Yesterday I posted my homeschool report for English that I’ve put together for year 3-4.
I tried to keep that one as short as possible, focusing on the good, ignoring anything we weren’t doing, it’s a bit of an experiment in how much is actually required, it will be interesting to see if the Queensland HEA or HEU accepts it. This is the report I submitted last year, it’s longer and more detailed. This report was accepted with no difficulty (along with the rest of the report, work samples, and the next year’s learning plan)
You can really see how we have moved further and further towards unschooling over the last couple of years as our confidence has grown. It sounds like we did a lot from this report, we didn’t, we have never, ever, done more than an hour or so on any given day. Most of D’s English education comes from reading self-chosen books.
We do not do spelling lists and tests, ever, yet his spelling comes on really well. It’s surprising how much we actually did over the year.
Homeschool Report for English/Literacy
D has made enormous progress with his reading this year, going from reading level 12 (approx, when we pulled him out of school in year 2) to being a fully-fledged reader.
Within 6 weeks of leaving school he was reading his first Harry Potter as a shared read aloud. He demolishes books with great enthusiasm and at a remarkable rate. I still occasionally get him to read aloud to me from his novels, just to check his accuracy, all seems well.
Books he has read this year include:-
- 2 Boxed sets of Roald Dahl books plus more single books
- An assortment of Boy vs Beast books
- Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (on Kindle)
- Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse
- Horrible Histories The Awful Egyptians
- Herge’s Tin Tin illustrated novels and Astrix the Gaul illustrated novels
- Michael Bond’s Olga da Polga
- Various books in the Usborne Young Reading factual series
Poetry I have read aloud to them includes AA Milne and The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry (Spike Milligan, Roger McGough, Benjamin Zephaniah etc.). I have also found films of the poets performing their own work, which the boys have loved; D seems to get the rhythm of the poetry straight away and likes to perform them himself.
He read the Hemingway on my Kindle, immediately after I read it, because he chose to. It surprised me. I was able to talk to him about inferences, he got it.
Olga da Polga was a read aloud and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of my other read alouds are children’s stories from the library and factual texts.
We did a little author study on Roald Dahl, we visited his museum in the UK , visited Cardiff bay, his home town (and mine) and I used the unit on the author on Brain Pop.com along with the author’s own website.
We have also been using Brain Pop.com to cover topics such as Biography/Autobiography, Fact/Fiction but most of that sort of thing is accumulated knowledge picked up through day to day living. I just use Brainpop to make sure he’s got it and that he can answer the quiz questions. He enjoys Brainpop very much.
We have done a few comprehension exercises from printed work sheets. Some purely as an exercise in English and others as part of his learning in other subjects. He does well in these in terms of understanding but he is reluctant to write, so isn’t keen on them.
I tested his comprehension with the reading section of the 2008 year 3 Naplan paper on 15/2/12 (6 months early for his peers). D scored 100 %. He also completed the year 5 Naplan reading section and made only 2 mistakes.
He doesn’t mind doing these Naplan papers as there is little writing involved. He loved doing the reading and comprehension sections in the new Reading Eggspress programme which we had on free trial twice, because the answers require only one click, not using a pen or typing and he can select his own books.
I will look at buying that this year if he is still keen. I wasn’t sure if I could submit these Naplan papers as they were done at home not under exam conditions; I have them all on file.
His spelling is still not great but he can now spell with almost 100% accuracy all of a “first 200 words” list that he brought home from school.
In the 2010 year 3 Naplan spelling sections he easily spotted the words that were misspelled, but could not correct them with any accuracy.
That was a good 4 months ago and things have improved since then. I can see his spelling improving as he continues to read. Mostly he lacks confidence with spelling and doesn’t like to have a go if he is unsure.
I encourage him to use a dictionary if he feels he has to, but I would much rather he have a go first. He often surprises himself and gets it right. He is able to use the dictionary independently and well.
We are using the Collins Practice in the Basic Skills English books series, these are helping his spelling, writing and grammar. I have not yet introduced him to the rules of spelling; I will do that very soon.
I have just looked at the year 3 curriculum corporation benchmarks in literacy and I am fairly confident that he is up to that standard, he would not, however, produce a piece of writing in 40 minutes in a classroom situation, he just doesn’t concentrate in that sort of environment.
D’s use of English vocabulary and grammar are very good, he scored 100% on the year 3 Naplan grammar tests (on 2/1/12 ,language conventions, 2010, excluding spelling). When he reads aloud he has a great grasp of punctuation and how to vocalise it.
Unfortunately he still dislikes writing, not quite so much now, but it is a real problem to get him to willingly write anything other than very short notes and emails. I get around this by only requiring him to fill in missing words in most written English grammar work.
He has, however, written some nice little pieces about his holidays, books he has read, a few letters, once I can overcome his initial resistance, he will actually get on with it, but I don’t like to force him to do something he dislikes.
In the last week I asked him to write a descriptive piece about his Skylanders and an imaginative story about his pet monster, he did these with no complaint so I’m thinking I’ve found his currency and will continue to suggest he writes about themes he loves.
The quality of his writing content is above the year 3 benchmarks, I think, but he does not have the ability to apply himself in writing projects he is just not interested in without constant one on one encouragement and persuasion.
It should be remembered here that he is only 7 and very young for the year, I can see this ability developing as he matures and for the last few weeks and for the coming year I will try to get him to write something, no matter how short, every day.
(NOTE, since writing this report he has been writing me a story every day on subjects he enjoys and doing just great. His spelling seems very good all of a sudden too, now that he is enjoying himself, I couldn’t be more delighted!)
He speaks extremely well, with no shyness and great command of vocabulary and grammar and happily enters into conversation with adults, many have commented on how eloquent and knowledgeable he is.
He loves to ask questions and is now good at putting his hand up to speak in situations that require it, at “any questions” times at nature parks etc. He doesn’t blurt things out like he used to.
UPDATE: This Homeschool Report for English was approved with no conditions.