2009 was a dark year as I suffered terribly from burnout, perhaps not surprising when you consider I had been homeschooling for ten years. Motivated by fear I seriously considered sending Chiara to school in 2010. I started 2010 with a determination to climb out of the pit, and I succeeded!
As I reflect on 2010, I am thrilled to realise this was one of our most productive academic years yet! Finally I felt we hit our stride in book choices and self-discipline increased. (I wouldn't say it was mastered;) but leaps were made)
Highlights include : History - Story of the World Vol 4 was wildly popular with Chiara and the three boys. We read the text, discussed the chapter, answered questions and completed mapwork. We all learnt so much and really enjoyed it. They are eager to continue in 2011.
- Native American Unit and Lapbook(Term 4). Mariah didn't fare well with SOTW and desperately wanted to study Native Americans. We switched early in the year, enjoying this collection and in Term 4 she undertook to complete a lapbook, which she loved!!
Science- Weather Unit, Term 4 David and I designed this unit for Xavier and he loved this approach. Involving reading of interesting library and DK books, he felt he learnt and retained alot with this approach. He was also meant to write about his findings but fell short there.
- Cool Chemistry Concoctions - Joe Rhatigan, Term 1 & 2. Mariah (and Genevieve ) absolutely loved doing the experiments and begrudgingly let Malachi join in. Recorded observations and learnt the theory behind. (Malachi lost interest in his David Macaulay unit. Mariah's was more interesting. However they did make a few great K'nex projects.ie. hot air balloon)
Geography - Runkle, Term 1&2 for Chiara, all year with Dominic. Chiara loved this book and really learnt alot. Dominic has still a couple of chapters to do, motivation is more the issue there.
- A Child's Geography, Malachi and Mariah, occasionally Genevieve (Term 1&2) quite enjoyed this, a gentle introduction to geography concepts. Xavier joined in for Term 2
- Global Mania as each child completed their books for the year by Term 3 & 4 they began using global mania. A computer program, lots of fun and they learnt so much map knowledge. Rather addictive:)
Faith - Chiara loved Didache's Understanding the Scriptures and completed it by Term 3. Term 4 she began Our Moral Life in Christ and is enjoying that too.
- Xavier enjoys reading St stories, Term 3 & 4 I stepped him up a level and he particularly enjoyed The Black Dress (St Mary McKillop) and St Ignatius Loyola - Francis Thompson (incredible drawings)
- Malachi loves the read aloud approach. Saints, Bible, Virtues, he loves them all.
Nature - Australian Nature Stories; Spotty the Bower Bird by ES Sorenson. Terms 3 & 4 Malachi and Mariah listened and narrated their way through this book. Quite meaty living book, they quite enjoyed this.
- Xavier is a keen naturalist. He spent alot of time in Term 3 on a Bird Unit, observing and recording birds. He often reads extra information of his own volition and observes and notes details others miss. He also introduces this world to his younger siblings. Dictation - Spelling Wisdom; we changed to this program in Term 3 and it is a resounding success. The girls in particular are going from strength to strength. Admittedly the boys are struggling with various skills, Xavier struggles to retain the sentence in his mind, and with spelling. Malachi struggles with spelling so I have taken him back a book. Dominic's issue is attitude.
Spelling - We began the year with an old Department of Ed. NSW; Spelling book. Progress was steady and gratifying. However in Term 3 we switched to Spelling Wisdom (see above)
- Spell of Words, Teens however are still working with this book as well. Designed for remedial spelling for older students.
Creative Writing - Writing Club, we continued meeting at our place Terms 1 & 2 with the Rob family, Bethany and Kaeden. Still lots of enthusiasm and progress, great stories.
Term 3 it was apparent they really needed some more direction. We approached Sr Judith and she graciously took over classes with our teens and the Rob family. The children love working with Sr Judith, have done more formal essay work and feel they have learnt alot. Chiara particularly has appreciated this.
-Dominic is still working on his Novel and has spent alot of time on it. He writes so well and passion is wonderful to see. Xavier works a little on his too.
- Stories with a View - By Term 4 it was apparent Malachi and Mariah needed a more formal program. We began SWAV and they love it. I do need to encourage Malachi to work on length, but enthusiasm is great.
Current Affairs - Secular (ABC). David has been sending links daily to the teens and producing lots of discussion and writing as a result:) Mixed Results: Australian Catholic History - Our Heritage; reading and orally narrating. Although the teens were not thrilled about this, I feel it was still worthwhile as they are retaining and attempting something they would not have necessarily chosen.
Spanish - Live Mocha, Chiara started out diligently and enthusiastically but petered off in progress.
Faith - Read Alouds, whilst Malachi loves this, Mariah is feeling she has too many read alouds and would like a Q&A approach!
- Dominic is struggling, we tried Didache's Intro to Catholicism, and then Our Quest for Happiness: Our Goal and Our Guides, he preferred the later. The trouble is making time to commit reading and discussing with him. Reading and assimilating by himself is beyond him. When we do manage to make time he has so many deep thoughts, so beautiful.
- Xavier read and wrote written narrations through the New Testament, Term 1. He alternated between liking it and not. Made good progress in skills though.
Maths -Mathematics.com.au for teens. Chiara does well but declares she isn't liking it. Dominic has to be constantly prodded and says he doesn't like it. Xavier has to also be prodded but once he gets 'into the groove' he enjoys it and feels he learns alot.
- Singapore Maths, Malachi breezes through no problems. Mariah struggles with some sections, really struggled with learning her tables this year but once she accomplished that maths became easier. Genevieve works spasmodically but when she concentrates she breezes through her workbooks.
- At the conclusion of Term 4 the M&Ms trialed the junior version of Maths.com.au. They loved it, Mariah became enthusiastic!! so they and G will be switching to this in 2011.
Copywork - The girls love it and have made great progress. The boys aren't as keen but can see that they have made progress.
Grammar and Composition - English for Australian Schools - Ronald Ridout. Chiara and Dominic find it 'alright' Xavier doesn't like it.
Literature - All the children continue to be avid readers and the M&Ms exploded into the reading world in the second half of the year too.
Xavier was excellent about reading most of his assigned reading, plus lots of extras. Chiara read some assigned reading plus too much fluff. Dominic is very hard to get out of his fantasy groove, furstrating. The M&Ms graduated to more challenging books this year. **Book Lists to follow in another post.
Failure: Science - Singapore Science text are not a resounding success with any of the children. However Xavier loved his Science Unit (Weather) in Term 4. see above. - Childcraft Science,Reading Bk 8, Terms 3&4 with M &M wasn't that interesting and probably not retained that well.
Poetry/ Shakespeare - Really didn't achieve much in this way this year:( Although did manage some mornings to read poetry with M&MS.
Latin - A flop, I believe I admit defeat.
Arts - Well lots of plans for the Creative and Practical Arts but nothing of note really happened:(
(Except cooking, always interest there, particularly Dominic and Mariah)
Truthfully, Genevieve and Saxon played more than learnt this year. Partly due to motivation on my part, and partly due to Genevieve's reluctance. She tends to be rather spasmodic in interest, eg. she may not show interest in maths for weeks and then sits down and completes weeks of work in a matter of a couple of days.She has had no problem in understanding all the math concepts covered in her Singapore Maths K books.
She determinedly says she doesn't like reading, however I'm not convinced this is true, I'm not sure if she just says it for effect (I ignore her) or because it is 'work'. Regardless she has made progress in reading, knows most of her single sounds and can read a number of phonetic beginner readers, in fact I suspect she can read more than she/I realise.
Genevieve does however quite enjoy copywork and has a neat hand.
Saxon is picking up maths concepts effortlessly, has great fine motor skills (colouring inside the lines) and can recognise his own name and some siblings 'letters'.
Both Saxon and Genevieve love listening to picture books, Genevieve has started listening to chapter books too.
Chiara continues to enjoy all subjects, is self-motivated and processes information quickly and easily. She has made good progress in essay writing this year and we have great plans for Grade 12.
Dominic's self-discipline has grown but still has to be prodded. He struggles to summarise large chunks of writing, but can cope if broken down. He still prefers to focus on a topic at a time rather than several. His attitude of defeatism is his worst enemy, but progress is being made.
Xavier works well once he settles down but well he is 13;) He struggles with spelling, neatness and sometimes articulating his thoughts via the pen. Once his interest is caught in a subject he will research further and become most engrossed and keen.
Malachi is a most enthusiastic student, soaking up work easily and zipping through, his weakest area is his spelling.
Mariah has made huge leaps this year in application, interest and ability! A once reluctant student she had a great year.