Hannah and Molly

As requested...Molly in her new bathing suit. Hannah turned 7 yesterday, and this was one of her presents (the bathing suit, Molly was a Christmas present).

Random Homeschool Thoughts Part 2: Handwriting

Unlike Reading, the subject which has a thousand different books that all say the same thing, I do have a decided favorite curriculum for handwriting. Handwriting without Tears has a very unique, highly effective method of teaching beginning handwriting.

If you ever took a drawing class, then you probably remember the assignment of upside down drawing. You were instructed to turn the picture you were drawing from and your paper upside down and draw from what you saw. That way your drawing wasn’t clouded by your own presuppositions of your subject. It turned the picture into just lines and shadows for your brain to transfer to the paper. I remember being amazed by the results.

In a similar way, HWT has developed a system to help children put together letters with their hands before putting them down on the paper. A Child that knows what an S looks like still has trouble drawing it when there is a picture of it right next to them. So they have developed a method to help the brain break the letter into pieces to be able to put those pieces together in the right way.

The method uses different manipulatives, but my favorite is a set of wood blocks (or you can make them out of cardstock like us) that consist of 4 different shapes. Together these shapes make every letter in the uppercase alphabet. HWT website has printable downloads of all the letter formations, but they aren’t too difficult to figure out. You need 2 big curves, 2 small curves, 4 big lines, and 3 small lines. Below is the actual wood letters you can buy from HWT.

Here is the letter formation chart available on their website.

We just worked on writing letters on blank paper until we made the switch to a different handwriting program. We switched because I thought that their letters looked funny and would rather my girls learn to write with the traditional ball and stick. I think this is just a matter of opinion at this point. But we switched to A Reason for Handwriting. Here is an overview and why we chose it:

Their “K” (Kindergarten) workbook has letter practice on one side of the lesson page and a coloring page on the back. The first “A” sheet has an alligator on the back and so on. We used this program to try to instill a pride of workmanship by asking for their very best work on both sides of the sheet. They tried very hard to color inside the lines on the back side as handwriting improved on the front side.

After their “K” workbook, RFH uses a week long assignment method we also like. During days 1-3 students work on individual words (that are in the final Bible verse) on the practice worksheet. Then on day 4 students do a practice sheet of the whole Bible verse. On day 5 students chose a border sheet that they can then do the final version of their Bible verse on, and color the surrounding border. I like the fact that they are copying Bible verses and the pride of workmanship that the border sheets help to build.

A Reason for Handwriting has Samples on their website.

One more thing and then I am done with this overly long post. 2 teaching tips:

1-Let the student tell you what they think is the best and worst part of their assignment for that day. They normally see the mistake, but don’t know how to fix it on their own.

2-Only help the student correct one thing a day. Leave the other stuff for another day.

So now I am looking for a great typing program...any help?

Random Homeschool Thoughts Part 1: Reading

If I say Part 1, then there might be a Part 2 to follow. Oh, and I am not claiming to be an expert in homeschooling. I have just taught 3 girls to read, read about 50 books on the subject, so I thought I would pass on some knowledge.

Teaching your child to read 101. Three step method. Okay, maybe 4, but step 4 is obvious (okay, once you read them, they will all be obvious).

Step 1: Read to the child when they are young (and old). Pick books with varied vocab, as this is very helpful later. It is always nice for the child to know the word they are trying to sound out. Beatrix Potter is very helpful, as are original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. You don't need to explain every word, but exposure is very helpful. Good books are also very helpful.

Step 2: Make letter sheets. These consist of writing the letter in the middle of a blank page and then talking about and drawing objects on the page that start with that letter. A small basic picture dictionary is helpful if you aren't very good thinking of words on the fly. Start with consonants that have one sound, they are so much easier. We have yet to finish all 26 letters before finishing Step 3, but it gives the child a visual start to learn to read.

Step 3: Let the child read to you. We like the Bob books and Seuss, but any easy readers set would work. Associate one letter with one concrete word. B is for "baby". It is always "baby" while they are learning. Short "E" for "elephant", long "e" says its name. This part requires patience. Let the child work at sounding words out. Let them read the books they master over and over again, along with the harder ones.

Step 4: Know your child and help them pick books they are interested in. Sarah likes fantasy. Hannah likes comics. Stephanie likes cereal boxes. They all read other stuff now, but no child wants one more chore (well mine don't), so I don't make my kids read stuff they don't like (right now). Which leads me to my reading list combine with my perfect book outlet. www.sonlight.com I have never had a complaint about any of the books on their readers list (and we have only missed the Sonlight controlled vocab books). They are all interesting and very enjoyable and mostly available at the local library (my super fantastic book outlet). But then I have a super fantastic local library. Oh, and just order a catalog from Sonlight. The webpage makes it buyer friendly, but not as "hijack your book list" friendly.

If this method doesn't work, then most likely your child is not ready to read. Children seem to have a "get it" age anywhere from 3-10 years old. I am not making this stuff up. I read it in a book. Actually about 10 books.

I hope you enjoy your free time, now that you don't have to read those 50 books, but if you are like me, you probably will anyway. Hopefully my next post won't contain as much of an attitude. Sorry, I am having a grumpy day, and I think it is reflected here.

Winter Pictures

I might as well just admit that I am now only posting once a season. So here's your winter post. You might not want to expect anymore until spring.