Saturday, March 9, 2013

This Week's H/School Journal

In our homeschool this week...
...we did school on three mornings this week (though my reading out loud continued every day) - not quite as much as I'd like to do during most weeks, but it was a busy week.  On Matthew's birthday, I allowed him to elect whether or not he would do school that day and, with much cheering from Seth, Matthew declared that it would be a school-free day.  Then, on another day, we had such a busy day with outside activities that we simply didn't have time to do school.  But that's ok too!

...Matthew continued with some of his major subject areas:
  • Language Arts:  Reading out loud and answering comprehension questions; learning about adjectives, as well as verbs and adverbs (and we played a game I found on Pinterest to help with verbs); and printing out Bible verses (which again led to some great discussion points).
  • Math:  He continued learning about fractions and seems to understand them pretty well.  I had him colouring in and naming/writing the fraction that he was colouring.  One day, when he had coloured in 2/5 of a shape, I asked him what fraction of the shape remained uncoloured.  He correctly identified that 3/5 of the shape was uncoloured.  I then wrote down 2/5+3/5 and asked him what fraction would result if he coloured in the remaining 3/5.  He looked for a moment and wrote down 5/5...then, just as I'd hope he'd say, he looked at the divided-up shape again and said "So, Mom, if I coloured in 5/5 of the shape, that would be the same as colouring in one whole shape."  Correctamundo, my boy.  So I wrote down:  2/5 + 3/5 = 5/5 = 1.  Huh, his face seemed to be saying.  He then proceeded to do the same kind of thing for the remaining fractions that he was working on, and added the simple fractions together to equal one whole.  It was awesome.  We also began working on equivalent fractions using pictures/shapes; for example, 2/6 = 1/3 or 2/8 = 1/4.  It's amazing to me how quickly he understands this stuff when I think back to how I learned these things and how much longer it seemed to take me to catch on.  I don't know if he's just that much smarter than me, or whether it's being one-on-one to learn this stuff, or whether he's able to learn more quickly with a visual representation in front of him, or some kind of combination of factors.  But whatever it is, it's great and he's doing well.
Matthew tends to be very hard on himself; he gets frustrated easily when learning new things.  I have told him many times that he needs to be just a little more patient with himself and with the learning process because he's a very good student.  But I'm thinking that this is something that he needs to learn for himself.  So now, when he has struggled (even briefly) to learn something and then does learn it, I'm making an effort to comment that ' wow, he struggled with this at first but now he's able to do the very thing he struggled with and declare it to be easy.' addition, Matthew participated in gym class, swimming, skating, Awana, music, and art class.  After about two weeks' discussion about karate, he dropped karate this week.  Although he was doing very well with it, he just wasn't enjoying it as much as Seth and Lizzie are and we decided that he's involved in enough other things that we didn't need to subject him to something that he really wasn't enjoying.  So, while S&L were in karate class, Matthew joined me for the weekly grocery shop and we got to spend a little time together; that was lovely, too!

...oh, and Matthew started something new this week:  A four-week "Real Foods" cooking class.  Another h/school mom, who works in a health and wellness area, started up a pilot project for kids ages 8-11...with plans to expand the program hereafter.  In addition to teaching them to prepare healthy snacks and meals, she's going to be teaching the kids about the differences between processed and real foods.  For their inaugural week, they made peanut butter cookies using organic peanut butter, farm eggs, raw coconut palm sugar, etc; and the results that we ate for dessert that night were delicious.  Matthew's quite excited about this class, and his mother anticipates a day when he'll be bringing home his cookbook so that we can prepare those foods at home, too!

...Seth continues to move 'up' the learning curve by working on simple Math and continuing with his numbers and letters.  One day this week, after labouring for thirty minutes over three words that I had printed down on paper, he was able to piece together the sounds for three words and read them:  ANT; CAN; and FAN.  He really did labour over them and, even when I suggested that we take a break, he put his forehead into his hands and bent over his paper and just continued to try to sound out the words.  I tell you, if nothing else will teach him to read and write, his utter determination and goal-drivenness is going to be his saving grace.  And he did figure out those blasted words eventually and was terribly pleased with himself.  Then he whispered into my ear that Lizzie wouldn't be able to do that because she's in Kindergarten and he's in grade 1!  "That's right," I whispered back.  And we quietly smiled the smile of conspirators!

...Lizzie was not really in the 'mood' to do school this week and I didn't push her at all.  She diddled here and there on her notepad, writing letters, but she wasn't really in to it.  I told her that this was A-OK and we basically left it this week.

...Seth and Lizzie both participated in gym class, swimming, skating, Awana, karate, and music this week.

...and, of course, we did the usual out loud reading.

Places we went and people we saw...
...we enjoyed a birthday dinner with family on Matthew's birthday.  For the past few years, my parents have taken the whole family out for dinner on their grandkids' birthdays and it's been lovely - not only do I not have to cook a meal on that night, but the birthday child gets to choose where s/he wants to go for dinner.  This year, Matthew was originally planning to choose Montana's for the eleven of us, but a few days beforehand, his eyes lit up and he asked "so, I can choose anywhere to go for my family birthday supper?''  Warily, I answered "yes, pretty much," thinking that I was going to have to persuade him out of going somewhere super expensive.  Well, I needn't have worried.  He chose Subway!!  Of all places, Subway.  But he loves sub sandwiches and so that was a real treat for him.  But because those restaurants are fairly small, I ended up taking everyone's orders and faxing it in to Subway; Geoff then picked them up and we ate at our place.  I added a 7-layer salad to the mix, and some fish for my sister, and I bought Matthew's favourite ice cream cake.  It was a lovely dinner and I think Matthew felt quite celebrated!

...we also went to a bowling birthday party one afternoon for two of our kids' best friends (siblings).  So we had a lot of cake this week, after having downed Matthew's birthday cake from his friend party last Saturday.

...while my parents took Seth and Lizzie out for lunch on Thursday, I took Matthew to see The Mark of Zorro, which was being performed (by adult actors from Ireland) at our local children's theatre.  It's rare that I take only one kid on a field trip activity, but this play was for kids 8+, so I couldn't take the younger kids.  Fortunately, my parents were able to help out with Seth and Lizzie, who undoubtedly had a better time with them than they would have at a play which would have been way beyond their comprehension levels.

...on my Thursday evening off, I went to see the movie Safe Haven, primarily because I'm a Josh Duhamel fan.  I thought the movie was mediocre, sadly, and reflected the mediocre book version that I'd read a few years ago.  But the popcorn I ate for dinner was good and I followed that part of the evening by reading a book at Starbucks over a cup of hot apple cider.

...Geoff and I try very regularly to take the kids out on a one-on-one basis.  This morning was my turn with Seth and so I took him out for breakfast.  He was thrilled, I was thrilled, and we had a lovely time chatting over breakfast.  He and I have come such a long way over the past number of months - we're connecting at a whole new level these days, a level that is much warmer and more affectionate.  The kid who wouldn't let me kiss him for several months now jumps regularly onto my lap and lets me kiss him freely.  And I know this has something to do with his attachment to me growing because he won't allow Matthew or Lizzie to kiss him...just me.  He actually seeks me out to do things with him, brings me his favourite teddy (a dog named Finnegan/Fin) and wants me to pretend to be Fin and to have a conversation with him.  It's adorable.  He even wants me to feed him at meal time lately (which I happily do if a kid wants me to because this will be over all too soon as the kids get older!).  For the past several weeks, Seth has no longer been flinching or holding his hands over his face when I tell him that I love him (which I stopped doing altogether for a while because it just freaked him out too much).  This morning, when we got home after breakfast, I told him that I loved having breakfast with him and that I loved him so much; he looked me right in the eye and grinned broadly at me (as if he was thinking yup - I know) and as he ran off to play I could hear him singing to himself.  It was a happy sound and a quietly awesome moment that reflects how far he's come.  Thank God.

My favourite thing this week was...
...I loved Matthew's birthday celebrations over the past week, though I confess that I'm also sad every time one of the kids turns a new age.  It's true that I can be pretty sappy.  Some of Matthew's first words on his birthday this week, while he was still waking up in bed, were "Mom, are you going to be crying today because I'm 9?"  Well, so what if I did?!!

...this morning's moment with Seth after breakfast.  It's amazing to watch this kid blossoming, developing, coming out of his shell, accepting love more really is.

Things I'm working on...
...because Seth is accelerating in his ability to learn, I've upped a little the intensity of his schooling over the past few weeks.  He so wants to do school, and so I am working a little more at preparing more for his school day.  I pulled out the grade 1 curriculum book this week, now that I see him being at that level of ability, and am more consciously steering the direction of his work.  Prep time is definitely taking a little more time for me these days, with both boys ramping up their schooling.  But it's something that I do with much pleasure - I had no idea, two months ago, that I would be in this position of being able to prepare for Seth to do more and more school.  It's with a lot of joy that I'm working more in this area.

I'm cooking/baking...
...I baked more cinnamon loaves as well as a new granola bar recipe - both of which I liked.  But more than that, I loved that I could actually bake again this week.

...I'm back into menu planning (weekly, though, rather than monthly, which I'm finding a little too intimidating these days because of our busy schedules) and that's going well.  For the past number of weeks, I've been doing the weekly grocery shop during the kids' karate class and this seems to work well.  We eat so much better (and more healthily) when I menu plan, and there's no doubt in my mind that it is a money saver as well.

I'm grateful for...
...Geoff having a good job (he oversees the finance and IT groups for an insurance company).  He's through his busiest time and through his annual review, and he's doing really well in his work.  He works too much, but he's got an unbelievable work ethic, that man, and his company is lucky to have him, IMHO!  As his job affords the rest of us the luxury of being at home to do school, I have huge appreciation for what he does for us on a day-to-day basis.  Not to mention that I love him (and he doesn't even read my blog so you can be assured that I'm not just saying this to butter him up!).

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