I apologize for not posting as frequently or consistently as I’ve done in the past. Our family is planning a move soon enough and I refuse to move in a frantic rush this time (as so many of our unplanned ventures have turned out), so I’ve packed most of the extras for school away. Pretty much all that’s out are the supplies he uses daily, the printer and enough paper til the end of the month. I’ve stripped all the learning down to the basics for Blueberry Ball and I think it is actually working to his advantage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my checklists and the loosely structured schedules that have allowed Blue to stay consistent and to get ahead, but the demand that it puts on me each week for prep-work along with the added stresses of every day housework and packing have taken their toll. Furthermore, Blue started speeding through his work so much that I knew he was no longer being challenged enough. He’s basically at a kindergarten or even a first grade level with everything except for reading and writing.
My answer? I’ve stripped everything down to handwriting and addition except for the occasional fun things mixed in when we have time.
Of course, we still share a Bible time each day which (right now) consists of Blue picking the stories he wants me to read to him with the use of his Compassionate Characters. It’s surprising to me how much he has enjoyed this part of our day now that he gets to pick it. He will pick one of his favorites and when that is done ask for more based on a picture that catches his eye. Since we’ve started this practice, he has a love for the the Bible that I’m sorry to say, he has never had before. It has been a God-send for us as a family and I’ve definitely noticed the impact it has had on his character. I feel like I should keep this as part of our daily practices even after we re-institute a structured lesson plan later.
As I said earlier, the only constants I’m maintaining in terms of academics is handwriting and addition. Reading and writing are the main hindrances that have been keeping Blue from moving forward right now. I know he isn’t behind as a four year old who can’t read or write. That’s very common for preschoolers. As I’ve said, he is advancing quickly in all the other areas. Our checklist has felt obsolete the past couple of months, but I can’t move much further into the things that would challenge him without him being able to at least write first.
So I’ve printed off many different things in advance for him to choose from including Our Dry Erase Book (finally completed and placed in a real notebook) my favorite custom ones from handwritingworksheets.com which allow me to choose words and letters of my own design. This lets us easily cover things like his name, rhyming words, beginning sounds, and even his phone number and address. It makes it so I can easily cover more than just printing practice. Another one of our favorites is Starfall. It happens to be one of the few things that I paid for in Blue’s school, but I feel like it was totally worth it! Among other things, they have customizable drawing practice where he can mimic pictures from an array of choices. I’m so glad that he’s taken to his new format of study so smoothly. He’s now (very roughly) writing most of his letters and numbers free-handed which allows him to be able to master his addition worksheets as well!
As for addition, most educators would most likely try to convince me that Blue doesn’t need to be learning it yet or even that he shouldn’t be yet. However, he’s taken an interest in it since our Fire Hydrant Addition Ramps that I had done as a test run earlier this year. Since then, he’s been trying to add in every situation possible in the world around him. He separates and adds his breakfast cereal, coins, and toys. For me, these are clear signs that I have to get him started on addition. He just simply has one of those minds that work extremely well with numbers. The beauty of homeschooling my children is that I can work these things to his advantage and ensure that learning is always a fun thing. I will never tell him he shouldn’t be doing something because the other children his age aren’t or because it isn’t “normal”. I want his individual strengths to shine through at whatever age, and I will always encourage him to utilize the gifts Our Lord has given him.
He’s taken to addition well the last couple of weeks. He enjoys counting using various manipulatives and writing the answers down on worksheets or even just on paper free-handed. I try to ensure that he is either using manipulatives, or that he has pictures on the chosen worksheets. While I do believe that he understands the correlation between the symbols on the paper and the physical objects, I also feel like it is important to reinforce these concepts fully because it is a fundamental foundation for him to build all math skills from.
Well, I think that sums it up (no pun intended haha ) =). I’m not sure what our school work is going to look like after the move. The hubby and I are looking at different options and praying for direction right now. While I like the ABCJLM curriculum, I feel he has entirely outgrown it and needs more. Blue has always been hungry for a new learning challenge. Just when I feel we’ve got something we can stick with for a while, he proves me wrong and makes me raise the bar again. While exhausting at times, I count it as one of our many beautiful blessings. I can’t wait to see what’s around the bend, but no matter the case, you can be sure it’s “On A Dime”.