Friday, January 9, 2009

Weekly Report: Weeks 1-20

I have not done a Weekly Report all year. I am not exactly sure why, but I have a few hunches. This past semester was hard. Very hard. At the start I was dealing with severe first trimester exhaustion and moderate morning sickness. Then came a week long evacuation when Hurricane Ike hit, the eye passing literally over our home. Coming home to see much of where we live in complete shambles was shocking. There were so many meals to cook and newly homeless friends to care for in those weeks following the storm. Just as things were getting back to normal we lost baby number four. I then had surgery and a longer than expected recovery. And throughout this time, Thatcher's ADHD has been raging and the social issues growing more severe as well. Just typing it out brings back some of the emotion that went along with all those events.

I think that was just a part of why I didn't do Weekly Reports though. I think it was mostly because I didn't feel we had much to share. We were just going through the motions in many ways and school felt....well....dull. We managed to keep up with math, logic, grammar, spelling, handwriting and Spanish. We started SOTW 2 and made it to Chapter 4 but with very few of the "extras" that make SOTW so much fun. We did no science. Not one smidge.

I know the reality is that Thatcher was still learning and learning a lot. Yet I knew in my heart that there had to be more; I just wasn't sure what it was or where to find it! Before I report on our first CM inspired week I want to document all Thatcher accomplished in the first half of the school year. Because even if it wasn't all I wanted it to be, it is worth celebrating.

Math: In Horizons 3 Thatcher made it to Lesson 73! There are 160 lessons in every Horizons book so we are almost halfway there. Thatcher is a second grader but we are in the third grade math book because at the age of four he whizzed through both the pre-K book as well as the Kinder math book.

We will be slowing down from here on out because he is now hitting material where I want to be certain he understands the "why" of what he is doing and not just "what" to do. I need to spend a little more time building that concrete knowledge base with the use of manipulatives. I want to be sure when is he borrowing or carrying, or counting into the ten-thousands or multiplying with carrying that he really can "see" it in his head. It is well documented that children who have this solid concrete base do much better once they hit higher level math courses because they have the ability to better "see" planes, rays, their minds.

Logic: We completed Mind Benders Beginning Book 2 as well as the first 20 lessons in Primarily Logic. We have always enjoyed Mind Benders but Primarily Logic was a huge hit as well. It introduced Thatcher to many different types of logic activities rather than the same puzzle-style problem you find in the Mind Benders books. We completed one lesson every day as our daily warm-up to get our brains going each morning.

Reading: This fall we completed the three books in the Ralph S. Mouse series by Beverly Cleary. Each day Thatcher read to me for 20 minutes and then I would finish up whatever was left of the chapter. Thatcher tackles reading like he does the rest of life - as if his pants are on fire. Lol! :) As a result, in his oral reading he makes tons of mistakes like omitting, skipping, misreading and switching words. And it's not the big words he misses. Those he almost always gets correct. He misses the little words, reading "a" for "the" and other similar mistakes.

This is where I focused this fall. My corrections were frustrating him (ADHD kiddos often get frustrated much more easily than typical kids) so I used what motivates! Each day I set out 20 pennies. For each word he incorrectly read I took one away. At the end of our reading time any money left was his to keep. I never subtracted money if he missed a new word, only when he made a careless error. Boy, did the number of mistakes dramatically decrease almost instantly! I plan on continuing this in this spring semester.

This is an example of where theory sometimes clashes with reality. I remember in college learning about how we want to train our students to be intrinsically (internally) motivated and avoid extrinsic (external) motivators. Things like treats were to be avoided at all costs. The reality though, is that we are all motivated by rewards, praise, recognition...ADHD kids sometimes need rewards even more than their counterparts because they struggle with waiting for the natural rewards to come if they take too long or seem too abstract. If six pennies in my little guy's hand at the end of 20 minutes of sitting still and reading works, then I am okay with that. Actually, I am great with that! :) Not that I want to be bribing him forever, mind you. ;)

Grammar: We started this year in FLL3. FLL 1/2 was not a huge hit because of its primarily oral format. I have a very visual and tactile learner. FLL 3's workbook format was a much better fit for us. It feels like I am being held accountable to actually get the lesson done by that blank page waiting to be filled out, and being able to see everything on the page helped Thatcher so much as well! We made it all the way to Lesson 40, doing grammar two to three days a week.

Handwriting: We are using Classically Cursive for our handwriting instruction this year. Thatcher has learned all of his lower-case cursive letters and sixteen of the upper-case. Thatch has come so incredibly far in his fine motor skills. If I showed you work he did a year ago, you wouldn't believe it was the same child's writing!

Spelling: We started using Spelling Wisdom this year. We tried Spelling Workout in first grade so I knew that wasn't a good fit. Thatcher has a strong grasp of phonics so I didn't want a phonetic-based spelling program. I kept looking until I came across Spelling Wisdom at Simply Charlotte Mason. It was love at first sight, and has been a great spelling program for us. If you haven't yet found your perfect fit for spelling, check this one out. :)

Spanish: We are still using Elementary Spanish on Discovery Streaming and loving it! Thatcher got a new teacher this year who is a man and that's been a lot of fun for him. He is learning so much, and he walks up to anyone of any color (be they Hispanic, Asian, Indian or just olive-skinned) and starts trying to start up a conversation.

Well that's our semester in review. Now...for our CM report!!!


P.S. Dh, Thank you for my new "Weekly Report" button. :)


Tracy said...

Great Semester report! YEAH, inspite of all you wen through!

jennybell said...

Commenting on your extrinsic vs. intrinsic notes - yes, it's nice if we can always have internal motivators. However,in "real" life, there are often contests and such which make working harder more interesting and fun. Employee of the month contests, bonuses on certain production criteria, etc.

So, I am reinforcing your decision to use what works. You will know when you can stop doing it because it will become his habit to read more carefully, and taking away the reward won't change that.

(BTW, my son is not ADHD, but similar in his reading. In his case, I think he is trying to read with inflections like I do and it's hard to read phonetically and emotionally)

Keep up the faith and the good work.

argsmommy said...

Great job, Thatcher!

My son and I both love FLL 3 too. And I'm wondering how many great reviews of Spelling Wisdom I need to hear before I break down and buy it! I've been debating for 6 months now. : )


Jennifer said...

I am leaning towards switching from Spelling Workout to Spelling Wisdom as well. Thanks for the extra nudge. : )

I'd love to know why you chose Horizons Math. When I was choosing a math program last year, I kept going back to Horizons but never had an opportunity to really look at it. I still don't feel settled on Saxon... it's just where I landed for this year. Any chance you have an earlier post you could lead me to? : )

Heather S. said...

This is my first year of homeschooling and we have been doing My Father's World for kindergarten, but have been researching Charlotte Mason (per Sprittibee's encouragement). I will be making a switch because MFW has way too much busy work!!

Also, if you need a supplement to the Spanish, there is a new online Spanish program,
Check it out!!

Ali said...

I do not "plan" science and it isn't really a priority for us, however I have these super Usborne Activity Cards that I LOVE! They have several kinds, but I have "50 Science Things to Make and Do" The kids love them and they are pretty no nonsense. I've never had to buy the materials, I have them all around the house. There is not really any planning for them, you just grab the supplies and jump in. We just experimented with surface tension and it was quite fun. All three kids (6,4, and 2) were able to be involved. We also have a wormery (YUCK) going right now. Thought I would just pass that on. It's not much, but I feel like it gives the kids a chance to discover.

Love your updates...I learn so much from you. Thanks!

JESSICA said...

I think you and Thatcher did an AWESOME job considering all that was going on in your family life at the time! Can't wait to see what your CM day looks like...I'm still a little confused at how to apply it in our school day. Thanks for being such an inspiration, Jennefer! : )