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early elementary

Growing Up

Saxon Math K – A Teacher’s Companion

This entry is part 27 of 27 in the series Homeschool

Saxon K is a program for early years math education. It is gentle in the extreme. There are 12 lessons per month, giving much flexibility in how much time is spent “learning” math and how quickly it is completed. Math K can be a quick jaunt through math concepts to ensure a child is ready for Kindergarten or a slow stroll through a largely play-based introduction.

Having never taught K before, but working through it to prepare a Teacher’s Companion for it, I have some observations about the process. Some of these observations are specific to the Teacher’s Companion. So, this is a bit like a companion to the companion.

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Growing Up

Saxon, the Early Years: A Guide to Getting Started

This entry is part 25 of 27 in the series Homeschool

Whew.  I just spent the last hour putting together our Math for this year.  We have 2 students going through two of the early years Saxon – 1 and 2.  This is the 4th year I will have taught Saxon Math for the early years.  In previous years, I have discovered that the biggest hurdle in teaching Saxon Math is not instruction. It is preparation.

Don’t let that scare you. I have a bunch of very specific tips for making the prep and teaching of Saxon Math in the early years here for you. Get ready to teach without spending hours of prep. Are you ready?

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Devotion, Growing Up

Updated Latin-English Primer, John 1:1-7 (CC Cycle 3)

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the series Classsical Conversations

Over the past four years of homeschooling my kids, I have grown to understand just how difficult the job of those one-room schoolhouse teachers was. Though we have settled into our homeschool routines, there are many interruptions, many adjustments, many opportunities for growth. There are days when I choose to take the long view of our children’s education, rather than checking all the boxes.

I take a deep breath (or a fresh cup of coffee) and remind myself we have a LOT of days in which to educate and train our little ones.  I also remind myself that the older two, for better or worse, are test cases.  Hopefully, I have much more figured out once the younger two are walking through the stages we are going through today with the older.  I think: “We can make mistakes.  We can take breaks.  We will have another chance to do these things.”

The concept of the one-room schoolhouse must, as a necessity, be a reality in our home.  This year we are homeschooling a 4th grader and a 2nd/3rd-grader, introducing a pre-K/K mash-up student. while trying to keep a busy and quick learning 3-year-old occupied.  It’s a lot. The idea of separating these kids and their learning into completely different boxes is just not feasible.

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Growing Up

Simple PAL Learning

I am convinced some of the objections parents and teachers have with unpopular programs is one thing: TIME! The time it takes to prepare, to teach, to review – to check all the boxes, can be overwhelming. When the fact that other things have to be done in the day (like other learning, chores, eating, sleeping, etc.) is added in, the overwhelm increases. We cannot spend hours of our time (nor our children’s time) in one subject. It just doesn’t work.

In the past 4 years of homeschooling, I have come to understand some of the choices I have made for curricula are unpopular. We have chosen a math curriculum considered anathema in some homeschooling circles. No matter. We are not swayed by popular opinion. We are committed to use what works for us.

One of the programs, which is also unpopular, is Primary Arts of Language from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We have had immense success from it with two students and I LOVE it.

Admittedly, the time involved in preparing to teach Primary Arts of Language is immense. Before they even begin to teach it, parent-teachers start to question “Is all this work worth it?” Thus, programs such as Primary Arts of Language (PAL) get the label: “too much” and are abandoned for “easier” curricula.

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Growing Up

Simple Questions from Saxon Math

As we progress through Saxon Math’s lower elementary levels, I fall more in love with the simple process for teaching math it provides. As I have written before, I need the help Saxon offers. Not just help: I need a script!

Thankfully, Saxon provides the exact words to say and the exact questions to ask at each stage of each lesson. I marvel at the simple ways it teaches concepts – like fractions and division. I definitely would have benefited from the Saxon methods of incremental development and constant review had I known about it in my elementary years. In fact, I am learning things as I teach my kids that I would love to have known!

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Growing Up

Rough Schedules: Shakespeare

This entry is part 9 of 27 in the series Homeschool

I am in the planning stage of teaching G Shakespeare, following the Ambleside Online schedule of one selected Shakespeare play per term. And there is almost NO guidance of how to go about this on the Ambleside website. Forum-diving has proven none too helpful.

I must admit my excitement about teaching Shakespeare – the real-deal Bard stuff – is a bit over the top. As such, I have spent a bunch of time looking into just how to go about doing it. And I have reflected on what has worked well for us in our early explorations of Shakespeare.

Similar to a multitude of other things in our homeschool journey, I am taking the dive-right-in approach. We shall sink or swim based on the sturdiness of the small raft I fashioned in the form of these rough schedules I have crafted.

I am sharing them here. Not because I have gotten it all figured out and am ready to tell the world of my brilliance. Rather, humbly, I offer these rough schedules as a way to cast a small amount of light down the tunnel.

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