Hannah is in third grade this year and seems to have really turned a corner with school work. She’s always been a good student, but this year she’s much more able to handle her workload without dilly-dallying or complaining about how much writing she has to do. I have told her several times already what a complete joy it is to have Office Time with her–that’s our individual instruction time–this year. In addition to the subjects we cover together with the other kids, this is what Hannah’s individual work looks like:
After a brief review, we launched into Saxon 5/4. This is the first Saxon level that is a textbook rather than a consumable style, so I think a big step is that Hannah is writing out all of her problem sets in a notebook rather than just putting in the answers. She’s learning lessons in neatness and checking her work, which is important for later math levels so good to learn it now! I’m surprised to note that 5/4 spirals more slowly than the end of Saxon 3 did, but it’s an easy win for Hannah since we labored over intense long division this summer so going back to easier review is a relief for us both. I wasn’t sure about this progression–it seemed strange to put her directly in 5/4 as a third grader–but now I’m much more confident that it was the right decision. There is an option to take a segue from Saxon 3 to a few intermediate levels, but I am glad we didn’t bother with that.
We’re doing a big review of Prima Latina, mostly for spelling purposes (if there was an award for spending the most possible time in one Latin book, our family would probably win it for our multi-year journey through this one!) and then we’ll move into Latina Christiana at long last. I’m finding that it works much better for me to tackle Latin individually with each child rather than attempting it as a group subject.
Spelling has long been a thorn in Hannah’s side, and I’ve tried so many programs with such limited success. Usually, she’d get a perfect score on a weekly spelling test and then promptly spell the same words incorrectly in her other writing. This year, I pulled her back into All About Spelling 2, in hopes of helping her to understand the rules behind spelling since that curriculum worked so well with Jack last year. Then the heavens parted and an angelic chorus sang “AAAAAHHHHHleluia” because oh my word she is finally getting it! For some reason this fall spelling is clicking for Hannah. I think she’s just at an age where she ADORES things that are mysteries or puzzles and AAS is helping her see the rules and reasons behind spelling correctly. She’s taking the lessons at a rate of 2-3 per week (rather than 1 per week as you’d do normally) so I think she will be on track by the end of this term. What a relief for us both.
I have Hannah doing her copywork in cursive every day, and also using Copybook Cursive from Memoria Press for additional practice. It’s sort of overkill, but we have the book on hand.
After much research, I got Michael Clay Thompson’s language arts set and started it with Hannah. We ADORE this method. The books integrate grammar, word roots, poetry analysis, and writing in an idea- and story-based way that really makes sense and emphasizes beauty and understanding at a deep level. I got Level 1, which is used for gifted 3rd graders or 4th graders. At first I wondered why, because I think at some level Hannah could have done this stuff in 1st grade, but I’m glad I waited because I think her 3rd grade love of figuring out how things work and seeing patterns is helping make this a breeze. She’s finished Grammar Island and almost half of Building Language and Language of the Hemispheres already, and is doing a sentence analysis from Practice Island every day. These books dovetail nicely with First Language Lessons, so she is finishing up some of the last diagramming lessons from FLL 3 and will move into FLL 4 as soon as we receive our copy. I won’t lie–this is a lot of language arts. But Hannah really enjoys it, so I don’t mind that she spends several hours a day on it. In fact, on days when we’ve been rushed and I’ve tried to skip some of this, she begs to do it anyway.
Reading is Hannah’s favorite thing. She reads voraciously and since I can’t keep up with her anymore, I try to read a few things she’s reading in the interest of discussion, but other than that I rely heavily on classic book lists I find in a variety of places. Since she reads so much and way beyond her grade level I don’t bother counting reading as school work anymore–it’s just part of her life, which is how it should be! However, I’m doing some research on how to shape literature discussions so that we can pick our mother-daughter book club back up in a way that helps her learn literary analysis and how to be a thoughtful and discerning reader. Recently Hannah told me that she feels the need to read War and Peace. I said yes, you really should read War and Peace, but perhaps not this year. 🙂
How long does this take?
Going over her math lesson and doing some mental math work together, Latin, spelling, and language arts in Office Time takes about an hour. She does her copywork and handwriting at the table with everyone else generally for about 15-20 minutes, and the work I assign her in Office Time takes her about two to three hours if she’s diligent. Then the reading we do for our together subjects takes about one and a half to two hours, not including bedtime reading. All told I’d say Hannah spends five to six hours a day on school work. Usually we start by 8:30 and she works until lunch, then finishes her work during afternoon rest time. Sometimes she’s still doing work at 8:30 at night, but that’s her choice. I have no idea how much additional time she spends reading, but it’s a lot.
As I mentioned, I am really delighting in teaching Hannah this year. It will be interesting to see how the year turns out!
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