Here we are, halfway through the school year and I’m just now writing posts about what we are doing at the various levels!
I guess it’s been that kind of year- tremendous busyness with lessons at home, co-op, activities, and church responsibilities. I keep thinking I’ll get some writing done when things are quieter, but they don’t get quieter, so I’m just putting time aside to write.
Now that we’ve been here for a few years, I’ve finally gotten a good sense of how to use the spaces, and done some judicious discarding of furniture and so on and I feel like we are able to really have a learning environment that meets each child at their level.
For Daisy and Jack this means a corner in the living room, with alphabet cards and a low table where we can work together. The big world map is there too, and each of them has a set of six cubbies which I keep stocked with Montessori style work trays. Daisy’s are pretty standard toddler trays with an emphasis on hand-eye coordination, practical skills, and number work since she’s fascinated by that right now. She also has some little workbooks, and a tray for cutting and gluing. I print some materials for her as well, mostly things that look enough like what Jack is doing that she feels like she has “schoolwork”.
The workbooks she uses are from an Amish publisher and can be purchased from Rainbow Resource and are very simple, and designed to get her thinking about things like what colors objects should be and how to color in the lines and count. I’ve used them with all the older children and find they are both inexpensive and easy to use or set aside as the mood takes her.
Jack’s work is a little more complex since he is almost 6 and is in what I call his “learn to read year”. As I’ve done with the other children, I’m using Rod and Staff’s excellent Bible Nurture and Reader Series for reading and phonics and he is coming along fairly well. I expect him to be reading independently by the end of the school year. The program uses a mixture of traditional phonics and sight words to get the children reading interesting stories (all drawn from the Bible) fairly quickly, which eliminates the trouble many new readers have of not being able to read anything that they would actually LIKE to read!
For math we are finishing up the Reception Year of the Mathematics Enhancement Program (MEP) and in another seven lessons we will move on to Book 1 of MEP. He is super excited about moving into Book 1 since I had the pdf files printed and coil bound and his math book matches Bull’s (MEP Year 2). We have also been doing some traywork with the Montessori Golden Bead materials which has been very helpful in his understanding of how numbers fit together and how to make teens and larger number from groups of tens and ones. I’ve given him two other math related trays this quarter: one with a number puzzle to cut and reassemble for the number families to 100, and one with a set of pattern blocks and cards with activities and pictures to make with them.
We are using a few of the Christian Light Education science units partly for extra reading practice and partly because he is quite interested in nature (especially insects) and these books make it easy for me to feed his curiosity without having to assemble a bunch of resources on my own.
Handwriting is Handwriting Without Tears which is easy enough for him to do on his own and clear enough that he can easily see how he should form his letters.
In addition, he does Memory work with the rest of the children- but shorter pieces, and listens and participates in our Catechism and Saints session at the start of the day.
Jack also takes four classes at our weekly co-op: Art, Gym, Science,and Music and Movement. He enjoys these and is clearly learning and can tell me about them.