Friday, May 29, 2009

Our last full week!!

This was our last full week of this school year! We wrapped up our Spanish lessons and our history book. Riley finished her math book as well!

Now we move on to "Sun and Fun"! Each day this summer that the kids don't have a camp/VBS, they are responsible for reading and math. Austin and Riley each have a literature book to wrap up as well. Each day they get a "sun" for doing their work, and they can trade in the suns for various things. Last year it was Webkins and Littlest Pet Shop for the Reece, Ice Cream and Earrings for Riley, and 12 packs of Soda for Austin! I'm not sure what will be on the list for this summer yet, but I will spend next week working on that!

Next week, Austin has day camp for middle schoolers through the local Autism support group. He's never done this before, and I'm a little nervous about it. The girls have VBS at the church where Reece went to preschool (where our family has done VBS for the last 9 years). I'll have my mornings to myself! I wonder what I'll do with my time?! :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reece's narration

After Reece read a story from her reading book today, I asked for a narration. She turned the tables on me and asked me if I could type it out for her while she narrated. This is something she's seen me do with Austin and Riley a bunch, so I guess it doesn't surprise me that she would want to do it!

Unlike Austin and Riley, Reece has had the benefit of my better understanding of the narration process. With the big kids, I treated narration as a "test" of their comprehension. If they didn't give me the facts from the passage, I would prompt them and interrupt them until they gave me what I wanted to hear. As a result, narration ceased being an enjoyable time of sharing and became and anxiety-ridden experience. It was miserable for all of us. And it has taken a couple of years to overcome those memories, especially for Austin. He is not as hesitant with narration, but it doesn't flow out of him like when he's narrating a Nascar race or a baseball game (examples I use to show him how great of a narrator he is, when he is criticizing his lack of remembering what he thinks I want him to remember).

I wanted to share Reece's first narration that she had me type for her! It's very flowing, and not only does it hit the facts of the story, she ties it in to her own personal life! (And she added the last line with a huge grin on her face... she thinks she's quite funny! She said it sounds like she's an audiobook!)

“We want a dog.” from Days Go By.

The story that was called “We want a dog” was just like Riley. She wants a dog so badly. Days Go By is a good story. There was one story where Rachel wasn’t getting along with Susan. And the next story is called “Just one dog.” I wonder what that’s going to be like. I hope it’s very, very good.

So the story about them is this: All of them want a different kind of dog. Peter wanted a big dog that will pull his wagon and him. Andrew wanted a small dog that will play with him. And Rachel wanted a dog that is brown and white that will walk to her in the house. But their dad said, “Just one dog,” which is the next story.

And here are the other words: Peter said in the story, “I can have a big dog that will pull my wagon and me. And Andrew can have a little dog that can play with him.” I’m the narration girl and my name is Reece. Thank you for listening to this.

Personally, I think it's pretty special! :) I may be biased!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The last week of May!

It's hard to believe this month is nearly over! And with it, the majority of our lessons will be over for the year! We have one more chapter of history and one more Spanish lesson. We are taking a hiatus from Latin and will resume it in the fall. Riley finished her science book last week, but Austin still has another couple of lessons before he is done with his. Riley will finish her math book tomorrow, and she'll work on math application for the summer. Austin and Reece will continue to work through their math books this summer - Austin has 6-7 lessons left (each take a week or so, depending on how he understands the material), and Reece has a lot of lessons left in hers, but that's OK.

During the summer, we will continue reading and math. I've already explained our plans for math. For reading, Riley is finishing up Black Beauty, and then I will allow her to pick her summer reading (within reason LOL). Austin just started a version of King Arthur written by Roger Lancelyn Green, and I expect that to take him awhile to complete. Reece is reading in her Pathways Reader, but I will also get some easy reading books out for her.

June will be filled with camps and VBS, and All-Stars for Austin. Austin is also going on a fishing trip with daddy, papa, and a friend and his dad in June. July is much more relaxed! The only thing we have planned is VBS at our own church, but that will take place in the evenings. I'm hoping we'll spend July and August at the pool!

I'm considering making our first "official" day of lessons this year to be in September. With June as busy as it is, and the pools being open and nearly empty in August after the schools start back, it doesn't make sense to start in August like we usually do! But that totally goes against the grain... against the norm... can I do it?? :)

I guess that remains to be seen! LOL It's been hard enough to plan next year's lessons going against the grain... I'm too much of an 'in the box' thinker! I'm working hard on that, though!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Recital Weekend

See you on the flip side! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Free Reading"

Reece's reading has really taken off lately! This week, she decided she was ready to join her siblings in "Free Reading"! Free reading is when the kids choose a book from a list I've prepared... but they don't have to narrate this book. It's just for their enjoyment! Well, this week, Reece took her book, and told me she was going to do HER free reading! :) And she did! She finished the first book in the Pathways readers series!! Way to go, Reece!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Austin's 1st Written Narration

Today, after 18 months of practicing oral narration, I decided to have Austin do his first ever written narration. He is using Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin for his narration practice. These are short, simple stories about famous people or events, and I find they are very conducive to narration. Today's story was Bruce and the Spider. His narration follows, with his exact spelling and punctuation. (He wrote it in cursive)

There was once a king of Scotland named Bruce. Bruce was in troble because he was at war with England. One day Bruce was under a shed when he saw a spider trying to spin a web. He saw that it failed six times but then on the seventh try it succseeded. Then he thought I will try a seventh try, and he did and won the war.

I am very pleased with this first attempt!! We won't be correcting the spelling or punctuation on this first effort, but it gives me ideas of things to work with in his copywork and dictation! In the future, once he has a couple of years of written narration under his belt, we'll edit, revise, and improve one of these written narrations every few weeks. For now, I'm just pleased to see him get words and ideas onto paper!

Weekly Preview (5/11-5/17)

This is quite possibly our busiest week of the year! Here's what we are looking forward to:

Monday - lessons, jogging, Riley's tap class, Austin's baseball game

Tuesday - lessons, jogging, Riley's ballet and jazz classes, my book club

Wednesday - lessons, field trip

Thursday - lessons, jogging, Reece's ballet class, dh's gig rehearsal

Friday - lessons, Austin's baseball game, (jogging after the game, hopefully)

Saturday - dress rehearsal, Austin's baseball game, (jogging if it didn't happen Friday)

Sunday - 2 dance recitals, dh's out-of-town gig

And then next Monday is Austin's 13th birthday!

WOW! That's a lot! :) I wish things could be spread out a little bit! Oh well, we do this every year and every year we survive! Check back next week for pictures!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Encouragement in a tangible form

I'm the type of person who requires a great deal of encouragement and affirmation. I didn't used to be this way, or at least, I don't think I used to be this way. Maybe it's homeschooling or parenting in general that triggered it? School always came easy to me, and when other things didn't come easy to me, I could just stop (softball? tennis? LOL). Not so with parenting! And, in the last 7 years, homeschooling.

God has been gracious to me and keeps sending me little "whispers" of encouragement. You can read some of these on this very blog! It lasts, and then I slip into my old habit of getting discouraged. I worry about what the "world" thinks of me and my children, and of the job I'm doing with them. I worry about the kids' future, and if what I'm doing is going to mean that they won't one day have happy, productive lives. I know in my heart that God has a plan for their lives - it's a promise in the Bible! But when I get discouraged, I tend to want to rush in and do it my way. I want to take control!!

The last month or two have been particularly discouraging. I blogged last month about giving the kids the ITBS, and how proud I was of Austin. He was really working hard on the test, for the first time. And he was struggling with all he didn't know on the test, but he wasn't having meltdowns. His resilience is really coming along!

I didn't even look at his answers to see how he was doing. I didn't want to know. I felt like a failure, and I was determined that I had to change something so that he could have a fighting chance at a future. Homeschooling in a Charlotte Mason way must be too old-fashioned to work, and I'm not doing a good job at it anyway, right?

I started working on next year's plans in anticipation of the homeschool convention and I would spend hours at the computer planning, only to change those plans to something more traditional and familiar. I spent hours in tears.

Last night I found this scripture:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do." James 1: 5-8 NLT

That's so much like me, it's kind of scary. In fact, when my husband saw it posted in my Facebook status this morning he messaged me and said, "Wow, that sounds just like you!" LOL It's not something I'm proud of at all, but I do worry so much about "the world". I even saw in my notes from a seminar given by Sonya from Simply Charlotte Mason where she spoke of "Fear of the World" (what the world expects, how everyone does everything), and I had circled it and underlined it in my notes. So this is nothing new for me - but I don't WANT to do this anymore.

Then today I get the ITBS scores in the mail. It's almost as if God was saying, "Fine, do you want it in writing?? Here you go! This is what I'm wanting you to do with those children, and yes they are making progress, and now you can't pretend like you're imagining it!"

And as that passage reminds me... I have no right to expect anything from God. I waver and I doubt and I question and I try to take all the control all the time. I spend so much more time caring what strangers think than what I feel like the Lord is trying to tell me. But He has so much patience with me. I don't even deserve it! He just keeps trying to reassure me.

I'm writing all of this, not so much to boast about the test scores. Yes, they were good... there was marked improvement in many areas!! But that's not my reason for sharing all of this in a very public forum. I'm writing this to remind MYSELF that God loves me. He has a plan for my children that is so much more than I could ever dream up on my own. I need to remember all of this so that I won't fall into despair and fighting blindly for control.