Thursday, March 31, 2016

I have to write it down ASAP

 The little dinosaur on the left

Eliah has been saying the most hilarious things recently.  He has moved into longer sentences that allow for greater complexity in communication.  It has been delightful to hear what is going on in his little mind.
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"Why you call me Doll?"

:: To Blaine, whose nickname for him is, you guessed it, "Doll".

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Mama (calling from the kitchen): "I'm ready for boys to get the table ready to eat....!"
Eliah (from the other room): "Be patient, Mama."

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"I naughty and you dumb."

:: What he said as I walked into the bathroom after his two-minute time-out.  I laughed at this one for quite a while. 

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"I catched this restapede."

:: Proudly showing Diego the millipede he caught. 

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"I do it myself!"

:: Like a broken record.  Last month it was "Me do it by myself!"

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"What's a-daaaaaat?"

:: The question of the day, every day, all day.  Answers simply result with another question.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Booklist for boys

 Books my boys have loved:
  • Hatchet (et al) - Gary Paulsen
  • Woodsong - Gary Paulsen
  • My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George
  • Old Yeller - Frank Gipson
  • Rascal - Sterling North
  • Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien 
  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  • The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
  • Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
  • Little House Books 1-4 - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Future Reference:
  • Little Britches - Ralph Moody
  • Stone Fox - John Reynolds Gardiner
  • Penrod - Booth Tarkington

My older boys are currently 10 and 8 years old. 
All books were absorbed either via audiobook or read aloud.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Further honing

I've been tweaking our homeschool schedule in recent weeks with hugely beneficial results.

The revised morning flow
  • Eat earlier (me)
  • Breakfast at 8:00 AM
  • Preschool Circle Time / Lego Time
  • Circle Time
  • Table Time
  • Free Time
  • Clean-up
  • Lunch
Instead of a lackadaisical approach to breakfast, I am gunning for an earlier eating time.  Our mornings were getting squeezed out by eating too late.  Enough.  We are eating our evening meal earlier - we will eat our morning meal earlier as well.

Secondly, I've realized that too much free-time with the ages, stages and personalities of my children degenerates into CHAOS.  Enough.  Every morning it was the same thing: 20 minutes of freedom after breakfast comprised of frenzied battle play that resulted in the complete loss of control of the day.  From boys rampaging around the house completely naked to tears and shrieking from over-wrought younger sibs.  It was hard to reel them back in from that.

Furthermore, I was noticing a pattern: the older boys were finally settling down for focused play in the Lego Room just 5-10 minutes before Morning Chores or Before Lunch Clean-up.  I hated tearing them away from it, but the day must move on or we will be swimming in a cesspit of chaos.

Finally, I've been feeling an important urge to give my younger two boys time to themselves, to play their imaginative Little Kid games and not have to be running around the house in full battle gear.  To be baby bunnies or go fishing for crocodiles off the loveseat without brudders coming in and dominating the play.  And I've been wanting to read to them more, feeling that urgency of time pressing down upon me, wanting to share special books and really settle in and focus on them. 

Enough.  Combine the all the issues, add a dose of insight from a homeschooling post on a favorite blog, and I realized the answer lay before me.

Further structure. More order.  (Duh, Shawna.)

I've implemented Preschool Circle Time right after breakfast.  (In order to make that work I have to ensure that I eat before they do, as I read to them while they eat.)  So while the Littles are with me downstairs, the Bigs are upstairs in the Lego Room.

The result?  A quiet morning.  No AM battle play.  No rampaging around the house.  No bellowing, hollering, screaming and crying.  No spiraling out of control.  Focused attention.  Peace.  It has been AMAZING.

I am loving the quiet time in the morning with the little guys - we are reading stories, poems, Mother Goose, singing songs, snuggling and usually ending with a bit of make-believe.  Today we took a little detour and made meringues.  And all the while, the older boys are able to have a lengthy time for focused attention on Lego play.  It has been amazing.  I am absolutely reveling in it.

So we are building the habit.  It takes vigilance and perseverance to keep any good habit on track for the long-term.  And it is all on my shoulders.

Now a quick run-down on Circle Time.

  • My Book House: Story Time - Olive Beaupre Miller
  • Poems to Read to the Very Young - Josette Frank
  • The Mother Goose Book - Alice & Martin Provenson
  • Clap Your Hands: Finger Rhymes - Sarah Hayes

  • OT/NT Bible Stories
  • Elementary Geography - Charlotte Mason
  • The Life of Marcus Cato the Censor - Plutarch
  • George Washington's World - Genevieve Foster
  • The Young Brahms - Sybil Deucher
  • The Adventures of Reddy Fox - Thornton W. Burgess
  • Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  • Othello - William Shakespeare
  • The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose

Lest you think that I am super woman because you are unfamiliar with the lay-out of Circle Time, I am not reading all these books in one day, nor I am reading full chapters or lengthy passages.  The boys can't take much more than a paragraph from Plutarch and we get through perhaps a quarter of a scene from Shakespeare before I've lost them.  It is quick-quick-quick, with the idea of a cumulative effect over time.  I am a builder.  We also sing, recite poetry, and practice our memory work.

Oftentimes, the boys are flopping around on the floor while I am reading to them or Jamie is up on my shoulders while I am hunched over the book and trying to keep my eye on the line.  It isn't pretty, but it sure is beautiful.