Yes, folks, this is it! The last remnants of my sanity are departing forever! Charlotte is crawling! We have mobility! (Said in the same tone as, “We have liftoff!”)

Not only is she crawling, but she loves to pull herself up to her knees while holding herself upright. She’s not pulling to a full stand yet, but just pulling herself to her knees gets her high enough to get into lots of stuff. Eek! I remember not-so-fondly the weekend that my parents asked me to dogsit, and Emily, who had been a crawler, suddenly started pulling herself to a stand. She’d get into the dog’s water bowl, I’d be dealing with that, she’d pull all the magnets off the fridge, I’d be dealing with that, she’d start pulling everything off the coffee tables and end tables and all the DVDs off the shelf and… eek! What a weekend. I needed a baby cage.

Crawling, however, is cute. Really, really cute. Especially when you enter a room, baby sees you and gives a “Squee!” and starts crawling as fast as possible (which is not very) up to you, crawls up onto your shoes and tugs at your pantlegs. So adorable.

I’m reading “The Well-Trained Mind.” It’s got some great ideas. I don’t know that I really want to do the classical method all the way, although I think it has merit, but I think I might appropriate a few ideas. Like, for some of the books a child reads, it suggests that you have the child narrate back the story to you after you finish reading (telling you what they remember). You write it down, then (if they’re old enough) have them read it back. You also have them draw a picture that goes with the book. Somebody on Sonlight also has their child write (and sometimes decorate) a page that has the title and author on it. If you put those together, after each book, they’d make a little summary of three pages, one with the title/author, one with a drawing, and one with a summary of what the story was about. What a great way to solidify memory of a book and be able to look back at it later. Also, I like the idea of the narrative, as it sounds like a good way for the parent to get an idea of what the child understood from the book.

“The Well-Trained Mind” was a gift from my uncle. We ran across a book we thought he’d like, “Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men” (part of Sonlight’s high school curriculum, looked neat), and sent it to him a few months ago. A few days ago, when we arrived at my parents’ for a visit, they had “The Well-Trained Mind” as a gift he’d sent for us. 🙂 That was really neat of him. And I’m reading it a lot faster than I’d read the “Emancipating…” book, perhaps because it’s on the topic that I’m currently obsessing about (homeschool).


Running out of books

Well, we’ve finished Sonlight’s P3/4 level curriculum (first year of preschool). I was initially trying to go through all of the books at least twice. However, after we did most of them twice, I decided to set that aside. It occurred to me that Jenny will be of an age to start P3/4 this winter, and Emily will hear all them again then. And, I’m thinking that Jenny will probably go through P3/4 twice… once by herself, once with Charlotte, so that she and Charlotte can be in the same year of school for core, so they’ll hear all the stories plenty!

I’m chomping at the bit to start the second year of preschool, P4/5. Also, I’ve decided to purchase All About Reading. Currently, pre-level 1 is the only level out, but level 1 is due out in June or July. I’m going to wait until level 1 comes out and order both together. I’m also going to order the first year of All About Spelling at the same time. So what is all this stuff?

All About Reading is a fun program that teaches kids how to read! It uses Ziggy the Zebra, a character and also a puppet that you can wear, to make learning to read fun. Pre-level 1 focuses on the big five pre-reading skills: letter knowledge, phonological awareness, print awareness, listening comprehension, and motivation to read. It has three sections, going through all the capital letters, then all the lowercase letters, than all the initial sounds.

Emily is actually pretty solid on all her letters and sounds, but I don’t think it will hurt to go through them again. I’ll probably speed things up a bit, pairing capital letter/lowercase letter/sound together in one week (or a few days, depending on how long she needs). She’ll enjoy the letter crafts. But the main reason I want to do pre-level 1 is that I think that she’s still a little weak on phonological awareness. She knows what a rhyme is, but she can get confused between rhyming words and alliteration. She’s not too clear on what syllables are. And she can’t always pick out the separate sounds in words. So while we’ll keep the letter/sound parts of the units for structure and fun and review, I think the phonological stuff is what we’ll really want to focus on. Also, I’m not sure whether she has sufficient motivation to read. She loves books and loves being read to, and she stays up late at night “reading” (looking at the pictures and remembering the story), but she doesn’t really desire to read to herself. So I’ll have to see what it does to promote that aspect.

For the most part, though, I think she’s probably almost ready for level 1. So I’ll get both at once so that I can look over it and have an idea where it starts, and then I’ll have it ready as soon as she is.

I want Emily to be really excited about the program, so I’ve already told her about how we’re going to adopt a baby zebra this summer, and how he’ll be coming to live with us, but how he doesn’t know how to read yet, and her job will be to teach him to read. She seems amused at the idea, so we’ll see how it goes!

All About Spelling sounds like a fantastic program from what I’ve heard of it. You can use it pretty early on, concurrent with level 1 of All About Reading, as kids are learning to piece words together. It starts with learning all the sounds each letter can make, which is also really helpful for reading. So, I really can’t wait to make my order and get all that fun stuff!

I’m also chomping at the bit to start P4/5. It’s a bit more structured than our current year was (P3/4 just basically lists the books in trimesters, based on their length/difficulty level, but P4/5 has an actual daily schedule), which I’m looking forward to. It has some longer, more involved chapter books. I got a set of pony beads for Emily in case she needs an activity while she listens to the books that are longer with few pictures. I also can’t wait to start doing some more science with her. P4/5’s science is mostly reading, which I think she’ll like, maybe with a few science observations mixed in. And my current plan is to stay a bit heavy on the science, finish it earlier than the rest of the core, and move right along to Science A (the next level). I’d like to go through the science a bit faster than the core, leaving me with some time to supplement with other books, and also eventually getting a year or a few years ahead (the science isn’t super advanced). Especially as some of the core levels require a greater maturity and so I’ll need to hold back on core so that we don’t get too far ahead, I’m not going to worry about trying to align science with core. Also, I’d really like her to either start doing the advanced science cores that are preparation for the AP exams or to be taking community college science classes in high school. I also think that science doesn’t really require the maturity that certain other subjects do (reading, handwriting, math, etc.). And I’m really looking forward to getting into some of the experimental stuff that comes with Science A! Maybe there’s some stuff in the instructor’s guide with P4/5. We do read one of my favorite science books in that, “How Do You Lift a Lion?” and I might try to devise a few experiments myself that demonstrate levers, pulleys, etc.

So, we’ve finished P3/4, and we’re not starting P4/5 until after the move… where does that leave us? With the children’s room at the library! We have been checking out books by the dozens (literally… I have over 100 books checked out at the moment). I keep my 20 holds maximum filled at all times, and pick up my holds frequently so that I can put more on. We’ve been reading through the recommended reading list in the back of “What Your Preschooler Needs To Know” and Caldecott Medal winners, plus other books that catch our eye or strike our fancy. Lots of books about American History, as Sonlight doesn’t cover it until about age 8 and I’d like Emily to get a little preview beforehand, lots of art, and just good classic stories. She’d read all day if I were willing, so we go through 8-10 books during school each day, plus often another book or two somewhere else in the day, and of course 2 books at bedtime. I’m creating voracious reading monsters! You can really tell from Emily’s vocabulary that she reads a lot. She’ll pop out with long or unusual words that make me smile.

Sorry, another whole post about homeschool! I’ll try to think of something more exciting and/or funny for next time!