Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschool Update Fall 2014

As I've shared a few times, we opted to enroll with the Mother of Divine Grace homeschool program this year.  It had always been something I planned to do in the future as we approached high school, but I ended up starting a little sooner than I thought.  And I am SO glad we made that decision for this year!  Having MODG to follow in the midst of all these life changes has been a big blessing.  I had a phone meeting with my consultant yesterday, and she has been very helpful in guiding me through the decisions and new curricula we're using this year.  I didn't think I'd want to do a curriculum summary blog post, since we're just following their lesson plans for the most part, but I think it will still be helpful for me, and maybe for others, to see the breakdown.  Our grade levels this year are: Mary Clare-6th, Ellie-4th, and Steven Joseph-1st.

Mary Clare is reading the Gospels of Mark and Luke, as well as the Baltimore Catechism #2.  She is doing some short answer questions and written summaries for this course, and is receiving teacher grading services, so I don't have to stay on top of this subject as much!  She speaks to the grader (also our consultant) once a month and sends in her work by email.  Ellie is reading and memorizing the Baltimore Catechism #2 and doing bible retellings from the Child's Bible History book.  Steven Joseph is working with the First Communion Catechism and will be reading some saint and bible stories too.  I like that they are getting the solid memory work through the Catechism, as well as experience with summaries and retellings from scripture and saint stories.

We have now changed both the girls to Saxon Math.  Mary Clare switched last year and it was a very difficult but worthwhile transition.  She is doing much better this year in 7/6 and Ellie has taken to 5/4 very well.  I think in the future we will also move the other kids to Saxon in 4th grade since most say that it's the easiest grade to make the change.  I'm having a hard time keeping up with the grading, but overall I'm happy with their understanding levels and progress with Saxon.  We are not using any DVDs this year, and that's been just fine.  Steven Joseph is continuing with Math U See Beta (technically 2nd grade).  He seems to be more math-minded and I think he will move forward and may stay a level ahead if he continues at this rate.  We haven't watched the Math U See videos much, because I don't feel he really needs them for these basic concepts.  I think the kids have gotten a good math foundation through this program and I plan to continue to use it in early elementary with the other children.

Language Arts
I'll start with Mary Clare (6th grade).  She is using Easy Grammar, which isn't as "easy" as I'd hoped.  My consultant said I should really be sitting with her for these lessons each day and that my grading of this is very important this year.  So it will be our main focus, aside from math.  She is also doing little daily exercises in The Great Editing Adventure.  She isn't doing a Handwriting program, but is doing some Calligraphy in her Art program this year.  She is also reading literature for History, and has to read 45 minutes each day.  We are working in All About Spelling 5, which continues to challenge us with Spelling rules and copywork practice.

Ellie is doing Intermediate Language Lessons and I'm really happy with this book.  I think it will be the perfect book for Ellie, retelling sweet stories about fairies and animals and such, which she later has to copy to work on her writing skills.  She is also reading a lot of books for History and has a 30 minute per day reading requirement.   Ellie is doing All About Spelling 4, and I'm still happy with the AAS program for my kids.  It follows the Spalding method of intensive phonics and spelling rules, but it does so in a more interactive and fun way than other programs we've used.  Still, the girls struggle with Spelling quite a bit, but I was assured by the MODG consultant that this will click more in the coming years as they enter the more logical/analytical stage of classical education in the middle school years.

Steven Joseph started off the year continuing with All About Reading Level 1, but it was becoming a battle and I wasn't seeing a lot of progress.  Last week I decided to start him with the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book.  I really disliked using that with Mary Clare, but I think it will be a better fit for the other kids, so I'll save AAR1 until he gets through 100 Easy Lessons, probably in the spring.  He also has Seton Handwriting and Phonics workbooks which he does every day, and I read aloud to him each day.  He does some narrations and illustrations on Fables that we read together.

Mary Clare is working in the Concepts and Challenges MODG Science book, and is doing some questions and summaries for that.  I believe it's technically the 5th grade program for MODG, but the consultant felt it held some vital skills that we should work on.  Ellie is using the 4th grade Abeka Science book (Understanding God's World), and Steven Joseph just listens along where he can, because Science is not a focus in 1st grade.  Hopefully we will be doing some Nature Club activities when we move.

Mary Clare does History as a twice monthly online "Book Club" and is enjoying the interaction with other students and a teacher.  Their main text is The Old World and America, and then she reads various literature selections, mostly about Ancient Egypt right now.  They also cover Geography with the different maps they create in the course.  She receives teacher grading services for this class, so she has a monthly phone call with the grader (our consultant), and she will be typing and emailing her work for grading.  Ellie is using Our Pioneers and Patriots as her History spine (along with Evangelization of the New World and The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas by Seton), and she's reading quite a few Early American literature selections; right now she's reading a few Columbus books.  Ellie is also doing a Map Skills book and is still reviewing state and capital flashcards.  Steven Joseph gets some history exposure while listening along and reading good books, but there isn't a designated text for History in 1st grade.

Mary Clare and Ellie are both following the MODG Latin programs, Beginning Latin I and II, as weekly online courses.  I am very happy with this program so far, and I think it is a good motivation for them to take more interest in Latin, which is very important in the classical method.  We had gotten to a point where (after doing Prima Latina and Latina Christiana) they had no interest in taking Latin again and just wanted to move into Spanish.  Hopefully we will still do some Spanish at some point, but I know that Latin is good for their formation.  The online classes make it fun, and give them some motivation for staying on top of their lessons since they are called on in class each week.  Steven Joseph will be learning a few Latin prayers and hymns this year.

Fine Arts--Art/Music/Poetry/Ballet
Mary Clare is following the MODG 6th grade Art program which includes some calligraphy and also the Seton 7th grade Art book.  Ellie has been doing the Drawing Textbook by McIntyre and will also use some masterpiece art cards.  Steven Joseph should be doing some art cards too, but I think I'll have him work some with Ellie when she begins her art cards.  He is doing some artwork with his fable narrations.

We haven't done much with Music so far.  Mary Clare has a textbook (The Ready to Use Music Activities Kit), and she is singing in the choir when we're in Corpus.  Hopefully she can continue in a church choir or try some violin lessons when we move.  Ellie has taken a break from piano since May, but hopefully she will start up again when we move since I already have a teacher and time slated out for that.  Steven Joseph is listening to and learning some Latin hymns according to the syllabus, and I might see if he enjoys piano along with Ellie once we move.

All of the children are memorizing poems according to their syllabus from The Harp and the Laurel Wreath poetry compilation.  They are enjoying this, and Ellie even recited one with a friend who is also a MODG 4th grader at their girls' club picnic in Houston last week!  And of course the girls will be back to ballet lessons once we move.  They took three days of classes while we were in Houston and were evaluated and recommended to take two levels of ballet to catch up with what they've missed the past three years.  So they will be spending a lot of time at the ballet school once we move!  I'm looking forward to some more exposure with Fine Arts through field trips and other opportunities that are offered there, if we can fit it into our schedule without stressing out our family!

All of the kids will participate in the girls' and boys' clubs we've been a part of with our friends in the homeschool group in the Houston area, which take place twice a month.  The girls do sewing, crafting, virtue lessons, liturgical tea parties, traditional dancing, and picnics.  The boys do some outdoor activities, virtue lessons, crafts, and picnics.  It looks like we might also be able to do the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Montessori faith formation program during these club times at someone's home, and I may be helping with that.  Depending on what county we move to, we are hoping to start up a 4-H club for the homeschool group once we move, and Steven Joseph will probably participate in some sports too.

So that's our yearly plan in a nutshell!  It is a full schedule of lessons, and it often takes us until almost 4pm to finish their schoolwork with all the distractions of house packing, hotel stays, and the baby!  Today we stayed on top of things and finished by 2pm, so I even got a nap!  I think we will slowly get into a routine and things will go smoothly, probably just in time to make our move back to Houston!  At least we have the consistency of an accredited program with lesson plans (that can be customized and printed each week...so helpful!), so that in the midst of a lot of family changes we can feel like we are on top of our schoolwork and I have the extra support I need to make for a successful year.  As for now we are just at home waiting and praying for some progress on the house-selling front, and hoping we can find just the right house for our family.  It'll be an eventful school year for sure!

Our Lady and St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Clare, pray for us!
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!
St. Stephen, pray for us!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!
St. Katharine Drexel, pray for us!

1 comment:

Catie said...

Hi, there. I found your blog as I was searching around for other MODG families. We are using the 3rd grade syllabus this year, but are not enrolled. I am also using Math-U-See for the younger years, but plan on transitioning to Saxon 5/4 next year or whenever we finish Math-U-See Delta. In your experience do you think Delta to 5/4 is a good place to bridge the programs?

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