Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rowing our first book

Well, this week I decided to try to row a book with my two youngest, Cassie, 5 and Eric 8. What does it meant to "row a book"? Five in a Row, or FIAR, is a very relaxed curriculum that has you read a particular book, 5 days in a row, with an emphasis on something different each day. I had gotten a great deal on FIAR volume II from a homeschool friend, and about 8 of the related books. So I picked "Mirette on the High Wire" to "row" this week (read each day).

I have to say it was a lot of fun, for me and Cassie anyway. Eric, is a different story.

Monday we began at about 10:30am only about 1/2 hour behind the "schedule" I had set for myself. I've put quotes around that word to help emphasis how much I hate having to follow a schedule. Appointments, that is different. But having to do something like learn at a set time just seems off to me. Must be the unschooler in me. Cassie wanted me to set up the Story Time Felt Calendar for her to do each day, like we did at GICA last year. For her, our coming to the office to do school is like a great game to play and she is eager every morning to get up and go to school.

Eric, doesn't like all this reference to "school" and starts to whine right away. I made the mistake of really catering to Cassie's excitement about starting school, that I forgot to figure out how to make it exciting for Eric. The only real change in our whole schedule/routine is that I want to get to my office 2 hours earlier, with just me and the kids, to spend some quality time together, reading books, exploring together, doing art projects. Fun stuff.

It wears one down to hear a child constantly whine about school when he isn't doing anything different than what he had been doing for the past year or more. The chief difference is little sister is giving a name to what is normal for Eric. Freedom to learn, study, draw at his own pace, is suddenly being called school. The horror.

All kidding side, we did have a productive week. Eric didn't enjoy the story as much as Cassie - and so wasn't keen on us reading it everyday. But after encouraging him to sit beside us while I read, I have compromised to letting him stay where he is in the room as long as he doesn't interrupt. Twice today he had to be reminded to save his non story related questions to the end of the story.

On Tuesday I bought the kids 3 ring binders, a pack of paper and a set of dividers and we put together notebooks for the school year. The dividers were to divide the notebook into sections for the typical school subjects. In our case it is Math, Reading & Writing, Science, Social Studies, and Art. Eric asked if he could decorate the dividers in his notebook, so I told him yes, and he carefully made his subject sections. Later, Cassie asked for help to spell all the subjects and then Eric helped her draw pictures to help her remember what section was what. Numbers on the math section, a globe on the socials studies page..... Cassie is very proud of her notebook.

For Art day we made color wheels and the kids learned about primary, secondary and complimentary colors. Cassie cheerfully colored her color wheel and attached it to a page in her art section of her notebook. Eric made a color wheel of sorts too. In his own order. He's a non-conformist and I'm never going to change that. But he did understand and ask intelligent questions about the color wheel.

Today we did Science and after reading the story we discussed copper and why they used copper pots to cook with. We then looked up and read some about copper, found some copper pennies and put them in a cup of vinegar to see if they will shine up, and Cassie colored a picture of a copper pot and read and spelled "pot" and then put that in her notebook under science, and wrote copper above it.

We also found Paris, France on the world map and we explored all the different places that the book mentioned.

Aside from the reading, and calendar time, we also did a bit of Math-U-See, starting with the Alpha books. I had used this in my class last year and Cassie had good success with learning her numbers and math facts. So I want to continue this with her. She asks to do Math if I forget.

Eric is being allowed to work on his numbers as he wants, but he's watching Cassie and I know that soon he'll want to join her. If I force him, he'll balk, so I have to entice him into wanting to show what he knows. Which is way more than I thought. I haven't done any formal math program with him, and yet he has figured out facts on his own and shares them with us as he learns. He actually has a firm grasp of place value and adding and subtracting. He can't stand it when Cassie calls it "take aways".
"It's minuses!" He'll exclaim to her as she sings, "8 take away 2 is 6," while she fills out her paper.

Let's see, we also started reading together "A Child's Story of America" by Christian Liberty Press. Just reading a few pages with them has already resulted in lots of discussions about why people used to think the world was flat. Science and Social Studies is being covered there.

I'm also trying to review Cassie's phonics. I picked up a copy of "A Writing Road to Reading" and like the way they present the phonemes necessary for reading. I started with the first few letters for Cassie and she practiced her writing. Eric needs to work on his letters and numbers as most of them are backwards due to bad writing habits, starting from the bottom, not paying attention to which direction it should face. Nothing dyslexic, I don't think, as he's perfectly capable of writing them all correctly if he tries. We made a deal with him. If he can write correctly "his way" then it's a good way. If he continues to make mistakes, then he has to agree that maybe "his way" isn't the best way and to try to do some of my suggestions. We find that gentle coercion like this works better with him than any other forms of correction we have tried.

Tomorrow is the last day of our first week using this new plan and I think this will work for us. Gentle, relaxed, with something tangible (the notebook) to show for all our discussions and learning.


Cassidy said...

I love FIAR, though I don't use it. Sounds like you have a great plan and thanks for sharing your first week. I began a blog at homeschool blogger, but am trying to get one up and going here. I am still trying to format everything and figure out how to transfer all my posts! No time for that right now!

Rebecca said...

SOunds like a very workable "plan" to me. I love it when reading as at the center and learning and discussing comes from what is being read.

Jacqueline said...

LOL! Funnny how attaching the word "school" to something makes it lose it's appeal, isn't it. Love your plan.