Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trying Something New

Shew! This had been a busy month that has just simply flown by! Our school schedule has been pretty cumbersome these last 3 weeks, so we haven't had time for much else. All the Sonlight forums say that Core 5 has the heaviest workload of all the cores, even for high school, and that the first 2 weeks of it are the heaviest of all. Many people have posted that they take a full 2 weeks to do EACH of the first 2 weeks. But we have managed to trudge our way through at full steam ahead without stretching it out at all. I'm happy to say we are finishing up week 3 now, so hopefully the pace will slow a bit for us now! We're starting to get the hang of the World Book Encyclopedia on DVD-ROM and how to use it for our Eastern Hemisphere Explorer research.

Now I'm taking the plunge and venturing out to try something totally new. We've been using Silver Burdett English for years and have been loving it. I purchased textbook/workbook sets up through 8th grade several years ago and have had them in the cabinet just waiting to be used each year. I love it's straight-forward approach to teaching grammar and the way it eases kids into writing. Hayden has really needed that. But now I'm finding that he's getting very lazy with it, rushing through all the worksheets because each one focuses on one specific grammar rule. He's not really paying attention to what he's actually doing, and that has been bugging me like crazy this year. Then I stumbled onto something on the Saxon Homeschool website. I found out they've just released (May 20th, 2009) a new Saxon Grammar & Writing program for grades 5, 6, 7, and 8. I saw it about a month ago, but there weren't any samples posted yet, and I sure wasn't going to drop that kind of money without seeing the contents first. Then Thursday night, I saw there were rather lengthy 25-page samples for each grade posted on their website. I took a long look at it and was very impressed.

It has the same incremental, spiral-learning approach as Saxon Math, and that was just what I was hoping for! The "mixed practice" that Saxon Math has works wonderfully for Hayden. It helps him retain what he has learned in previous lessons by bringing forth a spattering of questions from across those lessons, and it forces him to pay attention to what he's doing because every question references something completely different. That makes him have to think about what the question is asking. I think that's just what he needs for grammar, too. In looking through the sample, it looks like it is exactly that, and each question on the mixed practice references the lesson number in parentheses that the question came from so he can look back to refresh his memory if he gets stuck.

Hayden does Saxon Math totally independently now, and I'm hoping he will be able to do the grammar program the same way. I'm very excited about it! I talked to Steve about it, and he said it sounded like a good plan, so I went ahead and ordered it. It retails for $75 from Saxon's website plus $10 shipping. But then I did an internet search and found it at for $55 + $11 shipping, and I will have it in about a week. There are 112 lessons in it, and that works out to about 3 per week for the whole school year, so we'll have to catch up on about the first 12 lessons once it comes. I think we can do it, though. The homeschool set includes the student textbook, student workbook, and teacher's packet. The textbook covers grammar concepts, the workbook covers writing, and the teacher's packet has the answer key and forms for tracking student progress.

So wish us luck! Hayden has always loved Saxon Math and Saxon Phonics, so I'm hoping he'll really take to this since the format will be so familiar and comfortable for him.

I'm headed out shortly to pick up this month's Angel Food order. They've started sending out neat invitations to order that include photos of all of the food items in the basic box. I have to admit the advertising is very appealing and really helps you visualize what's included so you can figure up in your head if it's a good value for your family or not.