Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 2

Last week I gave a review of our week by subject. This time I'm going to do it by day. Because it has been A Week. *Warning!* This got really long. And involves what kind of looks like complaining. Feel free to skip this one. BUT, there is also a learning progression that happened for me, that might help others if they're in a similar situation with their homeschooling. So maybe it's worth reading.

Monday: The beginning of only our second week of the year. The glamor of new supplies and a change in routine was over. I was still excited about my new, fancy printer; we were ready to add math and science! We started at 9:00 am instead of 9:30 so that we would have time for the new math and a break before lunch. Monday went mostly fine; until our third subject. Third of seven morning subjects! (Some morning subjects should only take 10 minutes, so that's not as hard as it sounds.) The problem was, that subject was handwriting. Which we do with fun materials, not pencils yet. Fun materials that Early Bird wants to make art with after making letters. And I let him, because he's still a kindergartener, whatever his book levels say. So I let him; which takes time. And then they have a snack, because that's how we scheduled it for last week. Which worked well when we were starting at 9:30, but not so well at 9:00. Sadly, it took me until Thursday to really get that this schedule needed to change. (Was it Thursday? I'm not one hundred percent sure; I may be blocking important details of the week because I'm grumpy, woke up with a headache, and Lady Bug had a lot of trouble sleeping last night.)

We had to skip writing and spelling so we would have time for the new math. Ah, Math. I actually love math. Builder Boy loves math, and it's his strength area. Along with handwriting it has been our most inconsistent subject. Despite that, because he's such a natural at it, Builder Boy has progressed and thrived.  We started working on Khan Academy near the beginning or middle of the summer. Builder Boy tested through or went through 98% of Early Math (they keep adding stuff to it, making it impossible for him to just FINISH) which is K-2nd, and 70% of 3rd grade math. I had just wanted him to work on reviewing the Early Math so he'd be ready for this year's math, but he went much further than I expected. And he's already talking about doing 4th grade math. So, the beginning of a 3rd grade math workbook should be no problem, right? Wrong.

I had such a great plan for getting Builder Boy to do math semi-independently. We've never done math that required writing before. And handwriting is Builder Boy's weakest area, so I wanted to not require too much there. Also, this should be review and easy, since he's working ahead of this on Khan Academy. And, he's a third grader now. Third graders start to do some work independently, right? So the plan was I would choose ahead just some of the math problems. (Turns out, they're called "math PROBLEMS" for a reason, but I digress) in each section and highlight them.

Only three pages, doing about half of the work. The deal with Builder Boy was he was to do the highlighted sections by himself while I worked with Early Bird on his math. If Builder Boy got all the problems in a section correct by himself, he did not have to do the rest. If he got some wrong, then I would do the rest of the problems with him (just in that small section!) I talked to him about it the weekend before; he was prepped and excited! But then the reality came on Monday and it was stress and tears and meltdown.

But in those tears and meltdown, he said some words. He talked about being "overwhelmed" by so many pages and that it was "too much pressure" to try to finish it. Either Builder Boy has been reading over my shoulder, listening in to what I've been talking to my husband about, or is even smarter about himself than I had any idea. Any one of these is a possibility. But however he figured out the words, he used them, and I listened. I set aside what I had thought was best for him (which had not turned out to work) and came up with a compromise that will get him to what I want him doing, but in a gentler way that respects his view of himself and his abilities. At least, I thought it was a good compromise at the time. I helped him complete the highlighted sections, and we were done with it for that day.

That was just Monday.

Tuesday:  Is Tuesday when I changed the schedule? I can't remember. Possibly. Since Skedtrack said we actually got everything done that day, then probably. Before it went:
  1. Vocabulary
  2. Grammar
  3. Handwriting-which turned into free creative art time
  4. Very Important Snack
  5. Writing
  6. Spelling
  7. Reading Lesson-finishing up the last 20 lessons in OPGTR
  8. Math
  10. History or Science
  11. Reading Time at 4:00
  12. Bicycle Time at 5:00
The morning subjects have now been changed to:
  1. Vocabulary-our favorite, fun way to start the morning!
  2. Grammar
  3. Writing
  4. Spelling
  5. Reading Lesson
  6. Handwriting-with time for playing with the materials
  7. Very Important Snack
  8. Math
I tried moving Handwriting to before Spelling and Reading, but it worked best later in the week to have it after.

Math with Early Bird has been wonderfully easy. I am doing Math Mammoth Grade 1 with him in my lap. We do all the problems together, with me acting as his scribe. He can do the math; he just can't write the numbers. This is why my #1 Rule with working with Early Learners is to not tie any learning to writing ability.

Math Mammoth Grade 3 with Builder Boy: Day 2. The compromise was Builder Boy only had to do one page, just the highlighted section, by himself. He made it a few problems in before crying. So once again we had to take a break so he could calm down enough to finish. We eventually got there and finished before lunch.

After lunch we started our first science lesson. Here I made the mistake of telling the boys that if they had any questions while I was reading to just raise their hand and I would answer them. See the mistake I made? I said any question. Since our curriculum choice is Christian based, I ended up being asked a TON of theological question that barley had anything to do with what I was trying to actually teach. We got half of what I had planned done. Also, it became very obvious this week that a mini trampoline and beanbag chairs are going to be vitally important to getting things done.

Wednesday: Skedtrack says I forgot to input what we accomplished on Wednesday. I know we did get some stuff done. Pretty sure we got all of our morning subjects done. And I have proof we did our history: a picture of the timeline of everything we've reviewed so far, and all the map work from those weeks that we did on Wednesday.

Math. I had a talk with Care from Homeschooling Hatters about what to do about Builder Boy and his math, since even one page by himself was too much. It became clear that a more gradual, weaning process was going to be necessary. On Wednesday I tried letting him have his blanket, his stuffed animal, my arm around him! while in his room so that their would be less distractions. That made it worse, and he wouldn't even get through one problem by himself. What?! He did better the days before! So I took away the comfort items, turned on my stern/grumpy voice, and the highlighted problems on the first page got done. Then we did the rest together.

Thursday: Thank you, Lord in Heaven, for Thursday. No morning school, no math. Just Architecture School (co-op starts next week) which takes much less time and another Art Appreciation Tea Party. Science was also on the schedule, but that did not get done because Lady Bug seems to be sick and needed help napping and I really needed the break. That could be done Friday afternoon, right?

The tea party food didn't go quite as I had planned (post on Monday) but it went fine. The boys had fun, and it was lovely; even if it was an hour late.

Friday: I woke up after very little sleep thanks to a sick Lady Bug with a headache. Thankfully Principal Daddy had the day off and was able to be very helpful. As the time to start school got closer, and the Excedrin had not quite kicked in, I realized that the best thing for the whole family was to take the morning off.

I took Builder Boy to Speech Therapy, just the two of us, and got to see him test out of two of his difficult sounds from last year! We went to lunch and did some shopping and had some wonderful one-on-one time that was lovely. At Subway we hypothesized about the door chime, investigated, and figured out how it worked. (We were both wrong!) We did math with the numbers on our food, he picked a vegetable to try that he had never had before (eggplant) and in the car designed an experiment that we will try this weekend. I came home exhausted, but I had a wonderful time with Builder Boy. And the trampoline arrived! Which meant putting it together before making a new dinner with a never before cooked with vegetable.

Finally getting some distance from the math problem, I've been able to think.

Why do I want him to work independently?
Because it would make school easier if he could do it while Early Bird does his.
Because in public school he'd be having to do all his work independently.
Because isn't he reaching the age where he should be able to do this?

Are these good enough reasons?

We're going to try for a little bit longer. We'll try smaller. Just one section of highlighted problems by himself. Maybe if we tried it at the end instead of the beginning, when he has "warmed up," maybe? We'll try smaller, for another week or two. If it's still going no where and frustrating us both, then we'll stop trying and give it a break. Maybe his 8th birthday would give him the confidence to do it on his own.

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