Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

Well, we had a pretty good first week.  Did I mention that we are schooling 4 days a week during our K year? I guess technically we could count tomorrow as a school day also, since we will be doing P.E. and childrens' choir, Ben will practice his violin and we will go to the library and pick out books to read and likely read some of them when we get home. I will probably have the boys read aloud to me and I'm sure I will read more of Plum Creek to them. (I read a couple of chapters to them while they were eating lunch today. I'm just as into as they are:).

Anyway, during so much of our day, they are learning something at this age. And we divide up the work we do during the week over 4 days instead of 5. So it is the same amount of work. We just do more over the 4 days than we otherwise would have. It will be nice to have Fridays to do catch up or whatever we need to get done that day, although we will be going to co-op for at least 3 Fridays in each month.

I mentioned in my last post that N is no longer taking violin. He was having a really hard time making himself practice. I knew I would have enough to do to keep him going on regular school work that is not optional. So we decided to stop his violin lessons. He was very sad about it for a (very) short amount of time, even crying at one point ("I'll forget everything I've learned" - I felt so bad for him that I almost cried with him) but I knew in the long run it was the right thing for him right now. It is more important for me to have a good relationship with him and not have to fight with him over practicing every day. Now that we have started school, I am even more convinced it was the right thing to do.

B is still taking lessons and he is doing really well and moving right along. It is harder to find time to fit in practice now that we are schooling. I'm sure we will hit our groove though. It just takes time for them to get use to having less play time. Today we fit practice in just before quiet time, which was just after lunch.

Once we move our piano here from my sister's house, Nick is thinking he would like to take piano lessons. I think it would be really good for him to have his own thing so they are not always competing on everything.  He loves soccer and is happy to be back. Ben enjoys it too and both boys normally work really hard while they are playing. They really go for the ball and try their best. It is so good for them. I know there would have been good things about gymnastics too but I am glad they decided to go back to soccer.

I have been having a regular quiet time every morning for a few weeks now. I really look forward to it and I have been doing it long enough that it is now becoming a habit. I purposely leave my laptop in my bedroom in the morning and it does not come out until lunch time, unless I have to look something up. But I don't get on to read news or check email or read blogs until at least lunch time these days. It was a very positive change for me. I get a lot more done and, after spending time with God, my day always goes better and I am a better mommy and person.

That being said, I now have only about 15 more minutes before quiet time is over and we have to get ready to go to town for swimming and soccer. So I am going to do a bit of catching up my reading right now. See ya!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011

The boys started Kindergarten on Monday of this week so today makes our second day of school. Yesterday I helped Ben and Nick create an All About Me page, including a first-day-of-school picture and some information about what they like at this age.

Age: 5 and 3/4 Height: 45 and 1/4 inches Weight: 44.8 pounds
My favorite food is: Cookies and toast with peanut butter
My favorite toy is: Legos
My favorite sport is: Soccer
My favorite thing to pretend is: anything with Aunt Kathy
When I grow up I want to be a: policeman

Age: 5 and 3/4 (actually, he will be 6 at the end of Sept!)
Height: 46 and 1/4 inches Weight: 48.4 pounds
My favorite food is: Cookies
My favorite toy is: Legos with police and jails
My favorite sport is: swimming
My favorite thing to pretend is: The sick man lying on the side of the road and Nick and Aunt Kathy find me and take me to the doctor and the doctor (Aunt Kathy) bandages me.
When I grow up I want to be a: policeman with a police truck

So far, this is how our routine goes. We start our school day around 9:00ish. This gives the boys some time to play and me some time to start a load of laundry or fold one, if I left one in the dryer the night before, and unload the dishwasher and clean up after breakfast, etc.

We start with a devotion and prayer, while sitting in the living room on the couch. On Mondays we read from an ABC Bible verses devotion book. I really like the Bible verses they use so we are going to be reading one devotion per week from this book and memorizing the Bible verse. The rest of the week, we read our devotion from the book "Leading Little Ones to God". The boys are also working on memorizing one character card per week. Nick is memorizing self control and Brn is memorizing perseverance.

After our devotion, we move to the kitchen island counter and work on writing. The boys each have a calendar notebook and they add the number for the current date on the correct day of their calendar. Then they update their 100's chart with the number for how many days we have had school so far. When we get to 100, we will go do something special together. After that, they do two pages of writing, each page is practicing one letter of the alphabet. We are using Handwriting Without Tears for this. Sometimes they first practice writing the letter on a small slate before trying it on their workbook page.

After writing, we do phonics and/or spelling. I had planned on taking turns, every other day and I may end up doing that at some point. For now, phonics is going pretty fast for us so we are doing a little of each. We are still using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading for phonics and we are using All About Spelling (Level 1) for our spelling program.

The last thing we do, for now, is Math. We are using Singapore Math 1A, which is actually a beginning first grade math program. The first unit was suppose to last a week and we finished it in two days but I think we will really slow down on the second unit. It will likely take us longer than what they estimated.

So far (only two days in:), the boys are really enjoying school. Of course, it is still new and interesting at this point so I'm sure there will likely be some push back at some point....maybe. Who knows, maybe not so much if we keep it moving and keep it interesting.

We are also reading another Little House book. We had already read the Big Woods and on the Prairie so now we are reading on Plum Creek. We usually read a couple of chapters before bed. We need to make some additional time for the boys to each read to me but we also need to get to the library to get some books for them to read. We are at a point where I have a hard time knowing what would be a good book for them to read. They were each taking turns reading a book about sharks the other night before bed. I think it was an I Can Read book, or something like that, and it was rated for 1st or 2nd grade. They did pretty well with it but there were some large words they had never seen before that they required help with, which is fine. I guess we just need to go to the library and look around and maybe ask the librarian what level she thinks might work. I think they are probably at about a mid to end of first grade level but I'm not really sure. I will also encourage them to read to themselves during the first 15 or 20 minutes of quiet time, once we get some library books.

Since the boys are ahead in reading and that is really my top priority for Kindergarten, I am planning to do school 4 days a week this year and our 5th day will be used for library trips, homeschool co-op and anything extra we find interest in, such as geography, science and history type stuff, although we will not be using a formal program for these. We will also be doing some work with music theory, since Ben is taking violin lessons. Nick is no longer taking lessons, for now.  He will still join in when we are learning music theory at home though and he will have to go to violin lessons with us when the dad is working, every other week.

At co-op on Fridays, the boys will both be in a p.e. class and also a childrens' choir, two Fridays of the month. The fourth Friday of the month, the boys will be doing some sort of community service project with co-op. I can't remember what the first Friday of the month is but I don't think we are doing anything that day. The boys will also still be in swimming lessons and soccer, both once a week.

So, that's it. Both yesterday and today we all had a fun time with school. Today, when I told the boys it was almost time to start school work, they both shouted down from upstairs, "OK, I like school" "School is fun!". So far so good. The question is how long will it last?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

August 7, 2011

Thought I would catch up on a few pictures, since it has been a while. The boys are really growing up. Way too fast, it seems. They will both be turning six in the fall (end of Sept and mid-Nov). Here are some updated pics of them:

This is Ben:
This is Nick:
They have been very engrossed in playing Rok-N-Bok (?SP?) lately. We packed it away when we moved from the old house and did not get it out at the rental house. So they had not seen it in quite some time. The good news is that they are now old enough that they can do it without help and they really enjoy it a lot. This set was bought for my nephew for Christmas many years ago. My sister saved it all these years (my nephew will be a senior in high school this year) and now my sons are getting to enjoy it too. So nice. The other thing they are very into these days is Legos. Thankfully we had lots of those given to us also from my nephew.
And they still love to play dress up. Games are also very big on the list these days.
Practicing in front of the mirror.
I really love the sound of the violin. Ben is doing very well and he now enjoys it more and wants to practice. Nick is hit or miss but normally does not want to practice. I am ready to end his lessons because I don't think it is worth the battle and I would rather focus on a good relationship between us and only fight battles that must be fought.

Here is our new family member.
She is a cutie. I think her behavior is improving, although she still attacks Dancer relentlessly. We are working on that. A little spritzer bottle of water has gone a long way in teaching her some better manners but we still have a long way to go.
She is growing so fast and it is amazing how much higher she can jump from one week to the next. She is especially very sweet when she is sleepy;).

And, finally, a few pics of the house. It was not particularly neat the day I took these pics but they are probably pretty realistic of day to day life around here.
Living Room:
Living Room, looking out on screen-in back porch.Kitchen:
Kitchen in foreground; Dining Room in background. The extra table is now gone but we will likely be doing a lot of our homeschooling stuff in this area. We practice violin here too and the boys' small desks are on the wall to the right. It is a delightful area to be in with all of the windows, as there are windows on the wall on the right, looking out on the back porch.Library/Play Room: This room is an awesome play area for the boys. It is right off of the kitchen/dining area. The desk on the left is going away and that is where our piano will go.
And stairs going up to the boys' rooms, the exercise room, a small loft play area and the attics. There is an adjoining staircase the goes up from the back foyer (coming in from the garage).That's it for today for pics. The heat here is still relentless. We finally had a little rain yesterday evening and it was so wonderful. We stood out on the front porch and just watched it and appreciated it greatly. We are hoping for more soon.

The neighborhood pool opened a few days ago. The dad and the boys are there now and they went for a short time yesterday. It is really nice and very close by so I am sure we will be regulars.

The boys said they would like to start school tomorrow but I am not quite ready. I still have a few more things to iron out before beginning so I think maybe one week later would be better. Additionally, my niece who has lived with us this summer is moving out tomorrow, back to her dorm at college, and we will be helping by taking a van full of things over there for her. Another niece will be flying in tomorrow late afternoon, after having been gone to California for half the summer. She has been on staff with a Christian camp. She wanted us to meet her at the airport. So I think waiting to start school for a bit longer will be best.

Well, the boys are back from swimming so I had best get busy.