Reflecting on our Term

This has been a great term!  Having spent last year and the beginning of this year trying our hand at different things such as project based learning and unschooling, we have settled somewhat into a lovely groove of unit studies and project work.

We currently school for five weeks before taking a break.  Each five weeks has a theme and we focus on that for the whole five weeks.  This past term has been all about the Elizabethan times.  It has been full on learning and we have had a blast!  Five weeks seems to be the perfect time scale to maintaining interest, as well as it being the perfect time for me to take a break.  It seems to have got rid of the constant tiredness I was experiencing at the beginning of the year and as such has reignited my enthusiasm for all things homeschool.

Maths

Maths is going brilliantly for all of them as they slowly work their way through Conquer maths.  The incremental method seems to be a perfect fit.  C12 has become somewhat of a perfectionist and requires 100% from herself in every test, refusing to move on until she has achieved that.

L12 has surprised us all, but no one more than herself, by finding herself enjoying maths more and more.  She needs to achieve 85% or above to move on (I set it at that), but often achieves over 90%.  Both girls are working at their age level with L maybe slightly ahead.

T13 finished key stage three in his maths recently and has begun working towards his Maths IGCSE.  He still finds algebra difficult but always gets there in the end.

A6 has joined them on Conquer maths and completed reception year in a couple of months and will have finished year one this summer.  This means she will go into Year two at Year Two level maths.  She is enjoying the curriculum and it, also, seems a very good fit, with her regularly scoring 100%

B4 has not begun Conquer maths yet but has worked her way through almost all of the reception level Heinmann maths books.  She enters Reception year in September and I will probably start her on Reception level Conquer maths then.

All in all, I am very happy with their maths.  They are all where they should be and are enjoying it.  I couldn’t ask for more.  Thanks Conquer Maths!

English

My nemesis.  My Achilles heal.  The one area I am certain I have let down some of my children in.  I shall start with the youngest up wards.

B3 is beginning to learn her alphabet.  She is interested and enjoying the learning but has little or no retention.  I am not concerned.  She is only four.

A6 is Granny’s success story.  She now reads fluently and is able to sit for over an hour concentrating and enjoying being read aloud to.  Her writing is coming along nicely, albeit slowly.  Thanks Mum!

C12’s writing continues to stun me.  She writes with ease and enjoyment.  She has finished her murder mystery novella (which I shall be sharing) and has begun book 2.  Even her non fiction writing is improving (she does not enjoy non fiction) and she actually handed me a piece about Sir Francis Drake which was near perfect.  This is a real step in the right direction for her because she kind of forgets the English language has grammar on occasion!

L12’s writing has probably shown the most improvement.  Hers has always been the highest quality in terms of spelling and grammar but it has matured in content also.  Given they have had no formal grammar or spelling, I am fairly happy with the quality of both my older girls’ work.

Writing and everything linked with writing is still incredibly hard for T13.  He is due to take a physics IGCSE in January, the content of which he understands well.  Expressing his understanding clearly enough to show the examiner he understands is still a struggle for him.  We are in discussions about how to improve this but I feel out of my depth, wondering if I was an actual teacher would I know better how to help him?  The problem is multifaceted.  He finds the physicality of writing hard.  His writing is difficult to read.  He finds ordering his thoughts hard enough, without needing to order them and keep them in his head long enough to write them down.

My heart breaks when I see him berating himself for not achieving what he knows he could, if not for the writing issue.  We had a deep heart to heart last night and I have assured him that Gary, Granny and I will do all we can to help, but I also made it clear the hard graft had to come from him.  I think it frustrates him that whilst understanding comes quite easily, he needs to work much harder to achieve anything writing wise.  I shared with him how I had not had the instant understanding that he has, and at school it was understanding my work which took the most time and effort.  He just has a different problem, but I am sure with hard work and a positive attitude he will achieve his goals.  And I am certain it will be character building at the same time.  I’ll be sharing soon what we will be doing to help him, with particular reference to his upcoming IGCSE.

History/Geography

This has been hugely successful for the three older children and really there is nothing we would change.  They loved their projects which give them a welcome change to study completely independently.  It is now the third day of their holidays and the girls are already asking when school can begin again 🙂

Science

Science hasn’t happened this term.  And that’s alright.

The Little Ones

This term we have been finishing off the Arctic Unit study.  It has been hard to find the time and I know that somehow in the future I need to prioritise their school work, or at the very least make it as important as the older ones.  I’m not quite there yet juggling everyone’s needs, but with each passing week I can see an improvement.  Mum is being a huge help having just recently got the home schooling bug herself.  I am so grateful for her help because, to be honest, I sometime feel like I am being split into many different pieces whilst trying to meet everyone’s needs.

I will be posting soon what we shall all be doing during our next five week term.  I hope you are all having  a wonderful summer holidays.

18 comments

    1. I have. We’ve conquered most of his writing demons simply by letting him use the computer and typing. He has begun doing past papers for his physics and under the time restraints he is struggling. We have some ideas….

  1. It appears to be a very productive term. I’m sort of in planning mode here and thinking I’d like to balance it a bit differently, but my heath situation has made for much unknown . . . trusting in Father’s plan to unfold.

  2. Your term sounds great. We keep more or less to school terms and find half terms really valuable! Are you planning to keep going through the summer? I can see the advantage although am looking forward to a rest!

    1. We are breaking for four weeks so my older three can help out at the church summer club. After that we will have another five week term but this time only concentrating on Shakespeare. I’m deep in planning mode and trying to get my head round Shakespeare speak so I can teach it adequately in a few weeks time.

  3. Hi Claire, my ds struggles with writing too. What I have found helps him is if he uses the computer to type his drafts. I have tried to separate the physical act of handwriting from composition and I’ve found it has had an impact on his ability to order his thoughts and write well.

    I think that the physical act was so hard and slow for him that he would lose his train of thought because he simply can’t write anywhere near as quickly as he thinks. Then, because he lost the words in his head, he would panic a bit, start making mistakes, then be crossing things out and then panic some more about the mistakes and the mess. By then he is telling himself “I can’t do it!” and spelling, grammar, punctuation – the things he knows well – would also fall apart. None of which seems to be an issue when he types.

    Although I imagine T13 will have to handwrite his exams, perhaps typing some of his written work before that – if it works for him too – might give him some confidence in his ability to order his thoughts without the added pressure of the physical writing?

    Also, does he write a plan before commencing his writing? Just jotting down the key words for the areas he wants to cover in his essay – in the way someone might if they were giving a speech – might help him keep his train of thought and make sure he covers the most important points.

    I think this is a common problem. Perhaps one day students will be allowed the choice to opt between taking exams by handwriting, typing or orally.

    Hope something here helps 🙂

    Cathy

    1. Thank you so much for going to the trouble of sharing all your experience. I really appreciate it. We do a lot of what you suggest. We try to separate the physical part from the mental part, and he types his assignments I set him, which he has become very good at. The problem has only just recently re-reared its ugly head because he is doing past papers for his IGCSE physics and writing timed responses is proving to be very hard for him.
      Re planning, I have always encouraged him to plan but I think he feels it just adds more writing so he often leaves that part of his writing out. I think I shall encourage him to plan a bit more forcefully…. maybe!
      Thank you again. I appreciate your insight.

  4. I have really enjoyed reading about what you have all been up to, and am amazed and inspired by all your project work! The Art and craft work your family produces is always excellent and I think my children would like to do more of that sort of thing. Thank you for sharing it all here 🙂

  5. I am so glad you had such a productive term. I am amazed at how much you accomplish in a few short weeks. It sounds as if you have found the perfect fit for your family, Claire. Yay!
    I understand about T’s struggle with writing. I have a child who can do anything verbally, but finds it very difficult to get it on paper. We are making a few changes this year, so we will see what happens. Our key for math is Teaching Texbooks. I wish I had started it sooner. It sounds as if Mum has the home school bug! Fantastic. She is the answer to prayer for A.
    Congratulations on a fantastic term! Well done, T, C, L, A, B, Mum, and Claire! (I guess we should include G since he seems to participate, too.) I am looking forward to hearing all about Shakespeare.

  6. It is satisfying for me to hear about how your term went. I see your plans, and then their execution. It is then very interesting to hear your reflections on it. Very inspiring.

    1. Hello! I missed you and was very happy when I saw a comment from you 🙂 I hope you have been enjoying your summer (although I don’t really need to ask if last years summer bucket list was anything to go by!)

  7. Glad you had a great term! I hear you on the little ones because that’s an area where I’ve had much difficulty. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on balancing school time for them all, I find myself getting busy with the older children’s projects and totally forgetting to work with the younger children

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