Appreciating What We Have

Some days I wonder if I have totally let all character development go out the window, but now as I think about it, I see that it comes through the kids observing my actions as much as words being said.  … Continue reading

Of Domestic and Wild Animals: Present and Prehistoric. Reflections, K Week 28

Animals have definitely been on the fore-front this week, from those that roam the outdoors today, to those that live on farms, all the way to those that lived millions of years ago!  It was a wild week! On Wednesday, … Continue reading

365 Days of Homeschooling. Reflections, K Week 15

I wasn’t sure what to call this post: ‘365 Days of Homeschooling’ or ‘I Don’t Know What to Write About in My Posts Anymore.’  That’s not because I don’t have anything to write about, nor that we didn’t do anything this … Continue reading

Pre-pre-preschool, plus a poll – please vote! Reflections, Week 21

My Mom’s husband is my savior today – he took BOTH kids for a while, and I soooo needed a break.  You see, Paul has taken one whole nap this week, and over the course of the past 5 weeks or more, has spent multiple days per week not taking a nap, though we go through the routine every single day.  Every day, he falls asleep (except yesterday, I think, when he just seemed wide, wide awake).  He still nurses, and so falls asleep on the breast, he stays asleep when I lift him up onto my shoulder, cross the room, but as we stand in front of the crib or as I lower him into it, he opens his eyes and that is that.  It is very, very, very, very, very frustrating.  Did I say it was very frustrating?  It is.  Not just because of the ‘wasted’ time (it feels wasted though I know it really isn’t, but I could totally be doing other things in those 45 minutes), but because it makes it very difficult for Elizabeth and I to do our school because he gets into everything and is very distracting.  I am trying to employ different methods of dealing with him not sleeping, such as leaving him in his crib for a while to play and have a quiet time, or bringing him upstairs but leaving him in the Pack-N-Play for a quiet time, though he figured out how to get out of the Pack-N-Play today so my life is even harder now.  I have also called around for some advice.  Actually, if you have any, be my guest and leave it in the comments, ‘cuz I sure need it!

After some very teething-ish behavior the other night when Paul got up, I have deduced that he is probably teething – and has been, he is on his 4th tooth in these five weeks, two of which are molars.  So, he can’t be blamed for his lack of wanting to sleep, eh?  And if I stick firmly to the routine, he should fall back into it when it’s over.  Because A 20-MONTH OLD DROPPING A NAP IS NOT AN OPTION FOR ME.  So, please don’t leave that tid-bit of advice, because I won’t take it.  Anyway, (do I sound frustrated?) before the teething-ish behavior the other night, I got wondering if maybe he is understimulated.  He is very busy and quite bright, he was very responsive very early as an infant, but unlike the way in which I used to play with Elizabeth every day for hours, I think I have just been letting her entertain him because I think I need my house cleaner than it is or ever will be with two kids under five, or am lost in a thought that I need to get posted on my blogs.  It’s great that they play together – and they sure do – but maybe he would like/needs a little more.  The kids don’t go to a sitter because I’m here all the time, maybe we need some extra diversion, (that would be fun in Spanish).

I recall seeing a blog somewhere in which a mother had three young children, and she referred to her homeschooling activities as ‘preschool,’ ‘pre-preschool,’ and ‘pre-pre-preschool.’  I generally don’t think highly of pushing young kids into school, but it seemed like just a light-hearted title in which she did a more structured preschool with the oldest, and activities that included the younger ones as well.  I got wondering if Paul might like to do a pre-pre-preschool, he’s only 1 1/2, but he might enjoy doing fun little activities together, and Elizabeth and I might be able to incorporate them into our school, in ways in which she can help me put together props like liquid kaleidoscope bottles and making our own rainbow crayons.  Looking ahead, it might even make it easier to start school with Paul as he would be used to the routine of doing loosely structured activities all ready.  I have also wondered if spending some extra time with him during the day might help him wean completely from nursing because I’m feeling like I’m about ready to be done with it.  If nothing else, I would like to spend more time with him just to watch more closely as he grows.  He showed me the other day that he can put a puzzle back together, rather than just pull it apart – I didn’t know that!

Why is this relevant to Seed To Seedling?  I thought I might include it in my posts, because the blog is meant to be reflections to share with other readers but for myself as well, as a record to look back on.  It is also relevant because I feel like all that has been going on is helping me see where my arrow is being pointed in relation to wondering whether to stick with our current curriculum or go a different route when we finish it up (see last week’s post, Is Our Curriculum Good Enough?)  I am leaning towards going in a different direction, like with Global Village School.  I was worried though that the Global Village School curriculum is too flexible for me, or that I would be too lazy or lacking in self-discipline to put it together well.  Maybe I’m just scared that I will feel lost and not be able to make a proper plan, that I won’t be able to connect the dots that need connecting and Elizabeth will suffer for this or will be sent to public school.  It seems silly written down in front of me, but it’s a very real doubt I have, even though I’m not lazy and am quite self-disciplined, and I have enjoyed planning our school as I don’t follow the guide precisely.

But a few things this week have made me feel like maybe I do desire to be able to have more playing space within the curriculum to change and shape and mold and tinker:

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Side-view, taken by Elizabeth.

1- Elizabeth wanted to make a gingerbread house this holiday season, so I got some graham crackers, whipped up some homemade frosting and it worked!  It stood up with four walls, and had a roof!  In all honesty it kind of looked like a shack as you can see, but it was a standing shack!  Actually, she was ok with a shack, and we kind of joked about it being a fisherman’s gingerbread shack because she had chosen Swedish fish as some of her candy decorations.   This is important to me because it was not part of the curriculum, but something that Elizabeth wanted to do.  I haven’t been terribly excited with the Christmas unit in MBTP because it involves Santa, and we have had the no-Santa talk, but there are definitely mixed messages coming in to her from every angle because no one else in our family (except my older sister) really supports the idea, and making Santa decorations with school hasn’t helped.  But we had the materials, and she could see the images in the parent’s guide, so we did the Santa activities.  I can think of some other good winter-time books that I would have rather done, although the book that was included in the curriculum was very pretty.

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The fisherman’s gingerbread shack.

 

2-Contemplating doing the pre-pre-preschool with Paul and trying to incorporate those activities into Elizabeth’s school also makes me wonder if I do desire to have a curriculum that is a little bit more flexible, like Global Village, in which I decide what we will do.  (Am I becoming bolder?)

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Sparkly, homemade play doh, with a tiger, just because.

3- I have learned to move out of my comfort zone with some of the activities in Moving Beyond The Page thus far.  This week, an activity that was included in the unit was making play doh.  Making play doh is something that I never thought that I would do.  It was just something that I felt was too hard, too messy, has ingredients that I just don’t know what they are, etc.  I just felt like I was not at all interested in making play doh. But it was listed as one of the activities in the Christmas unit, so I decided that I would give it a try.  After numerous failed attempts at trying to find cream of tartar, I recalled that my grandmother had once made play doh with Elizabeth, so I called her to see if she could give me just the amount that I needed.  She agreed.  So finally, armed with all of the necessary ingredients, I went for it.  And it was easy!  I called my grandmother and left her a message to let her know that it was a success.  Afterwards, she said that I sounded excited in my message – because I was, I was elated that I had succeeded in making play doh.  Aren’t I dorky or what?!  Perhaps I could move out of that comfort zone, especially while learning along side Elizabeth.  Isn’t this part of what homeschooling is about?

Lastly, and in a completely different direction, I am contemplating dropping the “Reflections, Week…” in my post titles.  Do you think this would make them better/more interesting, or do you feel neutral about it?  Go ahead and vote:

 

Well, please leave me a comment if you have some sleep training advice for me on dealing with a 1 1/2 year old who does not want to take naps or go to sleep by himself.  I hope you all have a very merry holiday! 🙂

 

Reflections, Week 12

This week seemed incredibly uneventful somehow, though by the end of the week I had decided to skip church on Sunday for a day off. We are just plain old busy with raking the incredible amount of leaves that fall on our woods (but the kids do love the leaf piles), harvesting and freezing veggies from our garden before the first hard frost, and doing autumn chores like cleaning and closing up the storm windows for winter. My kitchen also needed a serious mopping because the toddler lets you know he is done eating by flinging food on the floor. Though it seems like it’s hardly worth going through the trouble of mopping because within hours, there is food thrown on the floor again, and, of course, orange juice spilled as well.

Never the less, Elizabeth and I snuck in school nearly every day thus week, almost purely with the motivation to move on to the Halloween unit. I don’t usually tell her until the moment of that we are beginning a new unit, because she will not want to finish up the current one, but somehow I let it slip this time.

We were still in Unit 6, Fireflies, which utilized 100 pennies for adding and counting. The pennies were supposed to be “fireflies.” It was very interesting to watch, as the concept seemed so simple to me, but for a 4-year-old, matching actual objects with number cards, then the pennies with the dots on the cards and working through how the dots and pennies were not the same size, allowed me to see her little brain working and developing. It was cute.

But she continues to be stuck on one idea for the acting activities. In the first and third units, we play acted like animals, and she is just glued to the idea and will not branch off of it. Our objective was to act like opposites, which is so broad that we could be anything as we were acting, but she would not go along with it even if we were animals acting in the opposite way. For a little bit we were fast cheetahs and slow turtles, but that was about all of it, over and over. It is fine, really, I’m not complaining that she loves to play act, just being aware of how it is with her. Play acting is definitely one of her favorite activities though.

Some other things we did this week:

  • Started reading Stuart Little
  • Made fingerprint F’s, plus some tiny fingerprint animals
  • She dictated a detailed account of her experience catching fireflies for me to write down
  • Made up silly and “spooky” songs about Halloween while being recorded

Busy Beginning

What a week – what a past couple of weeks – what a summer! Good, very good. Busy, yet not too busy, so that I can savor the weather, the green, the garden, the kids. It’s only August, so we still have two months left of nice, out-doorsy weather. (The voice in the back of my mind also says, “It’s all ready August?! The year is more than half over! Only two months left until the cold autumn weather…then…winter.” But I try to push that one away as it doesn’t have anything good to say.)

I decided to start school this past week, prepared, yet on a whim. Elizabeth and I have been doing workbooks each morning, as a prep, and I started the Spanish curriculum on Monday, but by Wednesday, she seemed a little disinterested, so to keep the ball going, I suggested we do the English curriculum and she was game. Though I think the parent guide and my big planner unguarded her a little, she was able to get into it each day. I know that teaching takes practice, I know that I’ve got to find my groove too.

So, we started on Monday and by Friday, I was contemplating skipping a day, but we didn’t. Afterward, I had a number of deep thoughts on our homeschool.

Setting the scene, I didn’t have any caffeine on Friday, so felt sluggish to begin with. I also had the pressure of preparing for the ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’ that we were going to host on Saturday. After doing Elizabeth’s work, I noted that I had kind of gone into it just trudging forth – and it’s only our first week. It occurred to me that though the units are set in five days/lessons, I don’t need to do five consecutive days (as I all ready messed up the perfect week by beginning on a Wednesday anyhow). Also, this past year Elizabeth went to nursery school only one day a week, is it necessary to go from one to five? No. We are starting a 30-week curriculum during the summer, which means that we have LOTS of time to get it done. Additionally, we are homeschooling pre-k, which isn’t obligatory for (most of) New York State, so we are ahead of the game, in my book. Lastly, we could start out at three days and work up to more. Isn’t that the joy of homeschooling – working at your child’s pace?

So, I was having good thoughts, looking at things from different perspectives, of which I am the queen. I also like patterns, so my next deep thought appeared at 3pm, as it had appeared before on previous days. My son was asleep, and I had done our normal nap time routine with Elizabeth because I thought she might be tired enough for a nap. She wasn’t, yet I needed some quiet time to write and think. On my other blog, Seedling, I recently wrote on Forcing Dropping The Nap, and though it was my idea,  am finding it exhausting to become accustomed to not having my daughter sleep in the afternoon. (As my computer is very sick and I am writing this on the iPad which doesn’t let me highlight to put in links, I will correct the link at my first opportunity. Until then, please look under the ‘Recent Posts From My Other Blog: Seedling’ at the right of the screen to be directed.) Tied in with dropping the nap, you see, is also the issue of pushing tv time back for school time. By Friday, I was feeling like school, then tv, then lunch, then Paul’s nap didn’t leave any time for play, especially out doors. And at 3pm Friday afternoon, when Elizabeth and all of her energy interrupted my quiet time, I felt that THAT was the chunk of the day that should be reserved for tv time so that I can do my own thing if she doesn’t sleep. Having at least made the decision that’s been brewing in the back if my mind, I’ve got to implement the rule and encourage her to be patient enough to wait until that hour to watch it.

On a different note, today, we hosted a successful ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’. 🙂 It was a small party, purposefully. We actually had more adults than children, because I had asked my mom and sister to help chaperone so that parents could choose to leave their child (and take a break), but only one did (out of three.) (Maybe it had something to do with the fact that auto spelling now tells me that I spelled chaperone wrong, so they may not have understood…). It was nice and low-key, and I tried to not stress about the state of the house (which rarely seems to get beyond ‘disaster’ no matter how much house work I do), especially as we were all outside. I also kept the treats and activities simple. We let the kids just free-played, then we all had snacks, after which, they went off on the bikes. Just when they were getting tired of that, my cousin showed up with her little girl and BUBBLES! Overall, I was pleased with the outcome of our little party. My mind even contemplates more get-togethers… A potluck in the park?… Hmmmm….

 

Busy (Quote)

“You are worried about seeing him spend his early years doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again.”

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762