Saturday, October 27, 2012

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...we had a pretty good week.  I think it's safe to say that Matthew has mastered triple column addition and subtraction, rounding to the nearest 10/100, estimating, and a few other math-related things we've been working on for a bit.  He's doing more than all right, IMHO.  We worked a little on social studies (compasses, directions, maps and legends, etc), on English/Language Arts (I really don't understand vowel digraphs myself, to be honest), and he attended his weekly art, gym and music classes.

...I continue to work with Seth on some of the early activities recommended by the curriculum I purchased out of New York, directed towards kids who lost a language before being able to acquire a new language.  I'm seeing progress, real progress.  One simple thing that we do every day is to talk about similarities and differences between two objects.  It could be two random books that I pick up out of our library, or a couple of glasses out of the kitchen cupboards, two writing utensils...whatever.  I ask Seth to describe the items; depending on how he answers, I will prompt him by asking him to describe how the items are similar, then how they are different, etc.  I encourage him to use all of his senses if possible (he's even licked a number of items to discern differences in taste!).  This is helping him to tune in to details of objects and to develop a vocabulary for describing things.  The goal is to teach him to notice details of things he sees around him, and to use his senses to experience the environment; also to learn to detect patterns, to organize things into groups based on a shared characteristic, and to learn vocabulary to be able to share his experiences.  These simple kinds of things are making a difference!

...Seth and Lizzie worked on the letter Ee this week, in addition to getting lots more practice on fine-motor skills and patterning/sequencing.  Seth's learning continues to show signs of progress; he's actually remembering these letters pretty well from day to day (and we're working on both u/case and l/case) and is getting stronger every week, it seems, in also being able to remember some of the sounds that these letters make.  I'm so excited!  In addition, Seth is (amazingly) continuing to learn to recognize and write numbers.  He can now usually recognize and write the numbers 0-9...slowly and painstakingly, but even this is coming along a wee bit more quickly.  I really cannot express enough how profound a difference this is from the little boy who, until July of this year, simply could not retain knowledge or memory of a single letter or number from one second to the next.  He has a long way to go but I can hardly believe that he's making such progress!!

Places we went and people we saw...
...Well, we saw a bunch of bats!  We went to a h/school field trip at the zoo and enjoyed a really excellent classroom session about bats, and then had a chance to see the various bat exhibits the zoo has.  Man, they're ugly little creatures, but rather incredible, too.  The kids, of course, sensationalized the vampire bats that are found only in South America and which feast on animals and not humans...but, well, it's fun to be a little horrified at the thought, I guess.  We loved having coffee and snacks with friends afterwards, despite being a little soggy from the rain!  And Lizzie learned a little lesson about the importance of wearing certain clothes for certain types of weather - she absolutely refused to wear rubber boots on our field trip (or an adequate jacket) and predictably ended up with cold, wet feet and lower legs as a result of her puddle-wading.  Sigh.  It's hard to step back as a parent, sometimes, but really, at some level I think the best lessons are learned just by experiencing the fruit of one's obstinance (and I speak about myself here, too!).
Note:  My spell check is highlighting the way I spelled 'obstinance' but I can't think of what the alternative spelling is; anyone?

My favourite thing this week was...
...Geoff coming home early on Thursday after being away since early Saturday on work-related travel.  I missed his companionship and was glad to have him home safely again.  The kids and I skyped with Geoff a few times while he was away and the kids really enjoyed that.  Well, to be precise, the two younger kids enjoyed skyping with him.  Matthew missed Geoff terribly but his sensitive little heart could not bear seeing his Dad on skype; it made Geoff's absence a little too real and overwhelming; so instead of appearing on skype, Matthew listened in the background and then cried when we hung up.  Poor thing.  It helped when Geoff sent an email to Matthew the day he was to fly home; Matthew looked at me shyly and said that he could hardly wait 'til Dad got home.

What's working for us...
...changing little things up from time to time.  Early this week, Matthew was quite resistant to the routine we've developed re: breakfast, clean-up routine, school work, etc.  So I rearranged the order a wee bit in order to provide the change that Matthew so seems to need once in a while; we went down to do school immediately after an earlier-than-usual breakfast.  We were in the classroom by or before 8:30 most mornings, and were finished school by 10:00 or morning we started before 8am and were done by just past 9:30am - amazing!!  It was rather nice, actually, to be done by mid morning and have the rest of the day stretch out in front of us.

What's not working for us...
...I'm going to have to make a change to our school scheduling.  What doesn't seem to be working well at the moment (and which is causing me anxiety) is trying to school all three kids at the same time.  None of them want/are able to work independently at this point and so it seems increasingly difficult to work with all three at the same time.  Matthew in particular needs a fairly high degree of quiet in order to focus and, quite frankly, the younger kids can be pretty loud at times.  So I'm trying a change in pattern:  Working first with Matthew; then with Seth and Lizzie.  Even this is a bit challenging because, although Seth and Lizzie are working on many of the same things, they work at very different paces and they don't like it when they see the other speeding ahead or lagging behind.  But I've tried the two-group-approach twice already and it worked so much better!  It takes up more time in the day, schooling Matthew first and then Seth and Lizzie, but happily not double the time - they actually get their work done faster when I'm able to sit and be with the two groups of them separately.  I purchased a few things that the kids could work on while I'm working with the other kid(s):  Maze books; an Extreme Dot-to-Dot book for Matthew (which has the dual benefit of having him work on his numbers up to 1,400); drawing books and rainbow scratch paper; numbered, mosaic tile pictures for the little kids, which also have the benefit of reinforcing numbers for them; etc etc.  I've decided that these purchases will only be used during school times when a particular child is not working on school with me, to keep those activities a little special.  My hope is that this change will create less pressure on me and that the kids will benefit from the focus.

Things I'm working on...
...Still organizing our schoolroom differently.  I made some good headway this week, working for a couple of hours in the schoolroom while the kids worked in the next room tidying up a bunch of messes they'd made in the basement.  I'm pretty much waiting now for an opportunity to do a little shopping at IKEA so that I can put in the cubbies that I've made room for...hopefully I'll be able to do that in the next 6-8 weeks...but in the meantime, things are quite serviceable now already and it feels great to have things more organized and accessible.

I'm grateful for... snow yet!  (Well, we've had a couple of days with bits of snowfall, but it disappeared quickly.)  I know it's coming soon, but I'm consciously grateful for every day without it.  As I get older, I really find myself hating the cold weather more and more.  I don't know why we don't just move somewhere south of here and enjoy a more temperate climate.  I love San Diego and some of the areas around LA...doesn't that sound appealing?  Geoff's just back from San Francisco, and that's a pretty interesting place, too.  But oh yeah, I guess we still need an income, huh?  Something to pay the bills?  Sigh.  Ok.  For now, I'll just be grateful for another snow-free day.


  1. Is there no snow in the south end of the city? We woke up to about 3inches on our front lawn this morning and it is still sticking around. The kids are not so much! :)

  2. Well, I wrote this post last night! But we just got a faint dusting of snow during the night...three INCHES??? Shoot...please keep it at your end of the city!!