Well, we are a few weeks into the new school year. With all the school work and homeschool group kick-off events, it’s like we’ve hit the ground running. Besides the weekly park days, we’ve had afternoon bowling and farewell to the beach day, field trip sign-up night, moms’ craft night (very therapeutic, by-the-way), and tomorrow we are joining our group for a field trip to an historic garden and art collection. Well I guess we’ve got the social interactions covered.
And how are we doing on school work? Over the summer, I worked very hard with my research, and got some advice from other parents about which curriculum I should pick for my son for each subject. I’ve chosen a bit of this and a bit of that, and most of it is computer-based. Here is what I’ve come up with:
*Math–Teaching Textbooks: This has been great! The program includes both computer-based as well as written instruction. Students can use either one or the other. My son uses only the CD-ROM lessons that come with the program. Each one takes 10 to 15 minutes and is very interactive. There is a little instruction, followed by a problem or question, follow by a little more instruction, and another question, and so-on. There are a few practice questions after each lesson. My son doesn’t object to doing the teaching textbooks, and it is something he can do while I’m making breakfast. We can check it off our list in the first part of the day. We love it!
*Language Arts–The Brave Writer Program: This, admittedly, has been slow going, but it is by design. The philosophy is to take a gentle approach and follow the child’s lead. There are a couple of main elements to the program.
For writing we have Partnership Writing for my son’s age-group and abilities. It includes one project per month, as well as some free-writing, and fun activities like poetry tea times.
The literary elements, grammar, and spelling are learned as we read literature in a program called The Arrow. Right now we are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. There are weekly lessons that correspond to the reading. My son is also required to do copywork. It is just copying a chosen passage from the reading. It is a great activity for children who have difficulty writing. I just have my son do as much as he can in one sitting and don’t push him to do more. It is just like exercise. If you do too much, you can get really turned off to it.
Because of the gentle approach, so far Brave Writer is really working for us.
*Science–Science Fusion: I’m not so sure about this one, yet. As with the Teaching Textbooks, there are both written and computer-based lessons. The student can do either or both. Some of the computer-based lessons have virtual labs so you don’t have to gather materials in order to complete them. I thought this would be something my son would enjoy, but it turns out they are kind of boring to him. He would rather perform actual experiments. We have also found the virtual labs to be a bit glitchy, as well. For this reason, they are sometimes difficult to use. Because the virtual lessons that don’t have labs are relatively engaging, I will continue to have my son do these. The corresponding labs will no longer be done on the computer. So that is the plan for science. We’ll see how it goes.
*Social Studies-Primarily Chester Comix: This program includes a series of history books in comic book format. This appeals to my visual kid. So, so far, so good. Teaching guides in pdf can be found on the website for most of the lessons. These include activities and review questions. One of the activities we’ve done is make paper after we learned about life on the Nile and how Egyptians made paper out of papyrus reeds. This coming week we will be making dye from red cabbage and dying some shirts. These are the types of things that are fun and enriching, and my son actually likes to do them. They reinforce information he is learning.
Supplementally, for social studies, we are also using BrainPop and various educational software like Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?. We also have fun with Stack the States, which is an app for the iPad.
*Foreign Language-Swedish (that’s what he wanted to learn): We are using Rosetta Stone. It’s great! I just have him do a few minutes a few days a week. It works for him.
*Typing: We use Type to Learn 4. Again, I just have him do a few minutes a few days a week. It is basically a game. The student gets to be a secret agent who needs to use typing accuracy in order to unlock levels.
*Art–Creativity Express by Mapcap Logic: We really like this. My son does about one lesson a week, which includes videos with engaging, animated characters, online activities, and a choice of two possible projects. My son really likes art, and he enjoys the videos. This program is a hit!
*Enrichment–Brainware Safari: This is software that has games that, supposedly, train your brain. I’ve actually purchased this for my husband and me, as well. It’s supposed to help with focus, memory, and such. The games are fun, if nothing else. I like my son to use Brainware Safari at least 15 minutes, three days a week.
I know all of this sounds really expensive, but I am a member of Homeschool Buyers Co-op. As a member, I get major discounts on curriculum. Some educational materials are just a fraction of the original price. Homeschool Buyers Co-op has been a great resource for me and other homeschoolers I know.
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