Philharmonia Winter Concert

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My son’s orchestra, Philharmonia, gave a winter concert last night at the Tennessee Theater in Knoxville, alongside three other ensembles: Preludium, Sinfonia, and the Chamber Orchestra.

Boy and girl with rabbit ears

My kids goofing off after the concert

One of my friends has a daughter in the same orchestra and she films it. We are so grateful for her efforts. Here’s a link to the 2018 Philharmonia Winter Concert. My son is in the second violin section. Continue reading »

Once the camera stops panning around and settles on the conductor, you can see my son at the top left corner of the screen. His stand partner is one of the rehearsal assistants. She has blond hair and wears a black top.

Girl passes out concert programs

My daughter poses after passing out programs

Their three pieces were unbelievably beautiful:

  1. “To Dance in the Fields of Glory” pays tribute to the military, their sacrifices and their meaningful lives.
  2. “Forever Joyful” describes the boundless energy a puppy has. The composer wrote it after he got a puppy.
  3. “Baila Conmigo” is Spanish “Dance with Me,” a fitting title for a tango.

The winter concert usually gets very challenging because of the weather and the flu season. Several school closings threatened to cancel two of our rehearsals and the director would have none of it.

We practice in a Knox County school, so when they are closed for weather or flu outbreaks, the youth symphony cannot access the building. Well, they came up with a solution.

One night, we went on the UT campus, in the beautiful Natalie Haslam Music Building. We have been there before for violin workshops and recitals, so we were familiar with the layout and parking. All things work together for good.

Back to the winter concert. My daughter’s orchestra passed out programs at the doors before the concert. They take their job seriously. They will start preparing a piece for the April concert, but until then they donned their concert attire and passed out programs at the doors.


TeenPact One Day

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For the third year in a row, we headed to Nashville for TeenPact One Day. This year, we managed to book a room next door to the Snodgrass Tower where the class was held. We just walked over, after making arrangements to leave our car parked at the hotel until that afternoon. So, so convenient. As soon as we know the date for 2019, we will book our room again at the Capitol Hotel Downtown Nashville.

TeenPact One Day

Signing each other’s Box Game

TeenPact is a four-day workshop for teens ages 13-19, teaching them how a bill becomes a law and many other details about our government. TeenPact One Day is the same workshop adapted for children ages 8-12 and it only takes place over one day. To be precise, between the hours of 10am and 4pm, with a lunch break. Continue reading »

TeenPact also has the tag “leadership school” because it trains the children how to shake hands, have eye contact, the mechanics of public speaking, making friends, and how to be a leader and influence people.

There is homework you download from the TeenPact website. Although not graded, the homework prepares your children for the day. It also gives parents and opportunity for conversations on topics that might not otherwise come up.

State House of Representatives

State House of Representatives

This year, we talked to our children about Roe v. Wade, for instance. My favorite part of it, of course, is vocabulary. They learn political terms: candidate, campaign manager, grassroots coordinator, legislative, executive, judicial, capitol, bill, lobbyist, corporate etc.

Our youngest attended TeenPact One Day for the first time this year and she loved it. She says she already looks forward to next year.

The day opens with an icebreaker called the Box Game. The students receive booklets and one of the pages contains boxes with things that might apply to them, e.g. “I have blue eyes.” They are to sign each other’s Box Game in one box and move around the room to get all the boxes signed.

State Senate

State Senate

Then, there is a 15-minute worship service followed by the Sword Drill. This is a game my son loves. The Bible becomes a sword and they are to look things up in it as they are told.

There is a skit about how a bill becomes a law – everybody’s favorite. Then we walk to the Capitol building for a tour and scavenger hunt. Lunch is followed by more workshops on government.

Returning students have a different track every year. The first-time students remain in the same classroom and are guided through the mechanics of public speaking. Returning students go into smaller classrooms and discuss different terminology.

As citizens of this country, we choose to vote in every election and stay informed about the political issues of the day. We believe it is important for our children to be trained in such matters.


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 24

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Chapter 24 deals with Captain Cook’s voyages and the beginnings of Australia as a British colony. Since we just finished “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” the kids were already somewhat familiar with the name “Captain Cook” and the whole idea of explorations. It was a happy coincidence that our literature selection and our history lesson overlapped in a way.

Boy looking through telescope

My son looking for Venus after sundown

I am more interested in the reading comprehension questions now, as the nationally standardized test is coming up in six weeks. There will be lots of reading comprehension items on that test and I want the kids to learn how to approach their texts.  Continue reading »

If the questions are really easy, I direct the question to my second grader. She sits with us in history and loves to color and do the maps. She also loves the crafts, if any. But until recently she did not show an interest in answering the questions. As she grows and matures, I also want to challenge her to answer in full sentences and to scour the text for the right answer.

The other exercise that I did not emphasize before but on which I insist now is narration. My son gets lost in the details and has a hard time summarizing a text into three sentences. So we work on that skill at the end of the history lesson. I give him the examples given in the book if he does not know how to do it, or I correct him as he goes along and starts giving too many details.

Looking through the telescope

Looking through the telescope

For our activity, we chose to look at planet Venus one evening, after the sun set. We were leaving the house to go to tae kwon do, which should explain why my son is wearing what he is wearing in the picture. The moon was out, but no sign of Venus.

We looked around the moon through the telescope, but we could not find Venus. Later on, after tae kwon do, Venus was out and I just don’t have the right camera to capture it. But we spotted it and thought about Captain Cook and his secret mission.


Skype Violin Lessons

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A few years ago, I was complaining to somebody about the fact that there were no violin teachers in Sevier County and I had to drive to Knoxville, which is one hour away, so my children could get lessons. He said, “Try Skype lessons!” My reaction was, “No!”

Girl taking Skype vioiin lesson

My daughter’s violin lesson via Skype

Fast forward a year and I was burned out of driving for violin lessons. The kids were not happy with their instrument, either. They enjoyed piano more and violin practice became this big stressful moment of the day. Continue reading »

Quitting was not an option, so I did the only sensible thing I could think of: I Googled “Skype violin lessons.” I found several names and websites of great violin performers and teachers. Two stood out, so I contacted them.

We set up a free lesson with each. We went through the lesson with each of the kids. At the end, I asked the kids which one they liked more. It happened to be the same one that I liked the best. I let the other one know we were going with somebody else and I thanked her for her time. She replied very kindly, wishing me good luck etc.

Then, I turned around and let Mary-Elizabeth Brown know that we would be delighted to join her violin studio via Skype. That, my friends, was in April 2016. As I said, my kids were in bad shape mentally about the violin. My oldest actually cried during one of the lessons, telling the teacher that he enjoyed piano more. She took the time to listen to him and worked with his frustration.

Boy talking to violin teacher via Skype

Conversations are an important part of a violin lesson

My youngest was six at the time and bouncing off the walls during the lessons. She was playing on a 1/8 violin which was impossible for me to tune at times. The teacher, again, encouraged me that it will be just a few more months on that violin. Kids grow, you know? And the next size up would be much easier to tune.

Ms. Brown also worked with my rambunctious kid and employed some cool methods to get her to be more accountable, focused, and responsible. This teacher produced all sorts of coloring incentives for practice. She had playful ways of presenting the information, to get my child to make it through the lesson.

My son during his Skype violin lesson

My son during his Skype violin lesson

She helped me become a better parent by suggesting several books Suzuki parents read, which empowered me to be more patient and relaxed.

Long story short, by August, my children auditioned for the Knoxville Youth Symphony and got in. In four months, Mary-Elizabeth Brown had calmed me down and prepared the kids enough to where they got into ensembles for their levels.

After 10 more months of hard work, the kids were making progress and Ms. Brown suggested we enroll them in the Royal Music Conservatory assessment program. On June 1, 2017, we drove two hours to Elizabethton to have them assessed on level 1 and 3 respectively.

Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down? They received the highest scores for their levels in the examination center AND in the whole state of Tennessee. Now, my children are not concert masters in their orchestras. There are children in Tennessee who play better than my children, obviously. But those children did not show up to this exam.

My kids received high scores, got a boost of confidence and self-esteem, and another summer rolled by. When they auditioned again for the youth symphony, our son moved up in the next level orchestra.

But the best thing was when, in November 2017, my son said to me, “Mom, thank you for making me practice. I really like the violin now. And I really like how good I have gotten with it. Thanks for not letting us quit.”

All this to say, Mary-Elizabeth Brown is one amazing teacher who can take a bad situation and turn it into a good one. And by situation I mean bowing, posture, attitude, everything that has to do with the violin.

She happens to have some openings in her studio, so feel free to contact her on her website, maryelizabethbrown.com, to set up your own trial lesson with her.


Middle School Curriculum Choices

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Recently, I shared how to plan for middle school. Some of you have asked to see our curriculum choices and so here they are:

5th grade

Bible – My Place With Jesus Bible Guide Set for Kids  + The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell, 10 volumes (Can you believe we have owned this set for 10 years and have not read it? Shame!)

Writing – Writing with Ease, Level 3 + begin Writing with Skill, Level 1

Rod and Staff 5th grade Grammar

Rod and Staff 5th grade Grammar

Math – Math Mammoth, 5th grade – I have the PDFs to print out and put in a binder

Social Studies – Story of the World, Vol. 1 (plus recommendations for the Logic Stage from The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer) – this marks our second time through the cycle of SOTW, so we will skip the coloring and crafts. We will read more of the extra books recommended by Ms. Bauer and continue work on a timeline. I will have to add the geography recommendations as well. My 3rd grader will join us. My 5th grader will read extra books on topics that interest him.

Science, 5th grade, by Christian Schools International (The textbook, for $42. The rest of the offerings are overkill.)

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000, Book 5

Spelling – Logic of English Essentials, Level C, Vol. 2 + 3

Grammar – Rod and Staff Grammar, called “Following the Plan” – I bought the entire set from Milestone Books, but Rainbow Resource has it slightly cheaper. I will know for next time.

French – Rosetta Stone Continue reading »

Romanian – immersion plus Romanian books to read and poems to memorize

Music – Violin and piano lessons, orchestra, KYSO concerts, KSO concerts

P.E. – Tae kwon do, swimming, and hiking

Art – Artistic pursuits – I bought this two years ago and still have not touched it.

 

6th grade

Bible – My Bible First for Junior/Teen, first year of a 3-year cycle

Writing – Writing with Skill, Level 1

Math – Math Mammoth, 6th grade – I have the PDFs to print out and put in a binder

Social Studies – Story of the World, Vol. 2 (plus recommendations for the Logic Stage from The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer) – this marks our second time through the cycle of SOTW, so we will skip the coloring and crafts. We will read more of the extra books recommended by Ms. Bauer and continue work on a timeline. I will have to add the geography recommendations as well.

Science, 6th grade, by Christian Schools International (The textbook, for $42. The rest of the offerings are overkill.)

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000, Book 6

Spelling – National Spelling Bee School Level words (sent to me by the coordinator of our homeschool spelling bee) + Spell It! word lists.

Grammar – Rod and Staff Grammar for 6th grade, if we liked it in 5th grade

French – Rosetta Stone

Romanian – immersion plus Romanian books to read and poems to memorize

Music – Violin and piano lessons, orchestra, KYSO concerts, KSO concerts

P.E. – Tae kwon do, swimming, and hiking

Art – TBD

 

7th grade

Bible – My Bible First for Junior/Teen, second year of a 3-year cycle

Writing – Writing with Skill, Level 2

Math – Math Mammoth, 7th grade

Social Studies – Story of the World, Vol. 3 (plus recommendations for the Logic Stage from The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer) – this marks our second time through the cycle of SOTW, so we will skip the coloring and crafts. We will read more of the extra books recommended by Ms. Bauer and continue work on a timeline. I will have to add the geography recommendations as well.

Science, 7th grade, by Christian Schools International (The textbook, for $42. The rest of the offerings are overkill.)

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000, Book 7

Spelling – National Spelling Bee School Level words (sent to me every year by the coordinator of our homeschool spelling bee) + Spell It!

Grammar – Rod and Staff Grammar for 7th grade, if we liked it in 6th grade

French – Rosetta Stone

Romanian – immersion plus Romanian books to read and poems to memorize

Music – Violin and piano lessons, orchestra, KYSO concerts, KSO concerts

P.E. – Tae kwon do, swimming, and hiking

Art – TBD

 

8th grade

Bible – My Bible First for Junior/Teen, third year of a 3-year cycle

Writing – Writing with Skill, Level 3

Math – Algebra, TBD

Social Studies – Story of the World, Vol. 4 (plus recommendations for the Logic Stage from The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer) – this marks our second time through the cycle of SOTW, so we will skip the coloring and crafts. We will read more of the extra books recommended by Ms. Bauer and continue work on a timeline. I will have to add the geography recommendations as well.

Science, 8th grade, by Christian Schools International (The textbook, for $42. The rest of the offerings are overkill.)

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise 3000, Book 8

Spelling – National Spelling Bee School Level words (sent to me by the coordinator of our homeschool spelling bee) + Spell It!

Grammar – Rod and Staff Grammar for 8th grade, if we liked it in 7th grade

French – Rosetta Stone

Romanian – immersion plus Romanian books to read and poems to memorize

Music – Violin and piano lessons, orchestra, KYSO concerts, KSO concerts

P.E. – Tae kwon do, swimming and hiking

Art – TBD


Ski Lessons at Ober Gatlinburg

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January is learn-to-ski month and we have taken ski lessons in January since 2015. We did not take lessons last year because, frankly, I was not ready to drive up Ski Mountain road six weeks after the devastating wildfires of November 2016.

Family skiing at Ober Gatlinburg

Our family skiing at Ober

But this year is a different story. We have gotten over the shock of the fire and we were ready to resume our skiing careers. Plus, our daughter is seven, which is the recommended age to start.  Continue reading »

For your information, they will take younger children, like five and six, but they prefer them to be seven and older. Our son got started at seven and he is 10 now. He loves it and is in the intermediate class. Our daughter is in the beginners.

The classes happen on Sunday mornings. Beginners is at 9:30 and Intermediate at 11:00. The class lasts an hour. The instructors are patient and courteous. Adults are encouraged to join the adult classes for their respective level, which happen at the same time as the children’s.

Mom and son skiing

As you can see, my son is almost as tall as I am and he is only 10.

If you can ski already, you just drop off your child with her class and go have fun on the slopes. There is a designated area where you have to pick up your child at the end of the class.

Our daughter made tremendous progress in just one lesson. She had had one lesson two years ago, so it was not much to build on, but she got over the initial apprehension of the entire routine.

These lessons are a bargain: $160 for four classes and this price includes rental of helmets, skis and poles. It also includes riding the aerial tram if you like that kind of thing. The only other expense is the parking fee, $5, either at the aerial tram or at the resort.

We do not ride the tram. I do not enjoy heights or being in tight spaces with lots of people. We park at the resort and because we get there early we find great places to park. By noon, the parking lot is full at the resort and they put signs at the bottom of the mountain for people not to bother to drive up. Instead, they ask them to park at the aerial tram station and ride the tram instead.

The following year, you receive five vouchers, for an extra visit to the resort, which you can redeem any day you prefer. By the way, you do not even have to sign up for classes for the fee of $160. If you are comfortable skiing, you just pay that fee and it covers your rental and all day fun on the slopes, skiing or snowboarding, but you cannot change the activity in the same day.


Well-Trained Mind Binder System

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We have been using the Well-Trained Mind binder system recommended by Susan Wise Bauer in her seminal book for several years now. It occurred to me that there might be homeschoolers out there who would like to see it in action. In fact, I have seen this question over and over in support groups for classical homeschoolers.

Well-Trained Mind binder system

My daughter’s binders

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So let’s start with a few pictures. Their binders sit on separate shelves in our school room. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to appearance. I don’t go all out when it comes to layout and design. A simple label on the outside of the binder helps us identify the name of the child and the subject matter. Continue reading »

If you want to beautify the binders, by all means, make them as pretty as you want. I grew up under Communism (think austerity measures) and don’t need things around me to be super-glitzy. As long as it works, I run with it.

We have four binders for each child: Science, History, Language, and Math. They also have an Art binder and a Travel binder. My son has two additional binders which are empty. He meant to do something with them and then forgot all about it. See? We are not perfect.

The Math is simple: we use Math Mammoth and every year I print out their curriculum, which I have in PDF format. Their math binders don’t even have a label. His is black and hers is purple.

Well-Trained Mind school binder system

My son’s school binders

Science is easy, as well. We take nature walks and if we find anything interesting to study, we use notebooking pages to draw or write about our findings. Sometimes I follow Handbook of Nature Study weekly challenges, and most of them come with their own notebooking pages. Other times we just study something out of an animal encyclopedia and we simply draw or narrate two sentences about a particular animal.

If we do science experiments, I have a simple page which details the scientific method used, as Ms. Bauer suggests. Those pages also go in the Science binder. I think I should also record the science books they read, but that’s a little too much for me. If you feel like it, that’s another thing you could put in their binder.

Well-Trained mind binders

Their binders sit on different shelves. He is taller.

The History binder used to have four tabs corresponding to the four volumes of Story of the World, which is our curriculum. What I have found over the years is that the binder gets really full by the end of the school year. There are maps and coloring pages, plus paper dolls and other paper crafts. At the end of the year, I simply get a new binder and take my tab page (which I created four years ago when we got started with this curriculum) to the front of this new binder, so I know which period we are in.

The Language binder is divided by tabs as recommended by Ms. Bauer. Our spelling curriculum comes with its own workbook, but we still find we created separate pages of spelling lists, so it all goes into the Spelling tab of the Language binder. When they memorize a poem, I have them write it out and it goes into their Memory Work tab.

It’s simple, really, and it’s meant to be simple, because you have to keep track of all this work. Ms. Bauer has a box – a simple, unassuming box for her children’s work, where all their work goes. Check out her YouTube videos about it. I do not think she has binders for her children. I might be wrong on this, but I have not seen anything about it.

I find binders easier to handle than a box if I should need to retrieve any of their work at a later date. It does not happen often, but it has happened enough where I know I could not function with boxes.

I hope this helps you visualize the binder system described in Well-Trained Mind. It works for us and it can work for anybody who is organized enough to put pages away once the student has finished with them.

For now, I am keeping the discarded binders and their contents in plastic bins, on shelves in our garage. My children are in second and fourth grade. Who knows if I will have enough room to keep all their work by high school? I think not. When I start culling, I will blog about it.

An important detail, or tip, shared at the end of the post, to reward those who have had the patience to read the entire post (or did you just skip to the end?): file the pages yourself.

Do not trust your child will put their work away if they are in grades K-6. They will learn to do it themselves after age 12, trust me. For now, for your own sanity, just file it yourself. It will keep things organized and give you a sense of accomplishment, too. One other thing done and filed away. Check. What’s next?


Homeschooling Through Holiday Cheer

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So, it’s the holidays. How’s homeschooling working out for your? Is the holiday cheer making it stressful beyond belief? I hope not. I sincerely hope you have found the breaks to the holiday madness and imposed some strict boundaries on your time.

Enjoying the Aquarium gift shop

Enjoying the Aquarium gift shop

A friend of mine who grew up in Western Europe lives in the States right now as a musician. She was shocked by how crazy it gets in December, with all the concerts in which she was asked to perform and all the other engagements she was required to attend. She is right. Continue reading »

This year, as usual, I slowed down homeschooling slowly but surely by the third week of December. We will take a break for sure, as Christmas comes, but we still need to cover a few items here and there. It helps to keep everybody fresh and I get time off to attend to extra duties in the kitchen.

Elves at the Aquarium

Elves everywhere

So what does this look like in practice? Well, one day, we went to the Aquarium just for fun. We took a bunch of pictures and spent some time reading the exhibit signs. We usually do not take the time to do that, as we rush in to our science classes there.

Even my son, who is older and not easily impressed anymore by cute decor, appreciated the Christmas decorations and agreed to pose for me in front of different exhibits. It was lovely to see he is still a kid after all.

Teddy bears at the Aquarium

Teddy bears at the Aquarium

By the way, the Aquarium is decorated very nicely. Maybe they do this every year, but apparently I just now became aware of it. The Christmas decorations at the Aquarium are lovely.

Another day, we just did our regular devotional and then science. Nothing else. Yet another day, we replaced our regular devotional with a time of playing our violins and singing Christmas songs. We have a book with Christmas duets. My daughter sang and my son and I played our violins.

With Santa at the Aquarium

With Santa

This is the first year we can do this, by the way. He was not that interested in playing the violin last year. He has had a breakthrough year in his appreciation of this instrument (as opposed to piano, which he loved from the start).

Santa's Workshop

Santa’s Workshop

As he sat down at the piano to try to read the same music he had just flown through on the violin, he realized it was harder on the piano. He was amazed. We also discovered he can transpose easily on the violin. He was proud to show me how, as I did not know. It feels so good when my children teach me things. It really does.

Children at the Aquarium

Children make the best presents.

My daughter will probably join us on the violin next year around this time. Right now, sight reading does not come easily for her. She is happy to sing though and she tells us exactly how many stanzas to play.

So take it easy and enjoy the holiday cheer, don’t be stressed by it!


Story of the World, Vol. 3, Chapter 20

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Chapter 20 dealt with Ch’ien Lung (Qianlong) in two different stories. The first focused on his interest in books. Ch’ien Long was a patron of the arts in general, but he really, really liked books. He knew there were lots of books all over China and he wanted them in one place, for posterity. Yes, it sounds like he wanted a library.

Chi'en Lung (public domain picture)

Chi’en Lung (public domain picture)

He sent men all over China to gather up these volumes and split them into four categories. Then, he ordered them copied so that he may have nine copies of each. Of course, they copied them by hand. Continue reading »

Why of course? He lived between 1711-1799 and Gutenberg invented his printing press in 1440. The Chinese actually invented a printing process with wooden blocks back in 868. Well, I guess Ch’ien Long wanted things done the hard way, the beautiful way, the long way.

It took years and years. The bad part? He had certain books burned – the ones that spoke against the Manchu. Freedom of the press did not quite enter the picture for this Chinese emperor.

Dragon paw prints over the eight provinces of China

Dragon paw prints over the eight provinces of China

The second story was about the accumulation of land. Susan Wise Bauer places the reader on a dragon who flies all over the different parts of China at the time. It was neat to direct the kids over their maps. Then, we made eight pages with the names of each province and applied a dragon paw print over each.

We did not stick these on different doors in the house. I was afraid the paint might come off. But I was glad my son took the time to improve his dragon paw print and made me six different designs. I printed two others from the internet. We made sure our dragons had five claws, as the activity books points out.

One new thing we are doing is a timeline. Until now, I felt my children were too young to bother with dates. Well, they have grown some. It’s time for a timeline. I will tell you about that project in a separate blog post.


How to Prepare for a Spelling Bee

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Last year, our son attended his first Spelling Bee. He was in third grade, which is the first year a child can attend a Spelling Bee. On a national level, I see some first graders who make it to Washington, D. C. (usually homeschoolers) and I wonder how they got there. Their parents and teachers must have realized they are so good, they enrolled them and the youngsters blew their older peers out of the water.

BHEA Spelling Bee - January 2017

BHEA Spelling Bee – January 2017

Precocious kiddoes aside, third grade is where Spelling Bee starts. So how does one prepare for a Spelling Bee? Here are a few ideas: Continue reading »

First, I would invest in a good spelling curriculum. I use Logic of English Foundations for my second grader and Essentials for my fourth grader. I hear good things about All About Spelling and, also, about Spelling Zoo (IEW spelling program).

Secondly, I would let them read as many books as possible. Aim for at least one picture book a day for K-2 and at least one small chapter book (150 pages or so) per week for grades 3-5. In grades 6-8, children should read at least 100 pages per day.

Spelling Bee Logo

This may seem like a lot, but think about it. If your child is reading 20 pages in a longer biography, that covers history for the day. Twenty pages in a cool science book would cover science. Twenty pages in a mystery would cover fun reading. The rest, 40 pages, can be spent on a classic, which takes care of Language Arts and Reading.

Now, if your child can finish over 150 pages in one day in a single book only because they love that book, more power to them. Tomorrow is another day for another book. My son loves to read and he can finish a 250-page book in one day simply because he likes it. Don’t lose heart. We did not get here overnight.

If your child does not enjoy reading, you read to him. Take 20 minutes every day with books you know might interest him and I promise you that in a few months your child will be a more independent reader.

Last but not least, sign up for the National Spelling Bee newsletter. They have all sorts of ideas on how to study, Word Wall printouts, and book lists to read. Your homeschool co-op will have to pay a fee to enroll with the National Spelling Bee. Then, you will have access to their proprietary materials, which are VERY important. Hope this helps!