Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Now that we are in week two of "Fall" (if you can call mid-August fall), we picked up a couple more subjects again. Yesterday, in addition to spelling, math, and literature (i.e. Harry Potter), I officially started Cassia on phonics a la The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. Wow, what a difference in waiting until a child actually shows you that they are ready instead of forcing it upon them at "the right age" and then just assuming they'll pick it up as you go. They don't. Much, much, much easier to just let them learn and explore letters, sounds, and words via Starfall, Bob Books, Dr. Seuss, and whatever else strikes their fancy and then pick up the formal rules and regulations once they are already reading a little bit. She and I whizzed through about 5 lessons yesterday and another three or four today. She's reading confidently and enthusiastically, unlike Cameron who did those same lessons grudgingly and dragging his feet the whole way.

We also added science back in. We studied light and transparency and did a couple of really fun activities holding different materials up to a light bulb and qualifying how much light came through. We've agreed to do science Mondays, Wednesdays, and then Fridays if we have time.

History is also back on the table. It had been so long, I completely forgot where we were, lol. Turns out we were on the Byzantine Empire. I still have no scanner though, so I'm going to really have to think ahead to go out and copy the maps and coloring pages at Staples or something. I'm also going to have to get my butt back to the library soon too. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and drag everyone in there because I can't imagine when I'm going to have a chance to go by myself. DH has been working weekends and will continue to do so until mid-September. I hate taking the little ones in, but I also hate not having that resource.

Cassia decided that we also needed to add grammar back in to our days. She really missed the poems and silly little exercises in First Language Lessons. Sure, why not. I'm not going to argue that one!

So that was our day today and yesterday. Cameron spent all of his free time today making up a golf board game. He drew 18 holes and wrote the distance and par. He made a bunch of little cards too, but I'm not sure how you play yet. I came up with the idea that you could hit little Lego dots along the courses to get your score. I hope we can play after dinner.

Cassia is having a major crisis at the moment. She was all gung ho about the her schoolwork today until we got to math. She kept saying that she didn't want to do it, so I put it off until last but she is just sitting there crying and pouting over a handful of subtraction problems that would take her all of 10 minutes if she would just do them. I've tried everything: walking her through them; sending her outside for a 5 minute exercise break (She refused to exercise too. She just sat next to the sandbox wimpering.); giving her the option to clean her room instead; telling her that we weren't leaving the house until they were done even though she has a soccer game tonight. I just don't know what to do. After all this fussing, I don't feel like I can say, "Fine, don't do it." I don't like being manipulated. Greyson does enough of that on his own. He will just flat out refuse to do something he doesn't want to. He gets a little leeway with that because he's three, but I'm getting less and less tolerant of the behavior because it is getting out of control. So, in order to show everyone that I am to be taken seriously, I don't feel like I can give in here. I'm not being mean or getting angry; I'm just refusing to let it slide. Probably a battle that was not worth fighting from the start, but I'm kind of bound to it now.

We have to go pick up our meat order now and it's a bit of a drive. I think I will make her take the math with her and do it in the car. My friend, K, says that her kids can always focus better in the car for some reason. Less distractions, I guess, and something about the buzz and rumble of the road. We'll see. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Welcome to Fall!

I can't believe it is mid-August and school is back in session already. I mean, the way the weather's been it's hardly seemed like summer at all! One week of 100 degree weather, two weeks of 60 degree weather, and then one week of 100 degree weather all over again by which point my kids are all sick from all the temperature changes! But at least this means it will once again be safe to go to the park and the library.

I haven't blogged the last couple weeks, not necessarily from flakiness, but because it was our in between Summer & Fall break. The first week of August was all about getting ready for Cameron's birthday party. It was an Indiana Jones theme and turned out to be a lot of fun. We had treasure hunts and treacherous tricycle rides where you had to dodge an onslaught of water balloons, lol. The second week of August we went camping way up high in the mountains so that we could have a clear view of the Perseids Meteor Shower. We went with several other homeschooling families that we know from 4-H. It was so fun. I definitely think it will become a yearly tradition.

In the midst of camping, we took a day off to go to the San Francisco Zoo and see the new baby chicks join the rest of the colony. Cameron is an adoptive parent of the penguins and so we had a special invite to come witness the March of the Penguins 2009. There were several news crews there and I happened to notice one of the cameramen taking special notice of my little ones. And looky, looky what I found on the internet...

Watch the video and keep an eye out for a cuter than cute Greyson near the end, chewing away on his fingers in rapt attention.

Our local elementary schools started yesterday, so I'll say we did too. ;) We started the school year out with roller skating! There were still quite a few older kids at the Tiny Tot session, so I'm guessing that a lot of the neighboring schools haven't started quite yet. Our learning experience of the day: one of our friends found a $10 bill on the ground! Rather than hoarding it to himself, he put it into the change machine and split it with his sister. She in turn split it with another girl and bought some candy which they then shared with Cassia. The boy who originally found the money used his to play a game of pool with Cameron. It was a great lesson on generosity (and division!).

After that we came home and the kids did some work on their 4-H record books which were due last week. Ooops. It took a ridiculous amount of motivating to get them started. In fact, I didn't do a very good job because they only grudgingly got through half of it. I was pretty frustrated because I thought that that was the VERY last day we could turn them in. Luckily, we had a reprieve as I had gotten the dates wrong. One more day! So today we got up bright and early (well some of us did - Greyson didn't wake up until 9:30 and Cassia didn't get up until almost 10!) and resumed work. Cameron was having a hard time motivating himself again but we switched focus and did the part of his record book that he could dictate to me, instead of writing himself. He told the story of his 4-H year and really got excited about the things he had done and what he had accomplished. That made finishing the rest up really easy. Cassia is still finishing hers as I write this.

A couple weeks ago, Cassia asked if Greyson shouldn't be learning his letters and numbers now too. I said no. I'm definitely anti- pushing preschoolers and Kindergarteners now. I kind of feel bad for all the stuff I tried to make Cameron do when he was that age, lol. Oh well, live and learn, right? Anyway, in my quest to let the Little Ones just absorb I decided that I actually had been neglecting Greyson a little bit. So I've been trying to read to him more lately and I've found that that has been attracting the big kids to my side too! :) Today I decided to officially start introducing letters to him and started reading the Cat in the Hat Beginning Book Dictionary to him. This brought Cassia to my side and she started reading it to us instead. She's really doing well with reading. I'd like to pick up phonics with her again because I think she's truly ready now to do it without getting frustrated.

We read the Aa and Bb entries and part of Cc and then they got bored and wanted to read something else. Cassia ran off to get a couple Bob books. She read one and then Greyson ran off to get his own Bob book... he came back with a Bob the Builder book! LOL. Cassia ended up reading four Bob books and I read another couple board books to Grey. We were all very snuggly and comfy. It was nice... especially because Linus was napping the whole time. ;)

Cameron wrote his spelling words and then looked up the first three. He still hates doing it, but he's much faster. I explained to him how much it's helped his spelling, and reading, and penmanship and I think he is seeing the value in the exercise a little more... rather than it just being a case of me being evil. Bwahahahaha. ;) He had spent the entire morning doing his recordbook and then playing Timez Attack for a long time, so I called that a school day. Cassia wrote her spelling words three times each. She needs to spend a little more time working on letter form, but she's doing pretty good.

We dropped off our record books, had a mini-playdate with the leader's kids, and came home to curl up with Harry Potter. We only have a few more chapters left in book three. We'll do number four, I've decided, but I'm still not sure about five. Six and seven really should wait, I think, but will Cameron let me?? He's really into them. Next we'll do something a little shorter, like Huck Finn or Treasure Island and then maybe we'll try Narnia. I'm finding that finishing up our schooling with a nice read aloud is a good motivator for me to get things done each day. Motivating Mommy is always a bonus. :)