Jan 032015
 

Other than answering the dreaded socialization question, teaching reading at home may be the scariest thing for a new homeschooler. This week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair topic is Loving Language Arts and is co-hosted by  Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds and Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses. You can read other posts about reading as well as other language arts topics.

What if I mess it up and ruin my child’s life forever?

This is our 12th year of homeschooling, and I have 5 children ranging from 4 to 16 years old. So far, I have taught 4 children to read and each one was different. Not surprisingly, each one is still different both in his or her ability and enjoyment of reading. I don’t have one of those stories about the kid who learned to read at 12, but was reading War and Peace at age 13.

There is no magic formula for raising readers.

David, my 16 year old, began reading at 4 years old. (Some of that may have been over eager homeschool parents, but he was ready to read.) He read a lot when he was young – both fiction and non-fiction. I also read books aloud to him from his infancy until he was about 12. My husband and I read for pleasure frequently and our house is filled with books. We did everything “right” and guess what. He doesn’t like to read. He especially doesn’t like fiction. He’s a “just the facts” kind of kid. Maybe his long-time use of the computer has turned him into a scanner. Since he especially doesn’t like literature, I have had him take an outside class for that. He’s infinitely more motivated to read books when he’s in a class with a fixed schedule and accountability. To help himself pay attention, he often listens to the audio while he reads.

Teaching Reading at Home

Sometimes a child is too young to learn to read.

Anna is almost 15. We started trying to teach her to read when she was 5, probably closer to 5-1/2. She wanted to learn to read so badly. It was almost comical trying to teach her to blend sounds. She just couldn’t get it until after she turned 6. Then it sort of clicked and she took off with it. She also listened to read-alouds frequently and had essentially the same learning environment as her older brother, but unlike her brother, she loves to read, especially historical fiction. She’s also much happier to read from a textbook and has good comprehension.

If you think there is something wrong, check it out. People will tell you to relax and wait, but you know your child.

William is almost 13. He has been diagnosed with ASD. He has many learning issues that may (or may not) be related to ASD. He is my only child that I actually had to teach letters. My other children all picked them up naturally around 3 years old or younger, from alphabet books, letter toys and puzzles. At 4-1/2, I decided I needed to teach William his letters. He was able to learn them fairly quickly. I used the Handwriting without Tears Wood pieces and cards.

Reading continued to be a struggle for William. I tried various phonics programs. He couldn’t read c-v-c words consistently. I started a couple of new things with him that finally seemed to help reading click for him. I used both Brain Integration Therapy by Dianne Craft and All About Spelling. I don’t know if it was either of those programs, the passage of time, or some combination of all three that finally enabled him to begin reading. But there was no sudden burst of speed or rapid improvement in skills allowing him to catch up to grade level. Instead, it’s been more like plodding. He can decode pretty well and his spelling is pretty good too. (I love All About Spelling!), but his comprehension is almost non-existent, and his inflection is bad. We’re trying immersion reading on the Kindle Fire to see if that will help with comprehension. We also do dictation with All About Spelling and use the repeating of the sentence to work on inflection. (The problem is not just with reading, it’s with his speech in general.)

Some children love to read. Others don’t.

Lizzie is 8. I honestly don’t remember teaching her to read. She didn’t exactly teach herself to read, but I think she learned using a combination of computer programs like Reading Kingdom and Reading Eggs plus her older brother and sister showing her things. She is a voracious reader and loves to curl up with a book and read it. She even reads aloud to her little brother, Andrew. She is using the Memoria Press Literature Guides, among other things, and we like those a lot.

Teaching Reading at Home

Find time to read to your little ones.

Finally there is Andrew. He just turned 4 and is not reading yet. He does love to listen to books and he has known his letters for a long time. I feel hopeful, that it won’t be a struggle for him to learn to read. I still want to spend some time using Before Five in a Row with him.

Virtual Curriculum Fair

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

This post is part of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair and is also linked to House to Home at I Choose Joy.

I Choose Joy!

 

See my previous Playing with Words posts at:

It Starts with the Alphabet

Loving Language Arts

Don’t miss these great posts!

Building a Foundation of Words by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Bible-Based Language Arts Resources by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Relaxed Homeschooling: Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Loving Books and Words by Sarah@Delivering Grace

5 Language Arts Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Teaching Reading at Home: A Tale of 5 Readers by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

A More Simplistic Approach to 7th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Language Arts Reading for Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

How To: Spelling Dictation by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

The World of Words in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Unschooling and Words, Words, Words by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Learning With Literature and Language Arts Resources by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Words and More Words! by Michele @ FamilyFaithandFridays

Language Arts in Our Homeschool (2014 ñ 2015) by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Our curriculum choices ~ Language Arts by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

The 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Loaded Pistols: Virtual Curriculum Fair Playing with Words by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

A Renewed Focus on Reading Aloud by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Logic of English Foundations: The Grand Prize Winner of Phonics by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

A Sentence a Day Teaches Grammar the Fun Way by Amy A @ One Blessed Mamma

Tackling Language Arts by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Middle School Monday – Lightning Literature and Composition by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Great Grammar Discovery by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Jan 202014
 

GeographyVCFYou might be a homeschooler if…

Your family quizzes one another on what state their cracker or tortilla chip looks like.

Actually that probably makes us weird among homeschoolers.

We are a family who really likes maps.

Before we were married, my husband and I pored over a map together while waiting to pick up basketball tickets. For fun.

Whether it is a matter of genetics or environment, we have 5 children who are all interested in geography.

Here is Lizzie (now 7) playing with a talking globe.

Almost 12 years ago, my husband came up with a great idea for a family project. It took 8 years, but we visited every county seat in North Carolina! Here’s a video that David made to summarize that project.

I confess, we all weren’t always excited about that project. But it is a fun accomplishment.

Our geography studies are something that happens very naturally. We make sure to have maps of all kinds, for all ages.

Disclosure: None of the Amazon links are affiliate links since Amazon.com will not let NC residents be affiliates due to a disagreement about sales tax. I’m not bitter about it.

We love map placemats like these. (I recommend looking for these locally. I have found them at Wal-mart.) This type of US map puzzle is great for preschool and early elementary age children.

The talking globe was a wonderful learning tool. However, it was fairly expensive and it unfortunately doesn’t work reliably anymore. But, I do consider a traditional globe a homeschool essential. We also have this puzzle globe and this inflatable globe.

There are super geography apps available now. My kids all love Stack the States and Stack the Countries.

Google Maps and Google Earth are amazing tools for geography exploration. William loves to explore both places we have visited and places he’d like to go. David always studies the route before a trip and  uses Google Maps to map cross country courses and running routes.

Another thing that we have done as a family to study geography together is watch educational videos. We enjoy How the States Got Their Shapes. (Viewer discretion advised. There is occasionally some bad language. We also like season 1 better than season 2.) We also liked this History Channel series called The States.

Thanks for visiting for this week’s stop at the Virtual Curriculum Fair. How do you study geography?

Now, let’s see how other homeschoolers are Exploring Our World with Social Studies and Science:  (note links will all be LIVE by noon on 1/20)

A Classical Approach to Ancient World History for All Ages by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science’s eScience Program by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Social Studies & Science Resource Lists by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

History and Science: Learning About the World Around Us by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

Designing a Unit Study for History, Geography, or Science by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Social Studies by Joelle @ Homeschool for His Glory

Uncle Sam & You- Notgrass by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

My Favorite History Books for Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Social Studies in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

A Peek into our Homeschool: The Sciences by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ History & Science by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

We’re having a Social Studies-heavy Year by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Our Journey Around the World by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

My Favourite Social Studies Curriculum by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Raising Map Nuts: Learning Geography Naturally by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

The Whos, Wheres and Whys by Michele P @Family, Faith and Fridays

Exploring Our World: Social Studies and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Time Travel Throughout the World {or History and Geography in Our Homeschool} by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3: Exploring Our World – Social Studies and More Science by Stacie @ Super Mommy To The Rescue

Why We’re Ditching Story of the World by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

 

 

Jan 132014
 

How I would teach math differentlyIt’s time for the next topic in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This week’s topic is Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Mathematical Understanding or Memorization?

I think I have pretty thoroughly shared my thoughts on teaching math. Here’s How I choose Math Curriculum. Basically, I value mathematical understanding over memorization. Except sometimes. I’ve found that one of my sons, William, has to learn math by rote and practice, practice, practice. The understanding is coming slowly with the practice.

Last year I shared The post where I admit I was wrong. In it I share a little more about why mastery math programs were not working with one of my sons.

Where we are now

Here we are a year later and I am still very happy with Christian Light Math for William (5th grade). It drives me crazy that the lessons often take him FOREVER, but he is learning math. With the spiral approach of Christian Light, he gets to practice concepts almost every day. Finally, he’s not forgetting them. He still makes mistakes, but I see definite improvement, and he has shown tremendous improvement with his speed in recalling math facts.

One of the things that is built into Christian Light is a daily speed drill. Each day there are 32 problems to be attempted in 1 minute.  They are either addition, subtraction, mixture of addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, or unit conversions. William has progressed from completing 8-10 of the addition and subtraction facts in 1 minute to being able to complete all 32 problems in the same amount of time! He’s not there with multiplication and division yet, and the mixture of addition and subtraction are slower as well, but I have confidence that he will build his speed with those too.

What I would do differently (and will do differently with my younger children)

And that is what I would do differently with my older children if I were starting over again. I didn’t drill them on their facts because they could do the problems with relative ease. I tried some drill, but I was met with resistance from David. So I gave up backed off. In some ways, I don’t regret it. We really had a lot of trouble getting along, and we were always fighting. So I decided that I wasn’t going to fight over everything. But his lack of speed is evident when doing calculations. Actually he rarely does any calculations on paper anymore. David does math in his head or on a calculator. And he has trouble showing his work. Which is another thing I wish I had done better at requiring.

What I think I should have done instead of drilling with flash cards or plain worksheets is tried simple speed drills like in Christian Light. I don’t know for sure that it would have been more acceptable, but I suspect it would have been because David is very competitive.

Lizzie (2nd grade) is doing very well in Singapore and Miquon like my 2 oldest, but she also sees William doing speed drills. Lately she has started asking for speed drills too. So I’m going to do them with her while I have a willing participant. I think the combination of mathematical understanding and speed will be helpful to her as she goes on to more advanced math.

Visit these blogs to read more about teaching math.

Our {almost} FREE 2nd and 4th Grade Math Program by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science’s Mathemagic by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Math & Logic Resources by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

How We Tackle Middle School Math, Logic & Science by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

 A Peek into our Homeschool: Math & Logic by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Math and Logic: Patterns and Reasoning by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair: Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue

Virtual Curriculum Fair: The World of Patterns and Logic by Joelle

Discovering Science & Math w/ Apologia & Saxon  by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

Make Math Fun: Your Kids Will Thank You by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ Mathematics by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

My Favorite Math For Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Homeschool Math Choices for a Future Scientist or Computer Programmer by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

Math–Our Four Letter Word by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Godly Patterns in Homeschooling by LisaN @ Golden-Grasses

Math and Science anyone? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

My 7 Favourite Math Resources by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Basic Instincts by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Getting My Teens Ready for Algebra by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Math We Love by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Math & Science by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our Take on Math, the Elementary Years – Charlotte Mason-style by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

Tackling Math and Science from Multiple Angles by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Jan 052014
 

Welcome to the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

vcf2014300px

This week’s topic is Playing with Words.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I only link to products that I have tried and found to be of high quality. Every child is different, and some of the resources that I have loved using with one child have not worked well for others.

What a massive topic this is. As I have thought about it, words are probably the single-most important foundation of learning.

A preschool child first begins to recognize letters,

which they learn have associated sounds,

which are joined to make words.

AndrewLetter-2

Those words are joined together to make sentences. Sentences form paragraphs and so on to stories and books.

So we spend much time learning to decode with phonics. At the same time we learn to build words with our spelling lessons.

We practice reading aloud. We read silently. I read books out loud. We answer questions and draw pictures about what we read.

We add simple grammar early on.

And Latin.

I teach writing very gently at first using copywork and dictation with some narration thrown in.

We participate in a book club which gives the children a chance to write about what they read and present it to others.

As the children grow, we add in more formal grammar, formal writing, Latin, and more Latin.

They read more literature and think about (and sometimes talk and write about) the messages conveyed.

And when they graduate, hopefully our children can read, think about what they read, draw conclusions, make arguments, and present those arguments in a well-structured, grammatically correct, properly spelled and punctuated paper which can be presented in front of others confidently, with good eye contact and voice inflection.

I don’t expect much, do I?

Here is last year’s post on Loving Language Arts. It gives a more detailed history of what resources we have used and for which of our children.

Here are links to all the posts for this week’s session of the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

3 Reasons to Read to Your Teens by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts {Virtual Curriculum Fair} by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

A Classical Take on 6th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

The Power in a Word by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

The Latin Road to English Grammar Volume 1 by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Starting a Foreign Language in Elementary School by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

These are the words we say by Christa @ Fairfield Corner Academy

A Peek into our Homeschool: Language Arts by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ English by Renata~Sunnyside Farm Fun

Virtual Curriculum Fair: A World of Words by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing w/ Words-Charlotte Mason Style by Lynn P @ Ladybug Chronicles

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Playing with Words: the Language Arts by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our PreK-1st Grade Language Arts Mix by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Fun (or Not) With Spelling by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Word Nerd Love by Lisa N@Golden Grasses

Our Favourite Resources For Teaching Elementary Language Arts by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Unconventional Reading Lessons While Homeschooling by Lori@My Journeys Through Life

My Favorite Writing Curriculum for our Boys by Monique @Living Life and Learning

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Playing With Words – Language Arts  by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue

Fun With the Language Arts by Mary @ Winecup Christian Homeschool

Our Grammar Path by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Virtual Curriculum Fair !!! by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Creating a High School English Course (or two) by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in Our Homeschool This Year by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Would you like to join? Enter your link below.

 

Jan 142013
 

Hopefully that got your attention.

And maybe it was a bit strong, but I’ve learned something.

I’ve always been a big believer in choosing math curricula that focus on understanding rather than rote learning.

Here’s my post from last year’s Virtual Curriculum Fair:

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

And while I don’t have big regrets about teaching my older 2 children in this way, I have gained a greater appreciation for the spiral approach to teaching mathematics.

After banging my head against the wall for several years, I have finally found a math program that is working for William, my middle son.

It’s Christian Light.

Every day there are an oral skip counting exercise, 2 sets of flashcards to review, and a speed drill. These are followed by the introduction of new material. Then the bulk of every lesson is the “We remember” section. So every single day William has to remember how to do addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing. He frequently is asked to convert between inches and feet or gallons to quarts. There are word problems, and multiplication fact practice. Every single day.

I think he is finally going to remember how to do subtraction.

Is it fun?

No. But it doesn’t have to be. I firmly believe that everyone needs basic math skills. While I’ve heard many preach that making learning fun makes it easier, there comes a point where things have to be done. I need to make sure that he works up to his potential. That is not going to be calculus in his case and that’s fine. And learning to be diligent is a valuable trait.

Is it quick?

No. Due to his extremely distractible nature, it can take an hour or more for William to complete his daily math lesson.

But is my almost 11 year old finally remembering the mechanics of doing math?

YES! (Most of the time anyway.)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in this journey.

1. Don’t assume that what works for one child will work for another (or that the way you learn is how your children do).

2. Don’t be afraid to try different things.

3. Don’t worry too much about grade level.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonDon’t miss the other great math ideas at the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

Delight Directed Middle School Science? by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education

It’s Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses

Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Math and More!  by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum

The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

High School Math – Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words

Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings

Jan 072013
 

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonI’m participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair at Homeschool Heart and Mind again this year because I can’t get enough curriculum talk!

This is our 10th year of homeschooling and during that time we’ve used a lot of different resources for language arts. Some I’ve used with more than one child, other things have been just what one particular child needed. I’ve linked to reviews of the products that I’ve written. Other links are to ChristianBook.com where you can see the price. (Those are affiliate links, so I will make a small amount of money if you make a purchase.)

Let’s start with Phonics!

With my oldest son David, we used  Alpha Phonics. He was ready to learn to read and this simple book was all he needed.

When my daughter Anna was ready to learn to read, I bought Phonics Pathways. Honestly there was no reason to switch from Alpha Phonics except that I like curriculum and Phonics Pathways was recommended (at that time) in The Well Trained Mind.

Both of these books are very similar with one major difference. Alpha Phonics teaches with word families cat, bat, fat, rat while Phonics Pathways starts at the beginning of the word and teaches starting syllables – ba, be, bi, bo, bu and then adds letter to the end making bat, bet, bit, and but.

Then came William. He has had a very difficult time learning to read. I tried both of the above resources with him with no success. I had some limited success with Happy Phonics, but what has been by far the single most helpful resource for his reading was All About Spelling. Yes,  I know it’s a spelling program, but it seemed like it was just the thing to help him to understand decoding words in reading.

With Lizzie I have been blessed. She has learned to read without me teaching her! Some of it was her older brother and sister working with her and some of it was working on various on-line programs like Starfall, Reading Kingdom, and Reading Eggs. But I think a lot of it was that she was ready to learn.

It’s still too early to predict anything about my just turned 2 year old. But if interest in letters and liking to be read to are any indications of ease in learning to read, he will be a cinch!

 

What about Grammar?

With my 2 older children I have used identical resources for grammar study. They both started out with First Language Lessons and followed that by several years worth of Rod & Staff English. They’re both finishing off their English grammar studies with Analytical Grammar. It’s a rigorous program, but I love the philosophy of the author. She contends that grammar is a content subject with a body of knowledge to learn. So rather than learning and relearning the same things every year, why not learn all the grammar and be done with it? It is very heavy on diagramming of sentences. I won’t lie and say that my children love this program. BUT they do love the fact that they don’t have to do daily grammar lessons all year long. They do their intensive lessons, occasional review, and they’re done.

With William I have been very slowly working through Rod & Staff. I can’t see him doing well with Analytical Grammar, so we will probably continue with Rod & Staff the whole way through. The repetition and review that made my older children long for Analytical Grammar will probably be a great help for him.

I have been working through First Language Lessons some with Lizzie this year, but I’m finding it a bit more repetitive than I remembered. We’re often going over 3 or 4 lessons in one sitting. One new resource that I’m really enjoying is StoryTime Treasures from Memoria Press. It is covering some grammar along with reading comprehension questions.

Don’t forget Latin!

We have been studying Latin for a long time in our homeschool. Maybe too long.

Do I regret starting early with my oldest?

No.

Could he have learned as much starting later?

Probably.

David used Classical Academic Press curriculum for Latin. He started with Latin for Children and completed A, B, and most of C. Then he moved on to Latin Alive. That didn’t go as well. He made it through book 1 and about half of book 2, but he really was struggling with the material. Part of it was my fault and not being more strict about drill. Part of it is his personality. He really is just not that interested in Latin. But this year I have found a course that he is enjoying much more: Visual Latin. We didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but we did back up a bit to insure that he got a good review.

With Anna, it has been completely different. She started in Latin for Children, but when I received Latina Christiana to review, I switched her to that. It turns out that she thrives in the drill-heavy Memoria Press programs. If you’re trying to decide on a Latin program, you might find this comparison helpful.

If you’ve made it through my lengthy post, congratulations! Don’t miss reading other tips for teaching language arts. Here’s a list!

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Building Blocks of Education–Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair – The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum

What Language Arts looks like in our house – Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Getting lost and finding our way in Language Artsby Piwi Mum @ Learning and growing the Piwi Way

 

Jan 302012
 

It’s the last week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair. I’ve not participated as much I wanted to, but life kind of has a way of getting in the way. Appropriately enough, the topic this week is “Nuts and Bolts”. Since I love to organize and plan, I don’t think it’s a topic I can skip!

A couple of years ago I wrote this article on Teaching Multiple Ages. My basic point was that when teaching multiple students you have to find a balance between subjects that you teach to multiple students at once, subjects that your student works on independently, and subjects that require one-on-one instruction. As the number of children increases, the amount of time that you can spend on individualized instruction decreases. There are only so many hours in the day.

I’ve found that as my children have grown, I’ve become much more of a facilitator than a teacher. I am still providing assignment sheets for my older children (13 and 11), but they have begun to rearrange their assignments to balance their workload. We’re using more video instruction too. I hope next year to enroll my oldest in an on-line class.WIth my older children working more on their own, I have more time to spend teaching my third and fourth children. I have to spend one-on-one time with my middle son (9) because of various learning issues that he has. I need to spend more one-on-one time with younger daughter (5). Thankfully she likes working on the computer. She also receives some help from her oldest brother and sister.

I wanted to be one of those families that cuddle together on the couch and read and discuss. But we’re just not. I have finally accepted it (mostly). My children are so different and even those that are close in age have such varied interests, that it makes learning together in a formal way awkward. We are learning all the time though and we go on field trips and vacations together of course. And maybe there’s hope for the younger 2…

Is your homeschool different than you originally pictured it? How?

Be sure to visit these other great blogs to see ideas for organizing your homeschool and your home.

Weekly Homeschooling Schedule by Julie @ HighHill Homeschool

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Week 5: The Nuts & Bolts: Pulling it all
Together
by Leah @ The Courtney Six Homeschool

Our Schedule’s Working! by Eunora @ All Things NoriLynn

Homeschooling: How do I do it all? by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest

Virtual Curriculum Fair— Wrap-up Angie @ Petra School

Virtual Curriculum Fair: 5 Ways to Use an iPad in Your Homeschool by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

A Peek Into Our School Day by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

A Day in the Life… by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Homeschool and Life: How we get it done by Jen @ Forever, For Always, No Matter What

Homeschooling at My House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Getting a Grip on Things by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Making Home School a part of LIFE by Cindy @ For One Another

Now Where’s That Pencil Again? by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Something About Homeschooling I Really Didn’t See Coming by Letha @justpitchingmytent

Curriculum,Kids, and a Frazzled Homeschool Mama leads to Controlled Chaos! by Laura O from AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Staying on Top of Everything by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

 

Jan 092012
 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through an affiliate link, I will receive a small percentage of the sales price.

As an elementary student I don’t remember being too fond of math. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t particularly like it either. I do remember shedding tears over division of fractions. I just didn’t understand WHY division was the same as multiplying by the reciprocal, and that really upset me. That and the fear that I might make a bad grade. But that’s a topic for another day.

Everything changed when I started Algebra. I was blessed with an excellent teacher. He had worked as an engineer, but for various reasons had decided to become a math teacher. (The reasons did not include not being a good engineer. He really knew his stuff.) It was in Algebra I that I learned to love word problems. Call me crazy, but I really like a good word problem.

I think largely due to that Algebra teacher’s influence, I ended up majoring in engineering. (I not only had him for Algebra I, but also for Algebra II, Algebra III, and Advanced Physics, in addition to being the coach of the math team. Yes, I was on the math team. Go ahead and snicker.)

And what does all this background have to do with my homeschool curriculum choices?

Quite a lot actually. The single most important objective I have for my children in their math education is that they understand math. I do still want them to know their math facts. But if I had to pick, I’d chose mathematical understanding and application over computational speed. No question. That definitely influences my curriculum choices.

My oldest son has always shown a high aptitude for math. When I started researching homeschooling curriculum (way earlier than I care to admit) I finally settled upon starting with a combination of Miquon and Singapore Math. I didn’t do anything fancy trying to coordinate the two curricula to mesh the topics together. He just worked through Miquon Orange, then Singapore 1A, back to Miquon for the Red book, then back to Singapore 1B. We kept alternating until we ran out of Miquon books. (There are 6). Then he continued using Singapore Math through Singapore 6A.

It was in Singapore 6A that he began to point out that there really wasn’t anything new he was learning. So I went to work looking for Pre-Algebra options. What I settled on for him is Life of Fred. Life of Fred is a series of math books in which all the math is taught in the form of a story. My son loves Life of Fred because of Fred’s crazy adventures. He likes the quirky sense of humor. I love to hear my son laughing doing his math. Life of Fred books go off on some wild tangents that have really gotten my son to think. He does a lot of thinking about mathematical patterns. He asks me theoretical questions that I cannot figure out. My son is midway through Advanced Algebra, and he is understanding math.

I’ve read many reviews of Life of Fred that say it’s a good curriculum for a more literary inclined student. Maybe that’s because it might catch the interest of a student who likes to read. But that makes it sound like it’s watered down math. I assure you, it is not. And my son is far from literary. He likes to read computer manuals and books of facts–not literature.

This sequence of curricula has worked great for my math minded son who needs very little practice to understand a concept. Who, in fact, detests anything that seems even remotely like “busy work”. I have a hard time getting him to write enough of the problem steps down.

I used to be under the crazy delusion that I could pick out curriculum once and just use the same thing for all my children. I have determined that I—-

  1. Like to research curriculum way too much to find one thing for the whole family to use forever, and
  2. Have 5 extremely different children.

Starting with Singapore and Miquon was also a good fit for my oldest daughter, but she has already told me she doesn’t think she could learn from Life of Fred. And my middle son has some learning issues that made Miquon and Singapore poor choices for him. Who knows what will be the best choice for my youngest 2 children?

The freedom to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student is one of the reasons that homeschooling works so well. It’s a good thing I’m a curriculum junkie!

For more Virtual Curriculum Fair Posts visit these great blogs:

Math Lapbooks—Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 Angie Wright @ Petra School

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week Two: Discover Patterns, Mathematics, Logic and Some Science by Leah @ The Courtney Six Homeschool

Our Choices For Math by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

A Magnificent Math Manipulative by Letha Paulk @ justpitchingmytent

Our Math Choices – Virtual Curriculum Fair by Tristan @ Our Busy Homeschool

Math Literature?!?! by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

Learning Math at My House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Math Using Hamburger Paper by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest

Math Facts or Fun? Why Not Both! by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Heart of Dakota- The Fine Details- Part 2 Science by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

Learning Math Block by Block by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Plugging Along with Math by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

What’s Working and What’s Not: Math Edition by Leann @ Montessori Tidbits

Math Anyone? by Cindy @ For One Another

Ahh, Math. by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Flying Without a Parachute: Math with no Curriculum by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Math in Our Homeschool by Christine T @ Our Homeschool Reviews

Math, Math, and More Math by Dawn Chandler @ tractors & tire swings

Discovering Patterns: Math, Logic, and Some Science by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

The Science of Math by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

“Mom, did we do math today?” by Chrissy at Learning is an Adventure

Math, Math, and More Math by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.