A month ago I shared my evaluation of 1st grade with Lizzie.
Today I’m moving on to the next oldest student, William.
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William is 11 years old. He is finishing what I am calling the 4th grade, though technically, according to his age, he should be finishing 5th grade. And according to his achievement tests, he should be somewhere below the 4th grade. But one of the benefits of homeschooling is that I can tailor his subjects, to meet his particular learning challenges.
This year the focus was on math. All the previous years, the focus had been reading. Not that we hadn’t done any math, but what we had done, really hadn’t stuck. So this year I went a new direction in math. I am a fan of conceptual, mastery based math programs. But with William, that just does not work. He would “learn” borrowing, but then the next day it would be brand new. Finally it would seem like he got it, but then when we’d revisit the topic in a couple of weeks, it would be completely forgotten. So that’s why I tried a spiral program this year. I choose Christian Light because of the workbook format and uncluttered pages.
I told about it in The post where I admit I was wrong.
The results were even better than I expected. Since he had to practice some adding, some subtracting, and math facts every single day, they finally “stuck”. This program wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy, but I am sold on this method for William. Next year for math, it’s Christian Light again!
Another curriculum that I love for William is All About Spelling. I attribute most of William’s reading success to this program, so it’s definitely on the slate for next year too! (Although, I think another big factor was Brain Integration Therapy from Dianne Craft.)
One big weakness that I’ve noticed this year is reading comprehension. I saw it in his math word problems. I noticed it when he read books for book club. So while he is finally able to read in a fairly fluent manner, the meaning of what he is reading is not really getting to his brain. Obviously this is a problem.
I’m floundering a bit with what to do about this. One thing I’m going to work on is narration. We’ve been using the Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers for reading practice. I am going to continue with these, but not stress so much over getting through the whole reading, but instead we’ll stop every paragraph and have him tell me what he just read.
Another resource I’m going to try is Reading Detective. I haven’t tried this yet, so I don’t know if it will be helpful or not, but I have been pleased with other resources from Critical Thinking Company.
Handwriting is also an issue for William. He is able to write neatly, but still struggles with putting the letters on the correct positions above and below the lines. We did some cursive with Handwriting without Tears last year. His cursive looked very nice, but he was unable to write in cursive without a model. He could copy cursive writing, but he couldn’t remember how to form letters without looking. This year I have purchased a Westminster Catechism copybook. My plan is for him to copy, then read what he copied. Hopefully that will help him with learning how to write directly in cursive.
You have probably noticed that I am leaving out content subjects with William. That is because we really are focusing on the 3R’s in formal school time. His history, geography, and science learning comes from his reading various books and watching documentaries. (Though his ability to learn through reading has been limited as I mentioned.) I do hope to include some formal history and science this year, but once again the focus will be on building the foundational skills.