Saturday, February 23, 2013

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...we continued as per usual, though Matthew's schooling was put on hold for a day because of a mild case of the stomach flu (thankfully the rest of us evaded it); we've had almost no illness in our house this winter so we can't complain about one day's worth of sickness.

...Matthew's reading is coming along.  For a boy who's been pretty cyclical in his interest in reading, he's doing all right.  He's a little 'behind' his grade level, perhaps, but I'm not worried about it at all.  I'd rather he express innate interest in reading than force it on him.  Based on his increasing desire to read, we have consistently been working at his reading out loud and he also answers comprehension questions about what he's reading.  He's definitely improving on a week-to-week basis and it's nice that he hasn't been resisting this at all.  This week for the first time, there was even a day when he asked if he could read to me!  Huh, I thought.

...Matthew's piano teacher is pleased with how he's doing.  She indicates that he's a very fast learner and a good sight reader for his beginner level and she has, just this week, begun to give him more work to do at home.  This is perfect timing because it takes no effort to have him practice these days; in fact, I haven't asked him to practice at all and he goes to the piano himself several times throughout the day.  It's awesome, and he's so proud of himself.  Last week he ran out of his piano lesson with a look of joy on his face and he exclaimed "I love piano!"  Gotta love that.

...what's amazing me, over the past couple of weeks, is how Seth's comprehension/abilities have improved when it comes to letters and sounds...also when it comes to writing out letters and numbers.  His numbers up to 13 are very neat and precise looking and we're starting to add new numbers to the bunch and working at increasing his speed a little.  Even between last week and this week, I have seen changes in how he writes his letters.  Just last week, he cried because he could not print an uppercase "A" despite trying really hard.  I kept telling him that it was totally ok, but he was so determined. His hands and eyes couldn't seem to work together, despite wanting to so badly.  He tried (using his own drive!) over and over, for a long time.  He just couldn't get that first line angled down towards the left - he kept angling it to the right and then couldn't understand why the second line down wouldn't work.  He couldn't see the differences.  What helped was when I drew a triangle of dots to help him figure out the direction that his pencil needed to travel for that first line; over and over he committed that dotted line to muscle memory.  Suddenly this week, he said that he didn't need me to put the dots on the paper; he began putting the dots on the paper to help himself.  Just a day later, he remarkably needed no dots to help him form the letter A.  Now, just days after having so many difficulties, he tells me that writing an A is "easy, Mom."  Wow.  I said to Geoff just a few days ago, "I think he's going to be ok," and I felt a great sense of wonder that I could say that!!  We have a long ways to go yet, and he's far 'behind' grade level, but it feels like he's finally nailing the foundation pieces into place and getting ready for additional knowledge.  When he was drawing a birthday card for a friend this week, he carefully and painstakingly printed out his first name in uppercase letters; he was so proud of himself, and so was I.  It's fascinating to see how he practically reaches into his mind to pull out the memory of what each letter should look like and how he's going to make his hand do what he wants it to, but every time he writes his name it's getting easier.

...I also introduced to Seth this week the concept of adding and taking away.  He was a little puzzled by the concept until, figures, I used candies to make the point I was making.  At that point he began quite quickly to catch on.  The second that boy can recognize and write numbers up to 20, I will be starting a Math program with him - I think he's almost ready!

...I've begun in earnest to help Lizzie hold her pencil correctly.  She came home from Ethiopia with the oddest looking pencil holding technique I'd seen in a while - I'm not sure if it's something specifically instructed at the orphanage or not, because Seth's positioning needed only a little adjustment, but for whatever reason, she has long had a habit of holding a pencil rather oddly.  We've had so many other things to concentrate on over the past year and a half, and she's been so resistant to changing her pencil positioning, that I've left it alone until now.  But now we're working on it.  She was very mulish about it at first, but has come a long ways in just a week.  It helped to start her on the whiteboard, because there's something about standing there that helps her arm and shoulder to fall into proper position so  then she can just focus on the actual grip.  She doesn't remember of her own accord yet to hold the pencil properly, but once reminded she can now reposition her fingers herself and can manage it until the next time she puts the pencil/marker down.  Little does she know that I have a little device on its way to help her out...I forget what it's called, but I ordered a little 'mitt' for her that is designed to help with pencil positioning - it allows only the thumb and index fingers to emerge from the mitt to hold the pencil and keeps the other fingers intact on the inside.  We should receive it over the next week and I'm curious to see how much/if this will help.

...A couple of months ago, when I introduced Lizzie to the idea of printing the letters that she was already so familiar with, I was a little shocked (because she was so comfortable with letters and sounds already) by how unable she was to form letters.  She could trace my letters just fine, but could make no headway in printing them herself.  It was so odd.  She would print something that looked nothing like the letter she was learning and look to me with pride in her success.  I changed strategies to have her simply trace mine for the time being, and introduced a few other fine-motor and pre-writing exercises to the routine and she's been working on them for a few months now.  I've noticed such changes.  She is now comfortable (other than with her pencil positioning!) writing her name and various other letters; she isn't as precise or careful as Seth is with his, but she's also two years younger than he is and extremely different in personality, so's all progress!

Places we went and people we saw...
...we went to a birthday party (sledding) for one of the kids' good friends and both children and parents had a great time.

...we saw little of Geoff again this week, as he (finally!) finished up his busy season.  His deadline was met on Friday and so now he's going to be able to be a regular and contributing part of the family again.  Thank God.  The kids and I have really missed him.

...tonight we're having friends over for dinner who brought home a little boy from Ethiopia at the same time as us.  He's a couple of years younger than Lizzie, but there's a special bond between the kids because they knew each other in Ethiopia while living at our agency's transition house for a few months prior to our taking custody.  We're really looking forward to getting together with their family and hope it becomes a little more regular an occurrence. 

My favourite thing this week was...
...Geoff's busy season coming to an end at long last.  It's been a very long five weeks; a couple of times (including this week) I had to cancel my plans for my Thursday night out, and that was hard to do.  And I've just missed his companionship...'cause when Geoff's in work mode, he's really in work mode. I'm glad to finally lay claim to him again.

What's working for us...
...well, what's working for me is not washing my hair every day.  What an odd thing to say, especially on a h/school update!!  But I have been hearing for a long time, including from my new stylist recently, that it's a really good idea to give our hair a break from washing it quite so often and so I've been trying it out.  It makes my morning shower unbelievably fast (hence the tie in to h/schooling b/c I'm ready for school that much earlier!); I'm usually pretty quick to begin with (just over three minutes including hair washing/conditioning) but I can be out in about ninety seconds without having to wash my hair; a quick lather up and a rinse and I'm good to go.  And no need to blowdry hair on those days either - so I'm out of the bathroom lickety-split on the days I'm not washing my hair.  Bonus!

Things I'm working on...
...getting ready for Matthew's upcoming birthday.  We're planning a roller skating party this year and anticipate 12-15 kids.  Should be fun...and I won't have any clean up to do afterwards!

...putting together more craft ideas for the kids so that Thursday afternoons can become more of a crafty afternoon during our week, after the kids have done four days of school.  Fridays rarely see us doing school because of extra curricular activities and the need to run a few errands.  But we're trying to get four days of school in by the time Thursday noon hits, so that we can craft on Thursday afternoons and relax on Fridays.  Does anyone know of any really good craft sites that I can check out??  I so need help in this area!

...making sure that before I head to bed at night, the kitchen is tidy and the sink cleaned.  This used to be a given, but I've been a little lax some days of late, so I'm trying to change back.  I find it tough to do some days, especially when Geoff's away a lot and the day has been long and hard and I just want to fall into bed after the kids are tucked in.  But it really makes a difference in my perspective on the morning so I've been making an extra effort.

I'm reading...
...I actually read a book of fiction this week.  YAY for me!!  It's been a while.  The book is now a week overdue at the library because I started it after it's due date, but I was determined that I was going to sit down with this thing and just finish it.  So I did.  419, penned by Calgary-based Will Ferguson, won the Giller Prize for 2012 for this novel and, though I'm not sure that I would have gone so far as to award it the Giller, I did think it was a good read...and an easy read.  Has anyone else read it?  Want to share your opinion?

I'm grateful for...
...with Matthew having a stomach flu one day this week (man, that boy needs to learn to hit the bucket when he vomits!) and a bit of a cold for a couple of days after that, I realized with gratitude that we've been remarkably free of illness this winter and last.  I'm not sure why we've been able to steer clear of all of the nasty stuff so far, but I'll take it!


  1. Hi there! Woke up this morning and went right to your blog. You are AMAZING and WONDERFUL - and your posting today brought joy (and a spontaneous 'happy dance'!) on your behalf. So incredibly inspiring to read of your hard work, effort, and determination. Blessings... xo

  2. Wow - thank you!! What an inspiring comment for me...a real encouragement.

    Thank you!!


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