Kindergarten has begun!

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We officially began our kindergarten year on August 3rd, so we’re going on week four even though schools in the area began their year yesterday. So far, it’s been going really well. J is loving and thriving in our curricula choices for the year, and he looks forward to our 45 minutes of school each day. We actually only do Monday through Thursday with only our main curriculum on Friday. Yet, he asks each weekend to “do school,” as well. Even though it can be tricky with the distracting 3 year old and demanding newborn, I’m really enjoying that special time with him. It does us both a lot of good to have that intentional time.

Our plan for each day begins with our main curriculum, Build Your Library Kindergarten, and then we go through a rotation of the remaining curricula until the 45 minutes is up. We have a chart posted, so he’s able to follow and knows what to expect and what is coming up. He currently always anxiously awaits doing math and a kiwi crate 🙂

Our Curriculum Choices: Kindergarten

I’m looking forward to what the next year brings and to see how much he grows!

Review: Math-U-See Primer

20150716_121832Yesterday, I broke the news to J that it was his last lesson in the Primer level of Math-U-See. I thought he’d be excited, but he got really upset about it! I think that speaks to the program quite a bit. He’s really enjoyed working through each lesson and looks forward to completing all of the worksheets. I was a little concerned that it would be too “workbook” for him, but he loves it. He doesn’t use the blocks as much as I thought he would, but he knows that they’re there when he needs them. A lot of the skills in Primer were just review for him, but he had no issue picking up the new skills. We now have a child who can tell time, and he’s so proud of himself! I’ve been really impressed by how the program introduces everything and feel very confident that we’ll be sticking with Math-U-See for awhile.

I showed J the Alpha books, and he wasn’t upset about being done with Primer anymore! He especially loved that the’re green! We won’t be starting it for a few weeks, but it’s ready to go! The Primer books are all put away waiting for the day G is ready for them, and I know he’s going to love it, as well.

 

Zoofari!

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It was a hot and exhausting week, but J loved his experience at Zoo camp (or Zoofari) this week! We’re no strangers to the zoo, but we rarely catch any of the shows or special exhibits that may be put on while we’re there. While the kids are still pretty young, we keep it low key. Needless to say, J got to do it all this week, and it really gave him a different perspective about the zoo! I’m pretty jealous, actually! Each day was three hours long, and he got to see different animals around the zoo, have an animal encounter, and even a snack/some crafting time. He was able to see a show about sea lions, elephants, rhinos, and gorillas (maybe even more? It’s hard to get too much out of a five year old). He fed the giraffes, which was his favorite thing the entire week. He got to play in the petting zoo and ride the carousel. He met and touched a snake, tarantula, and an armadillo. Basically, he had a great time. He really looked forward to going every day, and the zoo has it down to a science. If it weren’t for parking being so chaotic, it would have been an A+ camp. Even still, I give it an A. J is super sad that it’s over and is already talking about going next year and taking G with him (since they can start attending at 4)!zoofari1One of my favorite parts of Zoofari? On Thursday, J and I had a special mommy/son date day. I took him to swim team practice and we went to the chiropractor, but then we had lunch together and rode the train before dropping him off. I don’t get that much solo time with my oldest, so it was fun to have good quality time before little sister shows up.

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Inching back in…

For the past few weeks (okay, months), J has been asking/begging to start his school stuff again. We just haven’t been able to swing it with how I’ve been feeling, so we kept just pushing it aside. It always made me feel super terrible (even more than the pregnancy was already doing to me). It’s incredibly difficult to see your five year old son get dejected and sad when you tell him that you just don’t have the capability to do a reading lesson. I love that he loves doing his “school work” and don’t want to discourage that!

So, today, after about three months off (talk about flexibility in homeschooling!), I finally got down his “Run, Bug, Run!” reading book from AAR and sat with him to read his next two stories. One green star on his chart later, and he’s beaming at me! He asked if that meant we could start his reading and math lessons again, and I reluctantly agreed. It’s not that I don’t want to do them with him. I do! The attention and direction that he gets while we do his lessons directly impacts his behavior in an extremely positive way, and we’ve been for sure needing that lately! I’m just nervous that I’m going to get in over my head with committing. I am, however, going to try. If nothing else, even doing stuff with him for a few minutes each day will likely carry him over to the next day if I’m not feeling super great. Therefore, I’m going to give it my best effort, and we’ll see what happens!

Flexibility

It’s about that time of year around here that people start asking about school plans for the next year. Registration for Mother’s Day Out programs is about to open, as well as registering for kindergarten. Since we’re still in the younger crowd (most of which do not homeschool), we’ve been getting the question quite a bit. It’s a great excuse to really sit down, think and evaluate what we’re doing. The conclusion? We’ll be keeping things exactly the same. Maybe a few different classes or a new co-op but, overall, the exact same. Our family is the happiest that it’s been this year, and I know that the homeschooling lifestyle is a huge part of that (being sick and pregnant certainly isn’t contributing!). The main reason? Flexibility.

Jony has always loved having me stay at home for the flexibility of being able to take the kids to have lunch with him or even just having more time to play/interact with them if his schedule is proving flexible. Homeschooling is basically an extension of this. This last summer, we picked up and drove to Florida to spend the week with him there while he was working. Not only did he get to have a week with his family instead of a week travelling away from them, but the boys had so much fun and learned so much. We still hear about sea turtles and sharks, the obsessions that originated on that trip.

Even when it comes to the mundane every day aspects of life, we have embraced the flexibility. We don’t have to wake up early every day, although they certainly do most of the time! There have been days, though, that both boys (either on the same day or separately) have slept well past 8am. That means that I got to sleep in, too, and I’ll always appreciate that. We can choose our schedules, and we can even just choose to stay at home, stay in our PJs and do nothing. If we’re at a park or a museum, we don’t have to watch the clock to make sure that we get back to our area in time for school pick up. We don’t rush most mornings to head out, although I’ll be honest that it’s not always a pretty scene to get somewhere at 10am! Our time is our own.

Looking at this week:

  • Monday- we did nothing! The boys always love a stay at home day; it gives them a chance to truly unwind and recapture what’s interesting to them. J dove into his dinosaur books, and the trains were given a good work-out by G. It’s nice weather here, so the capes also got some good play time in the backyard.
  • Tuesday- G had Little Gym. After that? More free time at home. Early mornings make for a tired pregnant mama.
  • Wednesday- Since Jony is working from home most days this week, I was able to sleep in! J had Little Gym in the afternoon, and the entire family got to go. We even signed up for a free Lego event in a few weeks for both boys- another bonus to the flexibility of homeschooling since it’s during the school day!
  • Today (Thursday)- To counteract all of our lazy days this week, we had a tour at a Nature Discovery Center in the morning and a Valentine’s party in the afternoon. Not much home time at all!
  • Tomorrow, the plan is to go roller skating!
  • Then, this weekend, after soccer in the morning on Saturday, we’re heading up to the Farm to see my parents until Monday (which is actually a school holiday, but we didn’t have to check).

So, will we be continuing to homeschool next year? Absolutely. When you consider that we’ll be needing the flexibility with the new baby arriving this summer, I can’t even comprehend making a different decision.

Planning for Summer

I’m an extreme planner, so I’ve been trying to focus in on figuring out our summer plans to make sure that we can do everything that we want to do. With J being five, things are starting to get interesting! He’s been dreaming of being on the swim team since last summer, so we’re going to to be embarking on that journey this year. With that, though, comes challenges and obstacles in planning the remainder of activities/camps that we can do. J really wants to do Art camp again this year and has expressed interested in Zoofari, as well. Luckily, G is not quite old enough for any of this stuff yet, although he will be doing swim lessons! There’s also Vacation Bible School, if we can work it in. Then, there’s the potential family vacation at the end of May. I’m beginning to truly understand how it’s harder to have school aged children than just toddlers, at least in terms of logistics!

It wouldn’t be too difficult to fit it all in, except that we’ve eliminated the entire month of July as possibilities for activities due to the impending arrival of #3. With precipitous labors, I fear travelling too far from my house. The zoo, in particular, is not happening since I’ve had way too many dreams of giving birth there (although, admittedly, it’s not the worst place it could happen if it has to be away from home!).

I feel like I may have a handle on what we’re going to do, but it looks like it’s going to be an intense June. I’m fairly certain our summers will forever be crazier than the “school year.” Any one else getting ready for the summer months while it’s still winter?

A Day in the Life: 5 and 2 years old and Pregnant

 

For the past few years, I’ve always enjoyed the “Day in the Life” series on Simple Homeschool. It’s so interesting for me to read about how other homeschool families work on a normal day-to-day basis. I’m excited to be able to share my own this year! I’ll be honest, though, that our current typical is very non-typical, at least to a degree. There’s one child in this family who is demanding a severe amount of my time and energy (hint: it’s not the five or two year old), and it’s brought a major change to how we’re living currently.

For anyone new, we tend to fall into the category of “classical unschooling.” We have some curriculum, but it’s not the basis of our homeschooling. Life takes the lead, and we’ll always choose an activity or adventure over feeling tied down to getting what’s expected of the day. To refer back to life while pregnant, nothing has been done in the curriculum arena since November. I just don’t have the energy for it. I’m sure it’ll pick back up soon, and it always just fits into our day where it can. We tend to be out in either the morning or the afternoon (although there are the days where we’re out both or none at all), and we just do it when we’re home.

So, here is our Monday morning of February 2nd, 2015:

5:40am- Jony leaves for the airport. It’s a travelling husband kind of a week.

7:30am (ish)- the boys wake up and proceed to begin playing. I’m not in a stage of life where I wake up before them, and I honestly am not sure that I ever will be! This is their best playing time. I usually wake up when I hear them, but I stay in bed. They almost never fight during this time, and it rarely includes technology. I don’t dare disturb them, and I don’t mind staying in bed!

8:45am- A bit later than normal, but they come to get me and tell me they’re ready for breakfast. Someday, I hope to be better at breakfast (or morning in general) again, but for now it’s frozen waffles and cereal for breakfast. They certainly don’t mind. After we all eat, everyone takes their plates and bowls to the sink.

9:45am- I use this time to get dressed and pack our bag for the day. It’s a short trip out today, so that mainly consists of ensuring I have enough diapers and wipes. J gets dressed on his own and then joins G to play some more. MagnaTiles and trains are the toys of choice. When I’m finished, I help get G dressed and send him off on his way again.

11am- It’s a late morning adventure, but we all load up and head towards the Galleria area. Our big excitement for the day is meeting someone from our local trading Facebook group to buy a Rock n’ Play for the baby.

11:45am- Pick up Rock n’ Play. The boys are always excited for something baby related to occur, so we have a big baby discussion as we drive to lunch

12pm- lunch at Chick Fil A! I feel super gross, but the boys put away their food while I sip on lemonade. I’m still working on managing my blood sugar while pregnant. Of course, every trip to Chick Fil A includes some play time. J, per usual, befriends the little girl already in there, and they all go on a plane trip and car ride to Massachusetts. When she leaves, they just decide to race each other.

1:30pm- head for home! Mommy needs to rest.

2-6pm- While I just lay around and check the computer (and finally manage to eat my nuggets), the boys spend the afternoon playing. You may notice that my children have zero issues with playing independently or with each other. Sometimes, I feel like I can too easily neglect them, but it’s a good stage for this point in my life. Today, they choose to color, return to the trains and MagnaTiles, put some puzzles together, and play on their tablet for a bit. J reads some Thomas books to G for a good half hour in the hallway, which I love.

6pm- The sounds of hunger are beginning to emerge to the tune of raised voices and crying, so I start dinner. We usually aim to eat at this time, but I had a “pregnancy afternoon.”

6:45pm- The smell of sausage became too overpowering, so I wasn’t able to actually eat what I made. Both boys had two helpings, though. They’ve been eating so much lately!

7:30pm- Dinner is over! The boys clear their plates and head to the Legos. I manage to eat a bagel with cream cheese.

8pm- Bedtime! After PJs, bathroom/diaper change and teeth brushing, we all settle into J’s bed for him to read us a BOB book. Then, it’s each to their own bed while I read a book, one chosen from each. They settle in while I clean up from dinner and spray some poop diapers from the day. I typically then read from their encyclopedia for a bit, but they both were too tired tonight so I just relaxed in there while they went to sleep.

9:30pm- I’m catching up on the computer and finally managing to eat some real dinner. It’s been a pretty low key day and my pregnancy has shown it’s face more than a few times during it, but it was a good day overall. The rest of the week looks pretty hectic- Little Gym for both boys (on different days, of course), La Leche League, MOPS, dinner with family and a sleepover (for the boys) at their Grammy/Grandpa’s house all on the horizon!

It’s definitely more of a day in our life than a “homeschool” day in our life, but that’s us! I’m excited to see how different it all looks in a year, but we’ll just keep cruising along for now.

My Five Year Old

Yesterday, my first born turned five. It’s a crazy idea to comprehend. It shoots him into the “school-aged” category rather than being a preschooler. Of course, he’s earned it. He is an amazing kid- full of curiosity and opinions. Year 5 promises to be a big year for him, and I look forward to watching him grow each and every day.

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We started the morning off with donuts and then went to one of his favorite places, The Houston Museum of Natural Science. He got to fully explore his favorite exhibits, the sharks and dinosaurs, and we even gave him the birthday treat of riding the Broncosaurus. He claims that was is favorite part of the day. The afternoon consisted of Little Gym and ended with his favorite dinner, chicken cordon-bleu. We even topped it off with some ice cream. All in all, it seems like it was a successful fifth birthday.

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Raising a “Mathlete”

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It doesn’t take much time hanging around with J to learn that he’s obsessed with numbers. He counts everything, and I say this literally. He has trouble handling a situation in which he can NOT count. He’s constantly adding numbers and is starting to do subtraction on his own, as well. He refers to Math-U-See as his math games and looks forward to his daily math time. When in the car, we’re either talking about numbers, counting things, or just counting in general. I get asked, “Can you count to 1,000?” and “How long would it take to count to infinity?” daily. Then, there’s the speed round to see how quickly he can count to 100. Math is just in his head constantly. It’s how we works, and it’s what he understands.

Admittedly, this has been difficult for me to fully accept. I have always been a reader, and I’ve always looked forward to passing on that love to my kids. Math has, by far, always been my weakest subject. I think much more in the abstract than logically, so I was left behind pretty quickly when it came to math in school. I’m actually quite curious to see if home schooling the boys will improve my math skills! Even still, it wouldn’t change the fact that I’ll always be partial to English/literature. That is what I got my degree in, after all. J did not take after me in this way, and that is very clear. He is, however, exactly like his dad. They understand each other, and Jony has no issues discussing math concepts and “talking numbers” with him for long periods of time, whereas I get bored quite quickly.

It started pretty early. As a toddler, instead of just playing with the cars (which I would do and get quickly told that I wasn’t playing correctly), he would sort them. Size, color, type of car; it didn’t matter. Once he was able to count, it was a game changer in his life until he’s reached the point where he is currently- obsessed. I have had to adapt to the fact that we will count everything in our life. If I put decorations up, it needs to be able to be sorted into different categories of some nature for him to enjoy looking at it. Not only will we discuss how many chickens are in our pasta salad, we will discuss how many there would be if we added such and so money or if we ate so many pieces. All of this has been a struggle since I don’t particularly enjoy counting, but I took it in stride with minimal issue.

Now that he’s beginning to read, however, it’s been hard to really realize how much is love of numbers overtakes his love of letters. When we’re looking at a new book, we have to look at the page numbers first to see how many are in it. The Table of Contents page in his non-fiction books is his favorite. He’s fascinated by the number of letters that are in a word. As his reading skills progress, I’m beginning to see how his way of thinking is guiding his path to reading. It’s clear that he likes to read and will enjoy it, but I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be much more likely to stick to his beloved non-fictions than to read novel after novel. And I’m okay with that! As long as he loves to read, of course.

In case you were wondering, G is very clearly the exact same way.

October Review

Happy Halloween!

This was a short month for us since J spent a week away, but it’s still amazing to see how much we covered in such a short amount of time! We’re really happy about our current groove, and J is more than excited to do some school each day.

All About Reading (Level 1)

This month brought along some new letters: i, v, f, z, o, l and w. It’s really opened up a whole new world of words, and it’s clear it’s starting to spread out to actual life and not just when doing his reading. J’s favorite part (besides the stickers at the end of each lesson) is that he’s reading the short stories now. He got through four this month. I love having him read to me, and he is SO proud of himself. The confidence this program builds is my favorite part.

Math-U-See (Primer)

We finally saw the switch from super easy review to learning new concepts! J has been loving math the entire time (it’s his favorite subject, by far), but I was ready to start seeing him challenged. There was still some triangle identifying and practicing writing numerals, but he was introduced to place values: units, tens and hundreds. I was nervous that the jump would be too much for him, but I keep underestimating my boy when it comes to the math world. It made perfect sense to him, and he took to it immediately. He didn’t need any help in identifying triple digit numbers, but he’s coming from a place of understanding when he says every single number he sees anywhere now!

Nancy Larson (Kindergarten)

We finished Unit A: Exploring the Human Body and Five Senses by really getting into those senses. We are now about halfway through Unit B: Investigating Healthy Habits. He’s been learning about nutrition and exercise. We’ve been covering all of the main food groups and learning how to identify them. He’s really enjoyed working in his booklet, Investigating Ways to Keep My Body Healthy, since he feels like he’s writing his own book. There’s been no complaint about the snacks from the boys, either!

Artistic Pursuits (The Way They See It)

I’m still concerned that this level was a bit below where J is actually at, but not so much that I’m worrying about it. Both J and G are really enjoying the activities that go along with it, and that’s what art is all about! This month, we talked about using different colors and explored watercolor which brought a beautiful underwater scene to our house from J. We also had some fun with the visual motivator lesson by doing it at the farm! It called for us to go to a body of water and draw the experience. Since they have a lake there, it worked out perfectly! J really brought in some detail, while G just enjoyed coloring on the dock. We’re a bit behind schedule in art due to the crazy schedule that October brought, but we’ll catch back up. Eventually 🙂