Monday, April 7, 2014

Supplementing our Classical Conversations curriculum and fitting it into our daily schedule

A friend recently e-mailed and asked about how I implement Classical Conversations into our homeschooling, especially with two little ones distracting us.  She also asked about what materials I use for language and math.  Here is my reply:

Classical Conversations has truly helped me with accountability and feeling like I am making definite progress with the girls. After trying out several math curriculums, I finally settled on Rod and Staff and love it.  It begins very simply with the basic numbers and addition facts with much repetition. We went quickly through the first lessons, but I love that it really drills basic math facts to the point that my girls cannot possibly forget them.  My 5 year old is a little ahead in math and the curriculum begins so simply that I decided to just do the 1st grade level for both of them right now.  I just don't make my 5-year old do as much of the writing as my 6 year old because she grows weary of it.  I'm not sure how long I will be able to teach them at the same level, but I am grateful for it right now because my teaching time is quite limited due to having a baby and 3 year old as well.   The girls also do Explode the Code for phonics review and First Language Lessons.  FLL does not take long so I also do Language Lessons For Little Ones with my 5 year old and Language Lessons for the very Young with my 6 year old by Sandi Queen just because I like it so much.

I'll be honest, some days we get a lot done and some days we don't.  Learning the Classical Conversations info is actually the easiest part because there are songs for each memory work and we just take a break and dance and sing together when we are tired of doing our "proper" schoolwork :)  My 3 year old loves the songs also so I use my trifold board and they take turns picking out the song they want to sing and dance to next.  My baby just crawls all over us on the floor while we do this.

Our typical schedule is quite flexible because my baby is not a great morning napper. We have 4 basic parts of our homeschool day and they occur in any order depending on how the youngest 2 kids are doing: 1. Worksheets 2. Table Teaching (Math and Spelling Lesson) 3. Couch Lessons (Language Lessons, Read-a-Louds, and Reading Lessons) -- sometimes these are broken up into two different time periods... I often get the big girls up early from rest time to do their reading lesson and read-a-louds if we didn't get to finish them earlier. 4. Classical Conversation Review
I usually place all their worksheets (mainly math, map tracing, and Explode the Code) in a clipboard for them by their places at the tabel in the morning. They can choose to do them first thing while waiting for breakfast and for their turn to go potty and get dressed or they can choose to wait and do the worksheets during rest-time. Then, when the baby is napping, we do "table lessons" (math and spelling review). When she is awake, we do Language Lessons, reading lessons, and read-a-louds while snuggled together on the couch or floor and the baby plays around us. Some days it is easy to get it done but on bad teething days the baby is fussing the entire time and I have to wear her in the carrier while I teach.  

My 3 year old is also a wild card. She currently loves to color the Explode the Code worksheets her sisters do, so they pass them to her once completed. She also has a princess magnet set and a felt set that she often does at the table or other puzzles. If she gets bored, I give the big girls a break and do a language lesson with her from the Language Lessons for Little Ones (#1). She loves to do what her sisters do and she listens to the poems and talks about the pictures and tells me her letters. We just do any of the writing part orally.
I also utilize the Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System with our CC work -- I buy the pre-made memory work cards at the beginning of the year and each night at the diner table the girls answer several questions before being excused from the table. This memory box actually contains a number of different things we are trying to remember: character traits, manners, phonograms, addition flashcards, scriptures, CC work, and catechism questions. I cannot recommend a memory box highly enough. We would not remember last year's work at all were it not for this box. My husband also appreciates hearing the different things we are learning.
We also still utilize the Sonlight read-aloud list and I try to request those books from the library each week.