Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quick Takes

Once again, joining my favourite reality star, Jen, today!

1. about a homeschool edition of quick takes?  It's been awhile since the last time I updated everyone on the goings-on at our little homeschool in the woods.....before getting into the nitty-gritty of a school update, a quick health/gym update for me.....after gaining back 20 pounds of my 40 pound weight loss....I'm happy to say that I'm back down 10!  Woot! Woot!

2.   Alright, on with the schooling update.  We've had a lot of "life skills" lessons recently - mostly because our little neck of the woods has pretty much constantly looked like this:

Remember that snowstorm that 1/2 of the meteorologists thought was going to hit us and the other 1/2 thought was going to leave us alone?  Yeah.  It hit us.  I was very glad we went to the vigil Mass on Saturday night, as there was NO way I was leaving my house on Sunday morning!  Our 5-9 possible inches of snow turned into a good 14 inches of wet, heavy, snowman-building snow.   The boys and I got many chances for PE classes as we shoveled out our super long driveway.   We have one snowblower to share with our neighbours right now (we share the driveway) because theirs broke in the last snowstorm, so it was a communal effort to get us cleaned out a couple of times.    One thing I do love about living in Maine is that snow storms seem to build community - we're all out there together, even in the woods, laughing and working towards a goal of clearing out the drive.   Add in the fact that the day after typically looks like the picture above - brilliant blue skies and pristine white snow - and I actually kind of like the fact that we've had 3 snowstorms in two weeks now.

3.  Rascals #2 and #3 working hard on their lessons, earlier this week.  Rascal #2 is getting so close to being an independent reader - and he's determined to write, write, write now that he's reading more readily.    He doesn't seem to mind my insistence that once you're reading well.....your handwriting needs to be perfected so that OTHERS can read well.   I'm taking advantage of that!  Rascal #1 has atrocious handwriting and no amount of practicing seems to get it through his head that others need to be able to read what he has written.   Rascal #2 is affirming my handwriting obsession, thankfully!  Rascal #3 is insistent on "catching up" to his big brothers.  He's 3 years behind in age, but he's determined not to let that stop him.   He gets so upset if I don't plan enough work for him during school time - if he's done before the others, I have to quickly invent more schoolwork to keep him occupied.   He wants to do just as much as the big boys!

4.  This isn't necessarily school-related, but I'm going to included it.  Legos (in my humble opinion) aren't just fun and games - they force Rascal #1 to really work on his spatial reasoning, not to mention his attention and focus.   This set, labeled for 10 years of age and up, took him 20 minutes to put together.   This child can "see" things and structures in his head like no one else I know - I think we have a future architect on our hands.   Add in the fact that he saves up his own allowance and shoveling money (the boys shovel our drive and our neighbors to earn spending money), and Legos become a math lesson.    Real life learning, at its finest!

5.  I'm required to teach the boys in specific subjects, according to our state.  This is fine, except for the fact that the curriculum we have chosen, for various reasons, does not have a definite lesson plan in some of those subjects.   I've been able to "farm out" some of them (physical education = gymnastics, fine arts = music lessons, for example), but it's a bit harder when it comes to science and history.    We follow a classical curriculum, which focuses more on literature, mathematics, and religion, and doesn't bring in structured science and history until the later primary grades.   With Rascal #2 only being in "1st" grade, I've had to create our own science and history lessons.   It's a bit stressful - trying to create something that will fulfill the requirements - but it's also been fun.   I can structure what we do around his likes and dislikes.   We've been blessed with an abundance of awesome books geared towards the elementary age (thank you, Scholastic warehouse sales), and so I've been letting him pick out books off of our bookshelf, and we've been exploring them together.   It's been fun to see his mind work and to see him get really excited about whatever we're researching.  This week (and we'll continue into next week), he's been looking up various insects.   I've had him creating poster presentations on the various bugs he's learned about.   He's so proud of all of his little bugs crawling all over the house.  

6.  Oh, homeschooling.   Pretty sure breakdancing isn't on the curriculum at our local school.  ;)

7.  Hmmm.....what else can I say?   How about a quick evaluation of each child?

Rascal #1:   excelling in his music lessons (piano), loving his science and history lessons.   Struggling with writing, but is slowly progressing now that he has found a new love of reading.  Biggest hurdle with Rascal #1 is getting him to sit still and take his time.   He's definitely a member of the "get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time possible" team - no perfectionist here, when it comes to writing.  His creativity amazes me every day.    He has an uncanny ability to memorize and recite poetry, and this also seems to make him a natural for learning a second language (Latin).

Rascal #2:  Way ahead of grade level in math - this child can beat his older brother in any math competition.   In order to challenge him, he has to work about 2 grade levels ahead, but he cannot read well enough to do that yet.   I have to read him the directions and word problems, but he can solve them almost instantly.  Biggest struggle with #2 is his confidence when it comes to reading and writing.  He has a hard time with reading and is very worried about making a mistake.  He is definitely a perfectionist when it comes to language-related tasks - a complete opposite of his bigger brother.  His attention to detail is impressive, and his complete grasp of all things theology takes my breath away.   I'm daily reminded, through Rascal #2, of how we are all called to childlike faith.  This child just *gets* it.

Rascal #3:   An interesting preschooler.  He's not a fan of anything creative (colouring, cutting and pasting, arts and crafts), but is a HUGE fan of worksheets and repetition.  He loves flashcards, and is working on learning all of his letter sounds and names, as well as how to write them.   Just don't ask him to colour code anything......He's a very determined little boy and really wants to be able to read on his own.    He's definitely my most challenging student (I think just because of his age), but he's also the one who is most excited to start his lessons every day.  His love of learning inspires me and keeps me going during the cold February dreariness!


Have a great weekend, y'all!  We'll be in Boston for a big gymnastics meet!  Say a prayer that all goes well and I'll share pictures next week!

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