Saturday, February 26, 2011

Latin Shmatin

We've been doing Latin this year, and it's actually going really well. I'm thinking that we'll be doing it next year too. But here is the reason: I love Rosetta Stone!

Oh, we've tried a few different curriculum for the subject.

The first, Prima Latina, a work book type approach, was rather dry. It would have been OK for Sierra, but it would have never kept Bailey's interest. Also, it required a lot of work on my end. Not the happiest thing for me.

Next, due to a fluke in ordering through Options, we tried Power Glide. This curriculum uses audio stories to teach words along with a workbook for visual learning. The girls loved it! They listened to the stories, picked up the words easily, and were able to do it with very little help from me. It was a good program, but there were some big draw backs. I personally found it annoying to listen to as the stories were very much aimed at kids and the voice acting was sub par. Not a problem for the kids, but I also wanted to learn Latin. The other was that it really didn't cover a whole lot. We finished the program in two months. It was a very nice introduction actually, but that's about as far as it went.

Finally, after the fluke order was fixed, I got my hands on Rosetta Stone, a computer program using both audio and visual. It didn't take long for me to be highly impresses. All of the stuff that the girls had leaned with the previous curricula was covered in about three lessons. Now, grant it, the girls would take a few days to cover each lesson, but they still learned it faster (in a couple weeks vs a couple months). And they were just getting into the program! (It will likely take them over two years to complete the first level.) Oh and I enjoy it too.

How Rosetta Stone works is, you look at the pictures and hear the words. Then you match the pictures to the words. Next, they give you a picture and the printed words, which they read to you. Again you match. For older students, they then give you the printed words, and you have to match them with the picture without audio. The only down side is that they never actually tell you what the words mean. You have to guess. A Latin dictionary can easily solve that though. Oh, and if you want to learn grammar, you'll need to either get their accompanying workbook or some other text to teach it to you. But still, for a 3rd grader and a Kindergardener, it's fantastic! And I'm learning a lot too with seemingly little effort.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Change of Pace

It crept up on me over a long period of time. It actually took me a while to notice. Things were not going how I wanted. I was loosing control of the situation, and it was stressing me out.

School was taking forever!

Why? Well, the biggest culprit was that the girls, Bailey specifically, would take forever to do their chores in the morning before school, sometimes a couple hours for something I could do in about 15 minutes. It would set the whole day off to the wrong start. They would be hungry (because it was almost lunch time) before they started doing their school work, making that take longer along with a lot of whining. Blake would be bored. I would end up chained to the kitchen, which also made me edgy. And so it went.

Then, one day while complaining about this to my spouse, he suggested that I do the cleaning last. I resisted at first. I've always done cleaning before school after all, but then I started seriously thinking about it. I decided it wouldn't hurt to at least try it out.

My husband was a genius! It has made a huge difference. We still start around 9, but I've added a short 15 minute workout (calisthenics or yoga) at the beginning of school. The kids like that. It helps get their wiggles out and helps them focus. Then Sierra is off to piano while I work with Bailey on reading and Blake heads out to play. When I'm done with reading, I fix a snack for the kids, which they eat, and then I busy myself cleaning the kitchen while they are doing their school work. I even make lunch. Then the kids are free to play until 2 when we have our afternoon school work. When that's done, they are sent off to do their chores, and they can't play until they are done.

It has made vast improvements to out family life. I, who am a control freak, can keep the schedule I want. I can also make a lot better use of the time that I am stuck in the kitchen. Both of these help keep my stress levels and annoyance way down. The kids get to do their school work when they are still energized and in a good mood. Blake isn't left alone for as long. Another surprising thing for me was that the house is nice in the morning because it was cleaned after all of the days activities are over.

As an added bonus, if Bailey wants to take two hours to clean, it doesn't bother me one bit. It's only her time that is being waisted now. Not mine. Not Sierra's. Not Blakes. What a relief. I think I'm going to like this.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chatting with Dad

A couple weeks ago, my oldest became interested in e-mail. Oh, she has had an account for sometime now. I made it about a year ago when I had the idea that she could write e-mails to her Grandparents and stuff. That was a no go. She was still way too intimidated by the computer. However, after taking a computer class at Options this year along with learning typing, things have started to change. She is loosing her inhibitions, and what's more, now she has a friend who also has an e-mail account. Tada! Sierra now does e-mail.

Well, a few days ago, her friend set up a "google chats" date. I didn't mind. It was for after school and all, but Sierra had no idea how to do one. So, of course, I helped her out right before the "date".

"Huh? What?" Sierra whined. Anything new. . . .sigh. . . Really!

To my amusement, my husband chimed in from the next room saying that he would help out. After all, he was in the middle of google chatting one of his friends. So, Sierra went over to Daddy's laptop and watched as he showed her what he was doing. Then I pulled up a chat box with him from Sierra's account and had here come back over. She got it this time.

What fun! She was chatting with her dad!

They kept at it for almost an hour. He sent her song and video clips from shows that she likes, telling her from the next room how to view them, and they bantered back and forth. It was a slow moving conversation, but they both had a lot of fun.

Oh, and her friend that set up the date? Well, she forgot. Oops. Oh well. Next time Sierra will be ready.