Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A (not-at-all) brief overview of the past month...

Once again, I haven't been posting. Yes, there's that contract work but we also traveled which took up some time and energy. You don't believe me? Think I'm just making excuses? Here's proof. We don't have trees or hills like that in Texas.

While we were there, the Monkey discovered his cousins' wii. Here he is bowling. Great form, no? I'll be sure to capture the expression on his face come Christmas morning when there is NOT a wii under the tree.

The kids and I carved some pumpkins. And by that, I mean they helped for the first, oh, 2 minutes, until they saw the goo and seeds that needed to be removed, followed by the flies that were attracted to the goo and seeds baking in the hot October sun. After that, I did all the work while they played in the yard. They would occasionally come over to check my work and evaluate how closely I was adhering to the blueprints they provided. In the end, they were satisfied and I was later paid with twix bars.

The standard Halloween photo.

The Duckling wrote her name for the first time.  Meaning she wrote the letters in correct direction and order. More amazingly, she had forgotten the "n," recognized that, and squeezed it in right where it belongs. She's never been shown how to write her name and has never been instructed on how to write her letters, with the exception of asking a few times how to write particular letters. Unschooling at work.

Kids, don't play with fire!! (unless your mother hands it to you after dipping it in melted wax to create a torch.) There's actually so much to say about this - about how I think it helps them, especially the Monkey, feel in control and independent and how I want to make sure they don't grow up in the bubble of paranoia and fear that seems to have claimed our society.  But for now, I'll let the pictures describe the moment

Remember our ant farm?  Here's an update. In case the photo isn't clear, they are indeed all dead.  Apparently, digging those two small tunnels took the life out of them. And we missed seeing them dig the tunnels because of the Hurricane.  Best money I ever spent.

The Monkey learned to ride without training wheels this past weekend.  Thanks to the wonderful advice from a friend, it took about 15 minutes.  He was very proud of himself, and rightly so.

As for the homeschooling portion of our lives, here's a rundown:

We are a little more than halfway through with Singapore 1B. We are currently finishing up multiplication.  It is going well but it is the area that causes the most frustration for both of us, not because of his abilities but because of his distractability. Though, he was much more focused and excited about multiplication so I am hoping the frustration was a result of his boredom from working on material that he clearly knew.

We are on week 13 of Writing With Ease but I've skipped a couple of weeks that seemed redundant. That was hard for me to do - to skip something.  And it comes back around to my own process of deschooling.

We are enjoying history but aren't as far along as I thought we would be. I think we are on chapter 8 from Story of the World. We spent a lot of time on Egypt and I am glad I haven't felt the need to rush him through it. He loves history and wants to delve deeply into the topics. If it takes us two years to get through Ancient History than so be it.  I want to move at his pace so that he continues to love history.

I'm not moving at his pace for science. I'm moving much, much slower than he would like.  He wants to do science every day and I find it to be too labor intensive and I end up not following through.  I am working on this, though, and plan to go on an earthworm dig with him tomorrow night.  I like our science program so-so (R.E.A.L. Science: Life) though I wish it was more literature based.  My ideal science program would be to read a few books about a topic, like earthworms, and then do one lab.  I could make this program work like that.  I need to evaluate both the program and my own hang-ups with this.

We haven't been keeping up with our read-alouds, except for picture books with the Duckling during the day.  His independent reading has taken off and he is currently on Harry Potter #3.  I don't want to pull him away from a book he is engrossed with to read to him.  I think we'll get back around to our read-alouds once he is finished with the Harry Potter books (I'm not sure how many he'll read - things get a bit dark in #4)

He does very well at Mind Benders and enjoys them. I bought him the 2nd book today. We haven't been doing much from Handwriting Without Tears because Writing With Ease seems to give him enough practice. We've only done two lessons from Artistic Pursuits, which is a shame because they both enjoy it.  I just haven't been able to fit it in the way I had planned.  He is still asking a lot of questions about grammar.  Writing With Ease hasn't filled that as much as I would have liked, though it isn't the program's intent. Perhaps we'll start with Growing with Grammar after the new year.  

The Monkey is doing well with piano lessons and the Duckling enjoys her Kindermusik class very much.  They both enjoy their nature classes and it is quite interesting to watch the Duckling go through the same class that the Monkey did.  She is very different from him in a way that I didn't expect. She is reserved and quiet during the class, rarely answering or asking questions, and sticking close to me. It is very unlike her and I wonder if it is from being expected to be quiet while her brother was in the same class just last year.  Or, it may be that her interest in the subject isn't as high as his.  Whatever the reason, I find it intriguing to notice the differences. 

All in all, all is well.