Lately the boys have been very into "doing school". It had been a while since we had done anything and now they are really making up for lost time. Nick is particularly into coloring and tracing lately and will sit for long periods of time doing both. Both boys are doing a great job of coloring for their age. They also enjoy doing mazes and we spent a good amount of time yesterday morning doing pasting. I would cut out pictures from our Let's Sticker and Paste Kumon book and they would take the pieces and paste them back together to make the appropriate picture. They did a great job. It was a lot like doing a puzzle and they do lots of puzzles so they enjoyed this activity.
It is interesting to see how far they have come in their ability to do all of the crafty things since the last time we really did a lot of it. It had been a while and I was thinking they might be rusty but their skills had actually improved. We have not worked on cutting in quite a while so it will be interesting to see how they do with that now.
I had been telling them for a couple of weeks that I was going to start sitting with them one at a time and working on reading, while the other one works on other things at the table. Today we finally gave this a try and it really went very well. Nick sat at the table because he wanted to continue his coloring. Ben and I sat together on the small couch in the library/playroom. I wanted to start out slow so I set the timer for 10 minutes and explained to Nick very nicely that he was to stay busy and not interrupt us.
I gave Ben a choice of reading through words on flashcards I had made or reading the Bob Books and he chose the Bob Books. We started out with the first book in the first set. I was interested to see how he would do because, again, we had really not done anything for quite a while. He amazed me. He sounded out the words and read right through the first two with very little help. Once or twice he tried to guess at a word and got it wrong (Sam instead of sat). I just reminded him to sound out the letters and not to guess and he did so just fine. I was very impressed with how well he did. He seems to have a natural bent for learning to read and he enjoys his successes.
In the meantime, Nick kept himself busy at the kitchen table for the 10 minutes Ben and I were reading together. He did an awesome job and we never heard a peep from him. He continued with his work even after the timer went off. I wanted to do a few minutes of sounding out letters with him but he really did not want to. I tried to talk him in to doing just 3 minutes of work with me and we started to do it. He did OK for the first two pages or so and then he stopped trying and I could tell he really did not want to do it and was soon going to refuse. So I just asked him if he wanted to stop and he said that yes, he wanted to color again, so that's what we did.
I was working with Nick on a paper he wanted me to tear out of his book so he could color it. It was one of those that had rows of pictures and, for each row, you had to put an X on the picture that did not fit in. Like on one row there was a picture of an airplane, a helicopter, a tree and a balloon. He X'ed out the tree and told me all the others fly. He did very well on this exercise and, overall, I was very pleased with how both boys did today and quite surprised since we had not done anything for a while. Kids are amazing! Oh, Nick also traced a dotted picture of a panda bear's head and he did an exceptional job (in my humble opinion:). I was really impressed, since the last time we were really into "doing school" I could not get him to do much tracing at all.
We also played the Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That game this morning and we had so much fun. That is really a great game for little ones. The boys think it is so fun and funny and I laugh a lot, watching them do the silly things. After they were done, they had to count their cards. Nick counted his and he had 13 and Ben counted his and had 20. All this to say that was the highest I had seen them count out objects and they both did it perfectly. Makes me wonder exactly how high they can count out objects. We'll have to test that sometime.
What else can I tell you? Well, here is something I have noticed lately. Nick does not like to be messy when he eats. He really does not like to get food on his face and will refuse to lick icing off a spatula if he thinks it will make his face messy. He always wants and uses a napkin to keep his face and hands clean when he is eating. Ben, not so much:). He was eating some cake today after lunch and had icing all over his fingers and face and he thought it was funny. He was a mess, so bad that I gave him a rag to clean up and told him he needed to use his fork and quit making such a mess. He frequently leaves lots of crumbs in and under his chair and I always have to wipe his chair down after he uses his dirty/sticky hands to climb down. They are quite opposites when it comes to this.
Nick has recently started becoming a bit pickier as to what he will eat. Don't misunderstand. I am still the pickiest eater in my home but his once "I'll eat anything" attitude has been a bit tempered of late. There is one casserole I make that has mushrooms in it and he recently decided he does not like them, when he had eaten them without comment for a long time. Actually, he and Ben both had eaten them with joy, even when I cooked up a whole pan full of mushrooms, because their daddy likes them so they had to like them too. I guess that is no longer the case now. We normally eat salmon once a week or so and he has decided that he does not care for it so much, although he will eat bites of ours (and will say yum) but then still hardly touches his own and insists that he does not like it.
Ben's eating habits really have not changed at all. He likes almost everything. Neither of them like cucumbers or watermelon, although I think Ben had cucumbers recently, not knowing they were cucumbers, and liked them so who knows.
Both boys seem to switch back and forth between left and right hand, when they are writing, Nick more so than Ben. Ben still tends to favor his right hand and Nick seems to favor his left. Ben has really come along with his coordination and athletic ability, although Nick still seems to be a bit ahead of Ben is this area. Both boys enjoy climbing to the top of our jungle gym, hanging by their knees, falling backward while holding on at their knees and then flipping over as they jump to the ground. It amazes me that they have taught themselves how to do this already. My hope/plan is to find some sort of sport or something to put them in next year. I would actually like to put them in swimming lessons this winter but I'm not sure if everyone else agrees so we'll see. I think Nick would really enjoy being in T-Ball and Ben might also, although he might tend to get bored with it faster. We'll see. They will change so much by then.
Both boys still sleep very well and have been sleeping in since it is getting light later. I like this:). They take a nap from around 1:30 to 3:00 ish and they are usually in bed, ready to fall asleep around 8:30pm. They have stars and planets on their ceiling and we usually talk about them when we turn the lights out. The dad and I still take turns sitting with them until they fall asleep. It usually does not take very long and their behavior has greatly improved. I am still hopeful that, some day soon, they will be able to stay in their beds and fall asleep without us in their room:). We have not tried it in a long time so maybe we should try it again.
The boys love playing outside and they usually play outside for at least 1 to 3 hours a day, depending on the weather and what we have to do that day. They stay out longer if an adult is outside with them.
Making it to the potty in time is going pretty well these days, although we do have our bad days too. One day this week, Nick wet his pants twice and Ben wet his bed at nap time so that was not a stellar day for us. Most days we have no accidents though so it makes the other days tolerable.
Both boys are normally very well behaved when we are out and about, although Nick told me that a boy from church bit him one Sunday. After a few questions in an attempt to find out what had happened, I learned that they had been fighting over a toy and Nick had hit him first. Nick did not have a bite mark on him and he said that their teacher had told them both that we do not hit or bite so it sounds like it was handled well.
Both boys are a pleasure to be around and I am enjoying staying home with them. This is still my dream job and I still feel as if I am living my dream and there is nothing else I would rather do. I am also feeling very good about how we are spending our time, as far as making the choice not to do formal school time this year and just having fun and playing it by ear. We won't have very many more years we can do this and we are enjoying it while we can. At the same time, it seems we are still doing a good job of learning the appropriate things while we play and have fun so it's all good.
Next year the boys would officially be at the Pre-K4 level so we can really do the same thing next year if we want. I will make the decision as we approach that time frame and I can see how mature the boys are and how they are doing with what we are learning. I would like to be able to do another year of no formal schooling but we will see. Regardless of which we choose to do, I will definitely be ordering more age appropriate school related materials to be doing with them. I might also keep trying to do the 10 minutes of learning to read with Ben and build it up to 20 or 30 minutes, maybe three times a week, or something like that.
I'm just not sure yet exactly what we will do when, we'll play it by ear, but I am really enjoying watching them learn and seeing how great they feel about their successes in learning and how much they enjoy it. We are having fun and learning a lot and they seem pretty happy about staying at home for school, albeit they know nothing else. Several of their friends are at the Pre-K4 level this year, some at three days a week and some full time, so the boys know about "going to school" and that they are going to have school at home. This morning we were discussing this and I told them that some kids ride the bus to school but we just change out of our pajamas. They thought that was funny (not that we are officially doing school but it was still funny).
So, that's the update. I will try to put up some pictures within the next day or two.