Homeschooling

Twenty Seventeen

Just two months back, a friend was asking about our long-term plans – whether we were intending to move back to the little red dot or continue staying in its northern neighbour. I vividly remember saying that I don’t see ourselves moving back in the next 4 years.

Fast forward a month and suddenly it seems that our plans have changed drastically.

The reality of moving back is slowly sinking in, and along with it, the stress and worry of how the eldest will cope with the syllabus (especially the one language that seems to plague most Singaporean children). Unfortunately, he dreads the language and asking him to read aloud or do his 听写 is probably akin to tearing out his hair, strand by strand. The sighs and huffs that follow the instruction given will make a politician proud. You would have thought he was stressing over some major political issue that will have repercussions over the entire world.

Thankfully, the second child is dealing with it much better so that’s the silver lining.

I’m now thinking of how best to help him move forward since he is so far behind without him hating the language even more (if that’s even remotely possible). The popular tuition centres will probably require him to take classes at a lower standard or even multiple lessons in a bid to catch up. And I’m still trying to get over how exorbitant one-on-one tuition is over here and to reframe my mind from thinking in ringgit.

In the meantime, we’ll be doing some major catch-up and hoping we don’t exasperate each other too much in the process because I remembered there was a reason why I outsourced Chinese.

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Simplifying Things

This is the 3rd year that D is being homeschooled. While I would love to say that we are learning so many things together or that he is currently versed in 5 languages while tackling Math Olympiad problems and researching on how to solve the world’s poverty and water issues, that would definitely be stretching the truth. On some days I’m just glad to have survived without tearing all my hair out and losing my voice.

At the beginning of each year, there is always one thing that I do – plan. While I’m not a Type A, I do love to plan because I see the benefits of planning. Out then comes the pretty planners, bright highlighters and different coloured pens. Oh, I have such ambitious plans each year for our homeschooling. We would be travelling the world through the vivid narration of historical stories or learning about science in a most interesting manner. My children would be sitting at my feet quietly while I regale with classical stories. We would giggle and laugh while the children plan menus and cook their heart out while I do the laundry.

You get the idea?

And each year, I get disheartened before the year is up because truth be told, I am awful in implementation. I try so hard to follow the plans that nothing gets done in the end. Even this year, I made the same mistake all over again. I had 5 different curriculum planned for language arts while trying to bring in 5 new activities all at the same time. Even after barely squeezing them all in the daily schedule, I somehow still felt confident that we would be able to soar while having V along for the ride.

This post is written because I’ve just done my quarterly review and I’ve decided to simplify. Plan small so that we’ll at least be able to accomplish that much. Take time to breath and enjoy each other. Concentrate on character building rather than finishing the next worksheet. Strengthening our relationships. Just love each other.

Wish us all the best!

Mid Year Review

We officially embarked on our homeschooling journey this year. (Which reminds me that I SHOULD get started on the “Why Are We Homeschooling” post as promised to someone.)

In these past 6 months, the question I hear most often is “How is it going?”.

And the answer?

The good days are really good, while the bad days make me really wonder how could I even remotely think this was a viable and sane option. As I told a friend, “I must have been INSANE.”

So to keep what remains of my sanity, I think it’s appropriate to do a mid year review because I highly suspect I’m overloading myself with too much information (all the fun things to do from the internet and picture-perfect houses) and therefore jumping all over the place with the curriculum, which makes us half-accomplished in everything.

So here goes:

English
All About Reading Level 1
Five in a Row
Teachers’ Production
English Extensive Enrichment

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We started off the year with All About Reading and will be continuing with it, although we got side-tracked with all the other stuff. It was easy and fast to accomplish daily but that became the issue. Browsing through the assessment and textbooks given by well-meaning friends made me panic slightly (not as much as looking through the Chinese text!). That’s when I got him started on Teachers’ Production which had been passed down. But recently, it hit me that I’m trying to replicate a school setting at home, which defeats the whole purpose of homeschooling so I’m trying to revive our Five in a Row because we had fun while learning. At least I think so. We’re going to also start on English Extensive Enrichment which teaches all the proper noun, adverb etc. I’m terrible at it so we’ll be learning together. I’ll leave the spelling and the likes till I finish the current level of All About Reading.

Chinese
四五快读
华文 Take Off to Primary 1
最常用的华文字

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We’ve been terribly inconsistent with this. We can hold VERY basic conversations but we’re totally lagging on the reading and writing. You can tell by the fact that the books we’re using are essentially meant for prepping the kids for primary 1, not when they are in primary 1. We’ve only been using 四五快读 thus far and will be supplementing with the other 2 books for the rest of the year. We’re also joined a co-op helmed by a bilingual 14 year old to hopefully put some fun into the learning. I’m laying 汉语拼音 off for the time being while we actually try to finish 四五快读 before the year is up. I’m seriously contemplating whether to send them for Chinese enrichment classes, especially since the younger one tells me to stop speaking like this when I converse in Mandarin.

Math
My Pals are Here
Targeting Mathematics
Teachers’ Production
ACE Math

We’re actually doing pretty ok on the Math front. Partly because that’s the first thing I chuck in front of the poor boy when I need to nurse the baby so he had plenty of practice. My Pals are Here and Targeting Mathematics are local school texts although others have advised to junk the texts and rely solely on assessment books as they are tougher. We’ll see how that goes. As of now, we’ll stick with these because they make me feel more accomplished.

Science
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey (Life)

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Here comes the fun stuff. We just started a co-op for this (and history). We’ll be using Five in a Row for Science too. I was trying to get him to start a nature journal but it hasn’t been successful at all. Another thing that sounds fun is the Young Scientist Badge Scheme but maybe next year when the baby is more mobile, and going out doesn’t sound (that) tiring.

History
Story of the World Book: Volume 1 (Ancient Times)

I’m heading the co-op for this. So far we haven’t been very far but we’re taking our time. I just need to remember that I need to incorporate Singapore history somewhere too.

Art
Five in a Row
Artistic Pursuits Book 1

This, unfortunately, gets ignored all the time. Especially when stress levels hit a high. But the kids love this. Just all the mucking around with the paint which also means supplies get used up at an extraordinary fast pace. We’ll be sticking to Artistic Pursuits for the time being although I am exploring alternative curriculum that uses video explanation. Think that might work better for him.

Bible
Hands On Bible
Ministry to Children
Character Building from the Life of Jesus
The Right Choices Bible

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Ministry to Children stocks an incredible amount of material, and is our trusty to-go-to place. We’re currently also finishing Bible Detectives and will head to Character Building from the Life of Jesus after.

 

There. Have I missed anything?

I’ve been wanting to use the A.C.E. curriculum as the main foundation for our studies but looking at what we have on our plate right now, I think I might put that on that back burner and just concentrate on these first. Will wait for year end before we decide whether to nix some of these curriculum.

Lego Unit – Junior Edition

D loves Lego. And I do too (but I am only adept at following the instructions and creating the pieces as dictated in the manual). D, however, as all young children can, create wonderful pieces based solely on his imagination.

So I had to download the junior version of the Lego Unit from Walking By the Way. I had it in my computer for the longest time before I finally dug it out for use during the school holiday. I wasn’t very sure if he would be interested in it but we had fun.

20130102-124306.jpg20130102-124315.jpgI think he had the most fun playing the mini figurines game. And it entertained us for quite a while actually.

If you have a child who likes Lego, go download it now. I think I’ll be downloading the older version for D soon.