Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008

So I finished my quarterly report and sending it off tomorrow. I had Nala tested in March using a CAT 5 test. I wanted to get an idea how she's doing. I felt like I wasn't doing enough however she tested 96% and on a grade level 3.6, her math was low, she did not finish the section....looking back I already knew this: I knew she was having a problems with math but we've been working on it daily. I knew she was well beyond first grade reading level because of the books she reads on her own. Nala has definitely improved with math. We have moved on to double digit addition and subtraction and she's doing well.

I've been working with Nina on reading and writing letters and numbers.

I just recently began working with Natasha on counting and colors.

Even though we don't do social studies, history, and geograpy in a structured way like I hear others do we read alot and that's where most of history comes from. Every now and then I may find a lesson on science and incorporate it into a history lesson or geography. I keep comparing myself to other parents and comparing my kids t0 other kids thinking we have to be similar to someone else but it's really what works for our family. My kids are great and doing really well in this homeschooling environment and I think I'm doing a good job teaching my kids.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

MARCH 9, 2008

We officially pulled Nina out of preschool last week. So we're homeschooling 3 kids! wow....busy. I'm just trying to keep Nina really busy with activities and trips. She was used to doing alot in school and I know she really enjoyed it. With the activities that gets us out of the house 3 times a week I felt limited by some trips because it would end later in the day and I couldn't stay out as long because Nina needed to be picked up from school. I just wanted everyone to be together. I've been at this homeschooling thing for about 5 months now so although I don't consider myself a pro I am comfortable with attempting to school everyone. So Natasha isn't doing much, I'll read to her and pretty much let her watch some dvds while I'm working with the other two. I just haven't figured out a way to get her involved. She only sits still for a few minutes. I did pull out some of the Leap Frog learning dvds so now at least I can feel like she's really doing something. She does know how to count to 10 and 1-5 in spanish (Thanks Dora!)

I got Nina a kindergarten workbook that has reading, writing and math concepts and she really is enjoying it. We set up a space in the basement usually and I tell Nina to go through the book and pick out what she wants to do. Honestly she knows her letters, numbers and colors and shapes. The only next step right now is reading. We usually practice for about 10-15 minutes a day. I have these really simple books that present site words all thoughout the book. She even knows about 5 site words: I, go, no, like, cat...I think that's it for now. I try to assist her with writing her numbers since that's about the only other thing she can work on without me standing over her.

While Nina's doing her workbook Nala and I will do we did some work, yes on a Saturday! We have been on trips the past 2 days and I wanted to be sure she knew the spelling words we've been doing all week (she does) as well as review time and the circulatory system. She's been interested in learning about Bill Cosby so for the past month (slowly but surely) we've been reading a book I have. After we take turns reading a couple of paragraphs (it's really a long book and we just highlight some important parts) Nala will write a few sentences about what we read. Today I pulled up some comedy, interviews from Bill Cosby on you tube as well as shorts from the Cosby show with Olivia (Raven Symone) Of course they loved this! They were laughing and making comments. I wish I thought of that tube isn't so bad! We've been using it as a learning tool from time to time, even finding out how to play a german game we were researching.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday January 29, 2008

Monday was our Foreign Lands Club meeting. Nala decided she wanted to present games that children play in Germany. I was so proud of her, she presented it pretty much all by herself, with an introduction and description of how to play the games. They were actually really fun games, maybe we'll play them sometime.

At this class was the first time in 3 months that Nala really started talking to someone there. She asked to sit next to her and then I saw them talking after lunch. We were also able to stay to hang out and play outside which I'm sure helped. Nina was with us today and her and Nala talked and played with a couple of girls their age. I was really happy because it really seemed difficult getting to know people here but I realize it just takes time.

Today I tried an unschooling approach. Nala helped me clean the house. She enjoys cleaning the wall mirror (I never enjoyed that as a kid) and she liked cleaning the dust off of my walls as well as the windows. Both her and Natasha vaccumed as well. Nala helped out a little with cleaning the playroom and decided she wanted to write after coming across a story she wrote in school. She asked me to print out some lined paper with a box at the top so she could write a story. She sat down at the table in the playroom and wrote a story, asking me to spell words for her her once a while, I did as I finished up throwing out junk in the playroom. After lunch she watched tv while skating around the basement. She's been practicing skating backwards and doing really well. She asked me what am and pm meant and I besides just am for morning and pm for afternoon/night I really didn't know much more. So we looked it up on wikipedia and we talked about the definitions. (FYI: am, ante meridiem is latin for before noon and pm, post meridiem is latin for after noon. I didn't know that. cool. another plus for homeschooling. Even I learn things too.) After Nina came home from preschool, they skated some more, colored and drew while watching tv and we played monopoly jr before bed. (which is a really great game. It's fun and the kids get money they can count. Even Nina counts with the game. Natasha just grabs the dice and tries to throw it across the room)

I really didn't make a big deal about the tv and I will try to relax more with it and see what happens. I've been talking to others and reading blogs all weekend and everyone is saying tv will hit the back burner as the kids see that I'm not keeping it from them. In addition, I'm hoping they will find more interesting things around the house. Besides I have no problem with the actual programming. I love the Disney Channel. I even read to them, Nala asked to read and I almost let her but I realized I missed reading to them. Nala likes to read to everyone and I've been letting her but I decided we can all read books to each other.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Unschooling and some other thoughts...

I've been thinking about different styles of schooling. My style seems to be more electic, not like traditional school because I try to really allow Nala to decide the plan for the day however not like unschooling because we have a weekly spelling list with daily "tests", sentence writing and repeat writing of words. I read something recently on someone else's blog which is what made me re think styles again.

I love the whole idea of unschooling and child led learning. I have a general idea of what I would like to do with Nala but if we do other things instead I'm ok with (at one time I was not ok but I find myself getting more comfortable with it). I like taking our time on things such as the Charlottes Web lapbook and the human body lapbook we're working on.

What my problem has been some days is when Nala decides she doesnt want to do anything but watch tv all day long. I offer some reading time on some of her favorite books, perhaps playing a game she likes but the response to all are no. She wants to watch tv. How do I handle that? How would an unschooler handle that? Do they not have days like these?

I don't like to fight about doing work. I don't like to force my daughter to do work. If she doesnt want to do something I try to find out something she does want to do and go with that. I don't see any point in making her do something just because I want her to do it because she won't get anything from it if I force her. Learning is something I want to be done with enthusiasm and with love not with force and threats. However on these days that I mentioned where everything I suggest is brought down with a I don't want to do that, I want to watch tv, I feel like my only reaction would be "well you need to do something so lets see what that will be" allow her to watch tv all day long would not be a good decision in my opinion.

I spoke with a friend who is pretty much like me, electic, and she suggested that I should have Nala write about what she watches; what happened in the show, what problems came up and how problems were solved. It seemed like a good idea because instead of just zoning out in front of the tv (and helps me to feel like she's actually doing something on days she doesn't want to do anything) she's learning writing skills and practices handwriting. I mentioned it to an unschooler who thought it was a bad idea and could lead to resentment on my daughter's part. Nala actually enjoyed it the first few times. There have been a few times when she said she didn't want to do it but for the most part there didn't seem to be any problems. She does have times she can just watch tv for enjoyment so maybe that's why there haven't been more problems then there could have been.

My goal when I started homeschooling was to make this a really amazing experiencing for Nala. To allow her the decision to play an active role in her learning and present her with choices and activities that would interest her. I would try my best to go with her learning style and do the things that best fit what she liked. For instance, she told me she doesn't like doing math sheets. That was good to hear because I didn't like forcing her to do them. So I found that she liked to play Scrabble, dice games and "store" instead, so that's how we do math and it works for her, therefore it works for me and she's learning, I know she is.

I think for the most part she is learning what she needs to learn. I'm comfortable with allowing her to choose what she wants to do for the day, the week etc. however still trying to decide how much influence I should have when giving her the freedom of her education, afterall she's only 6.


The Sweet Honey in the Rock concert was really good. It was my first time seeing them live. I wish we had closer seats, I wish it lasted longer than an hour but I'm just so happy I got the see them. The kids got bored a little, I think because they were so far away but you could see they were interested every now and then. They sung along and clapped. It was a great experience. Sweet Honey's new album Experience 101 is for the kids with lots of soulful rhythms and history, definitely something we can use in our daily learning.

Thursday I met up with a new friend, someone I met in a homeschooling group. I brought over my 3 girls with her 2 boys and did "school". My friend has a different style than me, much more like traditional school. It wasn't bad, just different. She speaks Spanish and did songs, days of the week, colors all in Spanish with the kids. I really enjoyed that part and realized that although I don't speak Spanish fluently I know the basics and I can do the same thing with Nala because she is very interested in learning to speak Spanish. Originally I had something set up with another Spanish speaking mom to get together a couple times of week to have informal spanish lessons with her children however she was sick this week. We'll see if I make it out to see her.

Nala shared here Charlotte's Web lapbook that we've been creating while learning about spiders and pigs. She really does know alot about spiders and I know that came from her interest as well as taking alot of time reading and learning about spider body parts, pig body parts and some other facts.

Friday we finally made the recorder lessons at the Y. Nala really enjoyed it however she really needs to practice more because what I see happening is her not reading the music. I saw her writing the notes in with a pencil and I encouraged her to learn to read the music. I told her it will get easier once she practices every day but by writing the notes in is not a good idea because she won't learn how to read it. She listened and seemed to understand. I'll have to make more of an effort to remind her about practicing.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mad Science/Recorder lessons

I was so happy that I got in on the Mad Science/music class. I was originally on the waiting list but actually got in. We went Monday and Nala had a great time. She learned about what chemistry is and did a couple of projects. It's a monthly class for the next six months.

After that, a music teacher came in to teach the kids how to play the recorder. We've been practicing on our own here and there and I signed Nala up for a class at the Y but we have yet to make it!

The teacher was ok, a little off beat in my opinion but was really able to get the kids involved. Nala was very attentive and very interested. She wants to take piano. We have a keyboard that would work for her to practice on. I played the piano when I was in college and the professor suggested I get one with similar spacing of a piano so it wouldn't throw me off when I practiced with the two. There's someone in one of our homeschooling group that offers great prices so March is when we're thinking about starting because her classes at the Y would be over. She said she wants to continue swimming so we'll see if we can make it work schedule wise as well as financially.

Hall of Science

We met up with a group at the Hall of Science. The kids love it. It's such a great museum and so close and east to get to. The Cyberchase exhibit was still up. It's a great exhibit that allows the kids to play math games. It's fun and very interactive. We're members and go every couple of months or so.

We missed Nala's recorder lessons for the 2nd week in a row.

Nala said she was ready to start on Ancient Greece so that's what we did this morning before heading out. We're using History Pockets which I think is great for kids her age. She is basically making lapbooks on each civilization we learn about. I have a really great history book that was recommended from a website. I can't think of the name of it but it's really great to support whatever historical concept you're teaching because of the colorful pictures and details.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 13, 2008

We went to a program called Start with Art at the Met on Thursday. I kept Nina home from preschool and we all took the express bus out to the city. I met up with another mom and her 2 boys, 5 yrs old and 2 yrs old. The kids have met before so they get along quite well. The program was really great. We sat in a room and talked about King Louis the XIV and looked at the different art around the room. I loved how she really broke things down and asked the kids questions about what they saw, colors and pictures and materials and how they felt. It was a great program for preschoolers up to age 6. Normally I heard they have the kids do sketches of artwork however that day was special because a woman came in to play her recorders. Nala was really impressed since she is learning the recorder. They were big and she played some really nice music with them. I never knew the recorder could be so beautiful. After the hour long class we walked around on our own. The MET is not very child friendly. It seems I heard don't touch from about every single guard there. I understood however it was quite annoying. I would love to do the program twice a month. I just don't feel like getting out into the city more often than that. I did hear Brooklyn museum has a similar program so perhaps I will check that out.

The other weekend we went to see Hansel and Gretel at the movies. The MET opera is offering a chance to see opera at the local movies. It's a recording of a live show so you see and hear the audience, there are behind the scenes which was great and something you usually can't see at the live show and it's cheaper but you don't seem to miss anything. It was in English but there were captions (I found I could not understand it much without reading) It was something different. I planned on just taking Nala but then Nina woke up right when we were leaving so I took her too. They said they didn't enjoy it that much but I think they liked it ok because later I heard them talking about it, laughing about something Hansel was doing. I really enjoyed it. I asked Nala if she wanted to see Macbeth by Shakespeare and she said she did because she recognized Shakespeare's name. I saw there is a book called Macbeth for kids so I will get it and plan to take her (and Nina if she wants).

I'm glad I'm really getting to experience the city a little. There are several more things I would love to expose Nala too. Just have to make a list and do it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

January 5, 2008

It's been sometime since I posted. I feel like we've done so little lately. Maybe due to the holidays, I don't know. We're learning spider facts so Nala will be able create a special page in her lap book just for spider facts. One learning technique I've been trying is having her jump rope and remember spider facts to a beat. So I'll say "
What do you call a baby spider" in a beat while she jumps and she answers "Spiderlings, spiderlings". Even Nina, my 4 yr old has been remembering facts so it's been great.

Spelling is going well. I will definitely stick with what has been working for us. Nala has been learning how to spell 5 words a week. She alphabetizes them, puts them in sentences and writes them 3 times. We'll have a spelling test which will include all the words she has learned (at least once a week and always before adding new words. ) We've gotten through a good portion of the 2nd grade spelling list. We're also working on grammar and handwriting. She has some bad habits that I'm trying to break her out of...for instance writing capitals (they are not nouns) in the middle of sentences . I have a grammar book where she corrects the punctuation and she really enjoys that but I find that I have to look at the answers to check because I don't always know what's correct.

We've been lacking with Science but I hope to begin some lessons on the human body this week.

Math is so so. Nala seems to be just starting to understand the whole concept of one up and one down. There's not as much hesitation as there used to be when I ask her the sum or difference. Still trouble with basic 2+3 and even more with subtraction but she knows 2+2 and 3+3 and other doubles so I'm guessing it's about consistancy and repetiveness. Nala understands measurements, fractions and we're actively working on roman numerals.

Our schedule is full: Swimming just started once a week, recorder lessons once a week, Mad science/music lessons once a month, Country and State study once a month and recently I was able to arrange with a member of a homeschooling group some free spanish lessons twice a week with her kids.

This year I hope to add a little more history and science as well as some more math. I want her to catch on with this math and feel more comfortable with it. It would be great to being integrating my 2 yr old (she'll be 3 in a couple of weeks) in on things, she may be ready because now she is more of a disturbance.