Callie’s HOME!! About her first week of school…

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Ray and I have decided we’ve seen all we need to see of the public school system for a while. I’m excited to report that, joining her big sisters, Callie (age 8) has begun her homeschooling journey!

It’s something we should’ve begun a while ago, but I have been putting it off because…. well, I’ll just say it… I’ve just wanted the easy route! However, it has become clearer and clearer in recent years that the special education department in our school district – as wonderful as they have been with engaging with Callie –  is not interested in seeing her excel. When I meet with her teachers and other school staff to discuss her annual goals, the whole conversation is about Callie having “functional” skills. I live and interact with her everyday, so I know how much more potential she has. So, not only will she have functional skills, she will also enjoy an abundant and delicate educational feast — memorizing and reciting poetry, singing hymns, learning to pray in earnest, developing friendships, being proficient in math, language arts, science, and history, listening to music of different styles and in various languages, learning expressive writing, developing a love for a hobby or two, and more. I’m excited for the possibilities!

Callie’s week of school began last week, two weeks before Olivia and Farrah’s school will begin (although Olivia has two online classes – English I and Word Guru that began last week as well).

Our first school week was extremely productive. For starters, Callie made her first purchase. It was for a bottle of water and she ordered it herself and used a dollar bill (exact change) to pay. I had to remind her to articulate, and she was a bit reluctant to hand over her cash, but I suspect she’ll be a pro at ordering stuff by the end of the year.

Math for Callie the first week included simple addition, identifying greater than / less than, counting pennies, telling time on a digital clock, counting by 10’s, and filling in the missing numbers on a 100’s chart.

I regret not homeschooling earlier. It takes her a bit of time, but she “gets” math. If the first week of progress is any indication, she will make incredible strides in math this year.

For language arts, Callie has a daily journal that she writes in every day. I have to help her a lot with this, but she is already showing considerable progress from Day 1 to now. Sometimes she does the writing, and sometimes I do the writing while we work together to figure out what to write. (She watches me closely when I write, and that’s part of the learning process for her.) Journal writing helps us with expressive writing, spelling, and  penmanship.

She will need lots of practice to get her penmanship to where it’s neat, but we’re working on it. As she writes, I constantly coach her on spacing the letters in her words and the spaces in between words.

Callie also does Handwriting Without Tears (a handwriting curriculum), and she does a lot of reading for pleasure.

I really don’t have a dedicated curriculum for reading or spelling, but I plan to start using one sometime this fall after I put more research into it. Also, I have no inclination to teach her “vocabulary” at this point, other than her basic understanding of words and concepts as we encounter them in our school or daily lives. Oh – and rhyming words! Yes, I can’t forget! On Monday, the concept of rhyming words seemed to confuse Callie (while my 4-year-old has had rhyming words down for some time now). It was helpful for her to see Jasmine come up with the rhymes, because Callie eventually (after several days) began to catch on. Now, if you ask her to “give me a word that rhymes with “cat” (or whatever), she can answer correctly (4 out of 5 times). I can’t wait to practice more with her so she can perfect this skill!

Too bad – the lady who sold me (online) the Abeka science reader I was planning to use for Callie failed to mention that it was actually a “workbook” and that her child had filled out all the answers on all the pages. I thought it was just a reader, and that I was purchasing a used book that had a slight wear, not a consumable book full of written answers. It arrived in the mail, and I thumbed through it and tossed it in the trash! So until I feel like repurchasing the curriculum (it’s not expensive, but the thought of buying it again makes me upset!), Callie will receive gentle “science” lessons  without a specific curriculum. We’re currently learning about how caterpillars turn into butterflies. I know, simple right? I haven’t even used the terms “metamorphosis” and “larva” and not sure if I even will right now. I just wanted her to understand egg > caterpillar > chrysalis > butterfly. She’ll get a front row seat at watching the action of this when I order our butterfly growing kit (same one I did with the big girls a couple of years ago). It’s so hot outside now, I’m not sure how safe it will be to have the caterpillars shipped this month, so I’ll wait until mid September.

In social studies, Callie learned about our country and our flag, and since she LOVES patriotic songs, we incorporate some favorites into our lesson time. We’re  just covering the  basics – the colors on the American flag, the number of stripes and stars, and the fact that the USA is broken up into 50 states.

Let’s see – we’re learning the hymn “Down to the River to Pray” (the folksy sounding song from Oh Brother Where Art Though), and it reminds Jasmine (who does hymns and memorywork with us) of the faster “River” song by Jordan Feliz, so I play these back-to-back just to appease her.

Callie’s memorywork poem is “Clouds”. It’s an 8-line metaphor poem. It’s simple enough to memorize, and we’re working on articulation and presentation (standing tall and still). Today, Farrah and I both modeled reciting the poem for her, and Callie’s subsequent recitation was a big improvement.

Future posts won’t be this long; I just wanted to give a good summary of what the first week was like for us. We went for a short walk, played outside on the swings, visited the library for books and playtime with games on their computers, practiced making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, played with magnetic building blocks and a new Jonah & the Whale puzzle, visited Urban Air Trampoline Park and more.

We ended our week with an overnight trip to Galveston to play at the beach and witness a sandcastle competition with family. It was an amazing time!

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