Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homeschooling update

My daughter is now in 5th grade, and, having turned in our portfolio and a new Affidavi this summer, I'm once again authorized to homeschool her.

We've made a couple of organizational changes. Initially I had thought she needed the structure of a schedule, but after observing how frustrated she would sometimes get, I now give her a checklist instead. As a result, she is less stressed out and more efficient. She also likes the freedom of deciding what order to do things in. Her music teachers have caught on to our flexible schedule, and she now has her piano, violin, and (new instrument!) organ lessons early in the day. Come winter, it'll be nice not to be biking around in the dark.

She completed the 5th grade regular Singapore Math curriculum over the summer (when we lightened up, but kept up the math, reading, and French), and is working on the 5th grade Challenging Word Problems. The problems get quite complex, with upwards of 4 distinct steps, and so I'm requiring her to spell out each one in her math notebook and label everything. She's becoming less resistant to this as she finds herself getting a lot less lost and performing the wrong calculations less and less often. Note that this requirement is completely different from the "explain your answer in words, numbers, and pictures" of so much school math (e.g., TERC/Investigations). Instead of "meta-cognitively reflecting" (which has no proven cognitive benefits, frustrates her, and detracts from the actual math), she's unburdening her working memory, helping herself keep track, and developing good habits for algebra and beyond.

She's begun diagramming sentences, which she seems to enjoy. I see this as a scaffolding for learning, later on, the finer points of style, and as a practice for making sense sense of complicated sentences and foreign language grammar.

On that note, to the French in Action videos we've added a French workbook and a new cable channel: TVMonde5. She's picking up more and more, sometimes making connections to English vocabulary (just yesterday connecting French glace to English glacier).

Most of the rest is reading and writing. She's continuing to read (and summarize) classic myths and fables, and poetry; current novels include Island of the Blue Dolphins, volume 9 of Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Phantom Tollboth.  She's finished North American Wildlife and now reading and writing about bugs. She continues to watch (and take notes on) one or two David Atttenborough nature videos per week. She's continuing to work her way through the Story of the World series, with daily summaries in her history notebook. 

As for social studies, we've added Friday night Girl Scouts and Saturday morning Theater School to the weekly mix. As I write, she is doing her only homework assignment all week: making a cat toy for Girl Scouts.


FedUpMom said...

Wow! You're inspiring me. Sounds like a wonderful education --

Katharine Beals said...

Thanks, FedUpMom!
I feel very lucky to have the flexibility to be able to do this. The rise of online teaching has opened up many opportunities for me to teach from home (as well as in the home).

Deirdre Mundy said...

I think the flexibility is one of the best things about homeschooling-- And I agree with you on the checklists-- kids are much more willing to work when they have some control over their tasks. A regular classroom has to have schedules because of the large numbers of kids--but homeschooling is more like having a private tutor. Things don't always HAVE to be the same!

Hainish said...

That sounds like an enchanted childhood.

(Well, at least to me it does.)