Thursday, February 6, 2014

Homeschool Progress: Basbusa, 5.5 years old

Last year, I wrote a post about what level Basbusa had reached when she turned four, just as we started homeschooling , covering the main academic and social areas that I cared about. I had forgotten all about that post, and when I came across it just now, I was surprised by how much my thinking has changed after only a year and a half! Nowadays, it would never cross my mind to break down her learning into such rigid segments. 

All the same, though, when I thought about what I would say now, given the same list of prompts, it was exciting to see how much Basbusa has grown. So, just for the record, here's what the new update would be, half a year into what-would-have-been-Kindergarten:
  • Favorite Interests: Reading still tops the list, for sure. She also spends hours intensely involved in fabric arts of various kinds - she's very interested in sewing, has learned how to crochet a chain, and has figured out several different patterns on her rainbow loom.
  • Quran: working on Surat al Tin, al7amdulillah. Surat al Bayyina took FOREVER - over three months, I think - but al7amdulillah we both learned a lot about how to make hifz easier for her during the process.
  • Reading: Our main difficulty now is that she's pretty much read every chapter book in the English language whose content is age-appropriate. I'm having to hunt high and low for stories that don't focus on social situations that are just way beyond the experience of a five-year-old. Al7amdulillah, it's a good problem to have, but I'm really starting to wonder what she's going to read for the next two years. It seems like most of the rest of the books on my "to be read later" list are really aimed at nine- or ten-year-olds. Recently, for example, she enjoyed Kate DiCamillo's "Tale of Despereaux," and David Elliot's "Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle." What we need is a whole lot more books like the "Daisy Dawson" series and the "Iggy and Me" series, but they don't seem to exist. 
  • Writing: She can write a whole bunch of short words and names without help, but is only starting to get into the idea that she can use invented spelling to communicate. She seems to think  that a word is either one she "knows" or one she "doesn't know," and doesn't usually spontaneously take a guess at how to put it together. I think she'll get there soon, though, insha'Allah. She still uses all capital letters, so I've recently offered her one or two invitations like copying out her favorite poems, for example, just to raise her awareness that not everything is always capitalized :) 
  • Art: Interestingly, she isn't drawing anywhere near as much as she did as a toddler and preschooler. The pictures she does draw tend to be quite similar to each other (with the most frequent being a cat or a girl with pigtails). She's adding more detail each time, though, and creating backgrounds for the figures. She now cares about color, and the items she includes in her scenes are more in proportion these days. But at the same time, she has recently started copying some illustrations from book covers, capturing even the facial expressions almost perfectly. She's up for painting occasionally, but doesn't usually turn to it unless her attention is caught by seeing someone else at work. She builds very competently with the glue gun, using all sorts of materials. As I said above, though, she spends a lot of time on fiber arts.
  • Arabic: al7amdulillah, she's gotten the hang of reading in Arabic, although she goes slowly. It's been a big help to her hifz, al7amdulillah, now that she can remember what the word or ayah looks like, as well as what it sounds like.
  • Motor Skills: She's very brave in the gym these days (although still not a dare-devil!). She loves jumping from bed to bed, adored her first set of swimming lessons, very much enjoys ice skating, and loves her gymnastics class. 
  • Social Skills: She has pretty-close friendships with maybe five other girls her own age, and gets along very well with both older and younger kids in our various homeschool groups. She is steadily becoming more comfortable and confident talking to adults, whether she knows them or not, and is starting to get the hang of how to integrate herself into a game that other kids are already in the middle of. 
  • Science: Still haven't found a topic that really catches her attention. She's interested in things that impact her directly - for example, she cares about which foods do or don't have good nutritional value, since that affects whether or not I'll be likely to let her eat them; she's interested in how germs work when she has a cold, and in how teeth work when she has to go to the dentist. But she hasn't latched on to any particular topic for its own sake yet.
  • Math: We're almost finished with RightStart Level A, and I'm just delighted by how comfortable she is with numbers. Love this curriculum. 
So, al7amdulillah, things are going well! Things go most smoothly, and most satisfyingly for both of us, when I keep the morning hours protected for project work, Quran, books and occasional math lessons, and we don't head out for activities until the afternoon. There are so many fun things going on, though, that it's always a question of priority-juggling!

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