I just bought a book on runes for the rune reading kids. It was tricky to find one without any spellcasting or divination, just linguistics. I don’t want any new-agey silliness. I hope this fits the bill.

Reading the Runes, by R.I. Page

They are so into it.

Blond teenager copying a map inscribed with runes from The Hobbit, another teen writing, table covered with books and papers

We are also memorizing the Dwarves’ Song. So Gloria is writing that in runes as well.

Fall is here and we love it. Our foxy baker is keeping the oven on all the time with fresh bread and cookies. Today is gingerbread cookies, a little sweet. Faith likes pumpkin spice but not pumpkin, so this is the happy compromise. Not sure what to do for dinner. We don’t eat meat on Friday, so I tend to fall into a few meals that everyone likes that are meatless, like scrambled eggs or fish. It’s difficult to make the whole crowd happy though. I expect it will be eggs.

Little guy is very sleepy and nursey today and last night. Hope he’s not sick!

memoria press switcheroo

Had a great year with Bookshark. But I want more for the older kids. I’m switching to Memoria Press. Here’s what I said on instagram.

I’m switching our homeschool around for next year. I’m keeping Dorothy in Bookshark for her first grade year, but I’m moving Gilbert, Trixie and Gloria to Memoria Press. Everyone liked Bookshark very much but I was already finding it difficult to keep up with 2 read-aloud levels at once. I realized that there was no way I could manage 3. I was cutting so much from the plans that they were gutted. .

Also, the kids’ test results this year, while just fine really, showed some weakness in grammar. That makes sense because they have never, ever studied it, and we did no formal Language Arts last year at all, just journal writing and lots of reading. I was looking at other LA programs because Bookshark’s LA was not a good fit, and I just didn’t really like anything I saw (well, except for Institute for Excellence in Writing, but it is expensive.) So that was two reasons why Bookshark was not going to keep working for us. And a third reason, the history spine is Story of the World, which I was already not using, opting for TAN’s Story of Civilization. SoC is nicely Catholic, and the kids actually remembered those parts. SotW is nominally secular but has an anti-Catholic bias. .

I stand by Bookshark as an excellent curriculum, just not for all of my kids right now. .

So, I’m keeping some of the Bookshark history, especially for Gloria, but putting the lot in First Form Latin and the corresponding English Grammar level, and Christian Studies III (which is the New Testament.) They’ll do some literature together, and maybe science. They’ll all have appropriate math and Gilbert the lucky dog will do Logic too. Gloria’s Social Studies are in Rome, Trixie’s and Gilbert’s Greece. I may add other stuff as we get closer but that sounds pretty good.


Teaching reading

Dorothy is having trouble reading. Well, she’s not. But she doesn’t like it. And she should, there’s no reason not to.

I’ve watched 6 other children learn to read as a homeschool mother. Faith and Abby picked it up from being read to and playing on Starfall. Bede is hyperlexic and could read before he could talk. Gilbert also went the Starfall route. Trixie was the first child I taught, with Bob books and mother-led Starfall. Gloria I also taught, but she was very reluctant. I don’t really remember what we did, but it was a lot and it took much longer than the others. There were tears. But today she is my most avid reader among the kids.

Dorothy is like Gloria. She’s been doing Reading Eggs, but she kind of drags her feet and makes a face when I tell her to do it. And she fully brings the misery when I say she’s going to read to me. So! I’m starting over. We did the first lesson from the above book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. And do you know what, she laughed during the lesson! I’m sold.

I forgot about the cute Usborne phonics readers where the proficient reader reads the harder text and the newb reads the easier bit on each page. Much more fun because you get a good story instead of the odd ones that come up in most CVC books. I have a few of them (somewhere?) and I went to buy the rest and found this My First Reading Library set for just a little more, so I got it instead.

I hope they’re as fun as I remember. If nothing else they’ll work as read alouds, and there’s Clementine, Peregrine and Malcolm coming up behind Dorothy who might like them too. Hashtag justification of splurge. And then another Bookshark mom mentioned them on Instagram too so it must be fate 🙂

I’ll update in a week or so after Dorothy’s had a chance to settle in.

Week 26 wrap up

I’m going to blog more regularly about our school days. I love to look back on it later, and it might be helpful to someone doing the same things I am at some point.

Dorothy; Bookshark Level Pre-K with K readers.
Gloria: Bookshark Level 3 with advanced readers
Trixie and Gilbert: Bookshark Level 6

Monday: Dorothy read two books from Fun Tales. She starts with deep trepidation which switches to tears, then sniffles, then smiles. Every time the unpleasant reaction gets shorter. I had the same experience with Gloria, years ago. I asked her (Gloria) if she felt emotionally scarred or resentful about learning to read and she said she barely remembers it, and not as a bad thing. Hope Do is the same! Gloria reads voraciously now.

Trixie woke up, started her math, made many frustrated noises, shed a few tears herself, then went back to bed and slept for another two hours. Woke up and said, “I think I can do my work now.” And did, went right through all of it.

Sean and Dorothy read the read-alouds at bedtime. They’re on The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature. She likes it as much as I did when I was her age. Heart eyes.

Tuesday: I got a tooth pulled, ow. I expected the kids to take the day as their Fifth Day, but only Gil did. Gloria and Trixie got out my Instructor’s Guides while I was out and did all their stuff. I was impressed.

I shirked a bit myself, though. I couldn’t manage our read-aloud, The Shakespeare Stealer, because my mouth hurt! Day off for me.

Wednesday: Gloria was the only one up before 9, a rarity. I roused the rest and we were off. Dorothy is using Reading Eggs along with my instruction, which she also at first resists then likes. Kids.

I changed something this week: science in two days instead of our usual three. Trixie will get days 1 and 2, Gilbert days 3 and 4. It’s laid out so clearly already that it’s easy to break day 3 in two and give half to day 1, half to day 3. Day 4 is experiments, which we don’t do that often, but can easily fit in any day. So this was the first week with the new schedule for science and I liked it. Kids didn’t notice a difference so, yay? Heh.

Finally got to read aloud and start Shakespeare Stealer. It’s first-person, which is fun to read aloud because I always feel a little like a noir detective.

Thursday: Gil complained that the calculator won’t do fourth roots. I was unsympathetic. Gloria is reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by herself, even though it’s scheduled as a read-aloud. She likes it a lot and is a few chapters ahead of the IG. I’ve read it too – if I’m not reading a given book aloud I read it myself so the kids get a book-club style discussion partner. She and I both think it should be called (SPOILER) Carry On, Mr. Bowditch Even Though Everyone You Love Dies.

Friday: Gil’s the only one today, since he took Tuesday off. I use the fifth day to look over the kids’ journals that they write in 4x week and to check on their math with Teaching Textbooks. Trixie seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of division and fractions, unsurprising given that this is her first year with structured math. I’m dialing her back and starting with Division 2 from Math Mammoth, my favorite gap-filler.

Fifth day is also my catch-up as well as the kids’, so I read some more Shakespeare Stealer. It’s a good ‘un!

Lent First Monday

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I’d say I sleep poorly about half the time. I’m still deeply grieving my parents’ deaths, and I think that has something to do with it. It’s not the babies, really, both little boys sleep well. Perry might wake in the night once a week or so, and Malcolm nurses around 11 and then is out for several hours. Nobody to blame but me.

So I’m pretty groggy today. I’m offering it up. The children are all still sleeping as I write.

Sleeping baby

Except for Dorothy who just woke up.

Little girl with stuffed animals

She’s watching one of the nine or so iterations of Littlest Pet Shop, a cute, if predictable show with bug-eyed animals learning important moral lessons. There are worse things. Notice her row of animals in front, to watch it with her. I do love six year olds. There’s my Bookshark IGs in front of her, I was in the middle of reading up for the day when she came in.

I think I hear Perry, and I need to go rouse the slugabeds.

Lent First Sunday

[Housekeeping: I changed to an Instagram plugin over there in the sidebar, along with a new theme. If you’re on mobile, the Instagram feed is down at the bottom now. EDIT: the plugin is janky, I’m working on it]

I want a real social life. I can’t go visit people because I have an autistic almost-five year old who needs all of my attention when we are at someone’s house or in public. The only place I can socialize is here. So! Now I’m setting a new goal: weekly open house. I’ll be home, with the kids, on Friday afternoons and evenings. I’ll have a snack and even dinner if you stay that long. All will be welcome. Don’t get too excited, I cant start this until mid-April after the kids finish drama class. But pencil us in. We have a whack of kids, a lot of wild land, a fenced, slightly less wild area, a ton of Nintendo games, and open hearts.

I miss the socialization of my youth, where things were more loose. I can’t manage that, but I can do this, what, planned spontaneity? Sure. I have two friends who do this but I can’t ever make it (see above re: autist.) I hope someone takes us up.

The time change cut us up this morning. Like many others, we missed Mass. Sigh. I’m a grownup, really.

Lent First Saturday

So far so good on the Facebook fast. I’ve caught myself a couple times defaulting to the website, by accident. I just closed it up and did something else. I have to check the group I moderate about twice a day, so I bookmarked a direct link.

The BILLY bookcases are filling up so quickly Sean told me to get two more. They’ll come next week, I’m still deciding where to put them. There’s room on that wall, but I have a giant world map that I want to put there. Those two are almost all homeschool books, with more to come.

We got a Memoria Press catalog last week with some penmanship material I ordered (they seem to have the best cursive program for an older student.) Sean really likes their curriculum but there is no way I could manage it, nor do I want to. I told him he needs to trade us in for a new family, sorry. I’m all in for Bookshark. He relented.

This year has gone well so far, speaking of Bookshark. We are on week 25 of Levels 3 and 6. A typical day is: wake the kids by 9:30 if they aren’t awake, though usually most are, eat breakfast, check in with each kid for their scheduled work for the day and what needs to be done, or questions from yesterday’s work. Then off they go. We have two computers that they use for Teaching Textbooks, so there’s usually no waiting, and they all have their own books for the other subjects.

I tried once to have Faith and Abby share a Sonlight Core and it was unpleasant, so now if two kids are in the same level I buy two of everything but read-alouds. Used copies means it only costs a little more than new.

While the big kids are working independently, I get Dorothy set up. She’s learning to read and write this year, with a mix of Reading Eggs and paper books, and Handwriting Without Tears. It takes about ten minutes with me and however long I let her do Reading Eggs. She does read-alouds too, but those are with her daddy at night.

The big kids check in with me as they finish each item, math, history, a chapter of a novel, and science. (We completely dropped the science experiments, sigh. Nobody was into it and it was a lot of work. I think next year will be better, it’s robotics!) They also write at least a page a day in their journals, for our unstructured language arts.

We also have a read-aloud going most of the time, which I read about every other day, to save my voice.

And on Tuesday they do homeschool drama class and PE.

Everyone’s done in a few hours and then they are free!

Lent Day -2

I’m off Facebook for Lent. It doesn’t start until Wednesday so I’m just prepping. I’m really looking forward to it though. I hid everyone on my feed and kept groups because I have to moderate a few, and it’s already less stressful. I’m also reading Digital Minimalism and liking that so far.

My birthday was last week and I turned 45. Hot damn!