Thursday, April 11, 2013

After-Schooling

DRAFT *** Just to get the links out here for friends and family to see the resources we use.  *** DRAFT

For a variety of reasons, as a family we have chosen to send our children to public school, but I don't feel that our children are being challenged sufficiently at school.  As a result we "After School" our children.  Taking my children's weaknesses and strengths into consideration when choosing materials and curriculum.  After much research we have decided to focus on the following areas of study; vocabulary, reading comprehension, logic, and programming.

I have included links to the materials we use.  For years we purchased "workbooks" at Costco or the book store to give the children more challenging activities - but I have found that they were too easy, even when they proclaimed they were grade level.  The worst of these offenders were Kumon, Sylvan and D&K.  I would spend $10-$17 for books that were too easy for my children.

I spent some time trolling Homeschooling message boards and asking everyone I could about content rich, challenging workbooks. Something the kids could work through on their own after school, or in the car or at the soccer field. 

The following books are what we use to build our after-schooling library.  I try to purchase the books in bulk - thinking forward for a few years to save on shipping.  I feel the cost of the books is moderate, usually less than $20/ea.  I don't purchase the Teacher's Guide and opt to spend my money only on the workbooks.


Vocabulary
I love this series of workbooks.  Each lesson is approximately 8 pages; the first two list the new vocabulary words (about 20 words) and definitions.  The following pages instructs students find the right means, replace a vocabulary word in a sentence, apply the meaning, find a synonym/antonym/homophone, and finally read a paragraph that uses the vocabulary words and answer reading comprehension questions with the vocabulary words.

This is an accelerated level of workbooks.  My daughter started a grade-level below her current grade level because she struggles with vocabulary.  These books are high content and worth the cost.

I read an article recently that stated there were thousands of SAT words for students to learn and that they should start young.  Knowing the Latin roots of words will help students to figure out new words as they are exposed to them.  

Each lesson tackles a new root and defines the accompanying words (about 10 words).  The next several pages allow the students to practice the use of the words in context, finding synonyms/antonyms, defining the words, and inserting the words into a paragraph.  After 3 lessons there is a review in which the student identifies the root and matches it with is meaning.  

Reading Comprehension
My only complaint about this workbook is that it isn't long enough.  There are only 24 passages in the entire book per grade level.  I like my children to complete this book twice a week and this book does not allow for that.  However, the text is content rich focusing on the history of a popsicle or a biography of an immigrant.  These books are grade level appropriate and my first grader was able to complete the work independently.  

This vocabulary is significantly easier than the Wordly Wise series.  However, the focus is on the Latin roots and I feel that makes up for it.  There are 16 lessons per grade level.  

Math for the Gifted Student published by FlashKids
Most mathematics workbooks simply focus on practice practice practice.  There are enough of those worksheets online.  This book focuses on problem solving.  Its full of word problems and math puzzles, think Sudoku, but grade level appropriate.  It is 200 pages, with an answer key in the back, of full color graphics.  I was able to purchase the appropriate grade level for my children.  

When I first became a teacher one of my mentors gave me this book in mimeograph form.  I spent a lot of time trying to copy it and finally gave up and purchased a newer version of the book.  This is a content rich book that packs a lot of punch, the lessons build on each other starting with analogies, finishing shapes, syllogism, if/then statements, and inferences.  My only complaint is that there aren't more levels of this book.

Mind Benders (logic)

Balance Benders

Making Connections
Content rich stories full of comprehension practice

Reading Detective
Great workbook that focuses on inferences and finding evidence in stories.


Programming is all done online with codeacademy.  We will focus on Scratch, C++ then Python, in that order.  There are lots of online resources for using Scratch.  You can also buy this book, Scratch for Teens.  

Scouting - for hands-on activities.  The list of Belt Loops and Badges available for Cub Scouts will usually focus our summer activities.  During the summer I focus on one outing per week, 2 hours of homework each day (during nap time) and usually science experiments or building projects once a week.  Gotta earn those Belt Loops!

I am always looking for more great reading comprehension and logic books.  If you have any you love - link me.  Its time to start planning our Summer Schooling Curriculum.  

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