Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Planning Damien's lessons

Exhibit A that every kid is different: Damien.

Each of my big kids started a formal, private-school pre-K program at age 4, including Jude.  We pulled him to homeschool and decided Damien's school career would become a game time decision. When it came time for Damien to start preschool, Jude was still very delayed and struggling, and Luke had boomeranged home after his school closed. Plus, with his food allergies and feeding tube, it became the easier route from a medical angle. We figured, "At least we've already done preschool before!" Why not homeschool him?

My educational philosophy had begun to change, too. While I wanted to expose Damien to lots of things, I really wanted to focus on letting him learn in a more organic way and at his own pace -- I saw firsthand how difficult it was to "force" a kid to match what the curriculum was "supposed" to do.  We had a few preschool-level reviews, so we worked on them a little. (They were tough because so many PK programs are letter/color/shape of the week, and lots of the reinforcement is with food.)  Ultimately, he hung out with us and did some coloring or other low-key activities while Jude and I were working, or he watched hours of Super Why!Liberty's Kids, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in the car as we drove to therapy appointments.

During Jude's first-grade year, we logged 400 miles a week going to doctor and therapy appointments.  Videos were an attempt at some semblance of educational content to the hours spent on the road.  Apparently, Damien was paying attention, because he started pointing to letters and showing off beginner math skills.

When Kindergarten time rolled around, we began some very laid-back math and early reading work.  Most of the time he still sat on my lap while I was teaching Jude (all the better to be nosy!), so distracting him with a page of "big kid" Math and Spelling got me a chance to stand up and check on Luke's work.  Laid back and osmosis seemed to work -  by the middle of kindergarten, Damien had taught himself to read!  One night, I started reading a new, simple C-V-C book to him.  After the title page, he said, "My turn!" and read the entire book.  My jaw dropped.  There went my "We'll get to learning to read next year" plans!

Once Damien could read, there was no stopping him.  He has learned things so quickly that my head is spinning.  Like that first night of reading, every time I think I have a plan in place for him, he demonstrates that he's already past there.  By early last spring, he was easily completing first-grade work, despite only being in kindergarten.  On our trip last summer, he didn't do Junior Ranger programs at the first few parks we went to - he would read over a shoulder but some of them were pretty challenging. After watching Jude fill his hat with badges, Damien decided he wanted his own hatful, too.

Not only did he fill his hat, but much of a vest, too!

By Christmas, he was dipping his toes into second-grade work, and six months later, has barreled through most of that. He's become difficult to plan for because he still often does his own thing. For example: in late January, I gave him a 2nd-grade reading book that should last 36 weeks (it's a page-a-day).  I expected it to last him well into the summer.  He thought it was fun and easy...and if one page was good, why not three, or five? He completed a year-long workbook (with 90+% accuracy each day) in less than two months!

I'm in no hurry to "move him up" to a higher numbered grade. but I do want to challenge him.  Bored Damien is a hurricane on two feet! At the same time, he's still only six-turning-seven.  Some of the problems we're running into now, especially with literature, is that while he's capable of reading on a much higher level than his age (his recent K5 Learning placement test put him at a 5th-grade comprehension level!), often those harder levels require more maturity than he has just yet.

I think -- at least for now -- that we've come up with a plan that.  I harbor no illusions that it's going to last us until next June, but hey...I think we've got at least a few months' worth of work.  We'll also be rotating in some review products, but our core program is shaping up to look like this:


Ignatius Press Faith and Life - Our Heavenly Father


Math U See Gamma

Language Arts
   Growing with Grammar - Level 3

     Independent Lit Study:  Moving Beyond the Page, ages 7-9

     Read Aloud Studies: Memoria Press -  Farmer Boy, A Cricket in Times Square, Homer Price, and Poetry for the Grammar Stage

     Independent Reading: interest-led new and classic books in a Lexile Range of 650-800

Spelling: Spelling You See - Wild Things (Level C)

Copywork: George Washington's Rules of Civility

Foreign Language

 Latin: Memoria Press Prima Latina


 Science Sassafras Science Vol. 1 Zoology with SciDat Logbook

Social Studies

Magic Treehouse series/Magic Tree House Fact Trackers
Who Is/Who Was biography series

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