we try to pick ourselves up from a vacation in paradise and get back into full swing
We have completed our first term right smack at the end of January. The boys have each taken their midterm evaluation tests at TLP, our homeschool provider – and passed! We had a little ravioli lasagna party to celebrate this success, just the three of us.
And then we packed our luggage and flew off to Davao for a much-needed and very well-deserved vacation.
Five days later we are back home. We have just moved to a new apartment so a lot of our things are still in boxes, and we’re still waiting for plumbing and electrical repairs to complete. I therefore declared this week as a free week. No bahaySKUL. So the boys are gung-ho on the TV watching Netflix and YouTube while incessantly asking when we will buy a new Xbox video game CD, which I promised, and that they are in fact entitled to after completing one bahaySKUL term.
I, on the other hand, will utilize this week planning for our final term. My goal is to complete our remaining modules over the next two months. So that beginning April, they are free to sign up for any summer activity of their interest, and we can also start on with a project for their ‘project-based learning’ requirement next school year. I am also taking this time to assess the previous term, where we did well, and what we can improve on for the succeeding terms and school years.
So here I draw up a list of the things and methods that worked for us last term. Everything on this list, we did for the first time this school year, and it worked great, at least for this season of homeschooling and at our children’s learning level.
Daily math. Contrary to the bad reputation it has received, Math is a well-loved subject around here. It is simple and concrete, and easy to teach. All it takes is for me to introduce a new math concept, work problems with my kids, and once they grasp the concept, I need only to follow up with daily math practice. We start all of our bahaySKUL days with Math. We use Math LifePACS for our main curriculum, and supplement with a Singapore Math textbook, and oral math drills (fun!).
Lapbooks. This year is the first time we have incorporated lapbooking into our bahaySKUL. We found lapbooks to be great tools for sealing in what was learned from the modules. Every once in a while, the boys look back at the lapbooks they’ve made, and then say, “Oh yeah, I know about this..” They are especially great for concept mastery and review, we mostly used our lapbooks when we reviewed for the midterm evaluation tests last month. Best of all, the boys enjoy making them, and keep asking to do more lapbooks!
Story mapping and graphic organizers. The curriculum we’re using, LifePACS, is rather text-heavy. A lot of reading is required, and a lot of concepts are embedded within large chunks of text. For young kids who are just developing their comprehension skills, grasping concepts from heavy text formats might prove difficult, if not frustrating. To ease the process, we’ve been using a lot of graphic organizers for note-taking and identifying important pieces of information that we read from the text. This process has mostly replaced a lot of the copywork that we were doing last year. Visual formats are easier and more interesting for young readers, and help them to have a deeper understanding of the subject. This way, they also figure out which part of the lesson is most exciting, which they research and read up on afterwards.
Reference books. We have a monthly budget allocated for books. Since we’re homeschooling, and we cut down on expenses like school transportation and tuition fees, we make it a point to set aside a certain amount to purchase books instead. We don’t have a library in our area that caters to our young learners’ needs, so we really have to buy books ourselves, if we want our kids to keep reading. Last year, our book purchases were mostly graphic novels (Adventures of Tintin, Smurfs) and classic literature, with the intention of developing a reading habit and love for books. This year, their book choices include series books (Geronimo Stilton, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and manga comics (Naruto). They also ask to buy special interest books, particularly Minecraft, we have a growing library of Minecraft-related books around here. And they have a monthly subscription to K-zone, a local kids’ magazine. Just recently, we found that adding illustrated reference books to this mix is a great way to keep the boys entertained with reading, as well as pique their interest in topics like astronomy or early Egyptian culture. We have found Usborne Discovery books to be especially helpful in this regard. These have website links when the kids want to find out more about what they read from the book. Some of the photos from the books are also downloadable from the Usborne site, which we can print out and use for lapbooking and other activities.