Monthly Summary Jan ’16

We’ve had such a super duper month that I don’t even know where to start.

Okay, technically it’s not true.  Because I started the month feeling iffy and behind because we weren’t working.   I just didn’t have energy to clean my classroom and I also took a super long time planning our new work plan.  For a few weeks we didn’t even go swimming.  We didn’t really get get back to homeschooling till middle of the month.

Looking back, I probably just had to recover from the craziness of seeing lots of people.  But finally we did get back go homeschooling and with our new work plan everything is going so very well.

Thumper is solidly doing her work nowadays without my supervision.   She actually told me the other day that she wanted to get an alarm clock so she can wake up early to finish everything on her work plan.   We had a talk about how checking things off isn’t the goal but rather doing things you want to do or study.

This is our next step in the work plan process;  to teach her how to plan her work, think about what it is she’s learning, and how she’s learning them.   All these are things that took me about 10 years to learn after college, when I took classes in accounting, tech, TESL, and Montessori.  It is a very different feeling when you know that grades don’t matter at all and whether or not you do the work in class is entirely upon you and no one else.  At that point, you learn because you’re interested in the topic, not because someone made you.

It is my hope that she learns this before reaching upper elementary.

With Thumper squarely on track, I feel like I can finally devote my attention to Astroboy.    Sometimes I beat myself up because I know I’m not providing enough of that Montessori structured environment to encourage concentration for him.  Right now, he’s starting to reject school, and this is definitely my priority for February.

Thumper

English – Writing with Ease chap 22, All about Spelling lesson 15, Lobel books.
Chinese – Read 28 books, mostly from Reading 123 series.  Let’s Learn About (Chinese) Writing – chap 2, Skritter – Sagebook Set 1.
Math – Multiplication 3×2 digits on paper only.  So so close to being done with memorization.
Science – Learning about characteristics of river, watching YouTube videos on elements
HistoryStory of the World – Chap 1-3.  We’re studying nomads and Egyptians.
Art – Pottery class, bead work, drawing

In English, we’re making slow going in the reading front.  I’m very very happy with the All About Spelling curriculum and I definitely noticed a difference in her being able to read slightly better and spelling better in the little English that she writes.  We’re slowing down a bit on the Writing with Ease front because she’s not choosing that work.  I hope to get her back on it in February.  In terms of actual reading, we moved on to what I consider the next level after Little Bears, which is Frog and Toad and the all Arnold Lobel books that she’d already read in Chinese.

I’m most happy with her Chinese progress.  She started on books in the Reading 123 series at the end of December and reads through them so very fast.  We actually don’t designate any reading time at home right now.  She reads in the car when we have our long drives, and sometimes 30 minutes before bedtime.

I know I’ve said it before.  But I’m really glad I bought that set of books.  It’s got variety in subject matters and length.  She’d been reading off and on before then but kind of rejected the longer books, even though I knew she was capable of them.    Yes, she read the Dahl books, but only because she’d heard the English ones and loved them.  I couldn’t quite entice her with other long books.  With this set, she gradually worked up to 20k characters without realizing that picture to text ratio was shrinking.

We’re also using Story of the World as our reading comprehension and recognizing new characters.

And now (February), I’ve been able to give her Harry Potter and Little House in the Big Woods and she is happy to read them.  I went ahead and order a set of more literary books appropriate for 3rd-4th graders, Eastern Publishing’s Cross-Century Fiction.  

Did I mention I am really really happy?

Math, we’re doing well on the multiplication front finally.  The more she knows her memorization facts, the easier it is to just calculate on paper.  I spent some time one day showing her how to hold her carry forward in her hand, rather than writing little numbers on paper, and then she was fine.

I also started asking to her also recite the memorization table and quiz her.  I realized that she needed to have that Chinese multiplication table recitation down.  I know there is a school of thought that math is more than facts.  But for me, like everything else in life, middle of road is good.  And I wanted her to be able to answer what 8×9 equals to without thinking.  Memorizing multiplication table in Chinese is great because it’s very rhythmic.

We’re having a super good time doing History and Science in our Co-Op with Story of the World.  I also took the kids to their first Pottery lesson, working on the wheel.  They loved it.

Our first pottery class

Our first pottery class

Learning letter and envelope addressing formats

Learning letter and envelope addressing formats

Our mock Nile river

Our mock Nile river

Astroboy

Language – Sagebooks Set 3.  Very little English phonics.
Math – addition/subtraction memorization.
Science/History – same as sister.
Art – Pottery class, drawing.
Practical Life – Making scones

As I mentioned, Astroboy is rejecting schooling.  I know that if I can just pause and reflect I will know what will work for him.  I just haven’t slowed down.   I’m ready to now though!

IMG_7852Because I didn’t have time to focus on him, the only thing I managed to do was to try and do more Practical Life activities with him.

Despite all this, he is making progress.  He has a stack of Sagebook Treasure boxes I put in the car for him to read during our long drive.  It’s actually better that I’m not there to correct him as he reads.   I’m actually fairly amazed because I thought he’d forgotten a lot of the characters in Set 2.  There have also been other books that he’s fallen in love with and will repeatedly read.

He is also playing the Reflex Math game now in addition and subtraction, after watching his sister for a whole year and wishing he could play.  For a long time he could not even make it past the first screening stage where they test your reflex.  I don’t even know how he does it.  But I guess when something is interesting enough, it makes the child try again and again.

Astroboy’s First

I do want to say note that Astroboy has been showing that he’s interested in adding 2 numbers together for many months now through daily speech.  So it’s not something I’m pushing on him.  I’m definitely pushing a bit on the Chinese and I know I need to ease up just a bit so he doesn’t resist.  But, if there is one thing I learned last year, it is that you cannot slack up on the Sagebooks if you’re going to do it so young.  Otherwise they forget fast and you make no progress.  I just need to think up more ways to entice him.

What I learned

Driving home one day from our co-op, I wished that we covered more art, science, etc.  But my next thought turned to all the things we have accomplished in the last 1.5 years; that in  Montessori schools, they often have 1 teacher prepping only 1-2 specific subjects.  I came to a big realization.  I am only one person.  I don’t need to beat myself up too much over what I have not accomplished.

I was suddenly at peace and accepted my own limitations in terms of how I work.  A super planning and structured mom I am not and yet I’ve chosen a very structured schooling philosophy.   (The structure is in the environment and the teacher, so that the student may be given freedom within limits.)   So it means I need to make some compromises and believe in myself.  I know I have a vision of what I want out of my classroom.  It may just take me awhile to get there.

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