First Month of School

Number RodsNomalization is not a nice word.  I think for most people, when they first hear the word used they cringe and have a bodily “yucky” feeling. But all it really means is children behaving as they would be if their needs are met. Or as Montessori puts it, becoming a contributing member of society.

For me, a normalized children is one that is mostly concentrated on their work, doesn’t get distracted, and really doesn’t need constant reminder from the teacher.

We’re not quite there yet.

Today marks the end of 6 weeks of homeschooling.  We spent about 2 weeks doing prep and easing into it, then 2 weeks of assessment and more routine, and then 2 weeks of actual work.  We’ve had good days and bad days. After 2 days of okay to bad days this week, a thought occurred to me, “Could it be taking the children 2 days to normalize?” Both last week and this week, Thumper puts off work until the last day and them and on Thursday she is willing to settle down and work. Astroyboy too today was not moving from activity to activity asking that I play with him, but rather willing to work on a piece of work longer term when I’m not there. I am going to rethink my schedule a bit.

Summary of progress so far

Outside of “school” time, the children have made a lot of progress doing Practical Life activities.  It’s one of the reasons I wanted to homeschool, to teach the kids practical skills they need to live.  Though sometimes I wonder, if I was able to do it while going through traditional school, why can’t the kids?  Except I’m not my mom and don’t have that kind of energy level.

Anyways, they have settled into a routine of making their lunch twice a week.  I’ve also asked that they wash their own lunch dishes daily as well during school days.  They help make our Wednesday night fajitas and Friday pizzas when they feel like it.  They clean the car, fold the laundry once a week.  I have moved ever more food prep items onto reachable shelf space.  In general the kids are tidier and put away the dishes, set the table more often without nagging.  All of these things make me super happy.

Thumper

In Chinese, she is learning 3 characters a week. I’m loving the way we are learning characters. The only changes I’m planning to make is to add more characters, and introduce creative writing.

In zhuyin, we spent a couple weeks practicing the combo sounds.  But even I got confused practicing them .  I realized the way I know my zhuyin is actually just through looking at the combos.  Otherwise the sounds are super similar sometimes and as I’d written, change sounds depending on the combo.  So by the end, we started doing zhuyin practice reading.  I’m planning to introduce writing in zhuyin next.  I think that is the way to help internalize some of the rules.

In math she’s been working a lot on memorizing her addition facts up to 20.  I asked her today and she says more answers are coming to her now without looking it up. This may not be a kosher thing to ask your child but so easy to gauge when you’re just teaching 2 kids. Next week I will be starting on memorization of multiplication and maybe doing a timed addition sheet just to gauge where she is in the memorization front. Again not Mobtessori but I have to gauge her somehow.

For teacher reading she’s super enjoying her book about a word drinking vampire. She always asks me to read more than her allotment on 3 chapters.  I will continue reading to her as I know the book has lots of concepts and words that are above her level.

For reading herself she’s moved on to Sage Books series 2, book 2.  It’s actually too easy for her but I’m easing her into it otherwise she’ll refuse to read. We still find 1-2 words we don’t know and use it in our chinese practice work.

 

Astroboy

Because you just follow a 3-6 year olds interests, I’ve been letting Astroboy do whatever he likes.  If somedays he wants to play train upstairs I let him.  But he doesn’t want to do that often because he likes to stick to me.

In our month of homeschooling one thing is clear, he LOVES counting. He’s been introduced to sandpaper letters, number rods, addition strip board, teens board, and spindle box, colored bead stairs. Basically most of the counting presentations. It’s been easy for him to pick up the numbers because he had learned it through daily conversations or other daily occurrences.  (I just realized through playing Uno yesterday!)  Today, Thursday, he counted to 35 using the spindle boxes by himself! I was surprised. As I remember counting that high maybe once with him, showing him the pattern in counting. I remember doing this with Thumper and she didn’t get it because she wasn’t in her sensitive period then.

For zhuyin he’s been exposed to ㄅㄆㄇㄈㄍㄏㄚㄧㄨㄢㄐ.  Quite a lot when you write it out.  It makes me feel much better seeing this because I was starting to thing we weren’t making progress.  He’s also watching about an 30 minutes to an hour or so of Ciao Hu daily.  Though it’s not the phonics way, nothing beats mundane repetition that a teacher can’t do.  I know in the classroom the child can repeat work.  But it’s hard to do repetitive speaking, which needs to come from the teacher.

For Chinese, we just started doing Sage books today.  He learned 山 高 的.  But he doesn’t remember them about 5 minutes later.  So we need to do more second period work by doing a variety of activities.

He’s also been doing some clock work because he loves counting.  Also somecutting, puzzle, and play dough. Everything else is 5 minutes of interest.

Of course we do other practical life stuff outside of class as well.

For him next month I really want to do more practical life, sensorial, and gardening. I’m trying not to push the chinese since he seems to really like math right now.

What I did and learned

It’s clear that I’ve only been concentrating on math and language so far.  I feel kind of bad and sometimes very anxious because I did have a whole curriculum planned but I’m behind because I need to make the materials, AND 3 hours isn’t enough to squeeze it all in when your child likes to spend half of it doing practical life.  However, I’m getting into a groove for making materials and I will be madly catching up next month.

For next month, I will be adding much more Chinese character work based on the Sage series.  If I get my ass in gear, I want to also start doing science activities.  Since the weather has been really hot and perfect to grow seeds.  I’ve sped up my plans for our hoop house garden.  Once that’s done, then the children can work on it.  Of course, all the related science activities that come with gardening.

As I’ve said, I get anxious over the amount the children are learning.  Writing it all down helps.  And also just the passage of time.  With the amount of TV they’ve been watching nightly and also just all day with me, I’m definitely starting to notice how much Chinese the children are now using compared with before.  Basically Astroboy’s English conversations with Baba gets worse and worse.

Maybe I’ll rant about my anxiety in another post.  I’m having a hard time right now deciding on how many hours of instruction is enough, if i should start doing more English, and when we may want to go back to regular school.

They say you learn by doing and I had an aha moment the last week.  I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out what math presentations to do with Thumper.  There are so many!  And they all seem to do the same thing except in different degrees of abstraction.  Then it hit me as I watch the children flit from activity to activity.  You’re supposed to just present them all (the relevant ones), and the child will tell you which ones they like and need to work on!  This is why I just gave Astroboy all the counting presentations.  He will tell me through the activity he chooses what he is attracted to and subconsciously wants to work on.

No d’oh I say to myself after my realization.  I was taught that in class!  But again, nothing like having to solve a dilemma to really get it.

 

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