Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thoughts for Year 2

Just when I thought everything was going smoothly...something not so smooth happened.

And it has got me doubting how effective and meaningful our methods and curricula have been so far. I won't go as far to claim that DS hasn't learnt anything of use this past year. Two areas in Math stand out like a sore thumb, however...time and money.

DS' attitude towards Math has dramatically improved if you compare it with when we first began homeschooling officially. He has grown from a boy who could do Math well but didn't love it to a boy who thinks about numbers and codes and numerical relationships all the time with terrific glee.

But due to the nature of Math texts and curricula we've chosen so far, and my total ineptitude at giving him real-life time and money experiences, we haven't spent a long time on the two Math topics I mentioned. A sudden decision on my part to administer a Singapore Math Placement Test two days ago revealed how much we've neglected these concepts.

I was so miserable that day. I felt like I had failed him for life. Thankfully I took his inability to solve these questions in a much lighter mood than I normally would have and hence, I don't believe his confidence has been overly shaken. However, it's been a heeewwwwgggg eye-opener for me.

It also made me analyze how we've been approaching all the other subjects. And I guess unavoidably, my insecurities about Science have resurfaced.

On hindsight (and after a handful of semisweet chocolate morsels), I can see how timely all this doubt is since I've also been thinking for a few weeks about what to use for Year 2, which I plan to begin once we've completed our Ancient Egypt studies.

On the cards are a return to a Math curriculum we once set aside, trying a new Science curriculum (I know, I know...just be patient with me LOL) and seeing if a more structured history schedule ala History Odyssey might be helpful for us. As much as DS and I have enjoyed Ancient Egypt and as much as I feel it's okay to let a child linger for as long as he wants to on a topic of interest, we really need to at least get a little further by the end of next year. I also want to focus a little more on writing. I don't think I'll use anything formal for this just yet unless I get a good deal on it.

Amidst all this, I was also struck by this post at Learn at Every Turn. Despite all the different curricula and books I hoard, nothing will work like I want it to if I don't approach our coffeetable homeschool mornings with 100% of my attention.

I'll write about our chosen Year 2 curricula once I'm done previewing and testing samples. Meanwhile, I'd love to know what you've found useful so far.


  1. I try not to get too worried about tests - after all they only show how well a person did at one point in time in areas that the testmaker decided were important. All it means is that Singapore spends more time on time and money than you have up until now. I bet there are test on lots of other great stuff ie codes that your son would do really well on, that kids who did well on this test would not.

    The best way I have found to teach money is by giving it to my kids!! They love to count up how much they have, how much they need until they can buy whatever etc. Plus the experience of going to a shop buying something, checking that they received the right change etc.

    When I felt my daughter needed more experience with time telling I simply wrote it in my day plan, Everytime I looked at the plan I was reminded so I'd ask her before we started history reading "What time is it now" and when we'd done I'd ask her again and we'd work out how long we'd been reading. Sometimes I'd say, "Come and tell me when it is quarter past ten and then you can have a piece of chocolate". You can bet she got that one right! Just reminding myself to do time telling a couple of times per day quickly got her to where I wanted her to be in a low key way. Also buying her a watch helped - she was always looking at it to find out the time

    One trick I have when I have a panic moment is to write my concern down in an envelope, seal it up and write some future date on the front, maybe three months away. When I open the envelope I ususally discover the problem has fixed itself with little or no intervention on my part.

  2. [I bet there are test on lots of other great stuff ie codes that your son would do really well on, that kids who did well on this test would not.]

    Oh I wish I could hug you! That has seriously helped me feel a lot better.

    ["Come and tell me when it is quarter past ten and then you can have a piece of chocolate".]

    Excellent idea! Absolutely genius Sandra :) And the envelope idea is so true.

    I know we will get past this...I'm just not very good at handling setbacks :P

    Thank you as always for your thoughts Sandra. :)

  3. Suji, your son *is* only 6; no need to panic! :) We love Living Math (sorry if you already know about this) We also like to use math activity books like Math for the Very Young and Family Math.

    Time and money are really 2 areas that even if you never covered them formally, he *would* learn about them eventually because being able to tell time and using money will become important to him at some point. I know that's a real unschooly thought, but with time and money, I really think it's true. Kids don't always learn about topics when *we* think they should. :)

    Have you stopped using Dr. Nebel's curriculum? If so, I'd love to know why. :)

    But isn't great how we're able to see where things may have gone a bit wrong and fix it? That's the beauty of homeschooling. By the way, I'm *constantly* evaluating and making changes. It's daunting and exciting all at the same time.

    You're an observant mother and you will do the best for your child. Remember that. ;)

  4. Isn't it also wonderful how much clearer your head gets in the morning LOL...oh Michelle, you're another one I owe a hug to. Thank you my dear friend.

  5. Like Sandra said, time & money are easy to fit into every day life. Get him to pay for purchases while you're out. Let him work out how much money he needs to save up for x toy or book. Plus like Michelle said - it'll soon become important to him so he'll learn it!

    Re History curriculum, I know you use the Usborne book as a spine - do you use the Bringing up Learners curriculum ( We use it (very) loosely, but it gives a reassuring path to follow, and somewhere to look for further resources if I need them.

    {{HUGS}} - and remember, he's a bright boy who seems to love learning - that's a pretty big achievement in itself!

  6. Thank you Kerrie :) On hindsight, I realize how much I must have's crazy for me to expect everything to seem super easy for him right? And due to the "scare" I got, he's already getting better at figuring out money these past 2 days. LOL.


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