Last week I shared with you about our Morning Time. Today, I thought I’d write about what we do after Morning Time which is our Tablework.
Tablework is just our name for work done at the table – the more formal lessons that make up our school day. Our son is 4 so technically he is preschool/prep/Yr0.5 aged however, one of the blessings of homeschool is that we can teach him at his level so his lessons for each subject are at all different levels.
Here’s his table, it’s in our dining/lounge room so right in the middle of our house. Each morning we wheel out our homeschool trolley which has things for both Morning Time and Tablework in it.
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We began by working through a Toy Story NAPLAN Workbook on Year 1 Sight Words. He loves Toy Story and I wanted to get him used to the idea of bookwork. I wrote most of his answers for him because his reading was so ahead of his writing.
We also worked through Teach Your Monster to Read which is an online/app phonics curriculum although he hasn’t finished it. His reading ability blossomed exponentially and the lessons became redundant.
He reads a book (or now, a chapter) each day during tablework although sometimes we do this later in the day.
Next year we will begin formal narrations with him which will help him with comprehension, analysis and synthesis. At the moment I occasionally ask him a question or two about what he reads or model to him what a narration would look like but not often. For more information on narration, which is a Charlotte Mason idea, see here.
Now that his reading is well established we have begun to work on spelling and writing skills.
We began with an alphabet sheet that I laminated and each day he traced the letters (anywhere from 2-10 depending on the day). I talked him through his letter formation (eg where to start, which direction to go) as he went until it became natural for him.
Dictation. This began unintentionally. I was working on the computer and he asked me if he could do some writing on it, so we booted up Word and I dictated him a few sentences. Now each morning we do the same. I bring the laptop to his table, he opens Word. I dictate him a short sentence from something we have read that day. He types it (I help with spelling if he asks), he prints it (technology skills!) and glues it in his book.
Copywork. Well, it’s still tracing because this is “safe” for him. I write out his sentence in yellow texta and he traces it in either pencil or black texta (he likes to choose). I sit with him and make sure that he is forming each letter correctly. He only needs the occasional reminder.
This week, I asked him to copy my words below instead of tracing for the first time. It was a hard task for him. He kept saying, “I’m not sure” and, “it doesn’t look right.” It was interesting to see his perfectionism making him so anxious. We will continue with the tracing for a while longer.
I have drawn inspiration from Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing with Ease. I find that she has a helpful progression outlined for how to use copywork and dictation (and narration, which we are not doing yet) to teach writing comprehensively. Already I can see the fruit as he learns about punctuation, grammar and spelling. We will probably add a spelling program next year.
I wanted him to get into the habit of having a short maths lesson each day so I began by using a cheap workbook I had picked up on sale. It was pretty awful simply because it was way too easy for him. I found a Targeting Maths book for year 1 (second year of school) and it has been so much better. We work through one or two pages a day. Sometimes I think he isn’t getting it only to have him start talking about it later in the week. At this point, I’m not concerned with mastery because he is still so young. We are merely trying to give him a starting point for thinking mathematically and also to get into the habit.
We also have a fun brain-busting number puzzles book that he enjoys so some days we do that instead or as well.
That’s it. Most mornings it takes less than thirty minutes and we are all usually still in our pyjamas!
I really love that both our Morning Time and Tablework are part of our daily rhythm now. We have the flexibility to change or add things as we need to and as he grows.