Friday, March 18, 2011

Digging In

I feel I accomplished something today, which was a remarkable feat I think.  My baby who normally naps at 10:30 was still holding out on me an hour an a half later.  I found myself back and forth between my two children, trying to convince my 4 year old that it was indeed time to wear pants...and nursing and rocking my crazy 1 year old.

I normally do all my homeschooling while the baby naps, but it is best to get it in before lunch.  Just works out better for the rest of our day.  This morning I rearranged most of our learning space.  I made one of our spare rooms into our official classroom.  I had been doing lessons in our playroom, but the toys are a huge distraction. 

I spent some time scrubbing our easel clean too.  It had spent some time outside on our back porch not long ago and as I was cleaning, I could not believe what I found.  I kid you not....there was a huge wasp nest on the inside of it.  CRAZY!!!!  The wasps had moved out thankfully, but I could not believe that at one point my son had been painting on something that housed wasps.  Eeek!

For now I plan on leaving it there because it is unlikely we would ever see another large nest like that again.  Since this one is empty, it gives us a good opportunity to examine it a bit more.

The first thing we did today was go back to The Ordinary Parents Guide for Teaching Reading.  I am now seeing that this is definitely a good thing.  We reviewed 'S' to 'V'.  Obviously he already knows these sounds, but it was nice to go back and review the whole alphabet again.  He already knows how to read cvc words and I think I was jumping the gun a bit to just move on.  What we did today was a bit more relaxed yet he was very focused and certainly enjoyed being a know it all for a while.

So today we made it through another lesson of Right Start Math A.  I can't remember the lesson number off the top of my head, but it was a lesson where we reviewed numbers 1-7 and practiced 8.  For those who have not done RS, that may sound strange.  What RS emphasizes is understanding not just a number, but the amount...being able to visualize it an manipulate it, build it, and show it in different ways.  We do this with an abacus, tally sticks, hands, objects, sounds (tapping and clapping), chanting, and singing.  With this, he is able to look at a group of objects up to 5 and see how many there are rather than count.  This is helpful for figuring sums quickly, doing mental math, and also to prevent simple mistakes caused when children count by one and either lose track, skip, or double count. 

I have heard some mixed reviews on RS.  Some people have said their child hated it, others loved it.  It's always hard to tell the reason why a child might love or hate something like this because it very much depends on the person teaching it.  That's not to say that I am teaching it perfectly, but I have read from other homeschool moms that they feel overwhelmed with the amount of manipulatives and with the number of concepts covered in one lesson.  As a teacher, this is where you have to step in and determine the pace at which you will teach, the voice you give it, get organized, and not try to rush through all the activities.  This being said, I am sure there are some children who just do better with a different style of math.  For now we are enjoying this though and I feel strongly that it is giving my son a very firm standing on concepts that are typically just skimmed over in a lot of curriculum or watered down as I have seen done in a lot of preschools (coloring the number, counting the number, and gluing some buttons on a sheet of paper or the like).  If you are of the constructivist philosophy of teaching as am I, you would appreciate this curriculum I think. 

We generally do just one lesson a week from RS with a lot of review for the rest of the week.  I am excited this week because I happened to remember a couple activities from Family Math that would complement this nicely. 

So the other concept today was putting things in order from smallest to largest, thinnest to thickest, oldest to newest, etc.  We did not make it entirely through this portion because Indi had come up with a game using the colored tiles that he wanted to play called "The Sorting Game".  Sounds good to me!  I love it when he takes the lead like this.  We sorted then into piles and then decided to clean up and grab some lunch.

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