January 12, 2009

Back to School

Another post for homeschoolers. This may be pretty boring to the rest of you! (or, to all of you!)

I'm just going to go through how Hannah is doing with some of her academic subjects and other activities. It might sound like a lot of stuff, but really, we rarely "do school" for more than 3 hours a day, and usually that's only three or four days a week at most.

We always take a decadent amount of time off from homeschooling over the holidays. Something like six weeks! We had a few days last week where we sat down and fiddled around with book work, to get our feet wet. But today we hunkered down and knocked our heads together and got some good work done.

Hannah is working on alphabetizing words and looking them up in the dictionary. For Christmas she/we got the game Bananagrams. Since she's not much of a speller, we used the tiles today (similar to Scrabble tiles) to make her spelling words rather than writing them out, and then put them in alphabetical order. Later we organized all the tiles by letter and made a graph of how many of each letter there were. To count them, we put them in Numicon shape order. It was nice to see that the school break did not slow down her numeracy knowledge!

In math we are working on learning "doubling". She also is getting quite comfortable with tens so I know hundreds won't be far behind. She still favors "story" problems.

I'm glad that Hannah is getting more independent with her language arts work. We are using the Pathway Readers and workbooks. She has a workbook page to do before she reads the chapter, and one or two pages to do after the chapter. The workbook pages focus on comprehension, some phonics, and other grammar topics. I'm not big into grammar. In fact, I never taught my older kids any grammar. Everything they know about grammar has come from studying a foreign language! I really like the Pathway readers because, even though we are obviously not Amish (really?), the stories are sweet and not cluttered with social overtones.

Hannah is almost finished with her book on maps. She has really enjoyed learning how to find things on a grid and following directions on a street map. I will have to find another book for her. This one is for Grade 3, and I don't thinks she's quite ready for the 4th grade book, so I'll have to look for a different publisher. In addition to the geography book, she's been working on memorizing the States and can point out about 30 of them on a blank map.

We're still doing Handwriting Without Tears to work on getting smaller print. We still have not gotten her new bifocal glasses due to various roadblocks, but hopefully later this month we'll have it all sorted out.

For reading she chose a Magic Tree House book. We had been reading a Boxcar Children book before our break, but that was a very slow process, the font is small. For pleasure reading Hannah prefers easier books like Arthur or Magic School Bus. I have no idea what reading level she's on, but I'd guess it's somewhere towards the end of 3rd grade.

We are also studying Health. Hannah is developing into a young lady, and we are learning about the changes in her body. I am hoping we won't need this information for at least another year, but she is growing quickly and there is no way of telling. She is an eager student--of course--it's "medical". I am using the book "Teaching Children with Down Syndrome about Their Bodies, Boundaries, and Sexuality". I posted about this book a few months ago, and I still love it. It is appropriate for preschoolers on up through teens (even adults if they have not had enough appropriate instruction). Don't be put off by the title--there is good information in it. I really like the materials and worksheets in the appendix.

Today was the start of a new session at our local homeschool enrichment center. Hannah is in a dissection class. She is really excited about this! Today they dissected an earthworm (with a lab partner). I was not in the class, but the teacher said Nan asked some very good questions (I know one was, "Where is the brain?" because I could hear it out in the waiting room. When she came out of class she said, "Guess what Mom? A worm has ZERO brain!"). Did you know that a worm has five hearts? I did not remember that from 7th grade science. I think they are not really hearts, but something like an aortic something (I am so precise...it's a wonder my kids ever learn anything!).

Hannah's other new activity for Mondays is a dance/movement class called "Miracles in Motion". This is the first class/activity that she's been in that is for kids with special needs. We went to observe it in December, and she loved it. I was skeptical about it since the ages range from 5-17. There are only about 7 kids in the class, and the dance instructor has an adorable two-year old boy with Ds. Hannah comes out of the class proud and happy.

Piano lessons started last week, so Hannah has some new pieces. Her new sheet music is titled "Circus Jugglers". As challenging as it is for her, she is quite enthusiastic since the circus is coming to town next month! When she was younger she wanted to be a ringmaster when she grew up.

Swimming lessons are scheduled back-to-back with Theater class, so we can knock them out in one trip. We live sort of out in the middle of nowhere--it takes 20-30 minutes to get any place, so I try to consolidate trips. Our busy days are Mondays and Thursdays. For the most part, we are flexible the rest of the time--taking in a homeschool park day or go bowling with friends in the afternoon.

Now I'm tired just thinking about it all. Maybe it's time for another school break?
Chris started his semester today as well. He is taking Chemistry, Biology, Human Development (Psych), and Logic at the community college. He's also taking German 4 online and English Literature with me. He will be starting his Scuba course soon. For a Christmas/Graduation present my Dad (almost 76 years old!) is taking him on a Caribbean Scuba trip this Spring! Dad needs to re-certify--it's been more than a few years since he last went diving.

Kate is back in Minnesota, wanting a dog sled to get her to and from class! There's plenty of snow and frigid temperatures there! Her school has a 4-1-4 schedule, so in January she only has one class for a few hours every day for several weeks. She's taking Music in the Digital Age (or something close to that). She loves the January term because she likes to focus on one subject at a time and really delve into it deeply. She wishes it could be this way through the whole school year. She'll be home again in early February for another break before her final semester.

Coming soon: Hannah's Photography Gallery!
p.s. the Praying Mantis was laid to rest over the weekend. She was so interesting! We'll see how the eggs do in the spring!


exnyers said...

huh? you're not amish? i always thought you were!

Anonymous said...

Music and the Electronic Medium. I just finished a really rough project--we had to make a song, and the program we had to use was only for macs. I arranged some of Bach's Toccata (from T&F in Dm) as a techno song. It took like 10 hours. also it was -19 this morning!