Friday, September 17, 2010

Week One - We survived!

Monday was rough, as it seemed that whenever I was in the middle of something with Spud or Noodle, the only thing that kept Sprout happy was wreaking massive destruction. The older kids did well on their lessons, but I was beyond frazzled by the end of school that day.

Tuesday was good but crazy and not super productive. We hosted Boys Club that afternoon, so we had the house to tidy and things to get set up in the backyard for that. It turned out really well, so I'm excited. The plan is for the Boys Club to have an activity and a field trip together every month. I am so glad it all came together, as it was hard to organize something with a bunch of people that I'd not met before. I think it will be a good mix, though. All of the parents who came seemed like pleasant, agreeable, fun people. Spud seems to me making connections with some of the boys, which is my primary goal, so hooray!

Wednesday was AWFUL. For reasons unknown to me, Spud is the sort of kid who really needs expectations spelled out explicitly. David and I had talked about this, and I was trying to implement a system of using a script to spell out expectations with our various school activities, but I didn't have one for one activity, and I don't know what triggered it, but he kind of went nuts. I could re-post what I wrote on a homeschool forum I'm a part of, but I don't feel like rehashing it. Suffices to say, he was very determined to NOT do a certain part of the lesson/exercise, and went crazy, screaming that I was torturing him. Then, after getting to the point where we finally completed the lesson, we had another explosion during lunch preparation. So, a couple people recommended a book called The Explosive Child, so I ordered it used from Amazon. It's gotten a lot of good reviews, so I hope it will have some specific strategies that might help me. Most of the time, Spud is really easy-going, but when he gets "stuck," it's terrible.

Thursday and today were both good days. We discovered today that Noodle definitely needs to do her math in the morning, as today a single assignment took over an hour, and she made a lot of errors. Most of the week we'd been doing it first thing, so I think we'll set that as the standard.

For Spud, here's what we are doing for Kindergarten:
Explode the Code Book 1 - I am requiring a page per day, but I think somedays he will voluntarily do more. One day this week, he did three. I think ETC will work well for him because it allows him to learn/review some material on his own. I did get the teacher's manual (I didn't have it when Noodle did Books 1 & 2, but found it was useful when I ordered it when she started Book 3), so I do hope to be able to do short instructional lessons with him (if we can avoid future meltdowns), but it's nice that it is fairly independent. His writing ability is really lagging, but I'm not worrying about that at all. He is trying to write, and doesn't seem too bothered by the fact that he can't make all his numbers/letters correctly, so I'm not going to stress it. I did print out and make a handwriting exercise book for him. I'll see if I can interest him in it eventually. We are doing Treasure Hunts from this book, though I've typed them up and made my own. We do one every morning, he earns a sticker, and at the end of the week, he can trade in his stickers (though I don't actually require him to give them to me, as we put them in his sticker book) for a "Mystery Car" (a hot wheels wrapped up in decorated butcher paper). He really likes these. For the early ones, there are a lot of pictures, so they don't actually HAVE to read, but he is learning some new words and being willing to try sounding them out, so I figure it's a major step forward. We are also doing Math U See Primer, a page a day. Finally, we are doing "Reading Activities," which is a bin I put 5-8 different activities in (beginning readers, flash card sets, things from Happy Phonics, Talking Words Factory DVD, Phonics Concentration (a simplified version of this game, and other stuff as I find/come up with it). He can pick 1, 2 or 3 activities. Two activities/day puts him on the "Yellow Track," three/day puts him on the Green Track, one is on Red Track. For Yellow or Green (or in between) he can earn a special prize at the end of three weeks. For Red, nothing special. I am doing a similar thing with Noodle's math to help her feel motivated to work independently and at an increased pace. He has been quite cooperative with the Reading Activities, so that's been nice. He is also doing lessons on Road To Reading, and he likes those as well. I figure we'll keep working on those as long as he is interested and enjoying them.

So, that's our Kindergarten. He also joins us for Story of the World, Vol. 2. We didn't start Science this week, but he'll join us for that as well.

I'll post Noodle's studies later. I'm tired of thinking about school.

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