Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diary - 30 January

I worked from home today because I was suffering from something that felt akin to gravel rash on my eyeball. It was a side effect from our great day at the pool yesterday. Unfortunately it left me headachy and in pain so I worked a half day and then slept for a big chunk of the afternoon. Feeling better tonight, so yay!

Last week's diary entries were deceptive - we do do more formal homeschool too. I have been trying to be more relaxed about days where it doesn't happen, sometimes we just need to kick back.

The Whipping Boy
At the moment we're studying Concept 4, Unit 2 of Moving Beyond the Page 7-9. The literature component is a study of The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman and the SOSE component is an introductory study of US Government which I am supplementing with a study of Australian Government, making it almost a double subject.

The kids have enjoyed The Whipping Boy and will be reading the conclusion tomorrow. Today they were working on the structure of the US and Australian governments and it was quite a big day of quite a dry subject. There was lots of reading from How the US Government Works which I bought in Kindle format and now regret as there aren't any page numbers on the Kindle and it's not something which has lent itself to being easily read in chapters. But Jamie joined in for the discussion of the role and function of government in the US and we enjoyed the discussion. Keeping it to a level suitable for the kids is quite a challenge, though. 

I will be glad when this unit is over. They have been very interested in the discussions on voting and the election process but the function of government is ho-hum to them. There is little for them to relate to at this age. It's in there, though, because it's mandated curriculum whch just goes to show the fallacy of mandated curriculum. You can include it, you can teach it, but doesn't mean the kids are going to learn it. I fail to see how most kids in 2nd or 3rd Grade would be really that interested.

Practising spelling and handwriting
We also got on with our usual tasks of maths, handwriting/spelling and reading. I have some slates my grandmother used to use to teach first graders 60 or 70 years ago and the kids practice their spelling/handwriting using them. Anni remarked today on how her penmanship is improving. I asked her if she would like to have a handwriting practice sheet each day and she seemed quite keen so I will add a page from Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade to her daily work starting with the next unit. 

Reading about local government
Their daily reading is from books that support the current topics. This is to help them build a broader knowledge around the topic. Anni admits, though, that she's not retaining a lot at times. Again relevancy is a big issue. They are good with some aspects (voting, design of Canberra) because they have meaning or interest for them. The rest (structure of government, role of government and officials, who is actually in government at the moment) is all pretty uninteresting.

There was much incentivising today to keep motivation up. In Anni's spelling practise photo above you can see the games already selected for after work is finished. Unfortunately they didn't finish their chores during the day which meant no games or TV after school was finished in the evening (probably a good thing because it was nearly 9 pm when we finished school). The kids have been staying up later and later while I am trying to go to bed earlier because I have to get up at crack-o-dawn to start my longer work day. Vince is also having trouble sleeping. So this morning we agreed on an earlier bedtime and reinstating some bedtime routine to help him settle down and sleep better. There was some whining at bed time and I got cranky - evidence that we all need to sleep more/better.

Reflections on the day - Vince is quite bored by the SOSE component of the work so I am glad we only have one unit to go. Our next year of study will see him jumping to the Grade 4/5 equivalency, 9-11, which I hope will be much better. It's self-directed and more challenging, both factors that should improve the experience. Anni is sad that she will be studying on her own when she begins 8-10 and I am concerned that it will make things harder as I will have to find time to teach two different grades. However, self-direction is both Vince's and our goal, so I am excited to be supporting him to move on and take more responsibility in his studies.

What motivates your kids in their studies? What neccessary parts of the curriculum leave them cold and what do you do about it?


Kylie said...

Oh dear I have to agree with you on the "Government Unit". I will touch on it with my 10 year old sometime this year, he already knows a bit just from many family conversations. But I hardly doubt I will even bother with it with my 7 year old, honestly she couldn't care less lol!!!

Rosemary said...

The biggest downside of a pre-packed year long curriculum is the units you wouldn't bother with otherwise. Especially when it's one that follows a national or state curriculum - you know it's going to have the things some official thinks is important and most kids are going to feel is irerelevant. In 7-9 it was this study of government. In general the 'official' topics stick out like a sore thumb in the plan and you know that someone with no idea of what real kids are going to put any effort into learning decided that kids in grade 3 needed to know about three tier government. no wonder kids start hating school around Grade 3 with this stuff pushed on them.

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