*I needed to let go of the feelings of having to follow a textbook~ they really added too much information or not enough in certain areas.
I still have many textbooks and always will use these as a reference but feel there are many other resources out there to help teach and help the boys learn.
We replaced many of our textbooks with "living books"~ biographies~ autobiographies~ and literature. The boys learn from hearing stories of real life people in a particular time period. Learning about how they lived and what their thoughts and life was like in that time period brought a kind of reality to their learning.
Ruth Beechick has written about the use of textbooks in this article: Learning Beyond Textbooks .
Charlotte Mason seemingly had spoke of good, solid literature as "living books".
Here are some additional resources on Living Books~
After reading further and learning more and more I became aware of new methods for testing to see how much they have learned.
* I began leaving tests and quiz's behind and creating games for the boys to test their knowledge in an area~ while playing games, I was able to ask them questions about topics and could clearly see the mastery and progress made.
* We began using dictation and copywork more to help study spelling and grammar. The boys used sentences and then short paragraphs from their reading books and would edit and learn spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and writing form as we moved along. I could not get over how well this helped them understand the use of grammar and word usage. I really feel that bring it to "life" and using these skills offers them a more clear understanding of what is actually being taught.
* Comprehension has always been a bit tricky in our home but through narration and mental imagery of their reading and read alouds their comprehension has gotten much better and I have actually found that as time goes by they can now pick out details of the stories that before, might have been completely overlooked.
* We began to explore more hands on learning. Setting aside all the books and paper and creating and exploring and talking with people and learning that way. We went on field trips to learn from others and the boys realize so many people has so much to teach us~ when learning about a particular topic they enjoy reading about it and exploring it further through field trips, computer resources, experiments etc.. in order for them to allow their minds to wrap around a subject/topic they like to investigate, explore and perform... dissection, etc.. you name it.. they are boys so they love to have movement in their efforts toward learning...
For myself this year has been yet another gift. A gift we have been given to learn and explore together and allow me to teach my children about our world and about the abilities in each of them.
I find that as we continue some things this summer with our experiments, reading practice, and therapies.. I still have anticipation toward the Fall and what the new year will bring, and how much my boys will learn, and how much they have yet to still teach me, about them and about myself.