Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How do you solve a problem like...

... Clara?

Sigh... time for my biannual homeschooling meltdown in regards to this child.

So, here's where we are right now...

1. Math - we're actually doing decent here.... not great but decent. I have her plugging away through Horizons for my own piece of mind. However, where she's really doing well is with the living math approach. We've added more living math books and we're playing more games again.

2. Handwriting - still a struggle but we're making some headway... finally. We have a handwriting tutor (an occupational therapist) who comes to the house once a week to work with her. She still really struggles, which makes me sad, but like I said, she is finally making progress. And thankfully, she's made enough progress that she can get more practice at it because she's able to do written work in all of her subjects.

3. Language Arts - we're finally doing more work with this now. I have tried working on LA with her at different times but it was just more frustrating than it was worth for either of us. Uppercase and lowercase letters were all the same to her... capitalizing the first letter of a sentence meant nothing to her since she tended to write in all caps anyway. Now that handwriting is beginning to click with her, simple grammar rules are making sense too.

4. Reading - she's moving along in reading. She's finally graduated to reading easy chapter books. She has a friend who is an avid reader and it's pushing her to push herself with the level of books that she is reading. I still have her do quite a bit of reading aloud to me so we can work on issues together.

5. Spelling - not great but we're slowly but surely making progress. She's doing an online spelling program at the moment, but I need to get back to something more hands on.

6. History, Science, etc. - to be honest, these have not been at the top of my priority list for her this year. We have had so many other, more pressing issues to work on after her learning assessment that I haven't been doing anything terribly formal for her.

So, here's where I'm at... where do we go from here? What is the best overall approach to take with her? I need a plan. I know that both of my children have different learning styles and completely different interests. I know that what works for Alex will not work for Clara. Alex is thriving with Sonlight this year... it's been really exciting to see. However, as much as I would love to have two Sonlight kids and be able to pass curriculum down, I'm just not sure that it's the right fit for Clara. Sonlight is so literature rich which is right up Alex's alley... he could lose himself in books all day long. Clara always has to be doing something. Things click better with her when she actually sees how they work, when she gets to touch and feel it.

Right now she's doing well with and has a keen interest in music. She's been playing violin for over a year now with moderate success, but now that her teacher has been showing her the same pieces on the piano as well as the violin, her playing has really taken off. Given her interest in piano, she will be starting lessons next week. She's also doing well with dance. She loves it dearly and it really seems to be the one activity where she can truly focus.

I've been re-reading the descriptions of all of the different homeschooling approaches. Would Charlotte Mason be a good fit for her? Would a more Montessori based approach be better? Would we just be better off focusing just on a few things and taking a more unschooling approach for the rest? I'm doing lots of research right now trying to figure out what would be a good fit. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them! In the meantime, I'll be dragging out all of my books and catalogs again! :-)


Kez said...

How old is Clara? She sounds a lot like Billy (7) - I've found a partial/full (depending on my comfort level at any given time) unschooling approach works best for us. We do lots of reading together, I don't push hand-writing and am having faith that it will come together (it is improving, very slowly) and we do mainly living maths (cooking, pocket money & shopping are great for maths!). The rest comes from life. You guys do lots of cool stuff like museums - she would be learning heaps from that.

Jocelyne said...

Parker is much more like Alex, but my friend has a little one that sounds just like your Clara. It took her a long time to figure out that stepping back and essentially "unschooling" was her best option, and since just going with that she has seen tremendous growth. There primary thing is reading and discussing and doing. The library is thier best friend. They read for all subjects. They get books with crafts, projects, cooking, science experiments, etc. and do all kinds of stuff. She encourages handwriting with thank you notes & writing friends/family little notes to put in the mail, lots drawing to work on fine motor skills, manipulating clay to work on fine motor skills, etc. She seems much more likely to write words and label things and make lists if she is not forced. For math it is 100% living math with lots of books to read, manipulatives to handle and solve problems with, shopping, cooking, etc. Language arts is all just reading to her. They just read and discuss a lot. All kinds of books. She points out lots of things (similes, personification, punctuation, etc.), but leaves it at that. The connections are made and she notices things all the time and points them out as she reads. And she sees them in the writing she does on her own. She encourages her to read, but doesn't force it. She would rather her fall in love with reading even if it took a lot longer for her to actually read herself. And she found that just having new stacks of books from the library always available that she would just pick up books and read all the time. She doesn't do spelling at all. And she reads for history/science. Hope this helps in some way. I know it can be frustrating. I had many a kid like this when I taught school back in the day. And of course in ps I didn't have the options of taking an unschooling approach on any subjects. Lucky for Clara she has a great mom who is trying to figure out how to help her learn in the best way :)

Tracie said...

Thank you both so much! I really do think stepping back and taking a more unschooling approach with her would work best. I've loosened up with her since Christmas break and things have been going much better. We've also started back with weekly trips to the library, which is something that had been pushed aside before. Last visit she checked out a ton of craft books. She spent all weekend reading those books and following the instructions step by step all by herself (which reminds me that I need to take photos of her creations). She's also loving the living math books we've been getting from the library. We've also tried to make more time for games.

Thank you both again for your input!