Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
*Reagan (5.5yo - after coming inside to change from swimming): "I'm not in the mood to be dressed!"
*Jefferson (6.9 yo) while I was reading to him: "Pause it, Mommy! I have to potty!"
(Uhm, methinks we've a little too much movie time around this house?)
*Reagan's prayer after listening to Fernando Ortega: "Beer Jesus -help me have a beautiful voice like that man - and not croaky! AAAmen."
(I guess my voice must be the croaky one around here!)
For more chuckles, head over to Tiny Talk Tuesday at Not Before 7!
Monday, August 25, 2008
I bring this up because He has again shown me what I need to "hear" in my heart. When I struggle with Reagan, as I so very frequently do, and my heart is sore and my mind is tired, and I am moving toward selfishness and pity, my siblings often come to mind. I let myself think about how compliant their children are or how they handle their parenting so much more easily, yadda, yadda, yadda. This morning God was good to bring me to His Word and remind me of what He is doing in ME and take my focus off of others.
My goal should not be ease and constant peace in my daily relationship with Reagan. God is good to remind me of the work that He is faithfully doing in my heart and the character and hope that He is building in both of us. I would rather have tribulation in order that I be refined from the inside out than a lifetime of ease with a compliant daughter! I want to have godly character no matter what the Lord has to do to develop it! I am so glad that He has given me His Word to draw my eyes back up to Him....
Sunday, August 24, 2008
This past week, we had trouble sticking to our schedule. This is because I am getting use to homeschooling and to keeping things in my head as we get further into the year. I am getting a better sense for what needs to get done versus what I want to get done. This week was a "needs" week without any extra fun, crafty, or reading projects.
Tuesday was our "run all over the county" to get our farm food for the next 2 weeks, thus shoving lessons into the afternoon where I was tired and their minds weren't as sharp. But at least Adam was asleep! And somehow Jefferson got tons of time in on his Rosetta Stone Spanish. He loves to practice until he gets 100% and then show me that he has gotten farther and better than I have (I'm a slacker and choose not to shoot for 100's)! I like that he is motivated!
Wednesday was just plain gorgeous outside! Add to that the fact that I was miserable tired (doggone Olympics are causing me to miss my bedtime!) and wanted a 10am nap instead of my usual 3pm power nap, and we got nothing done in the morning. I was all kinds of behind on housework and thought we'd just do the school on Thurs. But we dug in as soon as Adam went for his afternoon nap and amazingly, it all got done again! Not the way I like to do it though, since Jefferson didn't get any breaks and dinner got pushed back. You just can't give up weather like that though - it keeps the kids growing and healthy!
Thursday we played a little catch up after a morning run to the grocery (I swear it takes me 3 or 4 trips to get our food for 2 weeks all bought and put away!). We read and read (Arthur but soon it will be Beowulf!) and walked and then did another item for our plant lapbook. Jefferson seems to be learning something from these but Reagan struggles to focus long enough to finish even these little parts. I know she's soaking something up though when she spits info back out at me when we're looking at plants in the yard. We used white carnations this week to show that colored water moves from the vase to the petals - they loved this!
Friday Reagan and I had our first interrupted lesson due to her behavior. Truthfully, she was so fussy this entire week that I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner! I was running through a listening exercise with her for phonics. When she missed one and I corrected her, she started fussing and whining. I tried to talk to her about how learning isn't where we get everything right, but where we practice and make mistakes. But she wouldn't listen and I could tell she was shutting down. I stood up and ended the lesson (with the mistake of slamming my pen down too hard) and a tantrum ensued. For some reason, however, she collected herself quickly and asked me to come finished the lesson! For those who know her, this borders on miraculous since it required her to calm herself AND humble herself. The Lord was good and we finished the lesson happily! Although I shouldn't have slammed my pen, I have decided that I will NOT even try to teach her when she is upset. I want her to associate our school time with happy learning and comfort - not stress or anger. And so far, she is pleased as punch to be "doing Kindergarten!" and I am thankful that God has given me the wisdom to be able to read her body language and keep her lessons enjoyable!
I STILL haven't completed my science plans and am starting to stress about it! I am ready to move into astronomy and I know Jefferson will love it. But the evenings and weekends keep slipping away! When I'm not catching up on the housework, I'm enjoying the kids and can't stick my back to them by sitting at my desk. And I get so tired in the evenings after dinner. I think I'm going to have to ask dh for some special time without the kids.....
But at least the Olympics are over and I can get some better sleep this week!! That will surely help. And for those who know her, please continue to be in prayer for Reagan and how we deal with her wisely and lovingly!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
This week was particularly rough and I can't figure why. She threw multiple fits each day and put me at my emotional limit.
Here is how it sometimes goes:
- I get her up from bed and she doesn't like that I ask her if she's dry (still bed-wetting her pull-up at night).
- She fusses and whines instead of answering me and I calmly tell her that I cannot listen to that type of language - I just can't hear her. If she fusses I must leave, I tell her.
- She starts throwing her head and body at being told this. So I leave (because I don't want to get angry - I don't keep my voice even if I get angry and she feeds off of my tone).
- Now she screams and throws herself on the floor and rages for a five minutes. This feel like an eternity to me, since I am waiting, knowing that I have no control! My heart is sore. Were I to spank her now, in the throws of her tyraid, it would take 3 times as long to reach her heart, if at all. And I would likely get angry. So I remind myself just to wait.....
- When she's calm I come back in and administer the consequences - calmly and with NO anger. I remind her that she didn't make a good choice by throwing a fit and should next time take a breath, pray and ask for a hug instead of throwing herself to the ground. I remind her that I love her and want to help her learn to control her anger BUT that I cannot allow that type of behavior if she chooses it.
- She apologizes (of her own choice -thank the Lord that I can tell when her heart is truly repentant), we hug and we go downstairs to breakfast. She is once again an angel, bubbling with excitement about the things she's going to do this day. But me - I'm left feeling quite raw inside from just the first tantrum of the day....I pray for the strength I will need.
Don't get me wrong - I KNOW that progress has been made with her. God really has shown us how to better deal with her, how to watch our tone of voice, how to encourage her and praise her, how to avoid antagonizing her (yes- we did use to do this! We thought that she should obey no matter what and weren't careful about how we talked to her or instructed her), how to be more consistent with her consequences, and how to help her to use words to communicate instead of only her body.
I guess that listening to her scream at.the.top.of.her.lungs for what seems like the umpteenth time in a day (as I try to shield the younger two, try not to snap at the older one in my irritation, and bite my own lip to allay anger from rising up) reminds me that we are in a process. I tend to want to be fully sanctified right now, with all my duckies (or children in this case) in a row. But the process of getting there (to God's standard, that is, not my own 'duckies in a row' standard) is just that - a process, not an end result. Oh but this is a hard lesson for me! I hope that we are at least giving Him glory in our trying to deal with her firmly but lovingly as she rants and raves.....
This is not about how she learns differently or processes what we tell her - it's just plain strong-willed rebellion, a heart issue. I could use any ideas as to how we could help her to control her anger before it becomes rage. We need to teach her this but are obviously missing something. Scripture references would be helpful too - I should try to memorize some for just these times with her. Maybe we should find a counselor who deals just with kids for her? Or one for us as parents?
Just had to unload all this. It helps to get the weight of it off my mind. Thankfully, the Lord is so faithful to soothe my heart. And again - tomorrow is a new day!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
In light of the legal situation which homeschoolers in CA have recently been facing, I just wanted to post this info from an article entitled "Homeschooling Works! California amicus brief examines the evidence" in the latest HSLDA The Homeschool Court Report magazine (Vol. XXIV, No.4, Jul/Aug. 2008).
"In Sections III and IV of this brief, Amici address the constitutional question posed by this [California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District] Court. Amici argue that it would violate due process rights of parents protected by the United States Constitution to require home-school parents to be certified, since there is no evidence that teacher certification is necessary to academic success in home-schooling. Professional studies demonstrate that home-school students exceed public school students' academic achievement whether or not their parents are certified teachers. In fact, research in the past decade shows that it is seriously questionable whether teacher certification bears any relation at all to academic achievement, whether in the home or in public schools." (emphasis mine)
Sometimes I, as an average Joe (or Jane), just need to be encouraged by info like the argument above. And also by the news below (from HSLDA E-lert system, Aug. 8, 2008) about the courts reversal of its' initial decision.
"A Great Victory for California Homeschoolers
In a unanimous decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District today ruled that “California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.”
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Our 2nd week of school went as smoothly as the 1st and I must admit that I am excited to be back into the structure of school! I tried to plan activities and daily items for us all over the 7 weeks that we had for summer, but it still was just too long without school. I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to get less done, be less focused, and less organized when I don't have a well-defined structure in place. I'm assuming that the same goes for my kids since I could see their behavior slide as the weeks went on.
This week had no hiccups (or fishbones) and with no homeschool co-op yet started, we took Thursday off to visit the dr and then some friends at a campground (you'll note however, that even though said campground was 0.1 feet from my sil house, that we did NOT visit her. Apologies have already been made and relationships mended with future assurances that such a slight will never occur again! *snickersnicker*).
Bibletime is actually going quite well! I think that Explorer's Beginnings II is going just far enough in depth for Jefferson to make him think and also stretch him to remember. This week he worked through the 1st 3 days of creation in his lessons, colored one timeline sheet and colored 3 pages of his Creation booklet. Dh is a little further along at our lunchtime bibletime (since this is just reading and prayer)- they read about Cain and Abel here.
RightStart Math C - Jefferson is still reviewing a few things from last year. We went over 3 different method to add 1 and 2-digit numbers in his head (complete the 10, adding by 9, two 5's method). One lesson was just a practice sheet (as will every sixth lesson be) and games (Corners this week - his favorite). He also finished up his Addition Chart and learned to read an outdoor thermometer. Over the next month (actually this starts September because he cannot stand to start charting something mid-month! Oy - he is just like me...) he will check the outdoor temp each day and graph it. He loves tasks like this and wanted to know "What time of day will we do it?" I was surprised that he realized this on his own!
Grammar was a bit of a struggle as again I faced the fact that the definitions of a noun, pronoun, and verb were not at all sinking in. This is frustrating to me, having taught nothing but these all last year, but at the same time - understandable. I'm realizing that he just doesn't understand the concepts well enough - so it doesn't matter if he can spit the definitions back out at me. This is where only practice will help him at this point. So we started just copying sentences and labeling the N, P, and V so he could visualize and start strengthening what he learned about them last year. FLL is such a typical left-brained auditory book! He enjoys the LLFY much better and we may just move on over to that as the year goes -we'll see.
Phonics was all about the modified vowel this week. Another example of "I haven't a clue what that means, Mommy, even though we went over it plenty last year and last week!" Now... I know that he can read these just fine, so someone tell me why does he need to know the definition of a modified vowel? We are also working on the definition of a homonym and analogy right now. He seems to be fine with reading, spelling, and phonics but struggles when it comes to fishing words out of his brain (whether it be vocabulary or narrations). Hmmmm.....I seem to have always had the same problem myself. Don't quite know how to help him here - I just try to give him starting words, suggestions, verbal cues and encourage him to use more descriptive words.
Spelling covered some suffixes and the two /oo/ sounds (book, tool). This is all from SWB, which we completed last year, but are reviewing a bit to start this year. He is doing well here and it is showing in his dictation.
Reading - his reading is becoming more fluid although it is still common for him to run right through periods and commas only to stop at the end of a line of words instead. He does very well figuring out longer or difficult words phonetically or through context. He finished up "I Wonder" from the Reading to Learn series of Christian Light Publications (I love these books! Great for new readers and full of character lessons).
For our read aloud time we began "Arthur High King of Britain" by Michael Morpurgo. This is a FABULOUS book for read aloud! I was so into it the 1st day we read it, that I had to read ahead after he went to bed! The author presents this well-know myth in a wonderful manner that draws the reader in and holds us tightly. The illustrations are beautiful. I send a thanks out again to Jennefer at Smooth Stones Academy for her suggestion of this author! Jefferson "snuck" it up to his bedroom tonight and will most likely begin reading it on his own in the morning. He narrated it back to me without even realizing that he was narrating! Even Reagan was captivated with Arthur and Merlin today (and that's saying something since her attention span is so short). Next week we'll do a narration sheet with illustration.
Writing - Our Veritas Press Classically Cursive copybooks just arrived but we didn't use them this week. I dictated 4 sentences for Jefferson to put in his "Journal". This booklet has space at the top for illustrations so I ask him to draw something nice for one of the sentences each week. I have noticed that he is writing faster and more sloppily but does better with the 2nd grade lined paper (1/2 inch) than he was doing last year.
Memory Work - reviewed "God's Beautiful World" and started reviewing the Days of Creation. I forgot to start work on our house rules this week (each on has a scripture verse with it).....
History - we read the 1st chapter of SOTW2 on the end of the ancient Roman Empire. Jefferson worked on a map and coloring sheet after looking through our DK Eyewitness Ancient Rome book (I love these books - eyecandy and great info) and a couple library books. I'm not in project mode yet, so we didn't do anything further this week.
Science - Continued to work on our plant lapbook. Although Jefferson enjoys this, the information seems to be getting to him in a piece mealed way and I wonder how effective is this method. But then again, I'm not too focused on it and we've already exhausted the books I'd planned on reading for this topic. It'll look nice when they are finished!
Spanish - Goodness, does Jefferson love this! He is learning that he needs to speak more clearly in order to enunciate in this new language. He discovered this week that he could go back to parts of the lesson and repeat them until he did better (mostly he did this with the verbal lessons). Somehow he figured out that a 100% is the best thing to get and that practice is how he can get there! Ahhhh... the joys of self-motivation! I let him know how it pleased us that he wanted to do better. I also sat down this week and caught up with him in his lessons so that I know how the Rosetta Stone program works and so I can learn Spanish too. Of course, it was much easier for me, having had a couple years in high school but I expect it will get harder soon. At least my background can help him in pronunciation and with any grammar that he just isn't understanding.
I am so excited about teaching her phonics! Again this week I was surprised by how much she already knows and how ready she is to read. I barely even had to explain to her how to blend a consonant with the vowels - these seemed easy to her. I did notice as she read, the directionality difficulties she tends toward (switching b/d, p/q etc). I will have to teach her some verbal or visual cues to fix these but I'm not concerned. We reviewed our vowel flashcards each day, read a blend chart (short a), and worked on her 1st Christ Centered Curriculum lesson (hadn't planned on using this but she seems ready!). She gets frustrated easily with her penmanship - seems to think that every letter must be perfect and holds her pencil very tightly, causing her hand to tire easily. I don't push her at all here since my focus is to get her reading, but she likes to have something to show her daddy!
RightStart Math A
Another good week for her. Lessons are still very simple as I get a feel for how long she can focus and where her strengths are. We finger painted 1, 2, 3's, reviewed dot cards, read 1 to 5 on the abacus, and worked on one tracing sheet. Below I've shown the "Mr. Thumbkin" sheet that we used last week to teach her a visual cue for writing her numbers in the correct direction. We start the 2 at his head, go around down to his feet, and then "Run away - they're stinky!" And we start he 3 at his head, go around to his "Smelly armpit" and down to his feet. She just eats this silliness up and it totally sticks in her head! The key with her is to keep it light and fun (not that Jefferson doesn't need the same thing, just that his behavior is more predictable so I never felt I had to work so hard to make it fun!)
I am thankful that we've hit the ground running this year! The Lord has blessed us and I am more than thankful! I need to tweak our schedule around a bit and be very diligent about my own sleep. I look forward to the week to come!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!
Saturday, August 9, 2008
But for my 100th post I won't bore you with my Weekly Report (even though we finished a great first week of the new school year!) or drag you through 100 Things About me (I haven't the wit to keep anyone engaged for that long, especially with info such as "I love the color green" and "I was a band geek in high school" or "My little brother is 6ft 5in tall").
Instead, a little movie fun! Sharon at Equip Academy down under tagged me (forever ago - sorry!) with this meme and I haven't had a second to get to it until now! But it seems fun and I LOVE movies so here goes!
Friday, August 8, 2008
(When things don't fit on my desk, I add a little wooden desk. Then I add another desk! I seem to need more space as I continue in this hs venture.)
Our only hitch this week was having to take Jefferson to the er for Friday afternoon. He decided to wolf his fish down for lunch (Haddock, I think it was) and got a bone stuck IN his throat! It hurt like crazy and kinda freaked me out. I mean, what do you do about a tiny little bone that you can't see and don't know if it's really there or not? Thankfully, with much prayer, we got an ENT that fished it right out (after much whaling and howling on Jefferson's part - he's not too keen on the numbing medicine in his nose/throat or the scope in his nose!) with a pair of MEGA tweezers. Now he carries it around with pride in a plastic cup! Bummer about the fish though - he was the only one of the kids that liked it to begin with....
So these weekly reports will be long since Jefferson has so many different subjects this year and since Reagan is starting Kindergarten. Boring for all of you, but good progress journaling for me.
Bibletime is something new this year. I'm glad that I waited until he could read to try a program for him (last year we just spent time reading the Bible to him). He loves the workbook format ofr Explorer's Beginners II, although I am not yet sure about it. I like that he can do it on his own. But I want him to have more of a quiet time of reading the Word, reflection, and prayer rather than a 'lesson.' I guess this is a step in getting him used to spending time reading the Bible on his own. Although I have a Big Picture Bible Timeline (Carol Eides) to use with this, we didn't have any to work on this week.
RightStart Math C is going well, starting with review and easy warm-ups. He still loves this subject and always wants to play the card games that it offers which strengthen specifuc skill sets. This week it was "Go to the Dump" (aka 'Go Fish') where, instead of matching identical cards, we had to match parts of 10 (2&8, 3&7, etc.). Easy and fun review! However, in one of our warmups I noticed he couldn't count odd numbers by 2's very quickly. So I ended up writing then in color on the board so that we could give him a little right-brain help with them. I must remember to review these so that he doesn't revert to counting.
Language Arts this year consists of grammar, phonics, spelling, reading, and writing (penmanship/cursive through copywork, and this year, dictation).
Grammar was just a couple easy lessons from FLL and also from LLVY. Last year, he was barely remembering sentence parts and if given a sentence could only pull out the nouns (this - after all year!). So I've added a little color/hands-on stuff to the lessons and also 2 short LLVY lessons per week for him to do if he has the time.
Phonics is just very short lessons from CCC. These are a review of the sound/rule, a small bit of spelling, and then one sentence from dictation using the sound.
Spelling was easy for him since he's used to the Spelling Workout series. We are going back through half of SWB again just for review - this seems to be easy for him so I guess that means he really did learn it last year! But my favorite was finding some scra.bble squares and letting the kids go to town with them! They had a blast and didn't even know they were learning. Jefferson amazed me with his spelling skills and was challenged to see how many words he could spell and connect.
Reading is going well since Jefferson has started using the microwave timer to get his reading done. This way I don't have to keep asking him to sit down with a book and he gets a good amount read each and every day. Our read alouds are another story, however. This time seems to be what gets pushed off or ignored if we run out of time. Hmmmm... I've gotta make this work better and should probably place it in a better place in the day. Thankfully, dh is reading to him at bedtime too.
Writing this year will add something new for Jefferson -cursive. But right now we are just continuing with copywork until our Veritas Press Classically Cursive copybooks. I don't quite have all our copywork planned out yet either so this week was light on penmanship.
I don't have our memory work all printed out yet. But this week we continued our work on God's Beautiful World since we didn't get it memorized last May. I have the 6 days of creation ready for next week (with a.m. bible time). I hope our new system will work better for us this year.
I don't have history quite ready for this year either. But with SOTW, we can always be learning something anyway. We took this week to read the last 4 chpts of SOTW 1 before we start the next volume. Jefferson enjoyed just listening rather than feeling like he had to accomplish something this week. I had he and Reagan close their eyes to envision some of the events - this seems to peek their interest and hold the information in their memory better! I haven't gotten to the library for the extra books for next weeks SOTW2 chpt. yet so we'll have to push history to W/F instead of M/T. Jennefer at Smooth Stones Academy has done some good work on her book list for this - thanks!
No science lessons ready yet - Astronomy is in the works as we finish up a plants lapbook. Just trying not to freak out about this and reminding myself that we have more time this year as well as a better plan than I had last year.
Only got one lesson done this week due to not having the program installed in time for Monday and missing Friday (er visit). BUT - Jefferson loved the lesson he had and went for quite some extra time with it. Rosetta Stone seems nice but I need to figure out how I can repeat lessons when he doesn't do well (at first). I would also like to do the lessons myself so that we are learning them together. I also haven't figured out how/when there will be writing lessons.
What a great start for Reagan this year! She was VERY excited to be part of school and have my undivided (well - as undivided as I could be with a 2.5yo screecher and 9mo crawler!) attention. She thrives on positive encouragement, so I laid it on as heavily as I could. We had 3 lessons this week (4 if you count the fun time on the floor Sat with the scra.bble cubes) and talked about the letter A. I know that she has learned this in pre-k, but I really want to focus on the short vowel sounds pretty hard so that she can hear them better when we start blending. We did some fun penmanship sheets with lots of finger tracing. We also named her left thumb "Mr. Thumbkin" to help her with directionality of letters and numbers (her right thumb is 'busy' holding the pencil so it can't be Mr. Thumbkin). This has been a great cue for her! When we are playing with any letter squares or cubes, all I have to due is mention him and she corrects any mistakes.
My favorite part of the week was realizing that she can already spell short vowel, 3-letter words! I only discovered this when we were playing with the scra.bble cubes on the floor. She just beamed at the praise and wanted to play all day! I think that she will be reading sooner than I thought!
We started with very simple lessons for math. She knows how to count but I want to give her a good foundation in proper directionality (her mixed dominance causes easy switching - ie. 5's and 2's) and I don't want her to do mental math by counting (this is common in kids and will slow her down later). So this week we started with review of 1, 2, 3 using dots cards and fingers and objects, and the abacus. This was easy for her but gave her confidence as she started kindergarten. I also used some of the Semple Math program to teach her about "Mr. Thumbkin" when writing these numbers. She loves the tactile lessons and responds very, very well to added silliness (ie. "Start at Thunbkin's head and go down to his shoes. Then RUN AWAY from them!" for visual cue in writing a 2)
Since we have Earobics scheduled in, it was easier for us to be consistent with it this week. This program was recommended by the psychologist who evaluated her last Feb to develop her ear and help her with sound awareness. This only takes 10 minutes each day and is fun since it's on the computer.
And there it is! An entire week late, but better late than never (hey, wait a minute - I think I've written that in more than one post this week! I guess my "No bloggin' after 10pm" rule is catching up to me.... *sigh*), right? Seriously though, I can't wait until the kids are headed off to college and they can read this post to see how far the Lord has brought them.