This is Jack shortly after we picked up his new cello. The boy has been asking to take cello lessons since he was three, so we finally gave in. He’s really psyched and we’re hopeful that his enthusiasm will translate into happy practicing!
Jack is in second grade this year and is very smart and capable, but we are having to do some heavy lifting on attitude and diligence. From what I’ve read, this is a common issue with seven-year-old boys and I am researching like mad on the topic. Book recommendations welcome! In spite of that, it’s often really a joy to teach Jack, because his mind is so incredibly interesting. He asks wildly insightful questions and sees connections in unusual ways that keep me entertained and on my toes. In addition to the subjects we do together with the other kids, here is the run down on Jack’s individual work:
Jack is kind of a ninja at math when he is in the mood, so he is having no trouble in Saxon 3. However, he does have trouble understanding why he should show his work when he can easily do it in his head or out loud, so sometimes there is a battle over completing the three page lesson each day (one page teaching, one page practice, one page of math facts). I remember Hannah having this problem too and she turned the corner eventually, so I’m hopeful Jack will too.
Since I’m tackling Latin as an individual subject this year, Jack is going it alone in Prima Latina and having no trouble at all. We’re just doing one chapter per week and he’s heard all of the vocabulary in years past, so the only new thing is that he’s having to write answers down this year, but that’s no problem. He’s getting 100% on end-of-week tests and likes to sing the prayers as songs (which they sort of are–one is essentially Holy, Holy, Holy in Latin, and another is the Gloria Patri, etc).
Having asked to learn cursive last year, Jack is doing New American Cursive II this year. Some of the gleam has worn off now that he knows how the letters go, but practice makes perfect.
Unlike his older sister, Jack is an intuitive speller, so All About Spelling 3 is helping him understand the rules behind how we spell and it’s not hard for him. The only stumbling block here is the dictation–to reinforce the spelling rules the book has the teacher read a sentence containing words from that rule and then the student writes it down. The method is good, but Jack balks at having so much writing. To finish the week he has to do three sentences per day, which isn’t really that much, but sometimes there is foot dragging. When he is focused, though, spelling is a cinch. I’m hoping the kinks work themselves out as we go along. Meanwhile, I work on being calm and cheerful. 🙂
I still have Jack practice reading out loud most days. He reads well, but it’s good to practice inflection and he has a tendency to skim over words when he’s not sure how they are pronounced. He is reading The Fellowship of the Ring (having really enjoyed The Hobbit this summer when we read it aloud–he likes fantasy/adventure) and also some books about heroes of the Wild West and various other chapter books he picks up around the house or from the library stack. He doesn’t read as much as Hannah does, but he enjoys reading and is keen to get in on book clubbing with me whenever we get to it.
How long does this take?
For Jack, this question is so variable! He spends about 15-20 minutes on cursive and copywork at the table with the girls, then on a good day he can get his Office Time (one-on-one teaching time with me) done in about 30 minutes. On a bad day his Office Time can take over an hour. Then he spends maybe another half an hour on the assignments I give him in Office Time unless he gets distracted and starts playing Legos or building forts, in which case he might still be doing assignments in the afternoon when he would rather be outside playing. Added together with the subjects we do together with the girls, which takes about one-and-a-half to two hours, I’d say Jack spends between three and five hours on school work per day, not including his personal reading time or our evening read-aloud time.
I don’t mean to overstate the difficulties of school here, Jack is really a very pleasant and happy boy generally speaking, and I do enjoy teaching him. I think our struggles are mostly related to his developmental stage and I trust we will see improvement sooner or later!
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