So now that I know Squarespace works better in Safari, I can update more frequently (yay!). I have no idea how bring this sad little blog of mine up to date any more than I know how I’ll tackle the eight inches of non-junk mail sitting on our family room coffee table in the twenty minutes left to me before Patrick and the lads all come bombing home from Costco, so I’ll try to hit most of the highlights of the past few months.
Tonight, Seamus is in a play! He enrolled in a class through Bay Area Children’s Theater back in February, and tonight and tomorrow afternoon they perform the Disney version of The Jungle Book. Seamus is playing Baloo, which he’s worked really hard at doing well. Parent’s aren’t allowed to lurk about during rehearsals, so tonight is the first night we’ll see him perform. We’ve also started to support some of his friends’ pursuits by attending one friend’s play two weeks ago, and another’s baseball game in another week, as part of his desire to keep in touch with them. I like this a lot better than trying to coordinate mutual enrollment in camps and activities, since it lets the kids maintain their own interests. I also think it’s good for kids to see their friends do other things It gives context for those stretches between playdates, and maybe helps with the early awkward moments when they reunite. I hope.
School has really evolved for us. Patrick’s folks visited in late March and noticed that Seamus was having trouble with mental/verbal math. I spent some time putting together some of the resources I have here and poking through Ronit Bird’s website, and came up with a plan. We play games involving math (black jack, dominoes, and Yahtzee) a few times a week, and during our walks in the morning I ask him to either do simple algorithms (addition and subtraction), or we work on number sequences. Doing the work orally slows him down enough to think about it, and this seems to help his working memory, which can use the workout. We began working through the first year MEP materials, and the multiple approaches toward learning a math fact have been fantastic for a kid who loves variety and novelty, but still needed practice. We’re halfway through the book now, and we’ll finish it by the end of this quarter/beginning of summer. We’ll begin the second year materials over the summer and slow the pace down. Since we still use Miquon, he’s currently being exposed to math materials spanning first through fourth grade, so we can take our time with MEP. I love MEP. It’s our primary math material now, and it complements Miquon and GEMS Family Math nicely. Seamus still loves reading Life of Fred, but has no love of doing the exercises, so I’m contemplating selling the books and looking at Beast Academy once we complete Miquon.
Putting together all of this math made me realize I needed to devote less mental bandwidth to our humanities works, so I asked around and looked at three different language arts curricula. I had been borrowing heavily from one called Classical House of Learning Literature, which was okay, but not quite challenging enough, plus I had to customize it to the books I found in the library. Since Seamus is still writing averse, I went with Mosdos, which is structured around reading really good short stories, poems, plays, and novellas and teaching kids to analyze the work. It’s a lot of incremental learning in units with mostly workbook work and a couple of paragraphs per reading assignment. This lets me shift the lit he was reading into his history units, and then incorporate art as well into more projects and cutural study. This should serve us pretty well as we discuss some pretty big civilizations next quarter (Mayans, Han Empire Chinese, Romans) as well as next year, when we cover a mere thousand years.
Tristan is three now! He is our bright chatterbox and deeply in love with all vehicles, much more so than Seamus was at this age. I took him to his first preschooler naturalist class this week and he could not stop exclaiming about the school buses next to the education center, where we were planting wlidflowers. He climbs EVERYTHING, so we’ve enrolled him in a tumbling class. Like Seamus, he’s been memorizing his favorite books for a while now, so we’ve begun letting him play with Starfall, and I’m more conciously introducing phonograms whenever we read one of his ABC books. It’s not yet time to teach him how to read, but IT’S COMING, FOLKS.
He is potty training and will use the potty if he’s bottomless, but has not made the transition to pulling his pants down. I’m not sure how to tackle that yet. but it needs doing, to be sure. Right now I’m working on other aspects of self-reliance, and just letting him be half-naked at home.
I need to help Shay get ready, more soon.