Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Reflecting on what we use for W's academics, I have to say, I'm more than pleased. Then again, if I weren't pleased, we'd use something else. But really, I just like everything. A major factor in determining what I like is what W likes. I love the math program. Teaching Textbooks is hugely effective for him. The short lectures and lots of review just...work. We'll probably continue to use it up to October. TT5 starts off at around a 3rd grade level, but does eventually cover to the end of standard 5th grade math.  After that, we may switch to Life of Fred Fractions.  I have all the LoF books, so I'd like to see how well W takes to it.  It's worth a shot. 

W reads aloud to me every day. He has to or else he slides backwards in his ability. He can read. It's just that words look like other words (e.g. pirate looks like picture). W is a whole language reader. This means he has to recognize entire words instantly in order to read fluently. Adults do this, but I feel that children who are still learning need to use phonics and whole language together. He won't sound a word out unless he's reminded. Any word longer than 7 letters makes him nervous (except compound words - he gets those). I don't know if this is part of his dyslexia or not, but I know it's frustrating for him.  Right now, a chapter of Doctor Dolittle (an AO "free reading") each day is working well. It's a perfect book for him, with short chapters and just challenging enough. I'm sad to see it ending soon. But there are other books on the free reading list for Year 2 that look like W could use for his readalouds.  These include: Chanticleer and the Fox andAlong came a Dog.  We may also revisit Farmer Boy and Mr. Poppers Penguins since we didn't finish them the first time.

W also uses Hooked on Phonics Master Reader a couple of times a week. This CD Rom program is a great help with larger words. It teaches how to break up words for easier sounding out. After the lesson, he reads a couple of stories on large cards that are provided. Since he already reads Doctor Dolittle to me during our
morning academics, he's not in the mood to read again so soon. I understand. It's draining. So, every few hours throughout the day I'll have him read one of the story cards to me. On the days we don't use HoP, I'll have him read something else to me thoughout the day. Usually it's If I Lived in Colonial Times. This is another great book for him and he asks to read it.

Poetry and Copywork are also done daily. We use a book called A Year of Poems which sorts poems into months and seasons. We will read one poem together and W writes out the first 2 lines. He knows this is to be done in his best handwriting, following all the right capitalilzation and punctuation. Sometimes he'll use cursive and sometimes print. It doesn't matter to me. The AO poetry schedule has us reading poems by Christina Rosetti this term. The AO website has a great page with 55 of her poems. We read one every day together.

Then we have the Ambleside Online schedule. A couple of the books like The Little Duke and Lamb's Shakespeare are very tough, but I love that they're there.  I read these aloud to W and I'll ask for one or 2 things he remembers. Sometimes if he gets stuck, I'll mention a certain part and then he tells me the rest. The other readings: Our Island Story, A Child's History of the World, This Country of Ours, The Burgess Animal Book, Understood Betsy, and Tree in the Trail tend to flow a little better. W gives much longer narrations with these. I read all of the selections to him. He listens intently, probably because he knows he has to narrate at the end. The older language used in many of the readings is such a great way to learn new words and meanings (and he has almost gotten over snickering at those older words that our current society has given new meaning to, lol).  Starting next year, he will read a few things by himself. He will also begin a few written narrations.

We also use various workbooks during the day. W (just like the girls) has always loved workbooks. We currently use them for language arts, geography, vocabulary, science, and some math. They are cheap, fun, quick, and very effective. He'll do a page or 2 in a workbook or 2 each day. I consider them purely supplemental.  I'm sure we don't really need them, but W enjoys them and I like saving pages for his folder (which is for me, not the district, btw).  We'll probably always use those. 

The things we have the hardest time getting to are the "extras". Artist study, composer study, nature study, wall timeline/book of centuries, and foreign language are more infrequent than I'd like. I mean it should be pretty easy to look at paintings, listen to music, and take a walk outside. Maybe because it seems so easy, I feel we can just get to it another time. When it comes to the history timeline, we both love that, but we just forget, lol. W is to write down a name or event with a few facts and the year(s) and we add it to the book. He definitely remembers facts this way. With foreign language, we dabble in French, some Spanish, even Latin. It's fun and definitely educational, but I wonder what he's really getting out of it? It's not like he'll become fluent with what we currently use. I took 5 years of high school and college Italian and can barely say more than "hello" - even though I got As and Bs. I may shelve that for a while until he's older. I'll see what he wants to do. But overall, I'm working on making these "extras" more a part of our week.

Two other aspects of the Charlotte Mason method (that are emphasized in AO) are art and handicrafts. W does enough of these on his own so I never really have to schedule it in. The only times would be for holiday crafts. He is still plugging away at his cartooning, claymation, weapon-making, and cooking. Now his new thing is the Diabolo. My sister bought him one for Christmas and W is determined to nail all the tricks. He watches endless youtube videos on how it's done and practices for hours. It's cool to see what can be done with that thing.

We have gotten into a nice groove with the daily academics. We incorporate many of Charlotte Mason's methods that are also reinforced via Ambleside Online: short lessons, a minimal amount of "twaddle", whole and living books, narrations, copywork, art/music/nature appreciation, and free afternoons. The whole CM philosophy just resonates with me. It fits so well into our lives.

Yeah. I have to say, I am definitely pleased.


Marlene said...

I'm thinking of switching over to TT (I think grade 4). I want to know, does each workbook lesson have a corresponding cd lesson? That's what I am looking for. Let me know :)

NYCitymomx3 said...

Yes. Each workbook lesson has a corresponding CD lesson. Is it for K?

Marlene said...

No, it's for C. 4th grade according to the placement test on their site. I would love for them to have it for K, he's 1st/2nd. It would make my life easier to have them following the same program. Any recommendations? We're using Singapore, but I'd prefer something just like TT for him too.

NYCitymomx3 said...

You might want to try TT5 for her and see if K can do TT3. It starts out a bit below grade level and there's a lot of review with each lesson. A friend of mine suggested that to me and it's been perfect. I'm recommending Times Tales, too. Awesome for getting the times tables down.

Marlene said...

Ok. Thanks!