Until I am officially finished with school, I won’t have any free time to update this blog as much as I would like. Time has been going by so fast and I can’t believe it has been over two weeks since my last post! If all goes as planned, our last day of school will be on May 28. I have not told my son that we (he) will be doing both a writing and reading program over the summer. Shhhh. He is going to hate it, and hate me. He loves his summer break and revels in each summer day.
His recent annual achievement test had some suprising results. He was tested on his writing skills and scored a couple of grade levels low in the written expression category. The tester even suggested a “learning disability in written expression”. Yikes! Now that’s a mouth full! On the bright side, he is two grade levels ahead in math and at grade level in all other areas. Whatever the reason for his “disability”, I can attribute his lack of expression skills to dear ol’ mom. I have always been grammar focused and erroneously assumed he would naturally develop adequate writing skills. I mean, there is so much to buy at the beginning of each school year with math, science, history, and books for reading. When it came to language arts, I opted to teach grammar. He needs to know his parts of speech. And what about all of those punctuations? Besides, there are only enough hours in a day for my wiggly son to sit under my tutelage. I have always noticed that homeschool grammar curricula only focus on writing at the very end. By then, the child is usually burned out and the last thing they want to do is spend their last weeks of school working on developing their writing skills. I guess I should take some comfort in that some schools don’t even have a writing program.
Since learning the results of his test, I’ve been doing much of my own homework and purchased some workbooks to begin ASAP. Spectrum offers a great selection of workbooks in all subjects. I bought the Reading Grade 5 book and the Writing Grade 4 book. I researched the internet until my head hurt, searching for the perfect curriculum or manual to help me teach my son the whole writing process. I became flooded with information and the proof was in my ink cartridge. It’s dry from all of the documents I had printed! Finally, I visited my local homeschool bookstore and bought what I think will be the best curriculum that will work for us. It’s called Jump In: A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers by Sharon Watson. Hopefully, it will prove to be the answer to my prayers. The Jump In… reviews say it is for middle schoolers 6-8 grade, but I was told it can be adapted for any grade. If it overwhelms my son I can always fall back on the Spectrum book. There. $70.00 in book purchases at the end of the year are validated! After returning home with my blessing in a bag, I told my hubby all about my plans and goals and how I will get our son on track with writing…blah, blah, blah. When I mentioned the author’s name, Sharon Watson, he asked me if she was Randy Watson’s wife. HAHA! It is so like him to deviate the topic to something movie oriented. Anyway, the title of the book itself was encouraging because my son is a reluctant yet eager writer. He has always liked to write stories, and he has occasionally endeavored in his own book writing. Sadly, he just doesn’t write well.
Before all of this business of test scores and writing came up, we took a 3-day trip to Charlottesville, Virgina. We have been studying American History this year and I had vowed to take my son to Monticello for a field trip (a four-hour drive from here). I had not been to Monticello since I was in elementary school, and I was looking foward to returning some day. I absolutely loved everything at Monticello. So much had changed since I had been there, but there were a few things that I remembered being the same. There grounds were beautiful with blooming flowers and gigantic trees. Hubby and I took a keen interest in the trees, being as we are arborists at heart. We did not leave the area without collecting a rock or two for our rock collection. The gift shop had a plant nursery, and I purchased a white bleeding heart perennial plant. It will look like this when it is full-grown.
Neoclassical architecture has always been my favorite, and a visit to Monticello undoubtedly represents the architectural genius in Thomas Jefferson. The new exhibits and gallery in the new visitor’s center revealed more about President Jefferson’s interests and intellect. One thing in particular, he kept meticulous log books of his farm and even daily weather forecasts. He also loved books! Enough said!
The University of Virginia campus was equally impressive, reflecting the same Neoclassical designs as Monticello. Even the new construction of buildings throughout the campus are in keeping with the original architecture. We visited The Rotunda, the campus chapel and Edgar Allan Poe’s dorm room. UVA was a beautiful campus.
Following is a photo essay of the highlights of our visit to Monticello and the UVA campus. Be sure to scroll over the photos. Enjoy!