So, I don't think I have it in me to maintain an exhaustively detailed update of everything we do. Especially since I am kind of cutting back for now, seeing what we can handle, and then will add back in "extras". Some notable things from the week, thus far:
Spud has done REALLY well this week with his lessons. He has only had one "poor attitude" incident, and that was today. I tried to help him shake it, but in the end, I asked him to go to his room until he felt ready to continue with a happy voice and happy face. He came down and did just fine after that. I talked to Noodle about the importance of responding to him with kindness, as I think her rudeness earlier in the morning had put him in a bit of a funk that he just wasn't shaking. During lunch prep, we had a nice conversation about how you can always look for things to be angry about. I said, "You could wake up every morning and think of a new thing to be upset about, and NEVER run out of things." We went through a number of examples, mostly ridiculous like, "Today I'm upset that I don't have my very own horse to ride," and "Today I'm going to be angry that I don't get to eat all the chocolate I want," but I think it made the point. Not that they'll remember it, but I plan to revisit the lesson in the not-too-distant future. I said that we can also look for things to be happy about, and told them how people who look for things to be upset about aren't as healthy because their bodies spend so much energy dealing with the bad emotions that they get worn down.
One thing that seems to work really well with Spud is explaining the why behind some of the parts of his schoolwork that seem pointless. He is definitely not a kid to do busy work. Also, when he asks me if he has to do something a certain way, or at all, I will explain to him what the idea is, and allow him to do it "his" way as long as it accomplishes the same goal. For example, in his Explode the Code book, yesterday he said he couldn't read the sentences because they were too small. I am pretty sure that his eyes are fine, but I know that smaller print can be hard for beginning readers, so I didn't push it and allowed him to skip that page. I asked him if I could type the sentences up and print them larger so he could do the page, and he said he thought that would work. So I did, and he did the page without problem today. Also, today he was supposed to "X" the box that went with the correct sentence, but he only wanted to do a slash instead of a full X. Since this is something that obviously doesn't matter, I allowed it. Also, I haven't been requiring that he do the pages where you have to write the words out, since his fine motor skills are not quite there yet. But he has chosen to do them, after asking me if he has to write in lowercase letters. I told him that it is preferred, as most of our writing is, in fact, in lowercase letters, but that he can use capitals or a mix of capitals and lowercase if he wants. I figure this isn't a penmanship exercise (no way I'm touching that right now), so it really doesn't matter. He is sufficiently exacting upon himself that I really don't feel the need to be at all critical of his writing attempts. He has been very good at asking how to write the numbers he doesn't know, and has been amenable to my gentle suggestions that he might find it easier to do them in such and such way.
Today we did something that I've been wanting to do for a looong time and we've just not really done it before (at least not quite so thoroughly). Noodle picked up the most recent National Geographic magazine that was on the counter since it just arrived this week, and asked about something on the cover. We started looking through it, and we looked through THE ENTIRE MAGAZINE together, reading photo captions, answering questions, etc. It was awesome! And it was interesting to all of us. We learned about the oil spill in the gulf, talked about kids born with cleft palates (there was a Smile Train advertisement in there), talked about mountain climbers on Everest, a paternal mouth brooding fish, Jane Goodall and what she's helped discover about chimpanzees over the past 50 years, prehistoric animals of New Zealand/Australia, and problems of overfishing in the ocean. Pretty fabulous science/geography/current events lessons, methinks. I know they won't remember all or even most of it, but I love the analogy of the grammar school years giving kids "pegs" to hang future information on. They need exposure to a lot of information, and they will be able to start to organize it and develop interests. I am actually amazed at how much they do remember.
One last thing, then I've got to get to bed. Noodle is doing a karate class with a couple of friends at a local charter school two afternoons a week. After talking to David, I realized that I really need to give Spud more attention. So on Tuesday, after Noodle left, he asked (as he always does) what he could do while she was gone. He's usually hinting around to watch extra cartoons and such, but this time I said, "Why don't we start reading your Captain Underpants book?" He was pretty excited about that, and he chose to read it up on his bed. We read the first 14 chapters (they are short chapters) and the next day he was so excited to read more. On Wednesday, we also went on a walk to collect cans from the neighbors and came home and made pudding to eat after our reading. It was a lot of fun to spend some quality time with him, and I look forward to continuing it. Captain Underpants is a pretty fun series. Noodle started reading it at bedtime tonight because she wanted to be in on the story, too. I'm a fan of all things that promote reading!