Tag Archives: Homeschooling

Our Seventh Grade Curriculum

nobg-drown-freebie11Seventh grade sucks. Moods are crazy up and down. Bodies feel either too developed or not developed enough. Friends shift and change; some stab you in the back and you feel so alone. Parents seem mad at you all the time. You just want to lash out at them and hurt their feelings to make yourself feel better, yet really you want rocked like a baby and soothed. You want to fit in somewhere, but not with the younger kids. You know you’re ready to fit in with the high schoolers if they’d drop their airs and stop treating you like a baby. It’s time for a boyfriend. But that’s exciting and scary.

Homeschooling seventh grade students is a tightrope act. But if you can hang with them like a true funambulist (That’s a tightrope walker. Did you know that? I didn’t!), try hard to understand, stop talking, and start really listening and sitting with them, the metamorphosis is truly breathtaking. You’ll find them witty, concerned, compassionate, and raw. Looking back now, my seventh-grade self is probably an accurate portrait of my true self before contorting it to fit what I wanted it to be.

Anyhow, each year, I write a post about the curriculum of my oldest. She gets the test run so I know what I’ll do for the rest. Lucky her. I tend to stick with the same curriculum from year to year as long as it’s working. We work on a rolling schedule. If the book isn’t finished in an academic year, no biggie. If we finish a book before the academic year, we move on to the next one.

Our Curriculum

Saxon Algebra I:

We started this last year in sixth grade, and we will finish it nicely by the end of this seventh grade school year. Last year was kind of rough starting algebra; we really took our time. Because I was raised on Saxon Math myself, I knew that if she could just hang in there, at some point the Saxon Algebra work would seem easy. This year, it clicked and we’ve progressed very nicely. She has requested tests, and so she has been taking tests this year.

An important concept I learned was to teach algebra on our chalk board (chalk wall) and show lots of examples, not skipping any steps that may seem simple to me.

We will start geometry when we are finished, but I doubt I will keep the Saxon curriculum for geometry. I want something with proofs to develop logic. We will come back to Saxon for Algebra II.

Easy Grammar: Plus and Daily Grams Grade 7:

Nothing fancy. Just good, solid, easy explanations and black and white worksheets. There is no (little) practice with writing. Just grammatical skills.

Drawing Sentences:

This is a diagraming (or diagramming) book that I use to supplement the grammar curriculum, although it is not from the same author. It helps to logically break sentences down into all that has been learned from the grammar book. It reinforces the grammar in a different way, and I feel it develops logic. We do about 1-2 lessons a week, and this book will be rolled over into our eighth grade curriculum because we won’t get it finished.

How to Spell Workbook 4:

We continue to work through How to Spell Workbook 4 slowly and thoroughly. My daughter requested weekly spelling tests this year, so we have implemented those using words from the book. We will probably finish this book by the end of the year.

LivelyLatin:

This is a live, interactive on-line course taught by the instructor of the LivelyLatin book that I tried to go through with my daughter in fifth and sixth grade. The class is great, and my daughter loves it. She enjoys interacting both with the teacher and the other students. It does a good job covering history too. She is assigned homework and tests.

Spanish:

A good friend whose primary language is Spanish helps teach. Our goal is conversational Spanish at this time.

US Geography:

I found this PDF which I used as a guideline: Geography of the United States. We worked hard to cover this thoroughly and also review states and capitals.

Science:

Unschooled. I don’t see much point in starting formal science until kids have figured out how to logically sort, categorize, and start making connections. Until then, science should be fun and led by fascination with the world around. Memorizing the number of bones in the body is fun, but the fact that bones act as repositories for minerals, immune cells, and function as levers is productive information. About the time kids have mastered algebra seems to be the ripe time for formal biology and chemistry.

We keep lots of fun books around that the kids can pick up and learn from on their own. When they ask questions, we make sure and provide the answers we know. If we don’t know, they look it up. Curiously, their science scores on standardized tests seem to be their highest.

Art:

Our local homeschool co-op offers an amazing, monthly class through our town’s museum.

Physical education: Dance and volleyball

Music: Violin

Literature: Abundant, mostly self-selected books.

That’s it! Best wishes with your seventh grader! Hang in there, know when to push, watch when to pull back. Ask when it’s okay to hug them and then squeeze them tight!

Terri

A Child in Need of Diagraming and Proofs

I’m working hard here to get our upcoming school year teed up, and therefore, I’ve not had the time I want to tweak the second thyroid disease and breast cancer post. It is on my mind, and it will get finished.

But, as I was looking for a couple of books to round out my school plans for the year, I thought of something I’d like to throw out there for homeschoolers about geometry and grammar. It will be stream of consciousness to get there, so hang tight a minute.

I tend to be interested in many, many things and ideas. My head can get cluttered. I also tend to be a “feel-er” rather than a “fact-er.” (More interested in feelings than facts and arriving at solutions because I just know it’s right. Drives my husband, a stone-cold numbers guy, crazy–but after 30 years together, he knows I’m right. :-)) I’ve been this way since forever.

I looked back at my education, and I realized that learning to organize my thoughts in junior high and high school was invaluable for me, especially as I interacted and discussed ideas with others. (Maybe that’s the idea of “logic” from a classical curriculum? Dunno.)

With that in mind, my children will be diagraming sentences and doing proofs in geometry. Just now, I was looking for a diagraming book to supplement our usual grammar work. When it comes time for geometry, I will look for a program with proofs.

I don’t think that they’re necessary for mastery of grammar or geometry. I certainly won’t allow them to be thorns in our school year when the time arrives. But I will explain to my children that sometimes thoughts fill our head, and we need to be able to not let them overwhelm us. That we need to be able to organize them so we can see them better and make better decisions.

As a medical doctor, when I worked in the intensive care unit, my patients were really sick, in so many places. If I tried to make one organ better, it put a hard strain, sometimes a near-fatal strain, on another organ system. The kidneys LOVE fluids. The heart gets overwhelmed by it.

When I’d first look at a patient and their chart, I’d groan inwardly, thinking, “No way. This is impossible.” But then, I’d sit down with the chart, and I’d do what I’d trained my brain to do since junior high (thank you, teachers), thinking through each organ and weighing in my mind which organ was crashing fastest and how much I could push the other organs to get what was needed done.

Each day, each problem can be managed by stepping back, examining all the pieces of what’s going on, and then using what you know or going to get a piece of information or help you don’t have or know.

For children who are more verbal, more feelers, who are fascinated by everything around them and sometimes locked by indecisiveness, it just might be a good idea, if you have the opportunity, to help that child see that complex math problems and complex sentences aren’t all that intimidating when you break it down. That life isn’t all that intimidating when you use what you know.

I don’t like facts all that much. Seems like even the facts are ever-changing to me. On the other hand, facts can keep you from lying to yourself that there is no solution. From lying to yourself and saying there is no way out.

And that is why I plan to guide my kids through geometrical proofs and diagraming sentences, urging them not to see work, but to see the ability to think through stuff in life.

Thanks for letting me put that out there. Back to picking a diagraming book.

Terri

And HA! I see now maybe it’s diagraming! Not diagramming! Go figure. Or is it? I’ve seen both. Do you know? Is it a fact? Which one is it? If you know for sure, do let me know! I think it can be both?

A Society’s Selective Silence on Education

“Colleges now, including all the major ones—Stanford and Yale and Harvard—are actively seeking kids who were homeschooled or unschooled or who had an alternative type of education because what’s different about those kids is that they’re still interested in learning… In fact, I read a statistic that… and I may have the numbers slightly off here, but I think Stanford’s admission rate for homeschooled kids is 26 percent as opposed to 6 percent for traditionally schooled applicants…” (Jeremy Stuart in an interview with Chris Kresser)

I was shocked and excited to see that Chris Kresser, a well-respected alternative health (integrative health) guru, ran a blog segment on homeschooling. Unfortunately, I cringed at the paucity of usual comments from his typically active readers.

Sixteen meager comments. Sixteen. Compare that to the 111 comments on his organic meat article! Everybody wants to talk organic and glyphosate and gluten. But darn. Kids’ futures and alternative education. Near dead silence!

What really counts? I mean, I’m a real-food, watch-for-food-intolerance believer, but what does it mean when kids don’t learn to read or get bullied in school? When parents are beginning to feel like school is an elephant on their families’ chests?

What does it mean when Chris Kresser’s responsive readers will leave 200 comments on proton pump inhibitors and only 16 on alternative education? (When there are only 26 comments on a distraction and mindfulness article. . .)

I heard a great story once. I was at a conference, and I attended a teen panel of unschoolers. These were all kids who had never been to traditional school. Many of them had never actually set foot in a school. There was one young man there, and he had enrolled to a university to study astrophysics. . .

And someone said to him, “Obviously you’re interested in astrophysics.” That wasn’t the question. The question was, “Why would you enroll yourself in a college when you’ve never set foot in a school? What’s that like, and how did you manage to get in?” And he said, “Well, I realized that the only way to really study it to the degree that I wanted was at this particular institution, and so I applied, and when I applied, I realized I didn’t really know any math.” He said, “I went to my parents, and I was kind of upset. ‘Well, how come you never taught me any math?’ And they said, ‘Well, you weren’t interested.’” And he said, “Well, I need it now,” and they said, “Well, you know what to do.”

So he went to the library, and he got grade one math, then grade two, grade three, grade four, and so on. So He spent three months just reading math books, and in three months he took the necessary examination to enter the college and got 92 percent on the test. (Jeremy Stuart in an interview by Chris Kresser)

Do go and check out Chris Kresser’s interview of homeschooling filmmaker Jeremy Stuart. If you can make time, leave a comment! (Even if it’s just to say, “Hey, interesting!”)

Blogs are live productions. You comment. Blogger responds generally in some way (perhaps not right away–but over time they get back to it).

I’d LOVE to see more people exposed to the idea that education doesn’t have to come in a box! That one-size (one school, one curriculum, one teacher) doesn’t fit all! Maybe if we comment, generate questions, and create discussion, maybe Chris Kresser will remember and do another piece like this in the future.

If you homeschool, you may have fun  reading (or watching) this interview. If you don’t homeschool, and school isn’t going so well for your children, maybe you’d want to consider homeschooling. He calls it “unschooling,” but I’m of the opinion that anyone who chooses to teach their children outside of the classic halls of education is “unschooling” to one degree or another. The interview covers:

  • How did public schooling come about? (It’s only been around about 150 years.)
  • What was the purpose of public school?
  • Student (and parent) “burn-out” and how homeschooling can avoid that
  • How our modern education is “banging its head against a wall”
  • Discussion of Finland’s education system
  • Misconceptions about homeschooling and unschooling
  • How colleges are coming to view homeschoolers
  • What kinds of things homeschoolers can learn
  • And so much more!

Unschooling as a Cure for “Industrialized Education”–with Jeremy Stuart

Check it out! You learned once. Or didn’t learn. How did that happen? How could it have been better? Don’t be selectively silent. More standards don’t brighter kids make! I’ve watched my own kids learn and the differences among simply three kids is ASTOUNDING.

These schoolkids of today will be running your nursing home.

Speak.

Terri

 

Questioning Your Parenting. Part 1.

push-buttons

Mph. Agh. Ouchie. Eeeeow!

Huh. Tragic. There’s no stuffin’ ‘em back in now,  is there!? You are stuck on the parenting conveyor belt for the . . . rest . . . of . . . your . . . life.

(Speaking of conveyor belts, have you ever seen Lucy’s Famous Chocolate Scene? The best Lucy episode ever. I watch it about once a month and never fail to belly laugh.)

I love parenting. I love my kids. I love my life. It’s all good. However, my oldest kids have transitioned to this tween period, and I’ve had some new challenges thrown at me that I guess I just didn’t anticipate, partly because I figured homeschooling would buffer us and partly because I try to keep in-tune with my kids. Guess that’ll show me, won’t it!?

My last post was on the science of the truly changing adolescent brain. Simply amazing! However, dealing with that anger-prone brain lacking frontal control can be simply exhausting! So I’ve been working on some questions, with the help of friends and family (and you), to help me through this time. Take a gander…

Do you need to unwire your buttons?

Something your kid did or said got you mad, sad, angry, guilty, resentful, or hurt? Then your buttons have been pushed! A friend of mine received wonderful button advice when raising her now grown son:

“When my first-born son turned 12, a friend of mine told me, “You are no longer entitled to have any buttons. Remove them all from your psyche. If you have any buttons HE WILL FIND THEM. You are then to say, ‘Oh, why thank you, son, for pointing out that I have a button there, I will remove it forthwith!’”

What are some commonly wired buttons?

  • The Guilt Button
  • The Disrespectful Kid Button
  • The This Parent is Being Taken for Granted Button
  • The Character Attack Button (Often pushed when you’re called controlling or a liar–or worse, a controlling liar!)
  • The I’m Being Lied to Button
  • The Messy Button
  • The My Kid is Lazy Button
  • The Gimme’ Button (Usually pushed when a string of “needed,” unrelated things comes out their mouths in the course of less than 5 minutes)
  • The I Hate Running Late Button
  • The Trying to Be Fair Button (Usually pushed when one kid gets something “special” and the others think they never do)
  • My Kid’s Become a Brat Button

Got any of those buttons? Got any others? In the heat of the moment, I’ve been trying to pause and internally give a name to the button my tweens are pushing, making a visual image of me unwiring that button (Sometimes I visualize the button on my head, sometimes on my heart, and sometimes in my stomach, whatever, weird, I know.), so it can’t be a source of angst for me anymore. Then, I am better at ignoring what needs to be ignored, calmly (more calmly, anyhow) addressing what I can address at the time, or running upstairs as fast as I can so I don’t say meaner, nastier things than my kids.

Bottom Line: JAM your buttons so they don’t have anything to push.

Does your child need alone time with you?

One daughter kept asking for some alone time with me. I was like, “Yeah. Yeah. We’ll get that.” Honestly, I was thinking, “Uh. It’s a family of six, one being a toddler. You don’t get alone time with me. Doesn’t homeschooling count?” But I made some time to go out with her and each other older child alone.

Every family is different, but I think one of my big problems was the time consumed by a toddler. Split parenting (That’s the term for parenting kids in different stages of life, I guess.) does not seem to be my forte. Guess it doesn’t matter what the reason, I learned that kids need a bit of alone time with me. So I’ve made a point to go out for coffee with one, go shopping with another, leave the others at home while I drive just the one to a practice, and so on.

Other moms have shared with me that alone time can be as simple as a trip to the grocery store with just one riding shot-gun, working at a boring, tedious chore side-by-side, or lying beside them late at night right before bed (when you’re really exhausted and simply want to sleep). I can vouch they seem to talk more right before bed when I need toothpicks for my eyes.

Do you take it as about you? (It’s not about you ,even if they try to make it about you.)  

It’s easy to take this challenging time as a reflection of your parenting and allow yourself to have a pity party wondering what YOU did wrong. How could YOUR child treat YOU so badly? What did YOU do? How did YOU ruin YOUR child for life? How did YOU create such a villain?

I know my kids are loved, provided for, safe, nurtured, rarely yelled at, rarely criticized, have some laundry and dishes to do, have appropriate boundaries, still have a few wants (as in they don’t have everything), and so on and so forth. I know my kids aren’t bullied at school or being picked on by a teacher. And yet, my kids are still turning inside-out on me, often accusing me of their suffering! One’s a melancholy and the other is a viper. (Unless the guidance counselor–that’s me–has dealt with two crying tweens, it’s not a complete day.)

So I’ve decided this time isn’t about me being a bad mom as much as it is about my kids learning to get away from a good mom. The best way for life to separate me and my kids is to make me unlikable to them—and them unlikable to me! (It’s working! Ha! “Go away! Come back with the grandkids.”)

Yet, I’ll nurse them (and me) along in their confusion and anger, proving to them that love is unconditional—but it can still get its feelings hurt! Nancy Rue, a writer of tween self-help books, writes that the numerous tweens she has interviewed want two things from their parents (even when they seem to push parents away): daily hugs and some time alone with them.

Hey. That sounds like it’s all about them!

Are you fostering independence?

What if they get smashed crossing that busy street? What if they browse bad internet sites? What if they get molested at a sleepover? What if they don’t choose their class college schedule right, costing you another thousand bucks or more? What if they major in art and live with you forever?

There’s no right answer, but if your kid is telling you she feels controlled and overprotected, it might be time to listen and start some negotiations. Each day of a child’s life should bring her closer in some way to independence from your home.

I’ve noticed they thrive better when I get them out of the house to a friend’s house or hanging out with another adult, helping them with a job or learning a skill from them.

To be continued . . . Next up will be exploring: Even good kids need help, letting go of our attachments for our children, and doorways without doors.

Terri

 

 

Do I Regret Quitting My Job to Homeschool?

Yesterday I went for my first “getting-up-in-years” mammogram.  (Everything was normal.)  But at the front desk, the checker-inner asked me, “Are you still a [slight, almost imperceptible pause] stay-at-home housewife?”

I could see she struggled a little bit knowing how to politely ask that question in such a way that it sounded, I don’t know, you know, nice and non-judgmental.  I wonder if the term selection is very, very mildly reminiscent of choosing the appropriate word for “black” colored-skin.  We want to choose a word that isn’t “loaded.”

I smiled graciously and said, “Yes.  That doesn’t entirely describe it, but I am.”

About four years ago I was asked that same question while checking in for a doctor’s appointment, and I squirmed and writhed so badly inside I thought my Medusa snakes would crawl out the top of my head.  (No.  I am NOT a stay-at-home housewife, I am a DOCTOR.  You know.  Just like the person I’m about to see…)  Yesterday, I didn’t even notice any Medusa snakes.  Nice, baby.  You’re doing great!

I do not regret quitting my job to homeschool.  I’m typing fast today, so I’m just going to list some thoughts in no particular order.  I’m letting the editor (that’s me) have the morning off.

I like my kids.  I honestly like who they are.  I like challenging them to grow as people in their world.  I like challenging them to express themselves and their gifts.  I love hearing their thoughts, and as they get older, it is even more and more fun.  They’ve learned things I don’t know and get to tell me about them.  They’ve grown into their sense of humor and make me laugh; each one has a different kind.

I love sharing.  I have lots of things I want my kids to learn before they leave my house.  How to cook.  How to fold towels.  Who Lucy Ricardo is.  Who Jean Valjean is.  What their mom thinks about marriage and friendship.  I have so many things I want them to know.  So many things in my head and heart I want to share with them.  This is my chance.  MY chance.

I love to learn.  Although with the toddler (18 months), I’m not learning alongside them as much as before, I still enjoy catching some Spanish, Latin, poetry, history and grammar skills.

This is it.  They aren’t growing smaller.  They’re growing older.  I want them to have the peace and security of our home and love.

But what about me?  This IS a hard part.  I am NOT my children.  My children WILL leave, and when they do, I do not want a shell of me.  I want ME.  So, right now, it IS hard to cultivate me.  I do feel selfish for carving out time to read and write.  (That’s what I like to do so much.)  I do feel like a babysitter a lot of times right now, chasing the toddler around and cleaning up the kitchen floor about six times a day.  THAT is hard.  (I’ve never liked babysitting.  Believe it or not, I’m not a kid-person.  I just like people.  To me, kids are people.)  I am giving up a lot of myself to do this, but I cannot even explain to you how I am growing.  When I recognize these feelings and emotions, I don’t sit on them and stew.  That would be so bad for me, my husband, and my kids.  Oh, no!  I go read what I can.   Find others who have been in this situation and what their perspective is.  Library books, Googling the topic, reading blogs, finding books on Amazon, and talking with other moms gives me so much insight to myself.  I never miss an opportunity to use uncomfortable emotions to GROW myself.

My husband rocks my world.  The house is my office.  My husband gets that, and he totally respects how I run our house and homeschool.  (Don’t think he ALWAYS thinks I do things right.  We have plenty of discussion on differing viewpoints.  I don’t always win.  We compromise together.)  He loves me and adores me, and I can feel that.  He is 100% part of this mission, and he makes that very clear to the girls and me.  We’ve learned to speak each other’s love language and we both make our marriage one of the “toppest” priorities ever.  With his love, support, and respect, I feel valued and legitimate.  I have to admit, without this exceptionally stable, supportive relationship, I think I would have trouble homeschooling.  (I also must mention, it was VERY difficult to transition to my husband supporting us 100% financially.  There were a lot of “what-ifs” in my mind, and being completely “dependent” on one person disturbed me greatly.  Even now, I make sure that if something should happen ever, I am ready to get back in the ball-game.)  I think working on a marriage is maybe THE most important gift parents can give children.  I’m still mulling that idea.

I’ve found an expressive outlet to pursue that I really, truly enjoy.  Discovering my joy in reading scientific literature, summarizing it, and my joy in just writing in general has given me an identity and outlet outside of my kids and husband.  The challenge, however, once I identified that, was/is finding time to do it and letting my guilt about it go.  That’s still a work in progress.

Learning to tread water.  Sometimes, especially when the environment becomes out of my control, I get in a hurry.  I want to rush on.  I want to do SOMETHING–but I simply can’t.  These are treading water times.  A friend presented me with this image of treading water.  She describes it as an important waiting time.  A time where the Powers That Be are tying up loose ends in other people’s lives so you can do what you’re supposed to do in yours.  So you just have to sit tight in this boring time–this time where you wonder what’s supposed to happen next.  Just tread water till it’s time to swim.  I’ve found when it comes time to swim and stop treading, I know it!

Finding ways to produce order.  Do you get a sense that I’m very much an orderly, controlling person?  Yes, I am.  A tidy house is important to me.  A well-run homeschool is important to me.  There are times when this all eludes my household, but I try to work with my kids, myself, and my hubby to find a rhythm and system we can honestly use to provide this needed security.  Sometimes we have to try several techniques before we land on one that works.  And then, a year later, that may not work anymore and we have to regroup.

I like who I am.  I like who you are.  I’ve become much more accepting of who I am.    I’ve become much more aware of my own insecurities and the insecurities in other people.  I’ve become aware of when I’m doing things for me versus doing them for some kind of show I think I’m in.  I don’t have anything to prove.  I’m simply here to learn to love, share, enjoy, and give, while also learning to preserve my own inner strength and core and draw it closer to God.

I will close now.  Mostly, we love homeschooling.  However, staying home all day, every day with the kids can grow tiresome; one sometimes starts “looking outside” the situation for what they’re missing.  Society’s disrespect for child-raisers and children can weigh heavy on a homeschooling parent’s heart, especially one who “fell” from a place of power and control and respect in the workplace.  Explore your heart.  Take on your deep thoughts, beliefs, and opinions.  Find out where you really stand, then move forward in peace.

Have an absolutely wonderful Thursday.

Terri

Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Spanish , History, Poetry, and Music

I’ve provided links to what texts we use.  Most of the links are from Amazon because that’s where I find the most reviews to read from other people.  I like to read reviews.  That does not mean I bought it from Amazon, though.  I don’t get any money from Amazon or anything affiliated with any of these texts.  I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone may have about any of these texts or what we do in general!

Spanish

Spanish text we picked upWe continue to have the gift of a great, steady native speaking tutor who comes to our home twice a week.  She follows an old textbook that someone gave to me a couple of years ago.  Just something I picked up along the way that seems to work.  It moves a little fast over some topics, so we supplement with exercises from several Practice Makes Perfect workbooks I picked up at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon in the past.  Our goal has Practice makes perfect textbeen to transition to thinking and speaking in Spanish during class time, but it is painful coming.  One day at a time.  My daughter’s verbal comprehension is good, and the teacher speaks in Spanish for the class.  Moving through the book and worksheets is also par on course.  It is simply the speaking application which stalls, although I know this is quite normal.  Besides our formal lessons, we have  a wonderful college student who watches the girls when she can; she is also a native Spanish speaker and tries to speak only in Spanish to them.  Both our tutor and babysitter are great people whom we consider our friends.

I have lots of Spanish resources in my home that we rotate through.  This year Spanish, like most everything else in our home, was streamlined secondary to the birth of our final baby.  If you’re working Spanish into your curriculum, you may want to check out my other homeschooling posts on this topic.  Or ask me in the comments if that’s easier.

History and Geography

Story of the WorldStory of the World by Susan Bauer continues to be our “spine.”  Actually both of my girls completely read the assigned material on their own.  They enjoy reading it and move quickly through the assigned reading.  I supplemented this year with lots Gilgamesh the Heroof documentaries appropriate to the sections they were reading.  Some of the documentaries were a bit sketchy, and some were top notch.  In addition, we supplemented with audio tapes, like The Iliad, and books, like Gilgamesh the Hero and Greek Myths from Usborne.  History is such a fun, easy topic to teach.  Actually, by now, I teach little.

Geography is taught alongside history.  As the history book circles around to the same areas for different cultures, it is easy to hash and rehash geography so it sticks.  As we rehash the geography, I also take time to ask them what other named cultures existed in the same region.

Poetry

This year, we took time to simply review all the old poems we have memorized.  I wanted to expand the poetry curriculum teaching poetrybeyond simple recitation by either learning about some poets and their poems or learning about poetry styles.  I probably just didn’t have time, but I couldn’t find a poetry text which satisfied what I was looking for.  I settled on Teaching Poetry:  Yes You Can! (Jacqueline Sweeeney) and Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 5-6.

read and understand poetryTeaching Poetry:  Yes You Can! is a fairly brief paperback text which unintentionally mirrors our writing program excellently (Institute for Excellence in Writing)!  Topics hit on include similes, imagery, strong verbs, nouns and adjectives, onomatopoeia, refrain and echo, choosing titles,and structure.  The author walks the teacher through how she teaches poetry, even going as far as to provide some scripting for you.  I like it and think it’s a great little find, but if you’re looking for a student-led poetry text, this is not it.  (I was kind of looking for a student-led text this year.)  If you want your kids to view poetry as an expression of self, this is your book.  If you want your kids to learn how to best make poetry express themselves in a memorable fashion, this is your book.  The author also provides lots of examples of student-written poetry to illustrate how to incorporate her topics into writing poetry.

Read and Understand Poetry, Grades 5-6 is organized by poetic themes, rather than topics to learn in poetry.  I was looking for something more structured along the lines of “Meter–what is meter?”; “Rhyming patters–what are the types of rhyming patterns?”; “Form–what is form?”; and so on.  This book hits on that, but not in a logical, sequential fashion like I wanted.  Instead, the book presents poems based around a theme, and then tells about the features used in that particular poem.  Nice, but not what I was looking for.  (At the end of the book, there is a little summary of terms, but still not what I was looking for.)  My kids actually like the book, and we will keep working through it slowly through next year.  My fifth grader felt it was just at the right level for her, and I’d have to agree.  I would stick with the recommended grade levels.  The book uses multiple choice questions and also open-ended questions to “test” understanding.  At the end there is a glossary of terms and poets.  This book is very much like what I would have used in my public school education (although now it meets the beautiful, magnificent, sure-to-make-our-kids-smarter requirements of Common Core–don’t we all feel better?).

Music

Violin was a new endeavor, and my daughter loved it.  She has lessons once a week.  They’re loosely Suzuki method.  She continues to dabble in piano on her own, moving forward in spurts.  Last year we used piano theory books, and I liked them a lot.  But this year, although we still have them, I didn’t make time for them.  They got a little advanced for me, and so I need to find the answers or someone who can tell me the answers!  My daughter is also playing guitar now this summer.  It really all just sounds so beautiful.  I’m so lucky to have such music in my life.

Extracurricular

We kept it narrowed down to dance, ballet and tap dancing.  And of course the music lessons.

Closing

That’s about it for our fifth grade curriculum!  This was the year where independence took off!  It was refreshing for me!  Take care and may your homeschooling endeavors flourish!

~~Terri

Our Fifth Grade Curriculum: Grammar

I think this is the third year we have used the Easy Grammar System.  It’s about as dry as I am on a Sunday.  The black and white print stares at you like a gray, winter day.  Cut and dry like my grilled steak.  But, we all appreciate Easy Grammar’s conciseness, including my kids.  (My second daughter, in third grade, also uses the Easy Grammar System.)

It takes no prep work or reading ahead on my part.  Hallelujah.  Just turn the page and go.  Grammar takes about a mere 20 minutes a day, and we do it somewhere between three and four times each week, on average.

Many school subjects in our curriculum do not start and end with the traditional school schedule.  For example, math we are about 3/4 of the way through our book.  Spelling we just moved up to a new book.  And writing we are still at the beginning of a book.  I do not march my books and student assignments out at the beginning of the year, but I always periodically take measure of where we are at, what we are doing, and where we need to regroup.  In grammar, we pretty much follow a traditional year.

Grammar Choices

We use two texts from the same author, Wanda Phillips, for our grammar curriculum:

Easy Grammar: Grade 5 (teacher’s edition)

Daily Grams:  Grade 5 (teacher’s edition)

I will describe my take on them and how we use them below.  Please notice the student’s preference for gluten-free bread.  Too bad all curriculums (curricula) seem to like to make use of references to food.

Easy Grammar: Grade 5

2015-05-13 08.21.06 (1)

Easy Grammar: Grade 5 is the more traditional manual.  It succinctly explains grammatical concepts and then follows each concept with worksheets dedicated to that specific topic.  At the end of each unit are four “tests” you can use:  a practice unit review, a “real” unit test, a cumulative practice review, and a cumulative “real” test.  I do not all of these tests/reviews.  I pick and choose.  Sometimes we do the unit test.  Sometimes we do the cumulative test.  Sometimes we do both.  Generally, we do 3-4 pages of the manual’s worksheets a day, and we finish early in the school year (about 3/4 of the way through a traditional year).  After we finish this grammar book, we try to focus on writing more.

Please, it is important to note that there is a teacher’s manual and a student manual.  I buy the teacher’s manual for my daughter to use.  It is actually the teacher’s manual on the left side of the book and the student manual on the right.  The pages mirror each other–except the teacher’s side has a few extra teaching pointers and the worksheets have the answers filled in.  Make sense?  The answers to the student’s worksheets on the right side of the book are posted glaringly there on the left teacher’s side for the student to look at if they wish.  Obviously for some students, this just won’t work!  For some, it is no problem.  If it is problematic, you can buy the Easy Grammar Grade 5: Student Workbook for the student AND Easy Grammar: Grade 5 Teacher Edition to check their work and get teaching pointers.  Or, you can buy the teacher manual and make copies of all of the student worksheets and tests you want from the teacher’s manual.  However, if you hang your kids from the ceiling by their ears like I do for “cheating,” then maybe you can do what I do and just use the teacher’s manual.

Daily Grams: Grade 5

2015-05-13 08.23.41

Daily Grams:  Grade 5 is a workbook with 180 worksheets which build in a cumulative fashion.  It goes along with what is taught in the manual I discussed above.  Each worksheet has about 5-6 questions, and literally only takes five minutes (tops) to complete.  I like that one of the questions always requires the students to put together complex sentences.  I buy the Daily Grams:  Grade 5 Teacher Text, and this nicely places the answers at the end of the book (not like the main textbook I discussed first).  The Daily Grams Student Workbook does not come with answers.  Nine times out of ten I don’t need them, but it is getting to where I sometimes do!

If I happened to be really good at grammar, I could get by with just the Daily Grams and not even use the manual I first mentioned which teaches topics.  I could just teach the topics as they are encountered in the cumulative Daily Grams myself.  I be not that good.  So I buy the Easy Grammar text book with the answers AND the Daily Grams with the answers.

We do one or two Daily Grams pages each day we do grammar.  Sometimes I will pick and choose the questions they do, so they are not wasting time on material they know very well already.  We will finish the Daily Grams book on the traditional school year, but it takes us longer than the manual I first mentioned (Easy Grammar:  Grade 5).

One last thing I incorporate into Daily Grams is having them write the required sentence formation question in cursive.  That way they are frequently practicing cursive handwriting.

Closing

That’s it!  That’s our grammar!  Nobody paid for this review.  And I get no kick-backs.  It’s a sound grammar curriculum, but not pretty or exciting.  We will stick with it because I like its conciseness, thoroughness, and I really like Daily Grams.  I also like that I’m not needed too much.  In general, I’m not a good curriculum shopper, and this is working well for us.  If it’s not broke, I don’t look to fix it.  The enemy of good is better.  I feel like my kids will have a great grasp of grammar with The Easy Grammar System.

How about you?  Do you do formal grammar?  How’d you pick your text?  Does grammar take all year?  Do you do it every day?  Are you good at it?  Did you like it when you were a kids?

~~Terri