School News

I intended to write this year about homeschooling…but I have fallen down on that goal. Today I’ll try to rectify that situation!

I want to sing the praises of Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  We use this writing curriculum in our Essentials class.  It is hands-down the BEST writing curriculum I have ever seen in the public, private and homeschool settings.  It provides a structure and a clear rubric, or framework, to be used for evaluation.  Students who are natural writers, like my daughter, learn new techniques to make their writing snap, crackle and pop.  Students who have a difficult time putting words onto paper (or keyboard) are provided with a model and a method.

One of the best aspects of IEW is the way the program teaches students to create informal “key word” outlines to plan out their writing.  I used to use the “cloud” approach when planning my writing, but the keyword approach is another unique way to get started on a topic.

During a recent DVD-viewing event where the founder of IEW teaches teachers how to use the program, we learned how to guide students into writing essays about…anything.  For the class purposes, we wrote an outline for a five paragraph essay about toothbrushes.  Toothbrushes!

I have seen my own daughter’s writing skills blossom from excellent to stellar.  I will see her words in print someday.  I’m even playing with the idea of co-authoring a novel with her.  The girl is a wordsmith!  And IEW is teaching her how to shape her sparkling wit into well-thought-out, organized paragraphs.

On the math frontier, I made a mistake today when I tried to double up two lessons in one day.  There I go again, trying to segment our school into a certain timeframe like they do in public school factories.  I wanted her to be finished with the curriculum by the time she leaves for summer camp.  Is that a noble goal?  Why?  Mainly because I don’t want to hear her gripe about having to work on school during the summer…but also because I ALSO long for the break that summer brings. Next year we will be on Classical Conversations’ junior high timetable…so we will be working on math well into the summer, I predict.  Trying to cram two days worth of math into one day led to tears and frustration on BOTH our parts.  When will I learn to nurture my child through math and not force it down her throat?  (Maybe when I learn to love it myself?)

I confess that some of her math problems scare me because I don’t immediately know how to complete them myself.  I suspect this means that I need to start doing the problems, too.

I’ll let you know how that turns out.

We are reading a great historical novel about Texas history for our read-aloud — it’s the diary of a young girl who lived during the time of the Alamo. Although the character herself is fictional, other characters in the book are real, and the book is based on events that really happened in history.  I see a field trip to San Antonio in our future!

Black Beauty is the novel my daughter is reading now.  I chose it for her not because it particularly matched any period in history or geographical region we’re studying but because it is a classic.  I am eager to re-read it myself when she finishes.  I read it several times as a child.

I do not have a specific spelling curriculum.  She is working in the Wordly Wise book for vocabulary.  I keep thinking I will see if she can spell those words as well as understand them…but spelling is one subject that has dropped off the radar since she writes and reads so much.  We shall see.

Funny story: the other day, she told me a story about someone how had to ride in the back of a hearse.  The only thing is, she pronounced the word, “hEARse,” because it had the “a” in the word.  Too cute!  So now we will probably call it by her mispronunciation just as my family calls the capital of New Mexico “Albaturkey” because that’s how I once pronounced it!

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