Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New thoughts for school

Things have slowly been changing with Cyan this New Year... she is reading much faster and easier lately. And I think it has to do with her reading less. Yes, you read that right, I am having her read LESS. At the start of this year, I was frustrated by her lack of quick reading (she had all the rules down, it just took her forever!). So each time we would come across a 'learning opportunity' for her to read, I would jump at it with gusto.

But it has been 5 months...

and she is still a pokey Jane reader.

Two weeks ago I was reading the Workbox System Guide for the second time, and Sue mentioned to be careful about how many subjects you are asking your children to do at one time. Especially if those subjects are emergent subjects (skills that are not quite mastered). I realised that by asking Cyan to read while she was working on other subjects, I was overloading her little brain. So now, on her workbox, she has a 'work with mom' note on any subject that she may have to read more than one sentence... and then I read it to her. It may seem like good practice to make kids read the math problems, or instructions on their other assignments, but with Cyan, it was making her more reluctant to read during 'reading', which honestly, was inhibiting her learning a lot more than I thought it was. And making the other subjects doubly hard for her, because she is trying to figure out what 1/2 of 6 is, on top of trying to figure out what those words on the page mean, on top of trying to make sure she writes it in the correct place, on top of getting her 3's to face the correct way, etc. How confusing! It ended up that she wasn't really liking any subject. She would do it, but it would take her forever, and she would often loose track of where she was on the page, or what she was supposed to be doing because she was too busy deciphering the words.

So now, when she asks me what something says in another subject, I read it to her. I have found that this leaves her mind more refreshed when I ask her to read because she hasn't been stretching those same muscles for every other subject... and guess what? IT'S WORKING! She has been reading up a storm, and much faster than usual.


My teen and I have been plugging away at school lately. Some newly emerging personality traits (completely normal for the age, yet terribly annoying for the mama) have made the last few weeks difficult to say the least. But somehow, we have managed to do school nearly every day. Alex is FLYING through math right now, and when he is done with their curriculum for this year, I am planning a set of fun things for him to finish out the year with instead of moving on to the next level (considering he is already over a year ahead of his 'grade level'). I have decided that he is going to start Life of Fred. A lot of the series will be a review with Alex finishing up his first year of Algebra in the next few weeks. But there are ways that Fred teaches math, that many other curriculum's just miss... it is PACKED full of real life applications of things like geometry and algebra, fractions and statistics. I believe that children learning things more than one way is very helpful, and I am excited to see how he does with this new way of learning.


I wanted to share in the brilliance of this idea:

I am planning on switching to this system for my entire family come Tax Return time. These boxes are much spendier than the plastic shoe boxes, and I am thinking of getting two for Alex, one for Cyan, and one for Logan. That is about $300. YIKES! But I think it will be the perfect system for our family, and if it doesn't work out... these systems are perfect for small toys, even clothes. I have no fear that they will go to waste whatsoever. It makes spending the money a bit easier when you know that even if they don't work for what you want them for, they will work in your household. :)

Logan has been SO interested in doing school lately, that I think giving him a set of boxes with preschool play stuff in it will really help with his behavior during our study time. I have been compiling lists of activities that I could add to his workboxes that are gentle, quiet, and yet enough 'work' to keep him busy while we get our school work done. And of course, there is always the 'work with mom' card... where I can put games and things for us to do together. He would LOVE that.

I am really excited about this idea. I am revamping the entire homeschool closet to make 4 of these fit across the bottom so they are all nicely tucked away, and yet completely accessible for all the children. I think I may take off the doors to the closet and put on curtains... that would make it even easier. Hmmm.... Lots of fun new ideas.



Sunshine Alternative Mama said...

Val, Trofast is such a great system! I don't use it for workboxes (I ditched workboxes once rhythm was established and we moved back to full Waldorf). In the boys' room we use Trofast for clothing, toys, Lego, and display, and we have a few in the family room for books and storage/display. We bought the wooden shelves that can slide in and replace the bins so that they look very nice when you don't need the plastic bins (I don't like the plastic bins in the family room, for instance). I love how I have been able to rearrange the system each time I need to without having to replace it. Maybe I'll take some pictures and get them posted.

sarah in the woods said...

Great post! We're in a weird place with school right now. I'm considering a lot and kind of waiting for Jeremiah to go back to first shift. Plus Zahana just stopped napping. Thanks for the tips. Let us know how Life of Fred goes. I've thought it sounds pretty good.

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Sybille said...

Great post, thank you! Have a nice weekend.