This is the time of year we tie up all those loose ends so that we can prepare for the next school year. It's gratifying to look back on our year and see what we've accomplished:
We've gotten about 1/5 of the way through our third grade curriculum in mathematics, but I'm sure we'll be slowing down soon because I insist that we know our times tables just as well as our addition and subtraction facts before proceeding on to the "next thing." I'd also like to recap our place value concepts with numbers in the 10,000 range before moving on. Somehow Emperor does a *great* job with the thousands, but the 10,000's throw him off a bit. Before July, we'll also have brushed up on our time-telling and estimation. (What time would I have gotten up if it's 9 a.m. now, but I got up three hours ago? What time will it be in five and a half hours? And what does 9:49 look like on an analog clock?)
These are all things we've covered before but for some reason the children are not "getting." Thankfully we're able to slow down as we need. What would the point be of plowing ahead, just so we can continue to be ahead or advanced, without a good and thorough understanding of the concepts?
We are only halfway through our second-grade curriculum! I keep having the boys write letters or read books more often than I have them working on their grammar lessons. They also study the Bible and have a box of reading books from A-Beka and a few older Bob Jones versions from the 70's. In my opinion, the Bob Jones English curriculum is pretty hard considering the grade level. I've peeked ahead to next year's curriculum, however, and it isn't too different. We should get to the third grade stuff when the children are in fourth grade, but the concepts of which word is a "pronoun" and how to punctuate a sentence carry over pretty nicely. And I have a sneaking suspicion that despite all the talk of "accountability" and "standards," that the public schools revisit grammar concepts from one year to the next just as I do.
We've finished Bob Jones second grade studies, and our Flat Stanleys are currently in Australia. When my blog friend Chris moves into her new digs, they'll hop a plane back to that general area of the world and visit New Zealand as well. We've learned a little about Florida, Oklahoma, Great Britain, and Australia so far. We've also done some work on flags and a PACE on stores in our neighbourhood. (I think our PACE might be a teeny bit outdated as it features a record store and an old-style cash register and paper bills instead of printed receipts. )
Beginning our third grade studies. Our current unit is about rocks and the rock cycle. We've checked out almost every "easy" book from the library that has pictures and we are using an Alpha Omega LIFEPAC. A field trip is planned for later in the month. We've taken a walk and learned about erosion and moss.
Beginning Bob Jones curriculum. Third grade is considerably harder than second, but the concepts are relatively similar. Worksheets are much harder and require almost constant "help." I'm still very enamoured of this curriculum because it doesn't treat children as unintelligent little morons who can't read anything but the NIV and it incorporates the King James. One thing I appreciate about the Bob Jones curriculum is that it is less generic in its references to Jesus/God than the LIFEPACs and is unashamedly Protestant in the worldview it represents to children. To me, it's worth it to spend a little extra time on the curriculum as it is presented by this company.
And folks, you CANNOT beat the teacher manuals, no matter the subject. It's pretty well a point-by-point script if that's how you like to teach. I use most of the helps, but I don't read the "application stories" and where Bible events are summarized from a single text, we'll go straight to the Bible and read that passage. When Bible events are summarized (as in the case of some Gospel events chronicled in more than one book), we'll either pick a book to study, or read the events as the authors have compiled them. They're pretty faithful, but it isn't the same as reading directly from the text. Reading directly from the Bible also helps the children with understanding their own language.
Oh, boy, I'm not kidding. These children really need some. We're working on the concept of "relevant speech." When someone is speaking to us, running in a circle and screaming, "Da da da!" or other such nonsense is not appropriate. Neither is twisting your body into a pretzel and waggling your head back and forth.
And please, PLEASE stop approaching strangers by tackling them at 50 miles an hour and hugging them. It was cute when you were two and it sure isn't now. Quit it.
I can't tell you how many times we've gone over these little gems of wisdom. I almost feel like logging "shopping trip from Hell, two hours" into my teacher's log book and counting it toward the hours we must do annually to be in compliance with state standards. I kid you not.
If you're homeschooling, I figure you're doing many similar things as well. I like to browse the back-to-school sales for paper and other supplies with everyone else in August. Don't forget that you can get a teacher card at places like OfficeMax. Every now and then, you'd be surprised at the good deals you can scoop up with the coupons they send you.