Saturday, September 29, 2012

This Week's H/School Journal.

In our homeschool this week...
...we completed our second week back to school.  Really, though, it kinda felt like it was still our first week back, because for the second week in a row, we didn't get much school done.  The younger kids have been fine about being in school, but for some reason Matthew has been balking at it in a way that I haven't seen for a long time.  I'm not sure what to do about it, to be honest...I just know I'm tired of it.

...I did start back a little bit into curriculum work with Matthew (grade 3!), and Seth and Lizzie continued to work on the activities I have planned for them around the early letters of the alphabet.   Lizzie already knows all of her letters but the reinforcement won't hurt and with her I'm also working more on the sounds and shapes of each of the letters.  I am finding that, although Lizzie is more 'advanced' when it comes to actual knowledge of the ABCs, Seth actually plows through the work much faster than her...I'm just not sure how much of it he will be able to remember.  It's going to be an interesting challenge - keeping him busy and productive, while actually learning and remembering the letters.  The good news is that both younger kids are loving the work I've prepared for them.  I'm incorporating a lot of fine motor skills with the ABC activities so that they are, essentially, multi-tasking without knowing it.

...what's encouraging is that in the past few weeks, Seth has begun to be able to distinguish the first sounds that words make.  For example, he can now hear for the first time that the word alligator starts with the short a sound.  Until just these past few weeks, he simply couldn't break apart a word by hearing the sounds separately.  Now he can walk around the house and say "a - a - a - alligator" and "b - b - b - ball, b - b - b - bicycle."  The difference in ability is quite pronounced, and such a crucial step in beginning to learn the sounds that letters make.

...I received confirmation from our provincial government that boy boys are now registered as h/schoolers (I'm not required to register Lizzie yet).  I have registered Seth as being in Kindergarten. I mentioned above, Matthew balked at school for the first time since early summer.  He's always had a tough time transitioning from one thing to another and this time was no exception; just taking a week+ plus off between the end of summer school and the beginning of fall/winter school meant hours and days of transition difficulties (manifested by whining, lots of rages and meltdowns, refusing to work, etc).  It's secretly driving me a little crazy...and then I worry because I'm already behind with him in what we need/want to get done this year.  There are times when he's been ok doing his work, so I hope we've made it through the worst, but I'm not taking that for granted yet.

...we haven't begun everything that I've set out for our fall/winter schedule, but over the next week (I hope) we'll likely have our full roster of stuff going.

...we went to our annual h/school Pumpkin Patch farm visit.  It was a great day and the kids (and I) loved it.  It was kinda cool that this was Seth's and Lizzie's second time around for this field trip - I love that we're on our 'seconds' of things now.  They remembered going last year and loved it again this year.  We drove out with friends, brought a picnic lunch, and the kids climbed hay bales, jumped into giant sand boxes filled with corn kernels (and spent 20 minutes looking for Seth's shoe, which came off and got buried in the corn piles!), used a paint ball gun to shoot at a rusty old car, pumped water and raced little rubber duckies down halved tubes, went zip-lining, picked pumpkins for our front step, played with the friendliest cats in the world, and played on the world's greatest play structure.  All in one day!!

...we've started working on the read-aloud book lists that I prepared.  I discovered that, through our local library system and through, I can access a fair number of the books on Matthew's list as audio books.  Given that he adores audio books (he's listened to hundreds of audio books over the past few years), this is a big bonus.  Between hearing me read out loud every day, his obsession with the books I've downloaded onto his ipod, and the CD books he has, he's getting a lot of books read to him.  Currently, he's got a few things on the go:  He's listening to volume 38 of Adventures in Odyssey on his CD player; the first three volumes of The Boxcar Children on his ipod; and a 9-hour CD version of The Penderwicks.  I've also been reading Little House in the Big Woods to all three kids.  I have library copies of several other books ready to go.  It's been an awesome week for the kids hearing books read out loud (except for the fact that Matthew now uses up all of my credits with his voracious appetite for audio books!).

...Seth received a CD player for his birthday last month and he just this week started listening to CDs on it.  I'm thrilled at this beginning point.  He loves, and continually asks for, music CDs, and he has also started listening to his first few audio books:  some earlier Adventures in Odyssey; Psalty; Curious George; Proto the Dragon.  I love coming into the boys' bedroom in the morning and seeing both of them drawing pictures and listening to audio books - either together on one CD player (or through Matthew's docking station) or separately with their headphones on.  During one of these times, Matthew also had the idea of helping teach Seth some of his letters, and so Matthew drew large block outlines of one or two letters at a time for Seth to colour in wild and crazy patterns.  It's awesome and I love Matthew's initiative. 

...all three kids had their second week of music classes and will go for their third today.  The younger kids are in an awesome group class, and Matthew (my growing up kid!) is taking piano lessons for the first time.  He did Kindermusik as a kid, from age six months through to seven years of age, but when he graduated from that program, we kept him out of formal music for over a year.  I've heard so often that if kids (especially boys) start piano lessons too early, they lose interest after only a few years, and I'm wanting Matthew to outlive this statistic.  Statistically, if he starts piano lessons at age eight or nine, he has a better chance of sticking with it longer.  We'll see.  I've hired a piano teacher for him through a local university and I was very specific about the kind of teacher that I wanted for him:  Someone who was able to establish relationship with him (crucial for Matthew's sensitive little heart); and someone who would not give him a hard time about not practicing enough.  I was clear that I would not be the mother who would force my kid to practice x number of times every week and emphasized that my primary goal is that he continue to love music and have fun with it.  I was told that I was rather unusual in my requests, but I'm ok with that - it's our money to spend and I know my kid and how he functions best!  We appear to have landed a wonderful young woman with a masters in Music Therapy, and after his first two lessons, Matthew loves her.  Loves.  He dances around the room rather shyly when we mention her name.  I'd say that's a good start.  He asked me yesterday if he had to have a practice session and I casually but seriously said "No.  Play if you want to."  Well, wasn't he all ready for an argument about it but when I said he didn't have to practice he deflated like a balloon...and then went and fiddled around on the piano for about thirty minutes and wanted to show me what he had learned in his second lesson!  The time for requiring practice sessions will come at some point but for now I have different priorities.  Who knows how long his little love affair will last, but it's a great start.  :)

...I decided in summer, when I was doing my planning for this fall, that I wanted to begin our days with a story from the Bible...working through it chronologically.  Last week we focused on the story of Creation, and this week on Noah.  I'm reading through the stories from the Bible, from various children's books, and have prepared short teaching sessions about the stories.  I spent quite a bit of time prepping this part of our h/school during the summer and so far it's gone well.  Coincidentally, the kids' Sunday School program at our church has a similar idea for the year - they are working through the Bible chronologically, too.  We're only a few stories 'off' from what the kids are learning on Sunday mornings; I'm hoping that we can 'catch up' over the next few weeks and work in conjunction with the Sunday program a little...that would be kinda neat.

Places we went and people we saw...
...We got together with friends on a day or two, and had my parents over for dinner for the first time since my Dad's accident this summer (it will be nice, now that he's more mobile, to get back into our dinner rhythm).

...I had an unusually social week.  It rarely happens that I get out of the house more than one evening/week, but this time it was two times!  On one night I went out for dinner with a couple of friends and we had awesome Thai food.  I talked too much that night, which I regret, but it was a great time nonetheless.  And then on another night I went to the monthly book club that I've been part of since it began six years ago; I took a leave for much of last year because of all of the changes in our household, but it was good to get back to it this week.  The book club is quite different this year because the book store that runs the club opened it up to a lot of new members for the first time we went from a group of about ten to a group of twenty...waaaay too many to have meaningful and productive conversations about the book.  We'll see how it goes, but I'm thinking that next year might require a change.  

What I'm reading... 

The book we read for book club this month was Natasha, by David Bezmozgis, and it was really excellent - about the immigrant experience to Canada and also a coming of age story for the narrator.  I thought Bezmozgis was a beautiful writer.  He reminded me a little of Hemingway, whose writing I so love.  Hemingway, for example, is a very 'sparse' writer - there's never a word too many.  Bezmozgis was similar; very pared down writing.  There's a little more meat on the bones with his writing than with Hemingway's, but it was lovely.  I'd recommend the book.  It was one of the first books of substance I've read in a long time because reading just hasn't been a priority for me over the past 16 months, but it was a great start and was a great reminder of how much I love (and miss) reading...I think this book marked my re-entrance into more reading.  Yay.

My favourite thing this week, and what I'm most grateful for, was...
...a better start to the week.  Though school was rough again, the family dynamic was considerably better and I'm so grateful.

On that note, I'm going to end my week's h/school journal.  It's time to get moving for the day 'cause it's going to be a busy one: music lessons; lunch with grandparents; playdates; errands; and hot chocolate early this evening while visiting a local lake to watch and listen to the noisy geese landing by the thousands on the start of their migration journey south.

Have a great weekend everyone.



  1. I'm glad you're reading again! I recently started "The Midwife of Venice" and am finding myself fully engaged in it. It's been a while since I was grabbed by a book. I'm thrilled for Seth about his sounds.

  2. Something else we have in common- my eldest takes piano as well, and my priority was to find a gentle teacher who would make it fun for her above all else. I keep telling the teacher not to push her too much. I'm more interested in my daughter developing a love of music than moving along at a fast pace.
    If you ever do reach a point where you are thinking of starting a new book club, keep me in mind. The one I am currently in is with a fantastic group of women, but with children/busy lives, it has become pretty much a social evening with just a token nod to the book. I enjoy the night out, but really do miss the book talk.

  3. I've never heard of that book Joanne - now that I'm reading again, I'll have to start paying more attention to what people are reading and enjoying...thanks!

    Kristin, it would be AWESOME to be in the same book club as you - I will absolutely keep that in mind if we start something new (likely next fall). And I love that our perspectives are the same re: music - how funny!

    Hugs to you both and I wish you a great start to the week.