Living and Learning in the Pacific Northwest
One of our big goals this year is more independence for the boys. More independence in their learning, and more independence around the house. So far this school year, the boys have learned to unload, load and start the dishwasher. They have learned how to do laundry and the typical settings on the washer and dryer. Hunter already knows how to load the wood stove and Chandler is learning now too. They help Kelly haul and stack wood. Hunter drives the tractor with a load of wood. Hunter takes good care of our chickens and he will go out alone after dark to close the coop. Both boys help dust, vacuüm and sweep but they miss some spots. They are really good at straightening up the house and don’t leave their toys lying about very often. They are learning to cook.
They can also go into our local Subway, order and pay for their meals without my help. The girls at the counter usually give them free cookies. One day, an older woman thought the boys were alone, and marched around looking for their mom. When she saw me, she went back to her place in line. It’s kind of funny. I wonder how many kids are learning to do things like this independently.
With school work, this year has been the best one yet! I’m so glad Kelly suggested we continue homeschooling them. Kelly helps with their lessons and helps with the explanations for math. It’s like a tag team with us now. When the kids are being too literal about my directions, it is frustrating. I think we’ve got the spelling kinks worked out now. The boys are learning to spell new words at a good clip. With Hunter, it is either maturity, brain development, or more focus, but he is learning sequential, written language faster than ever. I think it has “clicked” for him.
It is possible that video games and all they have learned with Minecraft has helped bridge some of these connections. They need to spell correctly in Minecraft, so they have learned many words this way. They also need to remember names, URLs, codes, passwords, items available in a MOD, and instructions on how to build cool things in the game, etc. I never thought I would say it, but video games are educational.
We have changed our schedule and this is helping with the basic school work. Now five mornings a week the boys can work on the 3Rs. A typical morning starts out with breakfast. Sometimes I will read a biography while they are eating. Right now, we are reading a biography about George Washington. After they eat, we usually look up the locations mentioned in the book on our wall maps. They love map work at home! We also have Daily Geography, and they like this too. I do this with them about once a week.
Next, the boys will do their Teaching Textbooks lesson on their laptops in the classroom. If they need help with a concept, either Kelly or I will explain it. If we are having trouble explaining it, then they can watch a Math-U-See lesson. Now that both boys are willing to write more, they are doing their math problems on paper instead of trying to do it all in their heads. If they miss too many on TT, then I delete those questions from the grade book and have them do those over to make sure they understand. Occasionally, I print the grade book to keep a paper record of their progress. Both boys will finish in May. Hunter is doing TT5 and Chandler is doing TT3.
For reading, they pick one or two short books and read for 40 minutes. Then we discuss the books they read, and the boys rate them on a scale of 1 to 5. I use the Goodreads app, scan the bar code on the book, shelve the book in either Hunter’s or Chandlers 2014 shelf, and click the rating they said. Eventually, I’d like the boys to write occasional reviews for the books they read.
For writing, they either do copywork, or write their own sentences. Their sentences are very basic, so I am planning to order IEW because they need more help with writing. I think knowing how to spell more words will improve writing skills too. Hunter does not like to spell words wrong, so it stifles his writing. He will choose bigger words, not know how to spell the word, and insert an easier word.
For spelling, we are reviewing the Dolch words. They are going through these at a fast clip. I’m testing them first, without reviewing the list. Any words they miss, I have them do the Spelling Power technique, which is “see, say, write, cover, and spell.” We also added “build,” which means they use Banana-grams tiles to spell the word. The boys are learning fast, and remembering them the next day and later in the week. I plan to order Spelling Power after they learn the Dolch words.
The boys are getting plenty of science and nature study with our activities, along with Lego and art. They are also doing what we now call the CM Quartet: poetry recitation, picture study, composer, and Shakespeare. We have commitments two afternoons a week with our Charlotte Mason Co-op and 4H. We are also diving at the pool and in open water. Hunter will dive in open water soon, and hopefully he will want to work some more on the mask skill. He is a good diver, and as soon as he can remove, replace, and clear his mask underwater, he will earn his junior certification. He has completed all the coursework except the last test.