Saturday, June 25, 2011

Little Triumph

Lydia had her first therapy appointment this week.  One of the things we're working on is getting her to draw a vertical line on paper.  She is also working on following small directions and not ignoring adults when they tell her to do something and she wants to just play.  These are just a few of the MANY goals she has, but my story is especially relevant to those.

A few months back Scholastic was having a sale on their website for $1 PDF books. This is a sale they have a few times a year, and I thought I'd look through and see what they had.  They had several workbooks for preschoolers that focus on pre-writing skills, and I bought a few.  I figured it would be better to print them out over and over than have to buy a bunch and go through them quickly.  Especially with our awesome laser printer and free paper I get at the back-to-school sales every year.  Because I had these on hand, I figured I'd look through them and see if there were any pages that focused on drawing lines in a controlled way.  I found a few pages in this book, and printed them out.

Well, this morning I sat down with Lydia and got a pencil and talked her through it.  She was whiny about it at first because she just wanted the pencil to scribble on the pages.  The first two pages we tried she just whined.  On the third page, however, we had a breakthrough.  The picture showed three dogs, with guidelines down to 3 bones.  The goal is to draw between the guidelines to help the dogs get to the bones.  I helped her do them, and then gave her the pencil to try to do it herself.  And she did!  She drew from the dogs down to the bones!  She had troubles staying in the lines, and that was fine because she's only two, but she tried!  I've never had a breakthrough like that with her before, and it was great!  It gave me hope that I will enjoy this homeschooling thing.  If I can find so much joy in my two year old drawing a few scribbles on a paper, I think will do fine.  I was also excited to see that I could get through to her and show her things without her entirely baulking at my attempts.

So that's my little story. Small, but it made me feel pretty good today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Report June 17, 2011

This is our last week at my in-laws', and I'm excited to get home. It always throws you off to be away from home, and I'm excited to get back to our own way of doing things with our own things.  That also means that after today, Tyler is free for the rest of the summer, which should be fun!  We still have a few more trips to take, but not for a few weeks, so we should be able to get a lot done and spend a lot of good, quality time together.  One of those trips is to Sea World, so I'm thinking I should get Lydia some books about ocean animals so she can know what's going on.  She loves, and I mean LOVES aquariums, so I think she will have a blast as it is and having a little knowledge in advance will help her enjoy it all the more.

Academics were in short supply again this week, and probably will continue to be so for a while.  We did read several chapters of Anne of Green Gables out loud, and should finish it soon.  I'm reminded how much I love that book.  It was a major part of my girlhood and I think I might still have a little crush on Gilbert.  When I was a girl, he was my dream man.  Tall, dark, handsome, and a doctor.... oh wait!  I guess I married a Gilbert after all!

As I was reading, I noticed that Miss Stacy seems to be heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason.  That or L.M. Montgomery and Charlotte Mason came to similar conclusions about how children should be educated.  I admire Charlotte Mason's methods and hope to use some of them in our home school, although I do tend more towards The Well-Trained Mind in philosophy.  Luckily, they overlap in many ways.  I've been reading Charlotte Mason's books on education over the past while (they are long and involved and you can only read a bit at a time) and they are fascinating.  I definitely felt like I should be having the girls spend more time outside after reading her section about young children spending too much time inside.  Her books also make me wish I had a governess, but such is life!

I'm trying to figure out what to read out loud next, and I'm having a hard time.  However, with my Kindle I seem to be able to download more children's literature than we can get to, so I'm sure I'll figure out something.  We also read Othello and The Taming of the Shrew in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  My 17 year old sister-in-law even listened in for a bit in those!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Lydia successfully counted to 18 this week!  Without any mistakes or anything!  I was so proud of her.  We always count the stairs when we go upstairs or downstairs, and she counted them all by herself.

I've been focusing on my history reading this week and am looking for a good version of The Epic of Gilgamesh to read to go along with the section I'm in about ancient Sumer.  I'll probably just end up getting on from the library after we get back home.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about where we are and am excited to continue with this journey we are just starting!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Report 6/9/2011

Very little academics got done this week, which is just fine by me!  We did manage to read a few chapters of Anne of Green Gables out loud, though.  If anyone ever wants to know what we are reading aloud, you can check the bookshelf on the right in my blog. I keep it pretty updated.

I also downloaded the Funnix Math program which is available for free right now.  I downloaded the reading program back in January and Lydia seems to like it, although most of it goes over her head.  I expect the math one to be the same.  We have been working on counting quite a bit, though, and Lydia's getting close to being able to count to ten without forgetting "2" and "3".  Every time we go down the stairs to go to the basement we count the steps.  It's a great way to practice!  Mostly, though, we've just been hanging around or swimming in the pool on the back deck.


As for me, I've decided to postpone my Latin studies for the time being.  It was just getting to the point where my grammar was too lacking.  So I've decided to put it aside and work on grammar instead.  I'm specifically going to work on diagramming and KISS grammar, like I mentioned in my last post.  I managed to find a few free diagramming resources that should help me along.  I think that I'll probably need to invest in a diagramming program with more examples and an extensive answer key to make sure I'm doing it right, but I'll stick with the free ones at first.  I've started one and I think that I will continue, because I'm finding it very helpful.  I'm hoping that in the next few months I'll be able to get back to studying Latin.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's been a hectic month, so I haven't had much time to do anything formal with the girls or myself, but I thought I'd check in anyways.  Tyler finished his first year of medical school!  It feels like an accomplishment for me as well, because I played a very significant supportive role to him, as well as his practice dummy.  Right now he is doing a preceptorship for a few weeks, so we are staying with my in-laws at the moment.

In the few weeks before we left, I was spending a lot of time working on Early Intervention evaluations for Lydia.  Those of you who know us well are familiar with the struggles she's had since she was tiny.  Between moving so much in the last year, and the lengthy process of getting set up for evaluation, this is the first chance we've had to get her checked out since she was a baby.  I was worried that I was making stuff up and that she was doing just fine and I was just one of THOSE first-time parents.  It appears I wasn't making it up at all, because she qualified for 2 hours each (the maximum) of developmental, speech, and occupational therapy per week.  That's 6 hours a week!  Before I started this process, I was thinking I should sign Lydia up for a class or something to get her a little out of her comfort zone and out of the house on a regular basis, but I think 6 hours a week of therapy should be plenty of activities.  I am totally new to the area of special needs and therapies, so this will definitely be an adventure.  I have a good feeling about the company that is doing her therapies, though, and she really seems to like it there so far.  I'm looking forward to getting back home and getting her started.

For Music Study, Lydia has zero interest in Chopin.  Every time I start Chopin, she says, "Listen Baldi!, Wan to listen Baldi!"  I can see why she would prefer Vivaldi.  It's more exciting music, as opposed to Chopin that is quiet piano music for the most part.  I haven't been great about turning on Queen, but that's an album that gets listened to at our house all the time anyways, so I'm not too worried about her getting exposure to it right this minute.

As for Unit Studies, she wasn't really getting much out of it so I'm not doing them anymore for the moment.  She already knows all her letters and their sounds, and is learning her numbers through daily activities, like counting the stairs and her cars.  She doesn't really care about crafts at all at this point, either.  She enjoys scribbling with crayons, but that's about it.  The one part that was very successful was getting her a few books with a theme and reading them over and over again.  She especially enjoyed the penguin books and the kitten books.  She still recites The Three Little Kittens and Kitten's First Full Moon to herself while she plays.  I think I'll continue to get several books about the same basic theme, because she enjoys it.

Grandma's house has two back decks, each with a porch swing.  Lydia LOVES the swings.  She is almost always happy to go sit on it and swing with you for a long period of time.  I've been using this time to do read alouds.  Right now we're working on Anne of Green Gables, one of my personal favorites.  Both Lydia and Ellie will sit with me on the swing for a few chapters.  I'm most impressed with Ellie, who will just go limp and listen until I'm done reading, up to 45 minutes or more.  That's a pretty good attention span for an eight month old.

Ellie is getting bigger every day and is starting to want to be involved in things.  She follows Lydia or myself around everywhere.  She can pull herself up to her knees and sit up by herself now, as well as crawl and get into things.  She's fun and I look forward to getting to know her better as she gets older.

As for my studies, I'm still plugging along at Latin and Khan Academy.  I just finished Lesson 11 in Latin for Beginners this morning and have completed 49 exercises areas on Khan Academy for a total of 170,011 energy points!  In math, that puts me in simple geometry and pre-algebra.  It's all coming back to me and I'm finding it fun. I'm thinking that I should probably add in some formal grammar, specifically diagramming.  My grammar knowledge is all intuitive, and I would like to know it better formally.  I plan on having a heavy diagramming emphasis in grammar when I teach my daughters, so I think this would be a good place for me to start considering I did diagramming for all of 2 weeks in school.  I was thinking I might do KISS Grammar all the way through, but I've since found out that they don't do diagramming.  Maybe I'll just get a book on diagramming and do KISS?  KISS comes very highly recommended and it's free, so I'll probably at least try it.  Finally, I'm trying to get caught up in my history, so I've been reading History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer.  I really enjoy Ms. Bauer and plan on using her other book, The Well-Trained Mind, as my guide through educating my children.  HOAW is the first of four books that she will eventually finish (only two are out yet) that will chronicle the history of the whole world.  It's very dense, but I enjoy her style and find her way of viewing history to be both entertaining and informative.  I'm learning so much just by reading it, and I can't wait to do history with my girls.