First Day of Fifth Grade
The “first” day of school is rather a misnomer around here. After all, we school year-round, so I consider the 4th grade school year to officially end on July 31st, followed by the “first” day of fifth grade beginning the very next day.
That said, welcome to fifth grade my little sleeping beauty!
A Frantic Summer
It feels as if we have the opposite schedules of conventionally schooled children. In the summer it is a rolling ball of day camps, Harmony Project, and sleepovers. I barely get to see the kiddo at all!
And now that the summer camps are all officially over, I can relax, sort of.
She will have Harmony Project starting up in a couple of weeks, every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5:30 pm. In September, both LEARN and soccer will start up.
And although we will miss it, I breathed a sigh of relief that I would not have to take Em to Peace Quest on Monday nights. It was just too much in addition to all of the other things we were doing. We were very lucky to have it for years, but I need my Monday evenings back!
Our Curriculum, Such As It Is
I’ve been honing in more on our starting curriculum. I say “starting” because, if it follows anything of a pattern, it will change, significantly, over the school year.
Not everything I try works, and that is fine. If the knowledge goes in, and the thinking occurs, I’m good with that!
As usual, I will be pushing reading, writing, and spelling. We use the weekly spelling lists through K-12 Reader. For writing, I will be using one of the Complete the Story books I picked up, along with intermittent entries back and forth with the Fairies journal. And I will be encouraging her to write to friends on a weekly or monthly basis. We will continue to read together and I will work with her to find books in our home library or buy more for her own independent reading adventures.
I continue to reinforce the basics – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. She can learn more about fractions through cooking, and this will actually be a responsibility of hers each Wednesday. More on that below. We might sprinkle in Life of Fred and Khan Academy, but she isn’t particularly excited about either of them. Mainly we do Real World Math and I don’t sweat it too much. In a few years, she can take a remedial math class at a community college and catch up quickly.
I’m still trying to work out my schedule right now for fall. Fridays may have dual cleanings, which would interfere with me dropping Em off for LEARN Math & Science Club at Rockhurst Community Center. I’m trying to find a parent whose child is going to the afternoon class and structure it so that Em has a half day play date and then goes to LEARN Math and Science with the child.
I’m also working on finding some cool weekly science experiments from the Totally Irresponsible Science book.
I’m running with a cartoon theme for now. Em really enjoys graphic novels, so I found some that deal with non-fiction topics. The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 1: From Columbus to the Constitution seemed a good place to start. I also purchased the Cartoon History of the United States. We will also use the internet to look up questions we have from what we have read.
When it comes to geography, I think she is finally ready for the Scrambled States of America game. This will help with U.S. geography and we will expand from there.
Critical Thinking and Philosophy
I really hope to guide Em down the road of critical thinking and building those skills now. I’m considering buying Comprehension and Critical Thinking for Grade 5 and The Fallacy Detective. That last book does say it is for ages 12 and up, and Em is just 11 years old, but what is one year?
Following on that same “cartoon” theme, I have two books – Heretics and The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy. We started in on Heretics towards the end of the school year, so we didn’t get far. I’ll resume with that and then use the other book to start some interesting conversations with the kiddo. Eventually we will study/read together Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, but I looked over the book and I think Em will be bored/confused right now with it.
This past year, Em made noise about not wanting to continue with Harmony Project. A program designed specifically for at risk inner-city youth, it teaches students how to read music, sing in a choir, and play a musical instrument. Em has been studying the cello for the past two years and she has done quite well in the program.
I told her that I wanted her to stick with it one more year. And this is the deciding year. In May, she will have the choice of either sticking with it or dropping out.
She has mentioned that she wants to be an artist, so we are exploring that as well and she is especially interested in sketching right now. That’s something she can do while I read to her or we watch documentaries and more.
We will continue to read from What’s Happening to My Body for Girls, This book discusses in depth girls bodies, changes during puberty, and more.
I mentioned above that Em will be cooking one meal per week on Wednesdays. This will help with her math skills, since she will be cooking different meals, planning them in advance, and preparing them entirely on her own. I hope this will give her a sense of accomplishment, along with a much-needed skill.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Time to get to homeschooling!