Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boyhood Leaps

My son has a diagnosis.  One I wish I could come out and name but I realize that his diagnosis belongs to him.  It is his information for me to take care of and protect.  As a result of this diagnosis I have been pushing thoughts about his future into my heart and it aches.  I worry about him and the world that he has yet to discover.  I worry about relationships he has yet to form.  I worry.

I have chosen to call his diagnosis "Worry" because that is what it is. Thoughts that are laced with anxiousness.  Worry makes him hyper, forgetful and extremely impulsive.  His hyperactivity stands out like a red bulls eye to me.  When I watch his eyes scurry from thought to thought and his feet jet from leap to leap I freeze.  My still body and frozen thoughts stand in direct opposition to his need for movement.  I look at his struggle to calm his actions, words and thoughts and I break.  I don't really know how to help him in this area.  I don't know what to do with energy that unravels like a ball of never ending yarn.  I feel frustrated at the constant reminders that are needed to keep him on track for minutes at a time.  I know it is not his fault.  But I can't find a home for blame.

The reason that I chose to home school has to do with the realization that a public school classroom wasn't made for kids like my son.  My days sitting behind the teacher desk taught me that school works best for the quiet, the compliant, and the female.  I know that home is where my son will get the best schooling.  However that doesn't mean that I don't struggle with my decision.  I struggle with watching him sit when he much rather leap.   I struggle with hearing his never ending questions, stories, songs and audible thoughts.  I struggle with him all day long.  How do I raise this child and bring honour to God?  How do I sow seeds of perseverance and stick-to-it-ness when I just want to throw my hands up and surrender.  How do I pick myself up after I know I have failed him that day?  Days that are pregnant with missed opportunities for praise, missed moments that build, and days that bleed into each other.

I search his face constantly for signs of that easy to please baby who slept, ate and cuddled on cue.  I am greeted with desperate eyes that hope he will make the right choices and land on his feet.  I search his frame looking for signs of the need to be soothed and calmed.  But he leaps.  He leaps out of my arms and into a boyhood that I am trying desperately to understand.

On another note: I am so excited about guest posting for (In)courage on Saturday.  Come back here for the link.  I talk about a very traumatic period that my family and I survived due to God's amazing love and caring friends.

Follow Along Fridays

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week @ a Glance

I am very late in writing this... We had a Mexican party at church and I was busy (happily) with that for a while.  It was lots of great fun.  Now back to school!

I am happy about the flexibility homeschooling offers.  Because I knew I wouldn't get much school work done with Cohen on Friday we did the Math for that day on Thursday.  I like our schedule but I like not being a slave to it even more.

-Greg took Cohen to our first Home-school co-op group at the library
-Signing out great books at the local library (they had homeschooling magazines too!)
-Hannah had her first swimming lesson today and she floated by herself, went under water and jumped into the pool!  Way to go Hannah!
-MOPS started!  It was great.

What's That? (What you might have heard if you were a fly on the wall.)
-"Hannah, you did a great job swimming today." Cohen
-"Grandma you are a princess and I am your King!" Kiran

I wish I could have:
-Put a way my laundry! (Still not caught up from last week! If I don't get it done by next week I am posting a picture of "the laundry room".)
-Done at least one night of our ABC Scriptures (This is the first week we have missed it!)
-Read a-loud to the children more.  (They loved The Princess and the Peanut Allergy.  It was such a sweet time for us.)
-Yelled A LOT less!

What they learned:
We continued exploring the number 5.  This time we used the 5 frame mat to understand the numbers that make 5.  This activity was great for visually demonstrating what looks like 5 and other numbers that make up 5.  We also used our fake double sided counters to see what numbers make up five in the shake and spill game.  Cohen really liked this.  We used red bingo counters and stuck stars to one side.  You could still see a bit of the star through the other side but it still worked.

These five frame strips are good to help children learn to identify a number without counting 1 to 1. You just flip through the strips quickly and have students tell you what they see.  You can use this with dot plates too!

We added one colour and then figured out how many of the other colour we needed to make 5.

I try to incorporate lots of writing in our math.  Here Cohen is recording the shake and spill game.  Later he will write about what he noticed while doing the activity.

Cohen wrote some good stories lately.  (And by stories I mean one sentence stories.)  We are working on  hearing the middle of the word.  He seems to have trouble hearing the middle of words.  I am going to use the box method to help him pay greater attention to the sounds.

We are also still working on fine motor skills.  The pre-printing exercises are great to help Cohen warm up before he prints.
Kiran was practicing his fine motor skills too!

What I learned:
I learned that our week can become very busy with the demands of life.  I learned that I can make time for what is important and let go of what can wait. 

That's our week in a nut shell.  Hope your week was as fruitful!

Thanks to Homeschool Creations for hosting this blog link!

preschool corner


Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Give Away Day!

On my other blog, Myrtle's Turtles, I posted some pictures for my new web site's launch.  This website is dedicated to women who create and pursue their passions.  Please visit the link above for pictures of our launch party and the amazing talented women.

Here is the give-away: Visit the website, Marmee's Circle.  Go to the Win page and follow the directions.  It is super easy.

What do you win?  A cute Nappy Pail - you have to see it.  Rock Star necklace by our talented accessories guru from Cherryappleart and a 10 pack holiday gift card from Lucky 7 designs.  This woman designs cards that are works of art.  Just check out this card... you have never seen anything like it!

Blessings to you and have a great weekend!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Week @ a Glance

I love this idea at looking back at the week and reflecting on our experiences in our home (sweet) school.

-realizing that I made the right decision to home school and loving every minute of it
-growing closer to my children as I teach them both academics and faith

What's That? (What you might have heard if you were a fly on the wall.)
-"Mama, I really lo- like you a lot.  I love our school (bashful smile)." Cohen
-"I did it.  I really did it." Kiran
-"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9...1...etc.." Hannah, counting out loud for the first time

I wish I could have:
-paused before responding to Cohen's whining (I would have responded much better.)
-hugged Hannah more today
-put away my laundry (How will I ever catch up?!)

What they learned:
We continued exploring the number 5.  We used the bead in a bag activity I found at The Activity Mom.  Cohen really liked it! We took it further and drew the results in his math book.  We continued with the writers workshop.  I am really pleased with how Cohen is leaving spaces between words.  He is also good at articulating his words slowing and recording the sounds.  I am so proud of him.   We explored the letter O this week.  We linked this with the ABC scripture series from Impress Your Kids.  We looked for Os in the magazines and fliers.  We also practiced printing Os on the chalkboard and on paper.  Kiran worked really hard at his printing.  

What I learned:
I learned that my tone of voice needs to soften.  This has always been a challenge for me.  I am a born yeller and need to curb this in order to really teach gentleness. (We are using Kids of Integrity's lessons.  The first one we started was gentleness.  It may take a while!)

That's our week in a nut shell.  Hope your week was as fruitful!

Thanks to Homeschool Creations for hosting this blog link!

preschool corner


Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Home (Sweet) School Rules!

I usually let Kiran participate in the printing section.  He is working on pre-printing work.

Our home school includes all four children in one room at one time with ages ranging from 4 months to 4 years old.  It can be a challenge to stay on track.  Because I try to make the environment as relaxed as possible I don't have very many rules.  I find that because the kids get so much attention they are not always seeking it.
Play dough is always a good distraction!

While I work with Cohen (the 4 year old), my two toddlers play at the quiet table, do a puzzle, or play in the doll house.  Sometimes they want to join in and I try to accommodate where possible.

I have rules & guidelines: (Rules are for the children and the guidelines are for me.)
1. Quiet music during quiet work.  This helps to calm Cohen quite a bit.
2.Redirecting will take place when necessary.  Cohen has trouble staying on task so instead of getting upset with him for not focusing I just remember to redirect his attention.  It can be frustrating but it works.
3. No playing with Cohen during lessons (This one can be especially hard for the toddlers!)
4.Clean up after yourself
5. Get your own materials for the activities.  I like to encourage independence.
6. Make it meaningful and fun wherever possible.

I think Kiran has had enough!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

You Can Count on Cohen

Cohen hard at work counting (one to one).  I usually have an independent quiet activity set up in the classroom the night before.  After breakfast Cohen goes directly to the classroom and gets started.   

Way back in my early years of teaching I was given the amazing opportunity to train 19 schools on effective early math strategies.  I was really the one being trained.  I learned more about teaching math than most teachers get in years.  What a grateful heart I have because of this opportunity.  Most of the math stuff I use for our home school will come from this training.

One of the most important numbers children need to understand is 5.  Later on as they begin to use larger numbers to add and subtract, the numbers 5 and 10 will come in very handy.  Here is an activity that helps children grasp the concept of 5.

We did this together on our Wallies Chalkboard

We wanted to read a story about mittens but I forgot. (It happens all the time.)  We took this activity from one of the lessons in my training book.

Pose the problem:  Grandmother Sally needs to sew gloves.  She only has two colours.  How many different gloves can she make?

We started off by drawing one glove at a time on the board.  I invited my son to colour in the fingers a particular colour and then asked how many would the other colour be.  I explained that there are different ways to make 5.  

We moved to our desk and used a sheet with a hand print on it and continued with the same discussion.  I placed all the gloves in front of him and asked what he noticed.  He explained that some of the gloves were the same.  We talked about how they were the same and how they were different.  (Example: Cohen said the green and the red were the same numbers just different colours.)  This reflection time is so important.  Most of the learning is retrieved here.  

When we were done our discussion Cohen cut out the gloves.  We made it into a book.  I encouraged Cohen to use words, numbers and pictures while were working on this activity.  This helps to ensure understanding and represents a complete way of answering a question.  We continued to talk about the different ways we made 5.  Then we went back to the problem and answered the question. 


To continue our discussion on 5 we are going to try this bead in a bag activity I found at The Activity Mom. I'll let you know how it goes.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dad's Homeschool

I just found the HomeSchool Village and their topic struck me.  When I started homeschooling I often wondered how this would impact on my husband's interaction with the children.  They spend more and more time with me which hopefully is not a bad thing.

However, my husband has found a way to stay connected and involved.  He takes our son to the YMCA on most days.  This allows my son the opportunity to get some serious play and exercise time.  Did I mention before that we have very high energy boys?  So the physical component of our day is crucial.  If my sons do not get physical activity there are serious consequences.  My husband tries to take them for bike rides, parks and the YMCA on a regular basis to make sure they get what they need.  This is a valuable part of their homeschooling day!


As Promised- The Writers Workshop Video

Here is a lesson on how to help your child write.  Some things to keep in mind:
-We are a young family (the children- not me) so there is a bit of noise in the background
- I am wearing my PJs - sorry no pics of the teacher!
- My video skills will imporve- I promise!

Hope you enjoy it!  Let me know if any of this is useful!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writers Workshop Wednesdays - Talk About It!

Every Wednesday I will post a focus for the writing for the week.  These tips are just little tid bits that make up the whole experience.  They are geared towards primary aged children.  Hope it is helpful!

I am looking forward to writing with our son today.  He loves to talk and that is a big part of this activity.  The most important part of this activity is the conversation.  In order for children to write they need lots of good conversation to fuel their imagination.

Here are some things to remember when writing:

  • The conversation should not include lots of questions but should flow to encourage their own thoughts and language.  This will be more meaningful for the child.   I like to start it by talking about something I know they are interested in.  In our house it is cars, Spiderman, trucks, and everything else in boy land.

  • After the conversation ask the child, "What can you write?" and listen.  It will take a while for the child to get the idea but trust me this is a much better we to get children to write.  Once the child gets a sentence (or two depending on age/development) ask the child to start writing right away.

  • Don't try to change the language to make it sound "better".  If the grammar is off, then model it during the conversation component.  
Fingers crossed applesauce.  

I will try to post come clips later.
I would love to hear ideas and see what worked for others!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On Our Way

Today was a good day for Home Sweet School.  It was packed with activities and meaningful talk.  The great thing is that it didn't feel rushed or forced.  We floated from one activity to the next and had very few bumps along the way.

I did however notice how difficult it was for my son to keep physically calm.  My heart went out to him as I watched him dart from thought to thought.  I had to bring him back to the activity at hand several times.  It brought home how much he needed homeschooling.  How difficult it must have been for him last year to focus when his mind was so distracted by the business of a regular classroom.

Here is a break down of our day:

I usually put out a morning activity the night before.  My son really needs help with his fine motor skills so we are doing a lot of printing work, cutting and stenciling.  Right now we are using printing sheets where you have to trace over the gray letters.  I decided to let him use the animals stencil since we will be going to the zoo on Friday. (Thank Grandma for the zoo membership!)

After he stenciled the animals he coloured them in and then chose 3 to cut out.  This was tricky but really helped him develop his fine motor skills.

He chose the giraffe, mountain goat, and cheetah to cut out.  It was difficult but we did it together.  He glued the 3 animals to a page divided into three.  When we go to the zoo on Friday he will draw their surroundings.  I plan to incorporate our zoo trips with our science as much as possible.

The highlight of Cohen's day- eating local honey from a honeycomb.

Kids of Integrity has great lessons on the fruits of the spirit.  We decided to make the Gentleness Quilt.  In discussing gentleness we turned to a verse for help.  The verse talks about pleasant words being like a honeycomb.  It was perfect because I had some honeycomb on hand from our favourite farm, Hy Hope in Ashburn.  My son had never had fresh honey before so he was excited to taste it.  We talked about how it feels to eat something sweet and hear something nice.  It was a great discussion.  Then we moved on to the quilt.  I drew letters while my son cut them out.  For directions on the quilt visit Kids of Integrity.

More fine motor work!

Cohen was so proud of the quilt that he re-entered the room to get the full effect.

After lunch I did a reading and writing assessment on Cohen.  He is very strong in some areas.  It surprised me how strong he was.  I wrote down the things he has difficulty with and will tackle them one at a time.  My training as a Reading Recovery teacher taught me that time is precious.  I don't waste time teaching kids something they already know.

At bedtime Cohen and I chatted about his old school.  He said he wanted to visit his old school even though he liked Home Sweet School.  I told him it is okay to miss his old school.  He also talked freely about the difficulty he was having at his old school.  At the end I reassured my very social child that he would have lots of opportunity to make friends through  choir, Awana, swimming, and our home school club.  Our fireside chat was the perfect ending to a great day of learning.


P.S.  Cohen will be writing from time to time.  Look for his new posts!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Coming Soon!

We are hard at work setting everything up.  We will be back soon.
Cohen & Mama