Sunday, January 8, 2012

More Different Homeschooling

Our winter break is over and a new (calendar) year of homeschooling has begun. To be honest, with all the changes and travel of the last few months of 2011 I scaled down on hs somewhat. In fact, all I had left was math and reading. Everything else was totally unstructured and largely unplanned. It was fun, but I felt a bit frustrated and worried over the lack of accountability on my part.

Besides, as we found out, we have to spend A LOT more time doing physical and occupational therapy exercises daily and it's easier to include them into the flow of our homeschool schedule 'cause then I know they get done.

So I created a new schedule. It looks something like this:

Warm-up - both M's physical and occupational therapists suggested we start all our learning activities with warm-up exercises. Before he sits down at a desk, he needs to get some physical activity to help him focus and get oriented. Sample warm-ups include jumping jacks, pushing a box loaded with books, throwing bean bags at a target, picking yellow Lego pieces out of a corn and sunflower seed mix. Things like that. Oh, and also mazes, scissors practice, connect the dots, dot-dot worksheets, coloring and such.

Math - right now I'm concentrating on teaching M basic arithmetic in the first 10. Yes, still... Well, he does very well with adding and subtracting within the first 5. Then it gets tough. So we're trying a different strategy. He does well as long as he has manipulatives. But once those are removed, he is lost. And I really don't want him to use his fingers to count. So I'm using these lessons now and so far they are working. I try to include as many vision exercises into this as well (and it's the same with reading work), otherwise we simply won't have time to do it all. But I also try to include Moebius Noodles games into our lessons as much as possible. He really enjoys those since they are so different and are so much more game-like than his other work.

Speech - we are supposed to start working with a speech therapist. But for now, as we are looking for the one specializing in bilingual children, I try to do what I can. So we make funny faces and stick out our tongues a whole lot. Plus we learn to form and pronounce some of the trickier Russian words. So far so good. I got M Rory's Story Cubes for the holidays and he loves this game (I do too). He is much more willing to create and tell stories now (as opposed to retelling something he saw or heard in books and cartoons).

Reading - I'm taking it very-very slow here. M loves being read to, but is not too keen on reading. He still mixes up some of the letters, although he can read words up to 7-8 letters in length. The problem is that when he reads, he reads one letter at a time instead of the entire слог. It doesn't make much of a difference with short words, but with the longer ones, by the time he gets to the last letter, he forgets what he started with. Lots of guess work follows... Frustrating to both of us. So we are reviewing the letters and various combinations of vowels and consonants now.

Nature study - this doesn't happen every day. I try to at least discuss the calendar - today's date and day of the week, yesterday's day of the week, tomorrow's day of the week, etc. We also talk about the weather a lot. But anything other than that isn't something M is interested in. The exception is when we go on a treasure hunt and he picks up rocks and pine cones and sticks. He's getting more interested in rocks now too.
Science - I'm determined to try 1-2 science experiments each week, the messier, the better. Last week we made some yellow goop (I still see a bit of it on the kitchen walls) and color mixing.

Art - this must be the hardest of all since M avoids any kind of art/craft work. No pretty colors are allowed (these are for girls). So the most-used colors in our house are brown, green, orange, yellow and red. Sometimes dark blue is allowed. Art for the art's sake only works in theory around here. M sometimes talks about drawing a picture or doing a craft. But in the end, if it's not serving a very specific purpose related to robots, rockets, Star Wars or, lately, garbage trucks, he just say "not now" and that's the end of it. So I try to adapt. Last week we did what was supposed to be a design in foil and that, in our hands, turned out to be a radar.

Projects - these are any and all special projects that M feels he has to work on. One of the projects last week was the Star Wars cargo and troop carrier out of an egg carton (although, honestly, I did most of the hands-on work and M did all the planning and supervising). We also took apart an old toaster to check out what was inside.

In addition to all these activities, M has two therapy sessions each week, one for physical therapy and one - for occupational therapy. This keeps us plenty busy even without extracurricular activities :)

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