Friday, January 15, 2010

There really is nothing like homeschool

Today it was just the kids and I. We spent some intense time in the books. On Fridays I like to dig into the stuff that we cant hit during the rest of the week because of all the outside classes and the tutoring students coming and going.

A couple months ago I identified the crux of Tinks learning disabilities. Yes, she has a processing disorder but I wasn't content with just knowing that. After homeschooling her for four years I began to notice a pattern in both the state testing and the daily school work. I am now convinced that the problem lies in her vocabulary.

To help in this area I once again returned to Wordly Wise for help. To be able to define a word one must be able to pronounce it and then use it in context. Tink is having trouble with pronouncing words she reads. She can get the answers correct because the word is defined in the book and she can always check it's definition, but when I have her read me the list of the vocabulary words she cannot pronounce the words that she has been writing the definitions for.

Here are a few of the words in this weeks word list: conquer, crevice, assign, impatient, thwart, terse. Tink is 13 and she cant read these words. If she sees them in context in a story she does much better than just trying to read a word list, but when she is asked to define words on her state tests they are not in context. They are in list form and she fails it every time!

On Fridays we go over the words together...over and over and over...until she gets tired of going over them. We go over these same words throughout the week but on Friday we dig into the list and drill and drill. On Monday Tink does not know the words. But there is progress. She can read about half of them but that doesn't mean she will remember the definitions.

Wordly Wise goes over the words in many different ways including putting them in context in story form. Then the student does page after page of definitions. It's the best vocabulary program I know of.

I'm not worried about Tinks struggles with vocabulary. My heart goes out to her when I watch her trying to decipher the words but I know we will get through this just like we have gotten through everything else.

That's what I like about Fridays. We move from the school room upstairs into the downstairs living room. There by the fire we tackle the subjects that my kids struggle with the most. They are allowed to eat popcorn and drink hot chocolate while they work or to have their blankets and stuffed animals cuddled up next to them.

We don't worry about how far we get in the curriculum. We don't stress about getting all the subjects in for the day. If we stay on one page the entire time that is okay. We only work about two hours instead of the normal 6 hours on the other four days of the week but the work we do goes deep, deep into the content on the page!

For Peter it was all about preparing for Oregon Battle of the Books, which is the book club competition he is trying out for. He listened for over an hour to an audio of Gregor the Overlander while following along in the book. We then wrote out 40 questions about the material he had just read. Every little detail is fair game to the judges during the Battle of the Books.

I love days like this when we go deeper into the material then the time usually allows. I wish everyone knew the joy that comes from teaching your children at home! When you teach at home their entire education is in your hands. You can expose them to things they are interested in. You can work on their problem areas and help them soar in the areas they are gifted. It's an amazing, heady, yet humbling feeling.

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