Monday, July 9, 2012


I completely forgot about piano! This past year the kiddo has worked slowly through most of the first DVD from Simply Music. That was an enjoyable introduction to playing the piano without having to learn to read music. I believe it was a good way to go since reading was coming slower for him. We currently have it loaned out to another family, but will probably continue into the second DVD at a later time. It is an enjoyable way to get playing.

But, now that the idea of reading is starting to click, I'd like him to begin learning more about music. Unfortunately, we are not able to do private piano lessons or even buy another home-learning program. But, once again, someone on the SCM forum (I find many things that way) some time ago had recommended a website with free online piano lessons. After browsing around a bit, as far as free programs go, this one looks really good. So, we'll give it a try. It should be easy enough to remember: I will let you know how it goes for us. If you've used it with your family, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Plans for Year 4 (AKA 4th grade)

All materials have been acquired and the guys went on a 3-day campout for Cub Scouts. So I've spent the last three days going over said materials and figuring out how we're going to use them. Aside from listing books we'll source from the library for history and science, planning is done! whew!
  • Bible: we'll continue the Proverbs study at breakfast, and move to An Honorable Boy, studying the lives of various men in the Bible, both from Queen Homeschool.
  • Math: thanks to the very helpful folks on the SCM forum, I think we've found something that will get us over the mental hurdle we've been struggling with - Proffessor B Math. I had initially thought we'd go with the computer-based version of the program. However, due to our current financial status, I decided to go with the book, used from Amazon. The book title is Mathematics Power Learning For Children.
  • Spelling/Copywork: Queen Homeschool's Spelling Through Copywork, Book A. Later in the year I aim to start a book of mottoes for him to record things that he finds particularly interesting, inspiring, encouraging, etc.
  • Reading: we'll continue reading practice with the CLE 2nd grade readers, Helping Hands and Happy Hearts. I acquired both of these by putting them on my wish-list at Paperback Swap. In addition, he'll read some of the books for history and science. He will also read something of his choosing in the afternoons for 20-30 minutes. 
  • Spanish: I picked up Speedy Spanish Book 1 at a used curriculum sale, and purchased the CDs online. I plan to see if a friend of ours that is a native speaker will help us with practice speaking and may start a Spanish club later in the year, or next year.
  • Geography: our history program will naturally include some geography. In addition, we'll read a chapter from Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling each Monday.
  • Grammar: Monday and Wednesday, continue English for the Thoughtful Child orally, gradually adding in more writing (got this from Paperback Swap, too).
  • History: Tuesday-Thursday TruthQuest American History for Young Students II (1800-1865), with the Map/Timeline/Report package. This will take us back to using living books as we had enjoyed before with SCM, overlapping just a bit with where we left off this past year.
  • Science: Tuesday and Thursday, the first half of the year we'll study Real Food Nutrition for Kids, using Simple Kitchen Experiments, by Muriel Mandell, and Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, for experiments and cooking in the kitchen. We will also view videos from and YouTube, as well as a documentary or two on Netflix. At the end we plan to visit a farmer's market and a farm or two.  For the second half of the year we'll work through Properties of Matter from the God's Design for Chemistry series. I found that at the used curriculum sale, too.
  • Literature: reading books, of course. :) After Black Beauty, here's what's on my list: Understood Betsy, Heidi, The Wizard of Oz, Swiss Family Robinson, The Incredible Journey, Bambi, A Life in the Woods . . . We will also continue through Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt.
  • Character Study: reading a chapter of Prudence and the Millers each Thursday at lunch.
  • Picture/Composer/Nature studies: I am determined NOT to let these fall through the cracks this year. Picture study is scheduled at lunch each Monday. Composer study is scheduled each Wednesday before heading to the park. If we have a CD we can even listen in the car. Nature study is part of our Friday rotations to happen one Friday each month. For picture study I'm going to try using an old book my mom found (1925) from Kansas and Nebraska public schools. I hope to find better images of the pictures as we go along. I'm going to see what we find in the library for composers. And for nature study, I plan to simply walk in our neighborhood or park and we'll each draw one thing in our notebooks. Simple enough. 
  • Park and PE: We hope to re-join our local homeschool PE program, which will be Tuesday afternoons. And, of course we'll continue to attend park days each Wednesday with our local homeschool group.
I mentioned Friday rotations. Last year we tried a 4-day schedule with Fridays as game days. But Friday's wound up turning into Saturdays with dad being home. So this year, we'll continue the 4-day schedule, as that worked well. But Fridays will be project days instead, rotating field trips, Webelos projects, nature study and Spanish conversation practice. So there you have it, our plan for year 4. Now I can't wait for the end of August so we can get started.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conflict Resolution

In a family with multiple children, the children naturally have frequent opportunities to learn how to handle the inevitable conflicts of life. And this with their siblings, who can't stop being their siblings. But how does the only child learn this valuable skill? When conflicts arise with his friends, of course. We are getting to an age now where I feel this is delicate ground, though. I'd hate to see the kiddo kill a good friendship by developing bad habits in conflict.

Recently we had this issue twice in the same week, with different sets of friends. The first incident involved hurt feelings, and feeling slighted. The second incident had him pouting over the friends not playing how he wanted. Well, we certainly don't want that to become a habit, do we? Its difficult enough, I think, handling tattling and squabbles between your own children. But I find it far less comfortable to handle these situations between my child and someone else's child.

I am currently looking for something to read, preferably with him, to walk us through handling a conflict with grace. Our church uses The Young Peacemaker materials for the 4th-6th grade Sunday school. But, they just did it this past year, so it will be a couple of seasons before they get around to it again. I'm hoping to find something else so that will not be old hat when his class does it. I'm looking at a couple of books. One is The Peacemaker Student Edition. Technically that is for teens. But I think if we read it together, it could get the message across. And I think I would prefer that over the cartoons of the younger version. The other book I saw recommended on a forum. It has a really lame title, but the content looks pretty good: Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes . . . in You and Your Kids. Sounds like it will cover many areas beyond just conflict with his friends.

We are currently studying Proverbs, and that certainly covers many of the character issues like humility and pride that are involved in relationships. We can also study other passages like Matthew 18. So I think we'll start there, before we pick up any more books. But the above do look promising. I'll let you know what we come up with down the road. But I'd sure welcome any recommendations.