Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where do We Go from Here?

First, I forgot to list one thing that is working very well: FlashMasterir.gif. BB is quick to pick up math concepts, but he struggled with memorizing his math facts. (Kind of like his dad, heh, heh.) We used Addition Songsir.gif, Subtraction Songsir.gif, Multiplication Songsir.gif, and Division Songsir.gif, all from Audio Memory, to teach math facts, and FlashMaster to practice them. Even once he had them all memorized and didn't need to count on his fingers or refer to a table any more, he was still slow on the draw. While doing long division, for example, he would sit staring into space, waiting for a needed division or multiplication fact to magically pop into his head. Naturally, the waiting usually turned to daydreaming, his thoughts never returned to math until I got his attention, and this always made him angry because he insisted he hadn't been daydreaming. He would make thirty review problems, all of which he already knew how to do, take three to four hours.

We have been working on focus and, while his mind still wanders, he is getting better at noticing, and bringing it back. What helped? First, I let him use a multiplication table. He could answer most of the problems on the table quickly without looking, but those he had to think about took longer to remember than to look up. And looking them up seemed to reinforce the right answers in his memory. He hasn't needed the multiplication table in over a year now. Second, we have him set a 1 minute timer for each problem. Some problems take more than one minute and some take less.  If the timer beeps before he is finished, or he finishes the problem before it beeps, he resets it for another minute. If he starts to daydream, it's less than a minute before the timer brings him back to reality. Third, I have him practice every day with FlashMaster. When he gets enough problems right in the time allotted, he moves to the next level. Once he completes all the levels, he starts over, but we reduce the time limit. So we will continue with the per-problem timer and FlashMaster.

MathTacular: The boys both loved MathTacular 1-3, and last year when I ordered curriculum, MathTacular 4 was "Coming Soon". I kept delaying my order, waiting for it to come out, but after several months, it never did, so I gave up on it. It's out now. 

I mentioned that GL will be attending the local high school in the fall. Since he continues to make progress in reading, I will continue working with him in that area. We're still waiting for his placement assessment at the school. After that, we'll see what the school has for him.

For BB, reading, spelling, grammar, writing, and math will remain priorities.  Since what we've been doing in these areas seems to be working, we'll keep at it, with a focus on bringing him up to grade level. The subjects that tend to get crowded out, we will focus on, one at a time, until he is where he needs to be in each. 

For science, I'm still not sure what direction to take. I'm open to suggestions. For History, I'm still looking for a good follow-up to The Story of the World. We'll definitely be reading books about various people, places, and civilizations, but I'd like something to help tie it all together. I think BB is ready for  Rod and Staff Grade 5 Bible Workbook. We enjoyed What's in the Bible Vol. 1: In the Beginning. We'll be adding the other DVDs in the series as a fun supplement. I think we'll follow up Classical Kids: Collectionir.gif with The Music MastersThe Stories Of Vivaldi And CorelliThe Story of BachThe Story Of Handel, etc.

I think the biggest surprise to me as I plan for the coming year has been how few surprises there are. Most things we've been using are working. We'll keep using them. A handful aren't. We've already found replacements for most. I'll let you know what we come up with, and how they work out. We knew which subjects were getting crowded out. It's time to prioritize them. 

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