option for many children with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia.  At first, you may think that it is too much to tackle.  However, you have time on your side when you homeschool!  Children with dyslexia and dysgraphia typically need to have information presented in multiple ways.  Children with dyslexia also do much better when information is presented either in a small group or one on one.  Teachers do not have the time or the resources to do these two things even when they really want to.

My son worked with a tutor for one full year two times a week while in the third grade.  After that year, I realized that I could work with him as well.  There are a ton of programs out there for children with dyslexia.  I have tried many and the following is what we have now found that works for us.

Spelling:  We started with All About Spelling and went through levels 1-4.  This program taught/reinforced the spelling rules.  The down side was that the information did not carry over into other writing activities.  Well, it is wonderful to get a 100% on your spelling test but if you can not spell the word in your journal or in an email, then you didn’t get it.  Thus, I moved to another spelling program called Apples and Pears.  This is an open and go curriculum.  We started with the first book and are moving through the second book.  The program appears to have no rhyme or reason initially but as the teacher, you soon realize that the words appear again and the patterns are progressed.  The best part is that the spelling carried over!  He uses the proper spelling throughout his writing.  Note-he still has a LONG way to go, but there is noted progress.

Reading fluency and comprehension:  For reading fluency, we are using Dancing Bears.  He began with the fast track AB book which went through the sounds fairly quickly.  Due to the extensive tutoring, he did well with this.  If you have a reader who is still struggling with the initial sounds, then I highly recommend you begin with book A (we are doing this with our youngest and it is working well).  Again, I find the carry over phenomenal.  Reading fluency in other book continues to improve.  Reading aloud is still a struggle and most books that my son can read aloud are not necessarily what he wants to read.  This is why we use Learning Ally!  Learning Ally is an online program for people who are blind and/or have a reading disability.  Learning Ally has real people record books as they read them aloud.  Note that I added real people.  The kindle and apple programs can read aloud but the voice it automated and lacks inflection.  Real people make the stories come alive, use the proper pausing, and use the proper inflection.  Learning Ally allows Sims to read books that are at his comprehension level, which is much higher than his fluency level.

Writing:  I do not use a specific curriculum for writing.  I have him journal and write nature studies that I do not edit.  These are for him just to simply practice writing.  Then when he does have a writing assignment, we do several things.  Some times he will make notes and then dictate the paragraph or paper to me to write.  Other times, he makes his notes, forms an outline, and then writes on wide ruled paper and skipping a line.  We use form drawings (a Waldorf activity) and metal insets (a Montessori activity) to work on sizing, fluid motion, pressure and letter formation.  I use the IEW program as my teaching method for how to write a paper.  We do not do the program, but it is my main go to for lessons on note taking and paper writing.  (I also recommend using gel pens or mechanical pencils)

Math:  Luckily for Sims, math comes easy.  He gets it and he understands how to apply it.  This year we used Teaching Textbooks and he really enjoyed it.  Now the difficult part isn’t doing the calculations.  It is the writing!  In the years past, he has used two methods to keep the numbers in line.  One trick is to use large graph paper (meaning the squares are large).  This is tough to find, but when I do, I stock up!  The other trick we us is to turn a wide ruled notebook sideways.  This allows you to place the numbers in the same column.  Next year, we are going to try using Mead RediSpace paper.

Note taking/Vocabulary: We use two methods for note taking and vocabulary which are used for science and history.  One method is using notecards.  Some people love notecards.  Others do not.  They are simple.  He can put a picture on one side and a word on the other or a definition.  There are many options for using notecards.  The second method is to draw a T on a sheet of lined paper with the top of the T going across the top of the page and the perpendicular line about three inches from the left hand side of the page.  Then either dates or vocabulary words or a main topic can go on the left.  On the right, corresponding definitions, information or notes are written.  Adding color is a terrific option.  Highlighters or using different colored pens are options.

We also do a lot outside.  Thus, we take our learning everywhere.  We listen to audiobooks in the car.  We do tons of nature study, visit museums, visit historical sites and learn from the world.  As I stated in an earlier post, we know that he has dyslexia and dysgraphia but it no longer seems to be a learning disability while he is learning at home.  Thus, the stress is gone!

 

Wrapping up the year! Math

Believe it or not, we are pretty much through all of our curriculum for the year!  Obviously, we did not do enough fun stuff.  We are still trying to figure out the best methods for homeschooling that work for us (of course, I know this will be an ever-changing piece of our lives).  However, this week I am going to focus on math.

Last year we used Singapore Math for everyone with Montessori and Waldorf exercises in the mix.  Parks was the only kiddo who really enjoyed this method.  Thus, Parks continued with the Singapore math mixed with Montessori and Waldorf.  He finished up his level 1 A and 1 B books by the end of January.  For him (1st grade), Singapore worked well.  The book had a lot of pictures and not an overwhelming amount of information on each page.  For me, it was very easy to tie in bead chains, the multiplication board, the hundred board and the Waldorf stories into the Singapore Math curriculum.

Now with the older two kiddos, we did a complete change.  They did not want to continue with Singapore, and they also did not want to continue Saxon which we did the previous year.  Where to go? Looking at our schedule and considering that now I had three levels to teach, I decided to go with a computer based math program.  We chose Teaching Textbooks levels 3 (Sawyer) and 5 (Sims).    Yep, I handed in the towel on math-my favorite subject.  However, I freed up a lot of time and put a new responsibility on them.  Initially, the kids were excited but unsure of whether or not they were going to like it.  In the end, they loved it and asked to do it again next year.

My opinion of it-well, it definitely freed up some time.  The kids took ownership of the program, and they were very good about asking me when they did not understand a concept.  I do not think that either child was challenged much at these levels.  However, at this time-a challenging program was not the goal.  In their end of year testing, they each scored average on their computation skills (straight addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), and they scored amazingly well on their applied math skills.  So I am happy that the program seems to be teaching the math in an applied way.  We will continue to work on straight comupation skills, but understanding when and how to use those skills is more important in my mind.  Beginning in the middle of May, I plan on getting them each started on the next level.  Now that they are comfortable with the program and using the computer (My kids are not on the computer much so this program required them to also gain some basic computer skills), we will work on challenging their math brains a little more.

In addition to their basic math curriculums, each kiddo continues to work through the Life of Fred series.  Parks and I started back at Apples and we just finished Butterflies.  Sawyer worked through Cats, Dogs and Edgewood.  Life of Fred is her favorite way to learn math!  Sims worked with Parks on Butterflies and is now working through Goldfish on his own.  Life of Fred is the only curriculum that my kids all ask to do-even on the weekends.  The books are funny and entertaining.

What math program did you use this year?  I am always interested in what others are using and how it is working for them!

 

April Block-Part 3

As Sims studied human anatomy and Sawyer studied the Anansi tales, Parks was working hard on Apples, a Life of Fred Book. In Parks’ Waldorf curriculum, he was supposed to have another math block. Well, he finished his Singapore math books and I was not quite ready for him to move onto first grade math. I went another route-Life of Fred! Life of Fred is a math curriculum that is not graded and can read over and over again.
Parks started with Apples-the first book of Fred. Life of Fred covers many topics, but the main idea is to show how we use math in everyday life. Apples has reinforced many of the ideas that we have already covered this year; including time, the calendar, addition, subtraction, skip counting, shapes, and money. Apples has also stirred up a lot of discussion and some new topics such as negative numbers, deciduous versus evergreen trees, items in a set, carnivores versus herbivores and omnivores, and true versus not true.
Each chapter is fairly short but with a fun concept to review. At the end of each chapter is a few questions that get the kids thinking. Parks and I did most of the problems aloud but then he would draw in his lesson book a picture to remind himself of the lesson.
Along with Life of Fred, Parks started cursive this month. He is really liking cursive!

A Whole is Simply the Sum of Its Parts

So what do prime numbers, factoring, multiples and division all have in common?  Why do we learn them?

Welcome to the second math block of the year!  In the first math block, Sims worked on prime numbers, factoring, complex multiplication, long division and reviewing addition/subtraction.  The second math block focuses mainly on, you guessed it, FRACTIONS!  When I think of fractions, I mainly think how many parts of a whole.  However, as I review fractions to teach them to Sims, I am amazed at how much more there is to them and how they bring everything we’ve done so far this year together,

First, we focused on the simple things such as how to name them.  For a child with dyslexia, we had to focus quite a bit on the “ths” sound at the end of tenths and hundredths.  Next we discussed all the places we casually use fractions in our daily lives; such as distance, cooking, filling the gas tank and of course money.  In Montessori, we use circles and look at how to break up circles into pieces.  In Waldorf, we use a fraction tree.  Since we use both methods, we did both.  Then, Sims took it a step further and made a fraction hand.  I was pretty impressed with his idea and it worked well.

Over the next few weeks, we will begin working with fractions more in-depth.  We will bring in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions.  The fun of fourth grade math.

Fraction Hand1, 1/5,1/10, 1/20

 Fraction Hand
1, 1/5,1/10, 1/20

Fraction Tree with Roots1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8. 1/16, 1//6. 1/12

Fraction Tree with Roots
1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8. 1/16, 1//6. 1/12

Montessori Fraction Circle

Montessori Fraction Circle

 

 

The Magic of Nature

After many weeks of celebrating and reflecting, I imagined this week would be a week getting back to “normal.”  Of course, we all know what happens when one assumes.  The week started with another life celebration as Sawyer turned 8!  She was quite disappointed when she found out that her birthday was not considered a holiday, and we needed to still do some work-although, Monday’s are PE days so a good portion of her “work” was a lot of fun.

By Tuesday, I could feel the house enclosing on me and I needed to change school up a bit.  Thankfully, before I made any drastic changes, we all got out for a hike in the cool fall air at Latta.  It is amazing how much a hike can calm the nerves.  However-I still had to head back home!  We worked this week mainly out of our kitchen instead of the school room so that I could get some stuff done around the house while they worked.

It turned out to be a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it.  As far as true school lessons, there were not as many as usual this week-but, we all experienced many life lessons this week.  We had discussions about the world as we finished reading Three Cups of Tea.  A book that has so much more to teach us than any text-book could.  We volunteered at Christmas in Davidson at the Ada Jenkins  (a center that I am a true believer in)Booth, which made them feel that they too could help others as “Dr.Greg” did in the book.  They had book club at the library.  We hiked and hiked and hiked finding our way back to our “normal” spot.

Maybe.

A discovery found on our hike

A discovery found on our hike

Stump-Sawyer saw this as beautiful

I love that Parks is peeking in!

I love that Parks is peeking in!

A Waldorf math on fractions that we started this week.

A Waldorf math on fractions that we started this week.

Serving Cider

Serving Cider

In front of the booth

In front of the booth

Numbers everywhere

It has been two weeks since I blogged.  It seems like too long, but there is not a whole lot to report.  September came to an end with the celebration of Autumn and Michaelmas.  The kids learned all about St. Michael and St.George.  We then started a new block for the month of October because we have a lot going on.  Math can be started and picked back up without losing the story or forgetting a piece of the story.  With our chaotic schedule this month, I thought this would be a good plan.  So now we are off-adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

As a group, the kids are working on skip counting, roman numerals and playing games.  We have found some fun ways to practice math that everyone can participate in.  Card games including war, adding war, subtracting war and multiplication war are a big hit.  They are all enjoying the game of rectangles (a game of multiplication using graph paper), the stamp game (a Montessori game using the stamp game materials), magic squares (an activity with right start math) and shut the box (an old favorite).  Individually, they are each working towards a goal.  Parks is learning the parts of each number (ie-how many ways can you come up with to get the number 10) and adding using the Montessori materials.  Sawyer is getting more fluid with her addition and beginning multiplication.  Sims is reviewing all of the math activities (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) in activities with multiple steps.  The best part of this block is the practical applications!  They are working on a quilt.  We are cooking a lot and measuring everything!

The difficult part of this time is trying to keep with our normal rhythm.  We generally wake up, eat, play outside and start school around 830.  During school, we have our morning meeting, individual lessons and independent work, outside time and then lunch.  The kids do really well with this rhythm.  When we are out-of-town or doing an activity, we are not in our rhythm and we are all out of our happy, easy-going ways.  As much fun as we are having with our outside activities, hopefully-November will bring back our rhythm and some peace.