This year has been a very different home-schooling year for us than the previous nine years we’ve been schooling at home. Schooling six kids this year and two of them being fluent in Spanish started out as a challenge. We began the year using a pretty hefty pile of English and Spanish books.
Our biggest challenge this year was Math because I struggled to find some resource that offered lessons in Spanish but enabled me to check and read over it in English. We have used Singapore Math from first grade on up and have always loved it. At Christmas time we shifted gears a little and tried Khan Academy to see if it would work well for us. There has been no looking back there. Needless to say, it did! It is absolutely super and is available in English and Spanish. There are different lessons per grade level and for every single question there is a video to the side that explains how to work the problem. A child cannot move onto to the next level until they’ve mastered the previous lesson. The requirements for each grade level are set on the US standard for each grade. I think Singapore Math has been really great for most of our Reedlings because each of them are doing very well with the national standard for each grade and a couple of them are comfortable working a year ahead of their grade. I really wish I’d found this resource years back! We also use Multiplication.com to help learn multiplication tables in a fun way.
We have always used the Charlotte Mason method of teaching which uses living books to teach most subjects in school. It really pushes learning to read well and reading or being read very good literature from an early age. Most of the writing in the early grades consists of copy-work, and it uses a very integrated approach to learning grammar. While I’ve followed enough families who’ve used this method with their kids all the way through to college years and it has made really great writers out of them, I can’t deny that it can be a bit nerve-wracking when this method is so unconventional in comparison with what is normally done in a regular school environment. That’s partially because the good writing starts to come out in the upper grades rather than making kids hate to write by forcing them to memorize grammatical rules at an early age. They’re challenged to do copy-work in the early grades and encouraged to write creatively as they build their skills. The idea is that children who learn to read well and read good classical literature will learn to recognize what makes up a good sentence and a good story. They will naturally be able to discern superb writing because they’ve read so much of it. The method teaches that kids who have a great foundation in reading will naturally begin to figure out grammatical skills because they’ve seen what that looks like through reading a whole, whole lot. Not that it doesn’t teach grammar at all- but it throws out drilling grammatical skills at an early age to the curb. It merely challenges students to recognize the bones of a good sentence, and they build on that as they grow. The goal is to teach kids to love to read. They practice writing much of the time by journaling everyday about the different books they’re reading from in a wide variety of chapter books, history, science and other interests they might desire to learn about.
I’m happy to see that our oldest two who have followed this method through are starting to prove this true as each year their writing is improving more and more. Nonetheless, I have found a couple of resources that seem to teach the different parts of the sentence in a fun way to kids of varying ages. We’ve always used Starfall with our little ones, but I recently discovered ABCYA.com. There are tons of different games on ABCYA. com that teach the parts of speech and the kids seem to really like them.
What online resources have been helpful to your homeschooling family? I’d love to know!