Monday, April 30, 2012

Reece and Lego-Man!

One of my fondest memories of our trip came on the very first day. But first, you might need a little background information. Reece does not like costumed characters. At all. Not even a little bit. She does fine with Disney Princesses and Mary Poppins... the ones that look like people. But the ones in full costumes? Like Pooh, Tigger, the Chick-Fil-A cow?? No way. We learned this the hard way last year when we did the Character Breakfast at the Grand Floridian! LOL

So, we were at Legoland on Monday and as we're walking around in the afternoon, having already done most of everything there was to do, I feel a tap on my side. I look around and it's Reece. She is pointing at something  - the Lego Man walking by. She smiled big and I smiled back. She looked at him again and then looked at me with anticipation. I smiled and nodded and she ran over to him.

He opened his arms wide and she just sort of stood there. My mom snapped a couple of pictures.

Notice how her arms are close in to her body? She really did not want to hug him or be open to him at all, did she? LOL But she stood there with him, very obviously excited, while my mom took the pictures. And then she came back to me.

All without saying a word. And still a week later she won't talk about it. If you try to talk to her about it, she ignores you and pretends she didn't hear you, but I know she did because one time after I asked her about the Lego Man she looked away and smiled. But that's OK. Maybe one day she will want to talk about it! :)

Not only was it special to me that she wanted to have her picture taken with the Lego Man, but it was also the way she went about it that was so cool. The entire thing took place non-verbally! This wouldn't have been possible a few years ago, before RDI! She just didn't 'get' nonverbal communication at all! I still can remember her screaming, "TALK TO ME!" when I was nodding yes in response to a question! Wow, things sure do change, don't they?!

I think I love the Lego-Man! :D

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Break Report

I just returned home yesterday from 6 days in Florida! The girls and I were treated by my mother to a birthday trip that included Legoland, Universal Studios, and Disney World! To say we are spoiled is an understatement. I have several really exciting stories to share about Reece, but I want to be able to add pictures that my mom took so you can get a better feel for everything.

All in all, she did very well. We stayed in 3 different hotels which was the first big challenge, and then we did not take our mid-day rest breaks like we always do. That proved to be the hardest part, and by the end of the week Reece was getting noticeably more distant and withdrawn. But in the car on the way home last night she was already starting to perk back up and become more interactive again.

Riley was the epitome of a helpful big sister. She loves being able to take charge and do things just the two of them. Our resort at Disney hosts movies on an outdoor inflatable screen in the courtyard right outside our room and she took Reece down to watch the movie the first two nights we were there. They only bickered occasionally, which was nice. LOL

So stay tuned for some reports coming in the next few days... or whenever my mom has time to sort through the 1300 pictures she took! ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Advice from a Veteran Homeschooler?

This year has been our 10th year of homeschooling.

I can remember going to homeschool group meetings back when I was first braving the waters of home education with my little ones and meeting moms who had been homeschooling for 10 years. Oh, I envied them because I figured they simply MUST know it ALL!

I'll let that soak in for a minute.

Are you laughing yet?

Ok, I'm sure there are probably plenty of veteran homeschoolers who do have it all together and know what they are doing. I do not count myself among them. The one bit of advice I could give homeschoolers starting out right now is not to bounce around with curricula. Just pick something and stick with it, especially with math. Do not succumb to the "grass is greener" variety of curriculum envy.

Oh, and make sure to do all the field trips and park days and stuff when they are little. When they are older, there simply isn't as much time to go out and do things. The workload increases so much, and if you have some kids with special needs who require extra assistance, your workload as a teacher will also increase (instead of decrease as is the case with most kids as they get older). Or at least it has for me.

So I guess I have 2 pieces of advice then! LOL

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Joy of Homeschooling (Reece)

I have been meaning to post so many things recently about Reece and our adventures in home education, but I keep running out of time. It seems like my motivation to sit down and compose my thoughts has waned, but I know I will want to be able to look back and reflect on this time later. So I need to get better at writing out my thoughts and observations.

Basically, Reece is an absolute joy to homeschool right now! It's absolutely wonderful to watch her make connections and really apply the things we are working on together. She is enthusiastic and anxious to learn and it's so delightful! (I think it's also magnified by the fact that her siblings are completely the opposite in every way right now, but I digress)

Math is going beautifully. After the drawing lessons concluded, we jumped head-long into subtraction with regrouping. I was nervous about this because it is an area where I personally struggled, and where Austin struggled as well, back in the day. And RightStart teaches subtraction with regrouping (or you may have grown up calling it "borrowing" - but don't get me started on THAT) in a much different way than I'd ever seen before. In fact, I once again debated whether or not to teach her the RightStart way or the traditional way. But I decided to trust in their approach that has worked so well with her this far - and I was not disappointed. In fact, I think if I had been taught this way I would never have been so confused myself!!!

She moved up to her new Spelling book and she continues to really love it. And, despite the fact that I'm not really fond of spelling workbooks in general, she seems to be applying what she is learning in it to her other writing! She is also devouring history right now and is so disappointed when there is no history listed on her schedule. I promised her that we will do history every single day in 5th grade! LOL

One thing that has impressed me this term is her comprehension of a rather difficult book that I'm reading aloud. The book is called The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat and because it was published in 1847 it has fallen into Public Domain and is available for free if you click on that link. I had purchased it several years ago to read to the big kids when we were doing that year of Ambleside Online but put it aside because it was very challenging and I just didn't have enough time. I picked it up this year for Reece sort of by accident because we aren't in that time period at all. But I decided not to worry about it and we kept going. The language is very complex and challenging and sometimes I wondered if she was getting the story, but she really is. In fact, she stopped me at a very exciting part involving some robbers attacking the cottage and she explained how SHE would handle that situation - and it was a remarkably clever idea! We're nearing the end of the story, and I am so glad that I took the time to share this book with her.

I have been debating introducing French and/or Latin for Reece. She seems to be ready for it as evidenced by her ability to apply her grammar lessons to her own writing (and in everyday life). And she has been asking for both for a long time now, so I know she's motivated. The big question is do I have time to add anything else to my plate right now? As I alluded to earlier, lessons are not going nearly as well with the big kids, and it's been very draining and exhausting for me. Truly, I understand now why so many people put their kids back in school for middle/high school. It is a LOT of work to homeschool the upper grades, especially if you don't use a packaged curriculum or tutors. And that's before you even factor in the whole "teenage angst/hormone" drama that occurs! LOL I will never again judge when a homeschool mom tells me that she is putting her teenager back in school for middle school or high school. But that's a post for another day! :)

So there's a little update on the joy that is homeschooling Reece right now! I find myself wondering if it's because she's the one who has had the benefit of a Charlotte Mason-style education her entire life? Or if it's because I'm more relaxed with her due to my own experience with the older kids? Or if it's her age or personality? Or maybe a little bit of all of that - or maybe God is simply blessing me right now for putting up with two teenagers?! ;) Whatever the reason may be, I will take it and enjoy it for as long as it lasts!