Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week in Review: 1/25-29

Highlights from our lessons:
Reece
  • Continues to do great with cursive!
  • Began reading Wagon Wheels, a story about a father and his sons who move from KY to KS
  • Math went SO well! I'm not sure what the difference is, but I'll take it! ;) She was adding and subtracting from 10-20
Riley
  • Working on volume in math
  • Still reading Robinson Crusoe
  • Wrapping up nouns in JAG
  • Began the first Latin review lesson, and she has that 1st declension nearly memorized finally!
Austin
  • Started lesson 6 in math, which introduces the prefixes for the metric system. I was incredibly impressed when he asked me to pause the DVD so he could go get a pencil and paper to take notes!
  • Took the test on Prepositional Phrases in AG and got a B
  • Still reading Johnny Tremain
  • Finishing up the last of the "be" verbs in Latin
Family
  • Story of the World, Volume 3 - learned about Peter the Great. Look at what Reece did to the coloring sheet I gave her to color while we listened to the chapter. Look what she wrote! It completely cracked me up! (One guy yells,"Oh you broke my chair!" and the other guy is thinking a smiley face! - look carefully and you'll see that the chair is indeed broken!)
  • Bible stories, memory work, hymn study, picture study, started a book about Mozart
  • Took a field trip to the Natural History Museum

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week in review: 1/18-1/22

The second week of lessons in the New Year - overall I'd give us a B for effort! :)

Reece is thoroughly enjoying learning cursive, and she's pretty good at it! I am using Handwriting Without Tears, via the Start Write software, just like I did with Riley and Austin. I go in order of the letters in the teacher's guide, but I have found it easier for my kids to write on a single sheet of paper rather than in a workbook. I have been pleased with her ability to read the simple words in cursive that she is writing as she learns the different letters.

She finished another book this week: The Big Balloon Race. This time her narration was absolutely fantastic! She has been struggling with narration, so I'm not sure what the difference was this week! She is nearly finished with the Sonlight Beginner 2 reading list (or whatever it is called now... this is another thing that Austin and Riley both used so it's getting dated). I looked at the 2 Intermediate list and I'm afraid that's a big step up. I'm not sure if I will go ahead and try one out, or what I will do.

Math was not nearly so successful. It's really so much deja-vu when I'm teaching her. It feels like it did with Austin. At least I know what I'm dealing with now, so I don't make the same mistakes with her as I did with him! I just patiently go back and re-teach whatever she has forgotten, and we start again.

Riley is nearing the end of her math book, and the topics involve geometry and measurement which she loves! She's really ready to start the next book because it has "5A" on the cover, even though I have told her repeatedly that it doesn't mean "5th grade" (which is her current grade). She doesn't want to be behind! LOL I started her in Junior Analytical Grammar last week and I am absolutely amazed at how well she grasps it. It is a great program, and having used it with a special needs student and a typical student, I can recommend it wholeheartedly.

She is reading a Robinson Crusoe adaptation by James Baldwin (the 50 Famous Stories Retold guy). Amazingly enough, she seems to actually be enjoying it! Spelling is going well, with her workbook curriculum. She loves it - which I guess is a bonus! I am still having her do dictation once a week, though I'm picking from her favorite literature for now so she has one less reason to complain. Her written narration continues to be fantastic. She did poorly on her Latin quiz, due to a lack of preparation. I'm hoping she won't make that mistaken again.

Austin took the lesson 5 test for MUS Zeta today and did very well. He was struggling earlier in the week with trying to go fast to see how quickly he could get his lessons completed. He was upset to find that his accuracy diminished quickly when he went fast. His spelling workbook continues to be just "OK", and I have added studied dictation back into his week. I am hoping to see some results from either of those! :)

Written narration went a bit better this week, I guess. I'm just trying to be patient for now and see if improvement comes with practice. Grammar went pretty well. I should say, well for him! Have to remind myself to compare him only to himself! :) He is reading Johnny Tremain, and the vocabulary is quite difficult for him. But we're taking it very slowly, and discussing what he has trouble with. His low vocabulary, as well as his verbal difficulty with defining words, is a huge challenge as we get move forward academically.

He worked on his fine motor skills this week, per his neurologist. I started him with Legos, and the poor guy was miserable. He told me, "I can't stand how these feel in my hands." :( Felt horrible for him. But he's such a great guy, and wants to do what is the best and what the doctor says, so he keeps at it.

As a family, we did our Bible readings from the storybook and we did our memory box every day! We also got our hymn study, composer study, picture study, and nature study done! We listened to our history chapter, did oral narrations with no bickering, and did mapwork without meltdowns. I began reading The Mystery of the Periodic Table, and it is going over ALL of our heads, but I told the kids to be patient and maybe we'll understand it soon! I got us a Chemistry DVD from the library to watch soon, and maybe that will help! LOL

So this week, it wasn't always pretty... but we got it done! Next week, I think we're going to attempt a field trip to the natural history museum before our passes expire!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My new training blog

I decided to talk more about my running and training, particularly as it pertains to the upcoming Princess Half-Marathon! So as not to bore anyone stiff, I started a new blog:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Intellectual Nourishment

"... all children, even the mentally challenged, know what they need and are desperately eager to get the (intellectual) nourishment they need. " (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6 - Modern English translation available here)

I've been thinking about this quote for the last several days, pondering it deeply. I'm getting into the heaviest part of my half-marathon training which affords me blocks of time during the week where I've got time to myself to think! ;)

Right now, I'm trying to decide if I actually believe it. Later on in the same paragraph, Charlotte adds, "This statement is not some idealistic opinion. It has been well proved in thousands of children." I am assuming she means from the PNEU schools she ran.

I'm not saying that Austin or Reece are mentally challenged, but they do have challenges when it comes to their learning that hinder their progress. Whether these challenges are due solely to the autism (or epilepsy or a combination, in Austin's case) I do not know. What I do know is that Riley seems to be the poster-child for the efficacy of Charlotte's methods. While she hasn't only been taught with CM's methods, she has spent the majority of her formal schooling years being taught at least partially with these methods. I say partially because I have had such a hard time sticking to only CM's methods especially in the area of language arts. Yet, Riley's narrations are incredible, and she has made the transition to written narration very naturally. She is working on formal grammar this year and is grasping the material with so much more ease than Austin did when he used the same program.

So then I come back to the other children, and their continued struggle with narration, grammar, spelling. I try not to compare because I know that it's different territory, but it's hard not to notice the differences. Same mom, much of the same material - vast differences.

The questions I ask myself with respect to the quote is:

"If I trust the children to take what he/she needs from the material, how do I know he/she (especially HE since HE has only 5 academic years with me after this one LOL) will be prepared for the future - independence, etc?"

"Can a child who doesn't have a strong sense of self, like with autism, truly KNOW what he/she needs from the material?"

"If not, is this something you can develop in a child with autism? How?"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to business

We resumed our lessons today, and I guess it went pretty well. The biggest factor was waking the kids up at 8:30 and starting lessons at 9:00. I would love to let everyone continue to sleep in as long as they need to, but certain folks would sleep until 11:00. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, considering we are homeschoolers and our time is more flexible, the individual who likes to sleep in that late also likes to be done with lessons early in the afternoon. Perhaps that worked when said individual was in 1st grade, but not so much anymore! ;)

So I began the waking-up at 8:30, and by 9:00 everyone was sitting at the table for Bible, Scripture Memory, and Character Building (Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends). They all looked really tired. LOL I passed out assignment sheets and was met with a wailing and gnashing of teeth. I did my best to ignore it.

I set the big ones to work on some independent stuff, and started Reece on the thing she's been begging me for all week: learning to write in cursive. I taught her how to write her name in cursive last year to appease her, but she's been begging and begging to learn the rest. Finally she just started making it up on her own, so I figured it would be better to go ahead and teach her now rather than have to correct bad habits. She was very excited! We then did some math, and began reading a new book.

I gave her a break, sent Riley to look for her missing math book, and watched Austin's Math-U-See lesson with him. Surprisingly enough, by that time, it was recess! WOOHOO!

Unfortunately, it flew by. We resumed at the table, where we were going to listen to Story of the World, Volume 3 as a family. We listened to the first 2 volumes last year, but I had decided this year to split everyone up in an attempt to diminish the bickering and arguing. That worked, but I was just not able to keep up with 3 different histories. So I told them we are going to listen together, they will NOT argue with each other, they WILL encourage each other, or Mama was going to do something that would be unpleasant. We listened to a section, Riley gave me an oral narration, Austin gave me a written narration that left a lot to be desired but it's the first day back so I'll just do my best to ignore that. Reece colored the picture from the activity guide while we listened, and she wrote cartoon bubbles above the characters' heads so I'm taking that as evidence that she understood what she was listening to.

By a miracle, Riley found her math book and began to work. She was the worst one with the arguing today, as usual. I swear I could say the sky is blue and she would argue over the shade of blue.

Austin and I did grammar together today since he hasn't done grammar since October, due to NaNoWriMo. He did pretty well, once he got "Proper Noun" and "pronoun" sorted out again in his head.

Everyone was pretty well finished by lunch time, except Riley who could have been finished but had spent much of her morning arguing.

I'm totally wiped out - so much mental energy is spent in maintaining my "calm, neutral responses" that I feel like I've been hit by a truck when it's all over. Tomorrow will be a harder day because Reece has dance class in the middle of the afternoon which really interrupts the flow. Hopefully getting up early will help us!

Hope the week goes well for everyone out there... if anyone reads here anymore! :)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Word of the Day 2010

We're 4 days into 2010, and I'm still working on a word for the year. Trust is still such a challenge for me, so it feels appropriate to keep it. But maybe that's a cop-out?

Not sure what to do... anyone?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year Meme

New Year Meme - taken from Lisa's blog!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Ran a 10K
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did. I made some "goals" which sounds better than "resolutions" for some reason.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.
5. What countries did you visit?
Just stayed in the USA.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Peace of mind
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 26 - the date I ran my first 10K ; August 21 - Blue October concert
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Riding a bicycle
9. What was your biggest failure?
Home education
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope
11. What was the best thing you bought?
A SPIbelt.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

All of us, at one point or another!
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

All of us, at one point or another! LOL
14. Where did most of your money go?

The Debt Snowball
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The Blue October concert; Taking Riley to Disney for her birthday; New Moon movie release
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Should Be Loved - Blue October
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Happier
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Praying
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying/Yelling
20. How did you spend Christmas?

Spent at home with dh, kids, and my mom. Nice and relaxing!
21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

Have been in love for a long time.
22. What was your favorite TV program?

Don't have one
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No
24. What was the best book you read?

Little Women and To Kill a Mockingbird.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

David Cook
26. What did you want and get?

A new (to me!) car!
27. What did you want and not get?

To go to Disney for Christmas LOL
28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Harry Potter 6
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Out to dinner with the family!
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I could only have confidence out about my plan/goals for home education.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Runner's World ;)
32. What kept you sane?

Running
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Guess ;)
34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Health Care Legislation
35. Who did you miss?
friends who have stopped homeschooling and gone back to work/school
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Michelle at church
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
The important thing isn't that where you finish, but that you had the courage to start.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Sometimes I feel like weeping, awaken when I'm sleeping, perfecting how to put a game face on. But this puzzle I've been keeping, has been in hiding, creeping out the closet door, spilling out onto the floor. How long will I be picking up pieces? How long will I be picking up my heart?

Resolutions for 2010
Already listed my goals! :)