Monday, July 20, 2015

Welcome to 2nd Grade

Our summer break is officially over and the kids have jumped back into full time school.  both kids are now officially 2nd graders.  For those curious, our curriculums this year are going to be IEW for Writing, Horizon's Phonics and Reading 2, CTC for math (with other supplements), Creativity Express and Artistic Pursuits for Art, Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy (a deeper approach then we did in Kindergarten), and both Homeschool in the Woods (we want to finish this) and The Mystery of History for our history curriculum.

Tomorrow I will take more as cleaning supplies and unbrushed hair doesn't make for cute pictures.

Last year I made the decision to hold back Garrett from being 2nd grade and kept him in first along with Ashleigh and this turned out to be the best decision I made.  Garrett just wasn't ready for 2nd grade last year but both sure are ready for it this year.

I was almost certain that today was not going to go well for us... As soon as I mentioned we were going to start school today, I had both kids breaking into tears and heard them both whine in unison that "School is hard!!", "Second Grade is hard!!" and "School is too long!!".  We only spend about 2 to 3 hours a day on studies, depending on how much farting around the kids do, so they should be very grateful they aren't in public schools where they would be in class from 8am until 3pm.. LOL

I'm hoping to break many of the bad habits that we (the kids and myself) acquired over the past 2 years and also I hope for us to build some new habits that will help them in the long run.   The first of these is our morning drills.  Last year, we started strong doing morning drills every morning and I'm not really sure what happened but the practice fell to the wayside..  This year, I'm determined to stick with it but I know the kids were going to balk at the idea of writing sentences for drills.. As mentioned in previous blogs, Garrett hates writing.

OHH how I have underestimated my kids..  Maybe it has been the addition of IEW to our schooling but this time around, the kids didn't bat one eye at having to write not one but two sentences for the morning drill.  They were asked to write about their first day of school which, honestly, with it being the morning drill, we hadn't really had a first day of school so we just talked about what they liked and disliked about school.. Both kids said they loved science, so they both wrote "I like Science." Ashleigh seemed to dictate the second sentence with "I do not like math.", as Garrett's least favorite subject would be reading - but he went along with the sentence as well.

Two observations I have made just from this drill.  1.) Ashleigh routinely writes both letters and numbers backwards.  I will be keeping an eye on this with her as I am not sure if it's dyslexia or if it's just her being silly.  I say this because she has no problems reading and does not reverse letters/numbers when doing so.  I also say this because she will write the number backwards and very often will immediately tell me the number is written backwards and then will erase and write it properly.  However, I have mild dyslexia, especially when it comes to numbers, so this is something I will be watching closely this year.

As for my second observations:  Last year I spent much of the time spelling words out for them.  Over the last few weeks (especially since starting IEW)  I have had them sound out and spell words on their own and only provided assistance when needed.  Quickly I discovered that i was really holding back the kids when it came to spelling, as they would ask me how to spell almost everything, without attempting to do it on their own.  Now, with them having to sound it out on their own, they are realizing they know how to spell much more than they thought.

With drills done, we quickly moved on to mathematics.  We are still using CTC Math that we had previously reviewed (our review of this can be found here ) .  Since it has been a bit of time since we've done school, we decided to go back to the previous lessons and start reviewing them before jumping right into where we left off..  I just wasn't ready to go straight into multiplication just yet so we decided to review our subtraction facts instead.  Once again, they had no issues with this and were quickly answering the questions without having to use hands or manipulatives.  We quickly completed the lesson on the website, answered the questions afterwards (which they both scored 100%) and then did a quick coloring page where they had to answer the question, read the colors associated with the answers and then color a picture of an airplane..

With drills and math out of the way, the kids got a break for lunch and to do whatever they want until the second half of our day.   Ashleigh of course grabbed her Dreamtab and Garrett hopped onto Minecraft for a bit.

Second half of the day.. Could we be so lucky as to have it go as smoothly as the first half?

We started back up with our Art curriculum.. This year we will be alternating between using Creativity Express (on Mondays) and Artistic Pursuits (on Wednesdays and Fridays).  Creativity Express is such a cute browser based program from Madcap Logic where a polar bear and two penguins teach kids about Artistic concepts, Artists and such.  Today we repeated a lesson we had already done,  Art as a Language, and we discussed how visual languages such as art are universal while written and spoken language is regional.  We then talked about taking risks as an artist, instead of staying in a comfort zone.

Finally, to end our day today, we headed over to Camp Google  where we learned about gravity and constellations.  We have a few days to wait on the big presentation this week, which will be about Food in Space, which is going to be really cool as it will be hosted live from the Food Lab at Johnson's Space Center in Houston.  This is the second week of Camp Google, last week was Oceans week, and I have to say, it is a very neat program that they have put together and the kids are enjoying it very much.

I am super duper excited that tomorrow we will be starting with Horizon's Phonics and Reading. I would have liked to have started it today but our UPS guy doesn't show up til after 4pm here and he will be delivering Ashleigh's copy of the workbook.   While I have no doubt the phonics portion is going to be easy peasy for the kids, I have worries that Garrett will not be happy with the reading portions of the program.   We shall have to see.

Overall, we have a wonderful start for our new school year and if even 20% of our days could go this smoothly, I have no doubt that the kids will do great this year.

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