We are staying very busy these days, to the point where I may be spreading us a bit thin, but we are also having a lot of fun.
I have just started a Bible study at a nearby church and I think I am really going to get a lot out of it. The boys and I have visited this church twice now and the dad has visited once and we all really like it. It looks like we might have found our new home church, although we will have a bit of a drive once we move to the new house. I think it will be worth it though.
The boys are currently still in soccer and swimming and doing well, although their classes were all cancelled last week due to the 1 to 3 inches of snow we got (depending on where you lived). I was totally shocked that these places closed down. The boys and I went to the swimming place without a thought that they might closed. When we first signed them up for lessons, they had told me that they hardly ever shut down and the weather has to be pretty bad before they close. I beg to differ:). Must be an Oklahoma thing but their idea of bad and my idea of bad are very different.
The boys have also started taking violin lessons and so far so good. We have only had a hand full of lessons so far. I need to be better about having them practice during the week the things they are learning in their lesson. I am having a hard time keeping up because I have to make all of the flashcards we need for playing the games.
During this beginning time, when their attention span can wander at times, I have told them that they will each earn a dollar if they work hard during lessons. This includes paying close attention, participating with a good attitude and minding the teacher promptly. This is a magic charm for now. So far they have worked pretty well with me at home but I have kept it very short and sweet. We will eventually work up to 15 to 20 minutes of practice at home per day tops for this age.
We continue to plod along with our reading lessons, albeit very slowly because of me:). I think we are around lesson 75 in The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. I think the half way point is around lesson 94, at which time it is recommended we start spelling lessons. Today I decided to institute a new rule for our quiet time. They have to pick one of their readers to read to themselves during quiet time. While one is reading his reader, the other practices violin with me and then they switch. After that they can do whatever they normally do (usually they play with quiet toys, work puzzles or look at books). They are choosing their reader from the readers they used when they first started learning to read, so these are very easy for them and they can read through them quickly. It will be good practice though and help improve their fluency. Nick is now constantly noticing that he can read various signs, book titles, labels, etc. He is always excited about it and reads everything he can out loud to me. Ben does not seem to notice much, although they both do equally well when we practice our reading. I think Ben's attention is just drawn to other things. He is always thinking about something and I know this because he talks to me a lot;).
Upon completion of The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, a child will be reading at the 4th grade level. From what I have read, most homeschoolers tend to finish this book anywhere between K and the end of second grade. There is a very wide range to when homeschoolers begin teaching their young ones to read. Currently we are only doing one to three lessons a week normally and there are weeks when we don't do one at all. We are very relaxed about our preschool learning here at the Pisarik Academy:). Much of this has to do with building the new house, as it tends to take up a lot of our time and, well..., they are only in pre-K this year:). I am also still spending a lot of time reading about what other homeschoolers are doing and investigating homeschooling materials, still working through how we are going to do what we want to do for our homeschool and what materials we want to use. This really is one of my hobbies now:).
We have played around a bit with some beginning geography and they love it. When I get it out, they always want to do several pages at a time. The lessons we have done so far are about how to read a map.
I have created number charts for them to give them more practice writing and recognizing higher numbers. I put a big chart on the wall for each of them and we decorated them. I marked rows on the chart and then cut out 2 inch by 2 inch pieces of paper. They write a number on a piece of paper and then paste it to the chart in the correct place. They have written 1-30 so far. They have been doing 10 at a time so they have only done it three times so far. For numbers up to 30, they practiced them in a Kumon book once or twice and then they wrote it on the chart. The Kumon book only goes through 30 though so now they will just write on the small piece of paper. I made a lot of extras so they can try again if they don't feel it is their best. So far they are having fun doing this. Ben is usually finished first, as he has practiced writing a lot more on his own. He is always coming in to the kitchen to ask me how to spell something and he writes little notes to my mom and sister a lot and also to me and the dad. Nick tends to take more time but also seems to maybe be a bit more exact about what he is doing.
I recently ordered them a great Melissa and Doug coloring pad for boys and a bunch of new markers with 100 colors to choose from. I also happened to find a coloring book at the used homeschool curriculum store we go to that had lots of knights and their horses. So they have been coloring tons and it has been so good for Nick because it has given him or strength in his fingers. He can color or write for longer periods of time now. This is where I have been seeing a difference in their approach. Nick tends to take a lot longer to finish a picture and he does a better job of staying within the lines. Ben tends to get done very quickly because staying in the lines is not as important to him. They both like to pick very bright colors and seem to have no interest, most of the time, of coloring something the 'right' color (the horse might be several different bright colors, including bright pinkish legs and an orange body in the front and green in the back, etc.) They know the right colors but I guess they think their picks make it look nicer. They really do look very nice most of the time. If I can find some inexpensive frames, I would like to frame some of them for their new rooms.
Today I was introducing them to addition with some tally sticks. I was showing them how to write the equation that went with what we were doing with the tally sticks (0+1=1; 1+1=2; etc.) using a spiral notebook I had. Nick asked for some pages out of my notebook when we were finished. He went into the next room where we keep our supplies and he stapled it along the left side to make his own book. He came back and said this was his dictionary. He wrote his name on top and asked me how to spell dictionary. I wrote it on the white board for him and he copied it and then proceeded to write words that he knew, such as dad, doc, mom, mop, etc. He thought of quite a few, although I think they were all three letter words, whereas they can now sound out and read words up to 6 letters I think...maybe even a couple with seven. We have done very little with spelling but he was just sounding out the words like he does some words when he reads. I was quite surprised because it is normally Ben who spends time writing. Nick seems to be doing more and more of it lately. The other day, he was in the other room being quiet for a while. Eventually, he came to me and showed me his piece of paper where he had taken the time to write the alphabet in upper case letters. He got most of them correct, with a few small exceptions, such as his J was hooked to the right instead of to the left. He really surprised me because he had shown no interest in doing this sort of thing, while Ben had been doing it for quite a while now. I have to remind myself that Nick is almost 2 months younger than Ben and, even excluding that, all kids just develop differently when it comes to reading and writing.
Time to close this book. I started writing it at quiet time today and now it is bedtime and I am tired. Goodnight.