Thursday, September 8, 2011

What they learn...

"You homeschool? So, what do you DO exactly?"

Allow me to share!

We get up (whenever we feel like it!), have breakfast (always a cooked breakfast! MMmm!), and we have "homeroom." In our homeroom we do calendar activities and talk about the plan for the day.

  • We view a large monthly calendar, find today's date, and mark the date with a star.
  • We discuss what day today is, what month we are in, the season, the year, the weather- we track all of these on large and colorful dry erase boards.
  • We discuss any events occurring that day. (Field trip? Teacher meetings? Soccer? Dentist?)
  • We track and count how many days we have been in school, and keep 1 Popsicle stick per day- grouping the sticks in groups of 10 (and eventually 50, 100, etc).
  • I list the subjects we will be working on- and I allow the children to choose their order. Carter picks his subject first, and (after breakfast) we make our way to the computer.

School. Now what?

We use the k12 online virtual classroom for Carter. This method is unique because it is homeschooling, but with the State of Nevada in charge of setting the standards and curriculum. Do NOT make the mistake of thinking that because the curriculum is set that I get to sit back and let the computer teach my son. Carter is in "school" for AT LEAST 4 hours per day. That is 4 hours of me sitting next to him and working with him directly. 4 hours of 1-on-1 attention. Harrison gets preschool work from a variety of sources, and he works for about 30-60 minutes a day.

Carter's Current Subjects:

Math (his favorite core subject- he ALWAYS starts the day with math! He can read, write, and recognize all numbers through 100 (and further, if you let him keep going!) categorize <,>,= numbers through 100, count by 5s ,10s, and 2s to over 100, and he can tell analog clock time. He adores math!) **Our curriculum did not help him understand the concept of numbers in relation to one another. Rather, another homeschooling mommy friend of mine gave me a new way of explaining numbers, and Carter picked that up and ran with it. RECESS TIME!

Phonics- generally his second chosen subject. I was terrified that k12 focused so heavily on phonics. TERRIFIED! Carter hated phonics when he was taught parts of it last year, and he preferred (still does) to learn words by flash-card. He doesn't feel like sounding things out- he wants to know them right now! His love of the flash-card style of learning has left him miles ahead when it comes to "sight words" (words that children are expected to memorize and know by sight) but had left him (and therefore, me) terrified of phonics. However, the k12 phonics program is AWESOME. Phonics feels more like a game than anything else! Carter works with a variety of tools, from magnets to finger-exercises, to help him practice phonics. Daily spelling, reading, handwriting practice, and dictation are also covered. MORE RECESS!

Language Arts generally comes third. I really like the way that Language Arts is taught by k12. Carter and I generally read a story (or poem), and then do some fun exercises about various parts or concepts of the story. One of the lessons was on a poem about caterpillars and Carter made a beautiful hanging butterfly with various observations about caterpillars and butterflies written on it. One of the lessons was on facial expressions and feelings represented found in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. These activities are very challenging for Carter, because he has such a difficult time with auditory instruction. However, the fun in creating the unique visual aids makes it enjoyable to him! Sentence composition, grammar, and punctuation are also covered in Language Arts lessons.

Math, Phonics, and Language Arts are Carter's core classes and are taught daily. The rest of the subjects, listed below, are rotated throughout the week.

Music time! Carter ADORES music lessons! There are fun song sheets, videos, and CDs. We use props to help illustrate various lessons- and many of them are full of games too! These lessons are SO much fun, that Carter usually asks to repeat them when Daddy comes home! The music is fun, simple, and corresponds to actions/props/games of some kind- so Carter enjoys getting to move his body to the music!

Science!!! This is Mom's favorite subject! Carter enjoys the hands-on learning. Learning about the scientific method and its applications are so fun! Carter will tell you how it is better to measure with a (metric) ruler than with guesses/body parts/random objects. K12 teaches the metric system (which I appreciate!!!).

History! Carter can currently tell you there are 7 continents on Earth. He can show you each of the poles (and tell you which is which!), tell you the directions on a Compass Rose, and explain various geographical features on Earth (from desert to peninsula!). Carter's class took a field trip to the Art Museum and saw the exhibit on mummies and Egypt- how neat! Carter keeps a special adventure book full of the things he has been exploring- he is allowed to either write about a lesson, or draw a picture explaining it. Thus, he is explaining what he learned, and the material is absorbed better.

Art! Carter enjoys art (although not as much as Harrison!). Carter learns about different kinds of art (sculpture vs painting, portrait vs self-portrait) and then creates art of his own. He enjoys using the different materials that k12 provides, and seeing the difference that the various mediums create! Oil pastels are different than colored pencils, and paint is much different than crayon! Carter's art program allows him a lot of choice in his assignments, which encourages his creativity!

Study Island! A computer program with printable tests, worksheets, and games. The program allows Carter yet another way to get practice learning math and language skills. Carter really enjoys this, and I have had to postpone his Study Island sessions until all of his other work is done!

... and that is just Carter's school day. Harrison and Mom have to fit school in there too! (And let's not forget meals, cleaning, and errands!) So we are pretty busy! It is wonderful. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have such a hands-on experience in my children's education. I am amazed at their minds, and the progress that I get to see them make! I am in love with the looks on their faces when they finally grasp a complicated concept. Such a beautiful thing!!!

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