Saturday, November 24, 2007

November 23, 2007

Today was strange. Nala started off doing writing and wanted to read a book she picked out from the library. The Box Car Children. The book looked a little advanced, the chapters were longer several words that were too big for her but I thought she could still read it and get the idea. She started reading and was just not happy with it. I kept telling her you don't have to read it but she kept saying wanted to but would mumble through everything. I finally just got up and left saying when you're ready let me know. She was just difficult and we were both what I don't know.

I don't force her to do anything. I think our style is a bit structured at times because Nala seems to like that it's like school (sitting at the table) and I do enjoy actually "seeing" what she's learning, through a lesson, plan etc. We are also eclectic because it's not always the same everyday, I allow her to choose what she wants to do, and I'm up for playing games all day or just going on a trip and hanging out. Sometimes I'll suggest something and if she's like no I say ok what about this.

Hubby let her get on the computer and they've been going to Nick Jr to play games and sing songs there. About a 1/2 hr later I asked if she wanted to read some more and she said no. I said what about a science project and she agreed. So off we went to the park to do a nature walk and look at a wild field. This study of non living and living things was probably meant to do in the spring or something but it is fall and very cold and we didn't see anything moving around except the ducks. When we came back in she wrote in her nature journal.

I found a cool website that has sample lesson for gifted children and we did cardinal locations which went along with our map study we've been doing. Nala was very interested and I was so excited about that. I found a game a while back where you pick a card and follow the directions "move north 2 spaces", "move west 1 space". Nala did excellent and she knew each direction.
There's still a 2nd part to the lesson and we'll do that in the next couple of days.

I also see I'm getting more relaxed. I would say Ok lets do some math and she's like I don't like subtraction and I would say ok we'll only do 10 minutes of it and she would say ok. I see that I could get a better reaction if we do it informally--in the car, cooking etc.

Example: Today on the way back from our nature walk I point out that the leaves left a print on the sidewalk from the rain..she starts counting, all the way up to 130. She got stuck on how to say 110 so I helped her and she was able to count the rest of the way herself. Another time we were in the car eating cookies..and I said there were 10 cookies, i have 2 to you and 2 to Nina, how many were left. She said the correct answer.

Today out of no where she says Look 4 quarters equal a dollar and 2 quarters equal 50 cent. I was so pleased cause I told her that informally and she remembered!

We also learned about Ancient Mesopotamia and with the arts and crafts she really seemed interested. That's a great little book I found, I'm glad it's working.

Today was a good day.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 22, 2007

I am so old fashioned. I love writing but I prefer the paper and pencil way. Although I love being on the computer it's hard to keep up with this blog thing.

I feel like we havent done much work. With trips and holidays we have just gotten in some reading and writing in the early morning but none of the science and history I had planned. We have done math in regular everyday activities like shopping and cooking.

I'm trying to stay cool and let Nala take the lead and be ok with it. A few days she was like I don't want to do this or I don't want to do that. I'm like look you can't just sit around and do nothing. When I fight and push she doesn't want to do anything but when I stand back sometimes she takes the lead and says I want to write or something. Tonight she was writing and doing this worksheet I found where it introduces similar sounding words, they have to unscramble the words and then write them in sentences that have to have at least 5 words in them and not start with I. She does really great. I'm so proud of her. When she was done she says can we do a spelling test. I'm like uh sure. Its 830pm, who says learning has to take place during the day right?

So I give her a spelling test of all the words we have been doing with the vocabulary building worksheets...There's only like 3-5 she doesn't know so we will do like she did them in school. mostly cause i think it really works: write them 3 times, put them in a sentence, alphabetize them and then we'll have a spelling test. I'll also do an oral spelling test so she can get used to spelling off her head as well as written.

I got tips from another fellow homeschooler. She does dictation. I don't remember how old her children are but I think that would be great skills for Nala. Something small, something she already knows like the girl scout promise, law and song.

We joined a group where Nala looks up info on a particular country and we bring in food related to that place. The country next month is Mongolia and Nala decided to talk about music. She says she doesn't want to do it but I'll have her write a couple of sentences about their music, we'll bring in a sample and I'm making Eggplant Salad. Of course she will help. I hope she will begin talking and playing with kids. That's what i really want.

I'm looking forward to the 28th and the 30th though, I finally get to meet up with a new group I'm interested in joining. The leader is extremely helpful and I really want Nala to hit it off with some kids in the group. We'll see, I'm very excited though. There is a dinner on that Friday and I'm making cranberry sauce.

I've talked to a few other people family, friends and associates about my decision to homeschool and their first reaction is "What was wrong?" LOL i laugh. Does something have to be wrong? Does my child have to be doing horribly in school? Does she have to have a problem of some sort? Maybe I just felt like it. That should be my new reason and maybe the discussion won't be so long...with some of the older people "Why arent they in school?" "Don't you get tired of being with them all day?"

The experience has been getting better and better though. However Nina will be going back to preschool, until this summer. She gets a nap there and she really needs one. This will free up more time for Nala and I to get work done or get out and about. But come Sept 2008 when Nina starts kindergarten, I will bring her home to homeschool. She wouldn't get a nap in kindergarten and by then hopefully she won't need it, but for now I believe this is really the best choice. I'll continue to be an active parent and teacher as I have been and she will understand homeschooling better next year. Now she just wants to go back to school. Still deciding if Natasha will try school or just stay home with in January. It would be nice to have some quiet time with just Nala to get things done without all the interruption. As she gets older it will be easier, but she's 2 ya know.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Reading Levels

I was concerned about trying to find the right reading level for Nala. When we were at the library I picked out some books I thought would be perfect for her. While on the bus she sped through all of them. I asked her what each one was about and she told me. Wow, so they're way too easy for her.

I went to the library later that day on my own and looked around. I found a book part of a series called Miami Jackson plays it straight by Patricia McKissack. It seemed to be a 2nd grade level intro to chapters. I showed it to Nala and she immediatly said it's too hard. It did look different than the books she was used to. The words were smaller and it was more pages. The next morning we sat down and started to read. She did fine. Sure there were a few words she didn't know. Some she sounded out, some she couldn't, I wrote it down, helped her pronounce it and gave her the definition. I wrote questions down as she read. She read about 4 pages and then I asked her about 5-6 questions about it. She answered all of them right but one. She understands it! I was happy that I finally pinpointed her level. So now we have a reading book and I'll write down questions from the books we read and she can answer them.

I mentioned this to my new friend, founder of the homeschooling group I will be joining, and she said I was doing the right thing. She also encouraged me to read while she listens as this is another skill that she needs to learn.

I'm glad I'm on the right track to helping Nala become an excellent reader.

Playing Catch up

Wow almost a week since I've written. We've been to the library twice this week. Nala has been reading for a 1/2 an hr in exchange she is getting a dollar off her library fines. Although it's mostly fun reading for her, easy, it's still a chance to learn some new words and do something she really enjoys. I didn't even have to force her and when we went back the 2nd time she was so excited to do it. Gotta love that!

I'm still waiting for my books I ordered from Classical Eduation, the History and Science books. I've been looking for books that I need to complete the book list for the History portion but I can't find them. I alread bought one from Amazon. I'm so disappointed. I may just send the History book back because it's basically just a lesson plan book and doesn't make any sense in keeping it if I can't find the books to go with it, On a positive note I ordered these history pocket for the ancient world was which to support the History Lesson book. I can keep the pockets because there's a fact sheet and activities/coloring to do. I can find my own additional resources to compliment it. So basically I'll be making up my own History curriculum.

We tried the Singapore Math and I think it's a great book. It seemed to be really good with teaching grouping and I think Nala really understood it. I'm eager to get to the addition and subtration section as this is an area I beleive she is struggling with.

We have been doing coins again for the 2nd day in a row. She knows the values, she knows how to count by 5s and 10s and 2s but she's having trouble going from 10, 20, 20 to a nickel then back to a dime again. She doesn't even have to know that as a first graders, so maybe this is a skill she is just not quite ready for and we'll revisit it later in her first grade year. I found myself getting frustrated so I let it go. I think this is the best approach.

I think I will focus on the basics, what she's supposed to know, I'll try going a little further and if she doesn't get it then fine move on and re visit it later, just as long as she knows and understands the basics that's all that I really want.

We have a full schedule this month. I'm excited about all the places I have scheduled for us to visit. Nala is excited too. She started double dutch on Wednesday and she did so great. She really loves it and the kids that were there were so helpful and just plain nice. I hope she makes friends. I'm even more excited about the homeschooling group I'm going to join. I've been speaking with the President and she is just a wealth of knowledge, helpful and always answers
any questions I have. They only meet once a month, there are trips about 2x a month but there are just so many people to meet. If I can just meet 2 families who have kids similar in ages to mine, it would be so great to meet weekly. I am just really driven on Nala meeting other homeschooled girls and boys. I want her to fully enjoy this experience as much as I am.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hall of Science and choosing a curriculum

So I a life long Queens girl who drives all around Queens to Long Island took the train with my 2 kids. I left the 2 yr old at home with dad...even he was nervous about that. But with the 2 oldest it wasn't so bad. We met up with my friend and her son at the Hall of Science and had a ball. We got there at 2p for the free admission and took our time going through the experiments. It was just so much fun. 3 hours late we made our way home on the train again. Not too bad, I thought we would run into the crowded subway but it was not the case. Overrall I think I prefer going on our outtings when i don't have to worry about school kids.

I've been thinking about curriculum and what is the best thing to get. I know i wanted some really interesting history and science books. Math was another area I considered purchasing curriculum because I just wasn't sure how many math drills would I be able to come across online.

I finally decided on Singapore Math curriculum which I've heard alot of good things about, REAL Science which is supposed to be a really fun and easy to explore science curriculum, History Odyssey Lessons which is an interesting and fun lesson plan book (I was confused with this. I thought it was an actual history book in itself but it is not. I have to get the resources to complete it.) I did purchase a couple of books that I could not find at the library. I spent $68 on the REAL Science and History--The Math books I got free through a website called and the extra resources were a little under $40. So I total of $108 on a first grade curriculum. I borrowed a book as an extra math resource called "Family Math" which uses regular household items to play games and teach math. I print most of the spelling/reading/grammer things out online. I liked the "five in a row" reading curriculum but decided I could print out the list myself, borrow the books from the library and come up with my own lessons. We're starting with "How to make an apple pie and see the world" and I found 2 very interesting lesson plans online. It really is so easy to pull together a lesson I wonder did I really even need to spend as much money as I did. I say yes only because the Science and History stuff doesn't come as easy to me and I want Nala to have a strong comprehensive knowledge of all that stuff.

Today, Sunday is going to be our home economics day I told Nala...we will do read our book "How to make an apple pie..." and create and follow our own recipe for a pumpkin pie. We will also make time to practice sewing again because I really want to get it. Once I figure out how to thread this needle on the machine we can start creating our own projects..maybe a pillow or something easy. I'm very excited about it and hope I can figure this out.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What do I tell people???

Today was a strange day. As we waited outside for B, the kids and I prepared questions to ask the Firefighers....I saw all of my neighbors, that I am close with. Two set didn't ask me anything about why the 2 oldest ones were home but one made a comment and seemed to wonder but did not ask anything else. Another neighbor is like my grandparent and although didn't ask now, you could see the question in her eyes and she will definitely be asking me soon!

I'm not embarassed about my decision, I'm not unsure...but I don't want to have to explain to everyone I encounter why I'm homeschooling and that's exactly what I'd be doing with at least 2 of my neighbors. I don't care what they think but I just really shouldn't have to explain everything, should I?

Just Relaxing....

That's how I felt today was. Just hanging out. Not doing much but still providing cool experiences for learning and growth. I worked last night and I was just so tired so I laid down which was supposed to be for an hour and next thing hours had past, I wasn't necessarily sleeping because before I knew it the kds were in the room with me watching a dvd. (BTW I will add that tv has been pretty much banned throughout the day for Nala. She can watch dvds later in the evening and only 1 movie or an hour of tv shows, on disney per day) Weekends I try to keep them busy so that we're out of the house most of the day or just playing in the house. The younger ones get to watch Dora/Diego/ or other Noggin show on Indemand. But we have definitely decreased tv time around here and I am proud of that.

We didn't do any formal worksheets today and at first I was like, uh huh we have to do something. But I thought we had done "something" everyday since she's been home sick so if she just wants to take it easy today, then fine. I need a rest too. Besides we had a trip planned to the firehouse later.

The trip was great. The fireman were so helpful answering questions and letting the kids get in the truck. I've always had a respect for firefighters but it was nice to see that they really were just regular down to earth people living in our communities. The kids had a blast and we learned alot.

While we sat eating dinner, I printed out a sheet that was like a progress report and I wanted to see what topics I went offer so I would say ok count by 2's, what's the value of a dime....and she knew alot so I would check it off...put a date in. I know the teacher did do alot with her but I have always been there from day one, helping to reinforce what was discussed in class by providing extra problems. I see Nala does need more help with addition but mostly understanding subtraction is kind of hard for her. I showed her the number line again to help show her what is happening when someone says subtract or take away. I have a book Family Math which uses manipulatives found in the house and we'll make a day of math and games sometime this week.

Last night I looked up all the museums in Queens and I printed out a calendar and just filled in days that we can do things: Queens Museum of Art, Museum of Moving Image, King Manor, Queens Zoo...just a ton of stuff. Mostly free or really cheap...and I was given the website go city and there are more cheap/free things to do with the kids.....most of it is in Manhattan and Brooklyn and public transportation is probably better.

Nina practices her reading for about 5 -10 min per night from a Hooked on Phonics books that Nala learned from. In a week she has definitely improved. I think she's reading to move on from words ending in AT to words ending in AN.
Tomorrow I'm planning to go out to the Hall of Science with a friend. I'm excited cause I love the Hall of Science and so do the kids.