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.

 

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Good-bye, Pre-k!

The “official” 2014-15 school year is over, so our first year of homeschooling has come to a close! Although we’re continuing on a year-round basis for what works for us, especially with a baby coming next month, we’re still going to be sticking with the grade labels on the public school side. Therefore, J has now graduated to Kindergarten!

This pre-K year was a big risk for us; it was basically us deciding if this was the lifestyle that we wanted and could handle. It went far better than we expected, and we’ve been far happier being outside the school schedule than when we were in it for J’s preschool years! There are definitely days when I would be glad to be rid of them, but it’s usually G that I’d prefer to ship off for the day than the older one! Overall, it’s been a great year. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead. Being in Kindergarten doesn’t really change much around the house, but it does open a lot of opportunities for him around the city. I’m certain we’re going to get more clicked in to our local homeschool community than we already are, and we’re all excited about that.

Taking a look at what our Yearly Goals for this past year, it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come.

My goals: I’m certain that patience will forever be at the top of my list, but I don’t think I did TOO terribly with it this year. My biggest struggle was organization and staying in a routine that works for all of us, but we have managed to find something that works right now. I’d like to think that the majority of the issue was the pregnancy, so we’ll see what happens next year. J has requested more routine, and I think we’ve figured out a way to make it work for both (all) of us. Again, this pregnancy forced me to stay in the present much more than I likely would have if it hadn’t forced me to slow down/stop altogether. I can for sure get caught up in planning, but I wasn’t really allowed to do so this past year since I had so many set-backs!

J’s Goals:

  • learn to read at a basic level- check!
  • read a clock/tell time –check!
  • ride his bike without training wheels – we haven’t really worked on this at all, so it moves to a summer goal!
  • write both uppercase and lowercase letters with ease, as well as numbers 0-9- he has his mix ups every now and then, but I’d still say that he has reached this goal, as well
  • continue to work on sharing (especially with G) and other similar virtues – he’s pretty good at this, I will say. It will, however, forever be on his goals list most likely!
  • tie his shoes on his own -haven’t worked on this at all. His feet are still small enough for velcro, so we haven’t had to deal with this yet
  • regulate his impulses and activity level – a constant progress for J
  • to find new interests and passions and build upon current ones– I’d say he found a passion in dinosaurs, so check!

G’s Goals:

  • recognize all the letters in the alphabet and numbers 0-9 – check!
  • work on small motor skills in preparation for writing- check! He’s even writing some of the easier letters
  • continue to increase vocabulary – check!
  • find interests of his own apart from what J is interested in – He’s definitely become more independent this past year, but I feel like this will always be a struggle for both of them since they’re so close. He, however, is not as into dinosaurs as J is!

 

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!

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.

Raising a “Mathlete”

mathlete_10

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 🙂

 

It’s October!

momboys

If I thought September was crazy, October is going to the next level! We love October in this house, though, and it’ll probably fly by just as quickly as the summer did! We’re looking forward to lots of outdoor time, festivals, farms of all variety, pumpkins, Zoo Boo, and all things Halloween. There should be plenty to keep me and the boys entertained as daddy heads off to Florida each week.

dadboys

Along with some fun fall/Halloween crafts, we’re adding in our study on the US States! We’ve decided to go in statehood order, so Delaware is up first. I found a great list of books for each state, along with using some of the printables from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom. J will test his art skills in an attempt to recreate the state flag, and we’ll read about each state in a neat little book we got from my parents.

jgpumpking

October also brings around our first “off” week, in which J will be heading up to East Texas to spend the week at my parents’ farm. He’s been looking forward to it for months, but I admit I’m nervous about being all alone with G the entire week! I’m afraid he’ll spend the entire time asking for his brother, but we’ll enjoy some fun activities that he wouldn’t be able to do with him there (like the Tot Spot at the Children’s Museum!).

decorations

We’ve spent the weekend prepping for the month with all the activities and travelling, decorated the house, and even hit up the pumpkin patch. We’re ready for October!   sillyboys

Open House

After reading about the idea on a Homeschool Facebook page that I follow, I really wanted to hold an “Open House” of our own. We knew that everyone had some questions about what exactly we were doing, so we thought it was a great opportunity to invite the family over and be able to look at all J’s work and see the curriculum in person. We had both sets of parents and the local aunts attend, along with an uncle and a cousin. J was so excited to have everyone over and show off all that he’s been working on. He read a few words for everyone, showed off his green room and played with his cousin. We took advantage of having company and really got the green room back in order again, putting away all the loose toys and coloring books and pages that get everywhere so quickly.

openhouse

We set up all the curricula and the work he’s already completed on our kitchen counter so it was easy to pick up and look at. We got a lot of great questions, and it seemed like everyone left with a bit more confidence in our alternative schooling route. I imagine this will be a yearly tradition at the Hammond Academy for Boys! openhouse1

 

Weekly Wrap-Up: 9/19

What a fun week! Even though we were just as busy as we were last week, it seemed to flow so much better. J zipped through his lessons this week with minimal issue (except for his first sight word- the; it’s killing him!). He even got his fluency sheet for AAR Lesson 4 done already today! I’m so impressed by how quickly AAR is building his confidence in reading. He’s so excited to start his first stories next week. He really enjoyed his science lessons this week, especially regarding his sense of smell and a sliced banana! Since last week was so nuts, we missed his art lesson last week. The boys were both excited to pick that up again today and were super thrilled at being able to do a messy project.

art3

As far as outings go, we started out our week at Homeschool Day at the Houston Children’s Museum! We didn’t do anything special there that we wouldn’t have been able to do any other day, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded and J was amazed at how many homeschoolers there are in our city. He thought it was so cool to see older kids, and he kept remarking to me that everyone there “except the adults” were homeschooled just like he is.

childrensmuseum

On Tuesday, we had our Open House for the family to come over and see our little “school.” J was so excited and proud to show off what he’s doing, and he always loves having family come over. My parents spent the night (also exciting for both boys) and took the boys and I to see the Sharks! exhibit at HMNS, which, obviously, J loved. The biologists/curators were amazing there, as always, and were answering our questions and letting the boys touch a fossilized megaladon shark tooth. They were even both given a shark tooth from the Cretacious time period, so J is super proud of his new cool shark teeth that lived with dinosaurs.

sharks

The rest of the week consisted of our normal activities- swim, Little Gym, MOPS, chiropractor and even a trip to IKEA. We have a low key weekend planned and then we’re off to another crazy week!

“DIY” World/US Map

In terms of the DIY projects that have happened at our house, this was a very, very easy one. In total, it took Jony less than an hour, and now we have a large US and World map on our wall in the green room (our home school room) that doesn’t take up the entirety of our wall space, which is minimal. I wanted easy access to the maps and longevity for their use, and this is the perfect answer for us. We got laminated maps from Costco, attached one to each side of a piece of wood using spray adhesive and paint rollers and attached it to the wall using command hooks. Simple! The boys, especially J, are loving the easy access to both maps on their eye level, and I’m loving the sturdiness and ease in switching between the two (although, admittedly, it’s a bit awkward to flip it around!).

mapcollage

 

With our maps up and ready for learning, I’m ready to start figuring out how to tackle our United States study that J has requested. We made a request from all fifty states for travel/visitor information, but I’m still torn on what I want to do alongside that information. We’re still waiting on about ten states, so our days of fun mail will be coming to an end shortly. We talk a little about each state as we receive them, but I know J is going to push for more once all states are accounted for so I need to get on that! That boy can already tell me where each state is on the map, but he won’t be satisfied until he’s an expert on every state. I certainly don’t want to stand in his way!

us world