Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reagan's 1st Grade Progress

It's truly been forever since I've taken the time to journal about Reagan's progress this year in 1st grade.  It really has just been such a different 1st grade than Jefferson had....don't know why I thought it would be the same considering their uniqueness and the events of this year - lol!

Our year got off to a rough start last August while I tried to balance Jefferson's heavier 3rd grade load (and new Sonlight curriculum package and growing disrespectful independent attitude) with Reagan's learning differences (namely her auditory processing delays and sensory make the mommy crazy bullheadeness irritations).  After four weeks, we ended up placing Jefferson in a local (but not quite local enough - next door would be nice - lol!) Christian school so that I could give Reagan focused attention at what could be a critical year for her developmentally.  DH and I truly felt that she would end up farther and farther behind if we didn't help her learn to concentrate and learn to be disciplined about her school work and to work through her struggles.  We felt that she was being hugely overshadowed by Jefferson and the attention that he often stole throughout the day (not purposely - just a part of his "golden retriever" type personality).

I'm so glad to see how well Reagan is doing at this point in the year!  She has come to be a great helper as she has gotten to step up and be the "oldest" child during the day, which builds her confidence and spills over into her lessons.  She is still very particular - to the point of perfectionism with her penmanship and with her lessons.  But THIS momma understands THAT - lol!  I do my best (snortchucklechuckle - as I bite  my lip into pieces!) to patiently encourage her past it rather than try to shove her through (she will NOT be shoved people!).  I've even come to enjoy the quality of work that her perfectionism produces and have learned to give her time limits so that she doesn't sit indefinitely working on one task. 

Reading is now exciting for her!  She is finally moving over that 'hump' from struggling to read one word at a time to reading more smoothly into readers.  Dr. Suess and anything with a princess in it are her favorites.  She recently purchased a Littlest Petshop book and shocked us by reading almost all of it by herself (there were some big words in there!)! This has to be the most exciting part of teaching someone to read.  It is such a joy to see her choose to sit down and read a book for me.  But my favorite has to be when she reads books to her little brothers!!!  So wonderful....and it makes her so proud to be 'helping' me to 'teach' them!

Her penmanship is improving in leaps and bounds!  What used to be like pulling teeth for me has become something that she enjoys because she realizes how well she is doing and how much she is learning (my goal is to keep her from being anxious about it and to move more quickly past something that isn't 'perfect' in her eyes).  Simple grammar (capital letters for sentence starting and proper nouns; punctuation; indenting in letter writing; identifying nouns) is starting to become familiar to her through her copywork and she is developing better stamina in her hand.

(The final line is "To live again a butterfly")

Her spelling lesson is part of her Christ Centered Curriculum phonics program - she learns one phonegram (ie. "a consonant silent e" or "ai" to represent the /a/ sound) per lesson and practices spelling words which use it (in addition to words she's already learned).  Because of her 'struggle' to write perfectly, I have had to switch her to tracing the word in a sand tray rather than have her use a pencil.  This small change has helped her stop stumbling over the penmanship and improve in the spelling - she loves it!

For grammar we have finally started using First Language Lessons (Wise Bauer) when I told myself that we wouldn't.  With her literal mind, I figured she wouldn't be able to wrap her mind around the abstraction of grammar - yet.  I am thankful that she seems to be at a point where she is comprehending it!  I do NOT enjoy the way it is presented in CCC, however, and do not wish to purchase another program.  Because she is 'ready,' I have been able to run more rapidly thought the first FLL lessons than I did with Jefferson (what a struggle grammar was for him!!).  MY perfectionism would tell me that we are 'behind' here (as I 'compare' to Jefferson or others) but what I've learned about homeschooling and how I'm learning to better understand my students allows me to realize that we are right where she needs to be!  Yay - progress for teacher Mommy! 

I'm seeing progress in her narration ability just these last months as well.  This can be a difficult skill for some children and I think that it's important to choose the right reading/picture for them to narrate back from.  This is doubly important for Reagan due to her auditory processing delays.  Learning to listen (not just hear) the words read to her and process the information as well as formulate her own words to tell it back was quite hard.  We had started with daily reading from the Little House on the Prairie series.  She liked these but found the chapters very hard to narrate back and soon I could see her body language telling that she was dreading our reading time.  So we recently started with a book from the Millers series, Storytime with the Millers, which is comprised of short chapters based on clear lessons about godly character traits.  These have been short and clear and Reagan is enjoying them much more! The added benefit being that her heart is soft enough to gain wisdom from the Spirit in these chapters as well! My plan is to work on different ways for her to narrate, including verbally, acting out, or drawing a picture. I'm hoping this will make it more interesting for her and help her to listen better.

Math is by far her favorite subject!  Again - a surprise to me (yeah - I'm always surprised by the speed at which my kids learn - shocks me everytime and adds to the joy of getting to teach them!) since I initially thought that her little nuansances and perfectionism would delay her actual learning here. But here she is - flying through the same awesome curriculum that Jefferson used (I'd bought another more "right-brained" program but was so pleased with AL RightStart that I knew it would work for her).  As fast as she is picking it up however, I find her perfectionism creep in and do it's best to ruin a lesson if she finds that she can't give me answers quickly enough (in her mind - not by my requirement!).  Again - I'm working on teaching her that it's the learning & repetition that matters and not perfection!

But here's where I've gone so astray from my last journey through 1st grade: history & science!  My plan this year was to combine The Story of the World Vol1 with Mystery of History for history but I'm not sure I'm liking MOH so much (for this age and this student - it doesn't hold her at all). We've been trying to hit one chapter of SOTW each week as well as one day with mapwork/coloring sheet.  However, it always seems that this gets pushed if time gets tight and we are vastly behind schedule - certainly not going to complete SOTW by June.  My problem with this is that Reagan needs continuity to gain a feel for the flow of history (as well as the fact that my almost OCD can't stand to be not on schedule - lol!)!  We find ourselves in the same boat with science.  Just wrapped up a unit on the human body (which she loved!) but not sure what to work on next (holy crow! Think of that: me - with no lesson plan!  You flexibile, laidback mommas would be so proud!).  Most likely we will continue with some more nature study as we head into spring (she loves this and seems to have a knack for observation and for sketching).  I plan to just flex with it (while biting my lip to hold back my own perfectionism) and remind myself that she is excelling well in her basics (applause for me please, those who know me and my love of non-flexing)!

(Looking for a 'cloud' to form at the top of the jar -what focus, huh?)
(Sketching seeds pods we found outside)

(A white blood cell enveloping a 'bad' bacteria)

(We all know how hard it is to do 'detail' work with watercolors!)

(A bit of geography in every lesson)

As far as teacher planning goes this year, I have been far from diligent myself!  The calendar that I planned for us has been shredded due to Jefferson's time in 'away' school - everything now rotates around that (I hate to admit how stifling it feels to me after 3 years of a more flexible homeschool schedule).  If he has a snow day, so does she - even though I would normally have gotten lessons done in the morning.  I had a week break planned for this next week (2/22-2/26) - for some time to regroup, photocopy, re-adjust the schedule according to her progress.  But then the double blizzard hit, brought Jefferson AND dh home and no lessons got done for Reagan.  I'm a bit bummed that I didn't use the time better (I focused on our food prep & research and making Valentine's instead) because now I'm gonna have to stuff my planning into a couple weekends instead (I don't like to have to ask dh to deal with our labor intensive food plan).

But now that Reagan is progressing so well and has settled into the flow of homeschool in our house, I feel that I need to focus on diligently bringing her along as far as she can get in the next few months.  I plan on schooling through the summer (for 1st grade - that's light enough and leaves plenty of play time) but will have to balance that with Jefferson being home daily on his break.  I guess the best thing to do is to plan a summer 'school' for him as well - he's always happier when he's busy.

Goodness, what a post!  Glad to have caught my dear blog up a bit on Reagan's 1st grade progress thus far and I'm hoping that I can do so on a more regular basis - kind of get back into the swing of weekly reports.  But now....back to teacher planning for me!


Monica said...

Yay!! It looks like your girl in flourishing and growing in many ways. Great work by the both of you! Isn't it amazing how a child's mind develops in their own way and time? May God continue to bless your efforts.

Becky @ BoysRuleMyLife said...

HOLY SMOKES! Now I feel really behind! LOL! How do you accomplish so much? I feel like I'm doing good just to get reading, writing,math, and bible in! Good job, Mom! And Good job, Reagan!

What did you think of Sonlight for the time you used it? I'm really thinking about it for next year (2nd grade). I think it'll be a jolt for me, though, since I've really given myself some slack for being our first year HSing. I've got to get better at managing my time! AGH!

But as for this post, WOW! She seems to really be blossoming! Again, good job, Mom! :)

Andrea said...

Becky - don't feel 'behind' based on someone else's progress - that's what causes stress! Rae is no where near the same place that Jefferson was but I know that she's where she should be - for her. I feel a bit bummed that I haven't been able to manage more history/science but I'm not gonna stress about that either. She is enjoying school and learning quickly so that's good enough! Reading, writing, math, and bible are the essentials so you're right on track too!

As far as SL - I used it for 4 weeks (Core 3 for 3rd grade) and LOVED it! It did require a bit of advance prep for me cuz I wanted the lesson plan in my HST+ instead of just on paper. I'm not sure that I would use it for 1st or 2nd gr - I love our CCC phonics program cuz it's very in depth. But the great thing about SL is the BOOKS - great, great books! You can always add your own 'touch' to it if you want. It certainly does help to unify the teacher's work by planning the lessons for you! I don' think that you can go wrong with SL but don't think that there's a 'perfect' program out there either - you have to make ANY program your own for YOUR student.

Hope that helps!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Looks like this year has been a year of growth for little gal AND mommy :)

What progress and blessings for you all!

3 for Me! said...

My daughter is also doing 1st grade!! And we are using similiar resources.. including FLL, SOTW (but we're in the 1st book) and biology... so we're doing the human body:)

Soo much fun! And it sounds like you all are doing a great job:) We (like you) won't be finished SOTW by the end of the traditional school year.... but I'm kind of extending it into the summer and having history shape our weekly reading in the summer months;)

oh, and we recognized the caterpillar poem:) We didn't copy it but we have it memorized... all of us... LOL!!!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

What a great report! I'm so glad to hear that R is progressing and you sound like you both are enjoying school more this year. Obviously you made the right choices, all the way around.
Love all the pics, too, your kids are adorable! We've GOT to try to make a cloud - 5yo A would love that!
Thanks for sharing your journey and being honest and vulnerable!

argsmommy said...

I'm always amazed at how much we have in common. Wish we could sit down for a cup of coffee -- we'd have plenty to talk about. I think our 1st grade girls would get along beautifully as well, maybe even reciting The Caterpillar together. : )

Looks like a great year!