March update

Long time no blog! We were all very sick. In fact that was the sickest I can ever remember being since I was a child! Both of the boys had pneumonia after having the flu. We were all hacking and coughing but thankfully we’re all better now and back to our normal lives – like doing school!

Here are some of the things Otter is working on:

Barton Reading & Spelling Program

We are back into using the Barton Reading and Spelling program. Otter was having some problems with spelling and reading. With spelling he would “decorate” with letters, add in letters that are not sounded in the word or mix up the proper letters. For example he would spell bird as brid, noises as noseses, spider as sipter, black as blake, bowl as blole, etc. After reading about some of the things he’s been doing I started thinking about and investigating the possibility of Dyslexia. We are in the process of getting him tested and (so far) it doesn’t look like Dyslexia is the problem after all. However, I have noticed some real improvement in his spelling and reading since using a combination of Barton and Sequential Spelling so I’m going to continue using both through the end levels.

Barton is expensive, but it really does work. Even though the first few levels seem really easy and unecessary we have gone through every lesson without skipping anything. I am VERY pleased with the results. If you have a child who is struggling with reading or spelling, I encourage you to check out the Barton website and watch some free videos or read the Dyslexia warning signs check list. The program is very easy to use. First you watch a teacher training video that not only explains step-by-step how to teach the material, but also goes over common mistakes a child might make and how to handle them. After watching the teacher training you can start the lessons. Each lesson is totally scripted and all materials are included like letter tiles, worksheets, reading sheets, etc. (and in the 4th level a Franklin Spelling Ace).

cactusIn science Otter is wrapping up learning about the desert in WinterPromise’s Animals & Their Worlds Program. Dad bought us a cactus to go with what “we” are learning! He is excited to start learning about the forest habitat next week.

For history we just finished studying about World War I and the Great Depression/Dust bowl. Here are some of Otter’s notebooking pages. I find that notebooking helps him retain what he’s learned and the pages are fun to flip through for “review”.

WP World War I page and and WWI map from Knowledge Quest.

world war I

WWI propaganda posters from online with a copywork sentence.

Notebooking page on Theodore Roosevelt and pictures of National Parks he signed legislation for:

More WWI posters and a page about the stock market crash of 1929:

Stamps showcasing events and items from the 1930’s (the website where we got the pictures from was scheduled in the WP guidebook as an optional extra). Otter really likes to learn and recite dates, so now we have some more that he knows:

We didn’t like one of the books WP scheduled for WWI (Dear America’s When Christmas Comes Again) so I substituted with Where Poppies Grow – a very visual scrapbook style book. The new WP catalog came out and it looks like they replaced the book we didn’t like with something else. Kudos to WP for working on their programs to make them even better.

 Otter really loved it when we read one of the books scheduled in WP’s middler pack: Hoping for Rain: The Dust Bowl Adventures of Patty and Earl Buckler. He didn’t like the book scheduled in the regular program (Rose’s Journal) so we ended up using Hoping for Rain exclusively. I personally thought both were excellent.

Otter is totally itching to get to World War II.

In math Otter just finished up RightStart’s Level D and moved on to Level E.

In other news, you probably have to be on another planet to not have heard about the recent court decision concerning homeschooling in California. Please consider signing the online petition, if you haven’t yet. Click here to go to it.

I am very encouraged by the following:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced today that the California Department of Education has completed a legal review of the February 28 California Court of Appeal ruling regarding home schooling. O’Connell issued the following statement:

“I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state.

“Every child in our state has a legal right to get an education, and I want every child to get an education that will prepare them for success in college and the world of work in the challenging global economy.

“As the head of California’s public school system, I hope that every parent would want to send their children to public school. However, traditional public schools may not be the best fit for every student. Within the public school system there are a range of options available. Students can take independent study classes, attend a charter school, or participate in non-classroom-based programs. But some parents choose to send their children to private schools or to home school, and I respect that right.

“I admire the dedication of parents who commit to oversee their children’s education through home schooling. But, no matter what educational program a student participates in, it is critical that the program prepares them for future success in the global economy. I urge any parent who is considering or involved in home schooling their children to take advantage of resources and support available through their county or district offices of education.”

I guess it’s going to be a wait and see game. I’m hoping things will continue to stay positive.