Saturday, June 21, 2008

Oh, the things we've all learned this year!

We are officially finished with this school year! I could do a little jig from the excitement of having a break ('cept I can't dance so I guess I'll just jig in my head). I'm sure Jefferson could too. Monday was our first day without me running back and forth between baby, toddler, food prep/cleaning, lessons, web research, reading, diapers, more food prep, more lessons, more reading, bandaids, someone's screaming, run a brush through my hair 'cause there ain't gonna be a shower, lessons, preschool "school" crafts, drama queen throwing a fit again, etc., etc., etc........


Such a relaxing day. Not that we did nothing - just that it wasn't the same structured push to achieve feeling. We read and ate and crafted and enjoyed the weather. There was even some screaming here and there. But we didn't 'push' to get lessons in. And I felt like I could breathe.... :-D
But we learned soooooo much this year that I almost can't believe it! Here is a rundown of our goals and accomplishments.


Jefferson - Grade 1
Reagan - Preschool
Adam -Toddler on the Move
Lincoln - Just Introduced to the World

  • started 1st grade with phonics, reading, Spelling Workout A, and RightStart Math B.
  • his penmanship started strong and improved through daily copywork.
  • worked hard from August until November learning to read
  • learned that phonics is "not fun, Mommy!" (my most frustrating subject thus becomes his most frustrating subject - I must work on my patience and encourage him more); we struggled to remember rules and 'decode' long words even though he could read well
  • learned that math is "my favorite!"; we covered money, place value, addition (2 and 4 digit), word problems, geometry, reading time & graphs, measurements, fractions; his confidence grew with fun games and manipulatives
  • learned to read!! Began the year with "Max and the Cat" reader and now reading "The Indian in the Cupboard" because he 'wants to'; this skill has been the biggest improvement in how homeschool works for he and I - it's amazing and I'm so excited for him; I use this to remind him of just how far he's come in one year
  • learned that grammar can be fun but also can be boring; doesn't really understand the memory work that is required; I've found that he doesn't really realize how much he's learned here either; covered 1st half of FLL
  • history was a favorite with all it's fun activities and books and interesting people; we covered SOTW chpt. 1 to 37, Nomads to the Beginning of Christianity; J struggled learning to listen well so that he could narrate back - he improved greatly at narrating by the end of the year
  • science started out very late (didn't start until after Lincoln was born in Oct) so we didn't cover as many animals or body systems as planned and plants need to be covered casually over the summer; learned lots through living books and observation (butterflies, caterpillars, ants, robins, bunnies, hermit crabs, frogs, our own bodies)
  • spelling was frustrating before Jefferson was reading fluently but after taking a break from SWA he began to really enjoy the lessons and completed SWB by year end; I still feel that he needs to review the last 1/4 to 1/2 of SWB next year however; after considering other books, I've decided to stick with Spelling Workout since he enjoys them
  • he discovered that he can handle simple dictation since he has learned so much from reading, grammar, phonics, and spelling
All I can say here is that she has grown by leaps and bounds in just this year, as have her daddy and I! There is so much to write about her that it'll have to wait for another post. I am soooo proud of her and thankful for the wisdom God has given to us in dealing with her!

This is the year he has begun to find his voice! We thought that he would never talk but thankfully has begun to try harder to communicate with us. His willingness along with speech therapy has resulted in less tantrums and frustration and a happier boy. He also loves to be in the room or involved when the older two are learning.

What a great year!! The LORD has blessed us immensely and given us such wisdom and guidance. He knows exactly what each of us needs and I am so thankful to Him. I've never learned so much myself. I'm so happy for the kids and I'm looking forward to the great things we will learn next year!

Monday, June 9, 2008

27, 26, or even 25 would do!

I don't know about you all but I just can't get enough hours in a day! I find myself thinking frequently of what I could do with just a couple more hours (and I'm not talking about bloggin' folks! LOL). There are just so many books that I need to read -resources that could help me teach better. So many goals and plans to determine. And lessons to lay out. And this doesn't even touch that fact that I'd give my left arm for a couple of hours to scrapbook the beautiful photos of my four babies (although that may be difficult with just one arm)!

I look back even to last year and think upon how much easier it was with only one kindergartener and 3 kids. This is the year that I was forced to realize that it was time for me to grow yet again with the start of 1st grade and the addition of baby #4. I thought that it was never going to work with only 24 hours in each day! But God has again shown His perfect plan in how He has stretched me (and my poor tummy also- now doomed to be a 'muffin top' if I don't get onto those Pilates anytime soon!) to be able to handle the new responsibilities! Hindsight is so much clearer to show me His grace, guidance, love, and faithfulness as we draw near to the end of this school year.

And thenI remember that 24 hours is just enough for the task He has given me. Scrapbooking can wait....the babies are growing before my very eyes.

I only hope that I can learn to be a better steward of the time I have been given...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Week 33

As spring has sprung, I have flung my weekly checklist out and feel like we are just pushing through to the end. One more week of 'official' school work - 2 weeks short of my goal. Just can't do it any more this year! We're not accountable to the state yet and I truly feel that we've met our goals for 1st grade. In fact I can't believe how much Jefferson (and Reagan too) has learned in one short year!

So for this past week, we crammed a lot in since dh was away on business ALL week (oi!).

Phonics - reviewed vowel digraphs we've been learning over the past 3 weeks (CCC B:3); his spelling skills are greatly improving w/ the use of this book - each day we spell 5 words related to the topic of the day (ie. vowel digraph 'oa') and 5 sight words (ie. 'there', 'from', etc.)

Spelling - SWB lessons are finished!! He is so excited to complete this book!

Reading - didn't read aloud to me as much as I would have liked this week - too much good weather to pull him away (I'm really going to have to structure this for him over the summer); he is always asking me to read him the Nature Reader - what's more interesting than learning about insects, after all? Every time the book suggests that he observes the ant or earthworm, etc, he's out with his magnifying glass and bug box!

Writing - more copywork in FLL, SOTW, HS, and Copywork for Boys; began simple, 1-sentence dictation (CCC B:3) which at first made him nervous ("I can't do that, Mommy!") but then built his confidence as it made him realize that he knows how to spell, capitalize, and punctuate, as well as how to proofread!

Grammar - 5 FLL lessons covering pronoun review, a new poem to memorize (see "God's Beautiful World" on the right sidebar), and an Aesop's Fable -The Boy Who Cried Wolf (he's always excited about these); reviewed definition and example of homonym

Math - Jefferson was so excited to finish his 1st grade math! These last few weeks covered intro to subtraction, more geometry, and learning to read and make bar graphs (which surprisingly caused a little trouble for him); year-end test is next Monday and then we play all the card games over the summer to keep skills fresh

History - Not going to get finished with SOTW 1 (we're at chpt. 35 out of 42) but I really don't want to just shuffle quickly through it so that's ok; we learned about early Chinese warring states, the Great Wall, and Chinese calligraphy (he asked over and over to try to paint the Chinese characters - they turned out great but didn't scan well, so no eye candy for you!). Jefferson loves the Roman Empire - it really gets his imagination going about their army, expansive empire, gladiators, the invention of concrete, pipes/aqueducts, and the Colosseum. He played with his toy amphitheater/chariots and I let him watch bits (and I mean, tiny, tiny supervised bits) of Russell Crow as the "Gladiator" just to give him an image of the costume, uniforms, and armor.

Science - still not where I wanted to be here! We've learned about the muscular and nervous system these past 2 weeks but still haven't added these parts to the bodies on the wall. I think I'll just have to touch on the other systems since I need to get plants introduced this summer (we'll be changing it up by doing a lapbook for this subject) also. Thanks goodness this subject isn't primary or I'd be feeling guilty. We didn't quite meet our goal but I'm definitely pleased with how much Jefferson learned this year!

This week I continued to work on penmanship with the vowel 'I'. We practiced a couple of coloring worksheets to repeat and remind her of 'top to bottom' and 'green to red' (left to right) rules. Again I was reminded to keep it very slow and low key in order not to frustrate her. She responds so very well when I over emphasis every correct stroke! You must know that this is new to me -I am not a natural-born encourager (just ask dh! I'm always telling him I shouldn't have to praise him for taking out the trash since it's his job, right? Wrong! I'm learning...really.) So it takes reminding myself to praise her excessively in these early stages so that she doesn't feel that she's learning but rather, just pleasing Mommy. (I'm finding myself just as thrilled with her work as I was when Jefferson was beginning - just the rewards of teaching them, I guess!)

Although her attention span isn't very long, Reagan has enjoyed at least listening to Jefferson's science lessons -especially the human body. She loves moving and stretching to observe the different parts, singing "Dem Bones, Dem Bones", touching, tasting, feeling, etc. She really likes putting the parts on her body on the wall too!

For simple math lessons this week, she colored a "Number 1" sheet (since we were working with straight lines in penmanship). With play dough (her favorite sensory toy) she rolled and cut out numbers 1 through 10 with cookies cutters and lines them up for me. Still she struggled with directionality of the 3, 5, and 9, but this is not surprising (now that we know her a little better). I had her fix them herself by asking her to finger trace her large numeral flashcards first and then look at the dough again. I've also found recently that she will group things into 2 - especially her spankings (it seems to calm her down to for her to say "So it's 2 plus 2?" as she holds up 4 fingers prior to the swats). So when I get out the geoblocks or square tiles, I've been asking her to sort them into groups and/or color. Grouping is what Right Start teaches and will help her particular learning ability.

I think that I'm starting to get the hang of thinking of more right-brained techniques to use to reach Reagan better. She enjoys them much more since her attention span is short and they seem to be helping things to stick in her mind better. I'll have to plan better for next year (kindergarten) since I am just throwing loose activities together right now.

Wow - I guess I should get rid of dh for a whole week more often if it means we'll get more done in school! Or maybe I'm just getting more and more comfortable with my new job - teaching! Next week will be full of science and history as we play a little bit of catch up before the year truly "ends."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I just LOVE spring!

Dh was mowing this week when a flurry of baby bunnies went running forth in front of him. Apparently our grass was long enough that the momma rabbit felt it to be an appropriate place to build a nest! We found 2 babies sitting still in the grass and thought they wouldn't be safe to leave there (no - we didn't let the kids see the one that got 'eaten' my the lawn mower!).

So I picked one up to let the kids see it before I put it someplace safer. It was calm for a bit and then freaked and started screaming (literally) for its momma. Sure enough she shows up from next door to rescue her babe. In the mean time, the kids got to see these beautiful, and intricately delicate little creatures!

Monday, June 2, 2008

More about this Mom24

(Me - age 5 1/2)

I am - happy in the Lord, a wife, a mother of 4, a sister, friendly, shy.

I want - to become more like Christ each day; my children to know the Lord as their Savior too!

I have - an awesome family! But I also have an old clarinet, a strange collection of stuffed animals (all pigs), and too many useless college textbooks in the basement (anyone need a text on 'Reinforced Concrete Design'?).

I wish - I could be consistent in my quiet time and in my parenting. I wish that I could hug my kids all day long!

I hate - not getting enough sleep - it ruins the next day for everyone in the family.

I miss - my brother (and family in Phoenix - oh if they could live next door!), my sister (in VA), my bil and sil (in VA), and my church family from CBC (Phoenixville, PA).

I fear - being the center of attention/performing in front of people (I once actually hid in the bathroom at a state music audition in high school!). I also fear that someone will find out that I'm not that smart, so I often refrain from debate or conflict.

I feel - very deeply and tumultuously and am often called moody (I find this to be a character flaw and would rather be more even-keeled).

I hear - the emotion in people's words. I am empathetic and want to fix/help them.

I smell - BREAD baking across the street at the Pepperidge Farm factory. It really does NOT help my cravings!

I crave - bread (thank you Pepperidge Farm!) and cookies (too dip in milk) - story of my life! Also coffee - I just love it!

I search - for better ways to teach and reach my kids. Some days I feel like it's all I think about and I live on the web searching.... I would probably do better to pray a bit more!

I wonder - how God can love me so very, very much! It amazes me...

I love - God, the Word, my dh (he's the very best hubby!), my children (so beautiful), my friends (so valuable). These are the most important things to me!

I dance - to Miss Patty Cake (oh, how many times will we watch these videos?) - but only because there's nothin' more cute than 3 kid bums 'dancing'!

I sing - praise music. I LOVE traditional hymns too because they are often so full of powerful truth and they also remind me of my childhood. "It Is Well" is my most favorite. I also sing 'nite-nite' songs - these have the added benefit of a warm child's body nestled close to mine....

I cry - when my dh yells at me because it is so rare that it shocks me into crying. I usually deserve it though, when I have pushed him too far or startled him (I can be very loud - yeah, I can hear those who know me rolling eyes about this).

I don't always - get as much accomplished as I want to or treat my family as I should.

I wish I had - more time so that each child could get more of it. I could also use a few more board games - can never have too many of those!

I write - when I have too - it is not a skill of mine. I do not write poetry.

I never - do risky things (like parachuting) or athletic things (I'm not that coordinated!)

I listen - to Sarah Groves, Third Day, Cold Play, Mozart, Vivaldi. Also I listen to whiney children (part of my job description ya' know).

I wish I could - play the piano well enough to gather the family around for worship; use a camera as an artistic medium; eat cookies and milk (*sigh*)

I need - more time with the Lord and my family. Oh... and some more coffee...

I found this meme over at Pennless Writer and thought it was a good way for you all to get to know me a bit more. If any of you decide to do this meme please drop me a comment and let me know so I can come and get to know more about you!