Friday, August 19, 2011

A New Homeschooling Adventure

This year poses an entirely new series of challenges I've not yet faced in my 7 years of homeschooling.  I have older kids that will need more serious study time.  It makes me tear up to think that Hannah is entering sixth grade!  I so remember sixth grade.  What an awkward year.  Fifth grade, I first realized the hierarchy of cliques among school kids.  Sixth grade was fun.  (My teacher was Mrs. Brown. I had no idea I, too, would become a Mrs. Brown!)  I was in a small Christian school where my mom was teaching.  There were eight kids in our class: four boys and four girls.  I met a friend that year that ended up being one of my best friends ever.  We had so much fun that year and in years to come, even though she moved out of town and I moved to a public school.  But I digress....

Hannah is a sixth-grader!  Okay, I'm in full-on tears now.  My other two school-aged kids are entering 4th and 3rd grade.  (I loved my teachers during these grades.  What carefree days those were.)

Now, I am responsible for their education AND our two newest Brownie sons.  The boys are only two and three, but they are both "blank slates" linguistically (ASL/English).  Tian has obviously been exposed to spoken Mandarin, but Travis came to us with no, and I mean NO language whatsoever.  So, this year, in addition to schooling my older three, I'll need to manage two toddlers and work with each of them, feeding them as much language as I possibly can.

How do I plan to do this?  Well, right now, our goal is to establish ASL as their first language.  That means we sign everything.  Tian can hear speech, so he hears his siblings, hears me talking, hears the TV, and hears my iPod playing podcasts, but ASL will be the priority language for now.  The boys will also be exposed to written English by seeing the words in books.   We will focus on identifying objects, colors, letters and numbers.  For the boys, this year's school plan is just to get them caught up to their age linguistically with ASL as their primary language.

English is crucial to their future success and independence. Notice I didn't say speaking English or listening to English.  Fluency in written English, both in understanding and in an ability to express themselves, is vital to their success and independence as older kids and then adults.  However, the boys are just barely two and three, so this year, we will really focus on their acquiring their first, primary language, ASL.

We will certainly take advantage of speech training in the coming years, but that's not even on our radar at this point.  There are far too many more important things for them to focus their time, energy and brain power on right now.

In my past post, I talked a bit about language development for deaf kids.  That lays out a path of sorts for me to keep focused.  Since Tian can hear speech, his and Travis' language development will look different for sure.  So far, it's been lots of fun to see them both grow so much, so quickly, in such a short period of time.

As for the Brownies, we're keeping it pretty basic this year with the Three Rs.  Here's what we have going so far:


Math: Mixture of Singapore and Teaching Textbooks

Writing: The girls are taking Institute of Excellence in Writing with an excellent homeschool mom/teacher. I'm SO thrilled about that for them!

History: We are on our 3rd year of a two-year history core with Sonlight.  I am giving myself this year to finish and think that is a pace with which I can keep up.  We are at the end of the Civil War moving forward.

Bible: We haven't been in AWANA for the past three and a half years, but I was looking through the AWANA handbooks this week and plan to work through memorization with the kids.  I'm also going to read through Leading Little Ones to God with my two middles.  I'm still on the lookout for a devotional/plan for Hannah.  I have some Doorposts books I might have her utilize, but she needs to want to do it, so that's something we need to figure out this week.

Science: We really slacked on formal science last year, but we took tons and tons of nature walks/rides around Andy Brown Park.  We observed snakes (for hours), beavers, fish, bullfrogs, and all kinds of waterfowl. 
I have a lot of science books and supplies unused from last year, so we'll be picking up where we left off with  Sonlight Science D.  In addition, I'm considering just letting my kids watch Myth Busters every week and that be science.  Seriously, the other day, I asked my daughter why they were blowing up toilets and she answered, "They believe that the water in the toilet carries highly combustable substances that will cause it to explode when....blah blah blah..."  Yeah.  Love MythBusters.  In fact, it's 10:30pm and their bedtime choice of TV time was MythBusters: MacGyver Myths.

Reading: The Brownies enjoy reading, so this isn't a huge challenge.  I AM going to have my oldest read something other than Harry Potter.  She has read those books over and over and would keep doing so if I let her.  Kenzie loves hitting the library and picking up chapter books at random, though she mostly picks stories involving a girl close to her age.  TJ seems to like the Magic Tree House books, so I will encourage him to read through those this year. 

That's it for this year!  The kids each have a handwriting book, typing tutor games on the computer, spelling activities, Draw-Write-Now books they adore, tons of language arts workbooks and other things I can give them if they need extra work.   In my dreams, I'd like to have them each think back on the China trip and do some writing and research about things they saw there.  That may just be a pipe dream, though. 

Despite the long list of stuff above, I truly just want the kids to learn to work independently this year.  My goal for the older three is for them to self-start, manage their time, and improve their diligence regarding school work.  They also have their chores and extra jobs they can do to earn a commission, so add "money management" to this year's syllabus!

Homeschooling is a challenge.  This year presents a whole new challenge.  *deep breath*  Here we go!

2 comments:

  1. I hope this quote from Charlotte Mason encourages you on the right track of your kids becoming "self-educated". I love how tough times forces us to let our kids do what comes naturally "self-educate".

    "One thing at any rate we know with certainty, that no teaching, no information becomes knowledge to any of us until the individual mind has acted upon it, translated it, transformed, absorbed it, to reappear, like our bodily food, in forms of vitality. Therefore, teaching, talk and tale, however lucid or fascinating, effect nothing until self-activity be set up; that is, self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature."- Charlotte Mason

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  2. We're taking it slowly this year, too! We'll be starting Core E, and my goal is to finish half of it by the time Ted returns. :-) Did you have the kids journal at all while they were in China? I gave our kids journals when we left for our great American adventure last fall...though they didn't write a TON, we did have them write almost every day about their view of our experiences! You might also consider letting them each have their own blog...that has encouraged both Charis and Tobin to be more excited about writing. :-)

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