Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thinking About School

Been trying to write this post for a while, and keep getting stumped as to how to word it. Colossal writers block. I've been trying to figure our schedule and curriculum for this coming school year. I know, kind of late in the game for some and early for others. I had planned to start our school year on September 1st, just like the public schools here. But I don't know if I want to start at the same time or start a week or 2 later.
I already figured that we are going to do a 4 day school week, with Fridays off. And am tentatively thinking that we are either going to do 3 weeks on and 1 week off, or do 5 weeks on and 1 week off. That way we have time planned to do field trips, and visits with grandparents and all that jazz.
James is really thinking about Unit studies, which I think is a great idea, but I want to make sure that he's getting work in all academic areas. I'm also thinking of doing the same with Caleb and Caitlin. So I figure that we'll use our free Friday's to pick what the next weeks topic will be, and go from there. I'm also picking up workbooks - thick ones lol - that have a variety of lessons that will help them with grade level appropriate skills.
Gabe is the hard one, he is progressing at his own pace, but it still in the "fight with mom about doing school" phase. I've got some great learning cd-roms for him, and a Hooked on Phonics program, as well as a ton of games for his V-Smile, including numbers and letters and such. He's just recently (in the last week) finally shown an interest in any of the games and has even started playing a few of them. His fav's so far are Thomas and Scooby Doo, and the Scooby one is the one he is the best at.
My biggest fear is that with as slow as he is progressing he'll have a hard time learning to read and write clearly, since James learned to read late and had a really hard time with it. James reads fairly well now, so I know once we get past the hard part things will go smoother, it's just getting him to the point that he can recognize that letters make words, and words make sentences that's hard. He knows the letters, can even tell me the sounds most days, but doesn't seem to make the connection that c-a-t is cat. It took quite some time for the twins too, and both of them are still having little problems here and there sounding things out. Caitlin is reading at level, but Caleb isn't, he is more at a late kinder early 1st grade level, and has been there for over a year. That was also a deciding factor in bringing them home. He simply wasn't getting the help he needed at school, or the one on one attention to help him progress. The just read it to him and said what do you think is the answer. If he got it incorrect, they told him the answer. That doesn't teach him anything, it's really just the same as doing it for him.
With him and Gabe being at a lower level than the other 2, I'm working with both of them together on Reading skills, and phonics. Caleb can read some easy books, but gets frustrated easily. He can't spell easy, but he can spell b-e-c-a-u-s-e! I have to laugh because when he spells it out loud he sings it. "B-e-c-a-u-s-e spells because!"
James is reading chapter books, and so can Caitlin, IF it's something she WANTS to read, otherwise she pulls the "but I don't know how to sound that out!" or the always wonderful constant asking of "what's that word" over and over.
All in all, I know some of our goals for this year:

1) Gabe will learn to consistently make all the sounds of the letters.
2) Gabe will learn to consistently write all letters. (at this point I dont care if lower case or not)
3) Gabe will consistently copy and say all letters to 20 (he repeats up to 20, sometimes even higher depending on motivation, but has only written to 10)
4) Gabe will learn to put letters together into words. (ideally, i'd like him to learn at least 1 word a week, but i don't know if that's pushing to hard or not yet)
5) Gabe will learn to do simple chores (without having constant hand-over-hand to make him)

1) Caleb will learn 5 new words per week (and still be able to spell previously learned ones)
2) Caleb will write on the lines with correct spacing so it can be read
3) Caleb will control his body ( a BIG one, he has no concept of personal space!)
4) Caleb will rotate chores and learn to properly do them
5)Caleb will raise his reading and comprehension level by practicing reading at least 20 minutes each day.

1) Caitlin will learn at least 5 new words per week (see above)
2) Caitlin will write on the lines with correct spacing so it can be read
3) Caitlin will sit quietly when doing schoolwork (constant chatter, kind of like Caleb's lack of concept of personal space)
4) Caitlin will rotate chores without complaint and learn to do them properly
5) Caitlin will raise her reading and comprehension levels by practicing reading at least 20 minutes each day.

1) James will learn to write paragraphs with correct punctuation and grammar.
2) James will work on his handwriting skills and improve them.
3) James will stay on task and complete things in a timely manner.
4) James will rotate chores without complaint and learn to do them properly.
5) James will raise his reading and comprehension levels by reading at least 20 minutes each day.

Pretty simple? Yes, but it lets me know what is the most important thing to be working on at a particular time. Goals change, quite often in fact, but this it what we are starting on. I think about what we are having problems with both academically and family wise (see #4 lol) and go from there.
Right now we are having a lot of issues with calling names, shirking chores and not doing things correctly the first time they are asked. In my opinion, learning to do chores is just as important as learning to read. Who will hire someone that will not do what they need to get done? No one! A big rule around here is if you chose not to do things at home, why should I believe that you will so the same thing elsewhere. I.E. if you can't behave at home, why should I think that you will behave in public. Or if you can't manage your assigned chores, why should you be allowed to mow lawns for money, or help clean at someone else's house for money.

I'd love to hear input on what people think of our plan for school and our goals.

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