Monday, January 31, 2011

Critical Thinking Press-- a Review


Just before Christmas we got the chance to pick 3 books from Critical Thinking Press to review for Timberdoodle. I got to choose which books we wanted to try and let me tell you it was a hard decision... I finally decided that Tovah would get one since she needed some harder busywork, I also wanted to challenge Isaac, and I thought that Arin would enjoy it and he was short of curriculum as he was waiting for Rush to finish the Health book (I've found that they don't share books well).

They came just before we broke for Christmas but I had them start them so we would get a good 30 days done before I reviewed them (I didn't really know how much time off we would take for Christmas and yes, we take snow days if there is the opportunity). Right away Ryan told me I should have just ordered books for the other 2, or at least for Jonah since Rush's curriculum is set this year.

Isaac is doing Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural. He is challenged by the shapes but enjoys matching the congruent shapes. He struggled last week with expanding the shapes but worked through it. He likes to work on his own with very little input from mom or dad, this is something he can do by himself so he's happy but it also makes him think so it makes me happy. He is a lot like me, finding the right answer is not difficult but he needs to work on getting past his frustration when he can't do it instantly.

Tovah's favorite part of Beginning Word Roots is combining the roots to make new words. Last week she got to make the word "unicorn" which made her excited since she had just bought a new unicorn pillow pet with her birthday money. She is proudly showing me that she is writing her words in cursive, a brand new skill that the boys never wanted to have... She and Jonah are very lazy spellers and would rather have someone spell for them than sound out a word they are trying to write. With older siblings readily available and a distracted mom it's all too easy to just give them the letters than to remember to stop and have them think about it. The roots are giving her some tools (I hope) to be more independent (I'm about ready to become my 2nd grade teacher who always told us to look it up in the dictionary- it drove me nuts, if I knew how to spell it to look it up then I wouldn't have asked!)

Arin is working in Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal. When I asked him about his favorite part he told me that it was, "Working with shapes." I've enjoyed our discussions on synonyms and how they are alike and how they may be different. We have discussed fine-tuning word usage to make a sentence mean exactly what you want it to say. Arin sometimes struggles with schoolwork and I'm glad to find something that he can enjoy and be successful at, while still being challenged .

Arin, Isaac, and Tovah all have different learning styles and strengths but I think that these books are reaching each of them. I wonder, as homeschoolers, if we sometimes do our children a dis-service by teaching to their strengths and learning styles. We will not always be our child's teacher, and they will at some point have to learn from someone else be it a Sunday School teacher, high school teacher, at college, or even on the job. Knowing how our children learn best is good but we also need to know where they struggle with learning and work with them to learn how to learn under less than optimal circumstances. When I choose the books for these three I knew Tovah needed some tools for spelling, Arin is my visual learner, and Isaac is very verbal. Each of them are working outside their area of strength but they are all being successful, learning some new skills, and enjoying the challenge; they can do their seatwork in any order and they almost always do their "word" books first.

Legal Disclosure:

As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

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