Friday, January 19, 2007

School Update For Caleb

One thing I really wanted to make a priority this new year was doing school with Caleb, who turned 5 in November. My previous routine was to do school with the big boys in the morning, and then give Caleb the time after lunch. This sounds fine, except that I was pregnant, and so after lunch each day I really wanted to take a nap, not do more school. He wasn't terribly motivated, so . . . learning to read could always be pushed back one more day!

But this new year I switched things up a bit, and now Caleb and Jonathan get their time first thing in the morning, right after breakfast. While Nathan and Luke finish the independent work that I have set out for them the night before, as well as their vacuuming and picking up chores, I do school with the little guys. It's working so much better! They have done school every day for the past 2 weeks! After they are done, then we all are there for our Bible reading and character time. Then the little boys are done, and they can go play or whatever.

Tonight at Bible study we were studying Mark 10:13-16, where Jesus tells the little children to come to him and rebukes the disciples for trying to send them away. Christine told about how last year she really wanted to put Joel, her youngest, in preschool because he was a real handful, and she didn't feel like they would get any school done with him there. Craig told her that Joel was a part of their family, and he didn't want the other boys to get the impression that what they were doing was so important that it justified sending away another member of their family so they could do it. Christine then read these verses and was convicted that Jesus was saying to her that she was a mother first, and a teacher of academic things second. Her calling was to mother her little children, leading them to Christ, not sending them away so she could focus on other "more important" things. The children WERE the more important things, and especially their spiritual upbringing. So she started teaching her little ones first thing in the morning last year, and them having their special time with mom first really helped them settle down for the rest of the day. I thought it was interesting that we both hit upon the same solution!

Caleb is slowly coming along with his reading. He is so much like Nathan that it isn't funny. He reads the first 2 letters of a word, for example, and then he just guesses at the last letter. So for the word "Map", he'll read "mm-aaa . . . . mat!" I'll say to look at the last letter. Then he'll look at it and realize it's a "p". But he really doesn't notice it at first--he just makes a random guess! Nathan was just like this. I think I'm more patient this time around, and to be honest, I think starting him a little later has been fine. With Nathan I really felt like I was beating my head against a wall for a long time while he struggled with issues like that one, and then finally it just clicked. I'm hoping it will just click at about the same age with Caleb, but with less time and frustration on my part!

Jonathan wants to do school too, so I've been giving him preschool worksheets--letters, numbers, tracing, etc. All the fun stuff, LOL. It's so fun teaching a fellow lefty! No more struggling with how to show a right-hander how to hold the pencil! Now we'll just have to see how Anna turns out . . .


CTmom2five said...

Oh that I had the ability to teach a lefty! My first was a lefty, and I'm still at a loss how to "help" him. It was such a relief to have "righties" after him! I wish he could take lessons from you! It's so hard to get his handwriting smooth...and we never remember which way to put the paper!

mattkimuber said...

It so funny that you would be blogging on balancing preschoolers and homeschool. I just read Christa's blog and she too addressed the very issue. I glean so much from those of you just ahead of me in being a home school mom. Thanks for your helpful insights.

Dy said...

Oh, funny! John should be a lefty, but I think he felt self-conscious enough about being the only true lefty in the house that he refused to use his left hand. Handwriting has been a struggle, and he uses the old-school Left-handed Wrap Around to write. It makes my arm cramp every time I see it.

Sounds like you've found a nice groove! Zorak called in sick today, and I just couldn't justify taking another day off school (b/c I'm a weenie and always take off if he's home - it's hard to school when he's home!) It went well, but by lunchtime, he just looked at me and whispered, "Is it always like this?" ROFLOL! *sigh*... I guess my routine isn't as seamless as I'd thought it was.


Elizabeth B said...

You might have better luck with the syllable method, used by Webster. Don Potter's 1824 version is nice, he recently completed it. I made a movie showing how the syllables work from his audio. Scroll down to webster Blue-backed speller.

The basic syllables are to be sounded out and learned completely before sounding out any words. They are shorter than words but are the basic building blocks of words. This was the method that was used to teach reading very successfully from 1783 until about 1826 (before that, analytic phonics were used, and before that, Latin was taught first, then analytic phonics for English.) You only go on to teach words after all the syllables have been overlearned (not memorized as sight words, but sounded out over and over until they are ingrained in the brain.) If Caleb can only concentrate on a few letters at a time, the syllables are the perfect length!

For spelling, I have a few tips here: Also, the book I was telling you about, "Spelling Structure and Strategies" by Paul R. Hanna has some more tips. Amazon has a few for under $2. It suggests giving the student a list of words like fair, fail, phone, laugh, stuff, puff, nephew, frog, draft, graph, and trying to get them to figure out the rules for when f is spelled with different letter combinations. You could make up a lot of different lists using Bishop's "The ABCs and All Their Tricks." You might also find this chart helpful:

Elizabeth B said...

Actually, syllables were used up until 1826. They were just used in an analytic manner until around 1783 when Webster's Speller introduced Pascal's invention of synthetic phonics.

Elizabeth B said...

You could use this method with both Luke and Nathan if you wish. Use the easier words in the top 1 or 2 block of words of "The ABCs and All Their Tricks" for Nathan and a mix of easy words and some of the more difficult words in the last group for Luke.

Also, when you have Nathan spell aloud, you might have him try "spelling" the word twice--once, by the sounds of the letters, then by the names of the letters.