What we are up to

Things are still moving along. I am trying to squeeze in enough time to do everything that I want to…not enough hours in the day. We seem to be back on track as far as not being quite so over scheduled. The boys are really enjoying their pottery class and have been making some really neat stuff. Jason has started playing around a bit more with the modeling clay that we have here at home too. He seems to have more patience with it then other art activities.

We have started using Sequential Spelling to help Jason with his spelling. It is not something that he really loves, but he also does admit that his spelling needs a lot of help. Sequential spelling is great for him because it focuses on word patterns rather then straight memorization. It is also not phonics based. Being a right brained learner, learning by seeing the patterns is definitely a better approach. The other nice thing is that there really is no "studying". We spend a little bit of time most days…I give him the words to spell and correct him immediately if he does not get it right. We talk a little bit about the patterns and rules. Sometimes I wonder (being a phonics gal myself) if this can really work, but he is picking it up. And it seems to make sense to him (which is the important thing).

For math, I have decided instead of completely following one "math curriculum" I will focus on different math concepts and bring in various resources. Right now we are focusing on fractions. We are starting with Key to Fractions which he actually seems to be enjoying. I like the materials too…very easy for him to understand and follow. Again we do spend a short amount of time on it, but he is picking it up very quickly. I also plan to bring in some fraction ideas from Marilyn Burns and other resources. Jason says that he likes fractions much better then multiplication and division. Not surprising. I still work with him some on memorizing his math facts, but I think these will come as he uses them more and more. We are also enjoying reading Murderous Maths and I just picked up some of the Theoni Pappas books that Jason really enjoys. So we are talking/reading a lot about a lot of different math concepts. I have found for Jason that the key is to keep mixing things up and providing variety which he enjoys.

Jason has also been working a little bit out of the Handwriting Without Tears cursive book. Cursive seems to be coming more easily then printing (although his printing is getting better…still not all that great, but better).

Jason's reading still amazes me. Considering he was "late" (around 8 yo) when he started, you would never know it. He reads mostly for information (catalogs, video game cheats, magazines etc) and I have caught him reading some pretty impressive words. He still is not into reading overly word intensive books (he says that when he reads, he has a harder time "seeing" the story) but he really enjoys comics like The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. He seems to also enjoy reading poetry…I think that he likes the cadence in addition to there not being as many words. It is nice now and again to find him sitting on the couch reading…it is all a matter of finding the right book. We also do a lot of audio books as well as Jeff and myself reading to him.

Kyle and I have started doing 100EZ Lessons again. I will need to write another longer post about that because it has been really interesting. We had started doing 100 EZ Lessons last year, and although he enjoyed it, I could tell that it was not clicking for him. So I decided to give him some more time and we stopped the "formal" lessons and just read and played a lot. Fast forward to this year and it is amazing the difference that a little bit of time has made. He definitely is getting it. And getting it pretty easily. I am glad that we did not push it before.

For math, Kyle and I play lots of math games (he still really likes the dice game Pig) and do some work out of his Singapore math book (which he also likes). Can I say that it is actually pretty cool to have a kid who understands my math explanations? (With Jason, I always have to look for other ways to explain math concepts because we think so differently! And while I love this about Jason, it is also nice sometimes to have a kid who understands what I am trying to explain!)

The only thing that Kyle really does not like to do is writing. But he is still pretty young so I am not pushing it. And he does not seem to have the same issues that Jason did at this age. Kyle has a good pencil grip and is pretty good at making his letters. He also likes doing mazes and has started wanting write down his answers when he does math. So for now, I think he is doing fine.

Hmmm…we don't really sound very "unschooly" lately, but really the above does not take up a huge amount of time and it has come about from seeing what my kids need and working on finding resources that work for them. And it works. Kyle is pretty easy…he reminds me to do his reading and enjoys math workbooks and maze books and the like. And while Jason does not ask to do his math, writing or spelling, he also does not fight me when I say it is time to do them. And when he is working on them, I can tell that he is learning and getting something out of it. Definitely a good experience…and it works because he knows that he does want to learn these things, even if he does not always want to do the work involved. Which is where I come in to remind him and work with him on it. And he sees the results.

I think that this is what Cindy means when she talks about collaborative learning. It is not totally child-led, but it is totally based on the needs of the child. It is not "no structure" but it is structure where it makes sense to have structure. And it feels like the right balance (for now) for us.

And as usual it is getting late and I am getting rambly. So I will say good night for now.