June has FLOWN by. I think we’ve all enjoyed a month off of schoolwork, but I have to admit I think a full month is a bit too much downtime. Even though we’ve been busy, there’s something to be said for structure. I was telling Nick at dinner that in the future I believe I will stick to two week breaks, three weeks maximum. At least I think that’s what I would like to do. Ask me again next May. 🙂
The little kids have been going to a summer tumbling course and enjoying it. So much so that we went ahead and enrolled Harrison in a boys’ gymnastics class at another gym. He is beyond excited, and I was happy to see him that way, as he missed his first camp of the summer due to a virus and was so disappointed. Shelby’s gotten to attend a ballet camp and a tap dance camp so far and adored them both. They both still have soccer camp and then one more kids’ camp to go. Unfortunately, it seems being back in the thick of kids’ classes has brought the dreaded onslaught of random viruses back to our house. Sigh. I was hoping we were done for a while. It was such a rough spring for us with illness, especially with Harrison coming down with pneumonia earlier this year. I feel like we went from never being sick to suddenly contracting five years worth of illnesses in six months! And now it seems both of them have come down over the weekend with summer colds. We are praying that they will both recover in time for a mini-soccer camp at Grandma’s house. A has a photography camp downtown this week as well. She had a biology lab course last week and got in all of those (BLECH :p) dissections her mother is too much of a wuss to handle. 🙂 I suppose June has been mostly a break from formal school, but not from busy-ness. We’ve managed to pack a lot of fun in though, despite colds. Camps, tumbling, visits to the Zoo and the Natural Science Museum, swimming, cooking…..I think all in all they’ve had a good month of fun.
Meanwhile, in breaking news…….with everyone away at various activities this week, I will finally have time to do my prep for school which starts in July. A full week of it! I am making a point to be more diligent on lesson planning for the little ones this year rather than just do the next thing. A is outsourced for everything except math, so I only need help keep her on top of her assignments, but no real planning on that front for her. In high school, math really just is “do the next thing once the previous thing is understood.”
I am very glad we’ve been mellow thus far with the Dynamic Duo’s education, mainly using BFIAR, Right Start Math, Progressive Phonics, and then simply reading to them. But now I am ready to kick it up a slight bit and add in a few more things for Harrison. Especially Art. That is my number one goal this year, which I know might sound funny. For kids this age, most people focus on reading or math skills. However, I don’t really struggle to check those boxes. We will continue to work on those, of course. What I do struggle with are art projects. I am not a naturally artistic person and I also hate messes. But after doing the age appropriate lessons from Level 1 of Art Achieve, having read Claire’s excellent review of the program on Angelic Scalliwags, I needed to find something else to tide us over until they were ready for the rest of the projects on Level 1. Harrison is a bit of a perfectionist I have discovered (big surprise!) and I didn’t want to push too fast on difficulty. After a ton of deliberation, I ordered the Kindergarten and 1st grade levels of Home Art Studio and am intending to do a minimum of one lesson per week when we start back in July. Optimistically we will do two lessons, but I know starting small and just getting one done will be an achievement. I think it is important for me to prioritize the things they value so highly. So art and science experiments it will be.
For science, we still have gobs of Magic School Bus Science Kits to work through. I got the year’s subscription on last year’s Amazon Prime Day sale and the kids LOVE them. However, I didn’t get to those as often as I had hoped this past school year. I think with this trend it’s obvious that projects of any sort are my weak spot! But we cannot make life all workbooks, even if that’s easiest. If I can pull of the following each week I will be beyond thrilled with myself:
- 1 art lesson
- 1 science experiment (even if it’s just baking soda and vinegar- they love that every time)
- 4 math lessons per child per week
- 20 minutes of phonics per day for Harrison; start at 10 with Shelby and slowly build to 20
- 20 minutes daily of spelling/handwriting/CLE/R&S workbook practice (total per child)
- 1-2 chapters of history per week, adding in coloring pages or projects as interest allows
- Daily read aloud
- Daily piano practice
I think that is a realistic list for this age. One thing I plan to do differently this year is split them up for skill work. Not that I “made” Shelby do school this past year anyway. She sat for what she wanted and then wandered off. But I think if the math program had been a better fit for her personality she wouldn’t have wandered away at all. I am going to keep Harrison with RightStart (Level B in the fall) but am moving her to Singapore Essentials Kindergarten. I think the mastery method might sit better with her as she dislikes the topic switching from RightStart. Add to that some Life of Fred and then a daily math story book and we’re covered in that department. My current plan is to send Harrison off to play with Legos, do 15 minutes or so of math with Shelby, and then bring him back in for his math lesson. Then alternate them through Phonics and seat work, take a break and then both together do history, science, etc. I think not combining them any longer for skill work will help with the dreaded, “how come she/he’s smarter than me? I couldn’t get it that fast!” They think of themselves as twins these days, Shelby not realizing that brother being 12 months older makes a big difference sometimes.
As for reading, I’m going to continue with Progressive Phonics for Harrison. It’s a great program that works and did I mention it’s FREE?!? With Shelby, I will do the first 10-15 lessons of 100 EZ Lessons and then switch her over to Progressive Phonics as well. IF she’s forgotten the stories. If she hasn’t I will have to scramble and figure something else out. My problem is my kids have these amazing memories and memorize any early reader book the first time through. While I commend their ability and excitement in doing so, it’s rather annoying and made us have to abandon BOB books after a single pass. Covering pictures was the suggested remedy, but that makes it incredibly boring for them. The Progressive Phonics books are cute and fun and make them smile. That’s what I want in a phonics program and I don’t want to ruin it by covering the pictures!! I’ll supplement that with Spelling You See Level A. It has really helped Harrison click on the C-V-C words, even though we’ve only done a few weeks worth.
I still have the CLE Kindergarten II books as well as some Rod and Staff books to use to help with fine motor skills and seat-work. Beyond that, we hope to use Story of the World I for history and then Apologia Astronomy and various Let’s Read and Find Out Science books to cover science (in addition to experiments of course). I do think there is a chance though that we will get to Ancient Egypt and stick there. They are fascinated by it still. Although going to the Gladiators exhibit at the museum struck a chord with Harrison. We will have to see.
Wow. This ended up being more writing than I anticipated! Hopefully writing it out will help me with my plans this week! In the meantime, here are more random pictures from our month of at home vacation. 🙂 The kids (and Nick and I) are quite hooked on the Great British Baking Show, and they’re very interested in being in the kitchen right now- hence a couple of cooking snaps. Also our latest trip to the Natural Science Museum to see the Gladiator Exhibit and the Zoo. And I did include a sneaky pic of A and my Mom. But it’s my blog, so :p I want to document our vacation. The kids have gotten a decent amount of swimming in, but the last few weeks it’s been extremely rainy so we haven’t gotten to go as much as week hoped. That picture is their first time to go in the pool this year. It took the pool longer than normal to warm up!
I hope to blog more in the coming weeks. It seems to help me line things out for school, and hopefully will return some accountability to my housekeeping schedule, which has, ahem, fallen a bit off the rails the last three weeks!