Settling into a routine

So, it’s not exactly a new school year for us, since we school year-round. But I’ve been trying some new things now that Emily’s peers are also starting first grade. One thing is that I have a seatwork schedule for her each day. It lists a few of the things that she can do independently, and she can put a sticker on each item as she does it. When we’re ready to start in the morning, I grab her schedule, see what books/supplies she needs, and set them in a pile on the dining room table, then have her get started. I wish we had another option other than the dining room table, but we haven’t worked anything else out yet. Ideally I’d like to get some sort of small cheap dining room table and cut off the legs so that it’s a good height for little kids, then get the kids a set of those balance balls that are supposed to be great for kids to sit on while they work. There are a few practical issues with this, though. One is that there kids aren’t the same height. If they each have a balance ball sized for them, isn’t the table going to be much higher for Jenny than for Emily? Will this cause problem’s for Jenny’s writing? Also, since the table is low, will it fit them for long, or will they grow out of it quickly? I’m not sure how much variance is comfortable in terms of table height, so maybe it would fit them for long enough, I just don’t know. However, I do know that having kids sit at a table when they can’t reach the floor (they’re on booster seats) isn’t ideal, either, because having your feet on the floor is good for support. So eventually I’ll get this figured out.

Anyway, back to the seatwork schedule. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, so I’ll make this brief. The things currently on the schedule are regular math (Singapore), handwriting, extra math (Life of Fred, Kumon workbooks, or Critical Thinking, depending on the day of the week), and language arts. I also added in one session of math practice (Dreambox on the computer, Math BINGO on the iPad, or FlashMaster practice). And then her daily reading.

We’ve made a recent change in our language arts program. We had been using Sonlight’s Language Arts, and I may consider using it again at some point. However, I’ve been getting a bit frustrated with it. Due to Emily’s high reading level, her Readers level and her Language Arts level don’t line up. She finished all of Readers 3 in a week and I probably should have gotten her level 4 instead. And yet we’ve been near the end of LA 1. The grammar and writing prompts in LA 1 were a decent level for her, but the sources it draws all the copywork from are Readers 1, which are babyish at this point. So she’d have really long copywork, and yet it would be on the level of Dr. Seuss, not offering particularly challenging wording or anything. We were both sick of the frequent creative writing prompts, too. About the only thing we really liked were the activity pages, which have some sort of grammar activity like matching words to their synonyms, or coming up with sentences for homophones, things like that. She loves those for whatever reason.

So, we’re switching to First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease, and we’ll see how those go. I wish there was a bit more variety in Writing with Ease, as it alternates days between copywork and narration and that’s it. But I think we can make it work. I might make up my own writing assignment here or there. I think when we do Aesop’s Fables, it would be fun to make up our own fable.

Her new readers are based on Writing with Ease. It draws the copywork from various classics of children’s literature. So, even though it isn’t necessary for the program, I’m going to have her read those as we go along. I think they’ll be a little more challenging than some of the books she reads, and I think she’ll get more out of the copywork/narration if she’s familiar with the works. She started the copywork before she had the book this first week (Little House in the Big Woods), so she started the book this evening. She was excited when she started reading it and said, “Mommy, it’s just like my copywork!” So I think that will be fun for her, as well as challenge her a bit in terms of reading material. Next up will be the “Adventures of Pinocchio,” and then “The Blue Fairy Book.” Good stuff.

In other news, Megan is learning to walk! She took her first steps, maybe 2-3 steps, this week. And then yesterday, for the first time, she seemed to really get her balance and went about 8-10 steps before falling. She’s repeated it several times since, and always seems somewhat astounded at herself when she does it. It’s adorable. Right on target, with her first birthday just a few days ago, too! She’s my latest walker so far! Emily was my earliest, at about 10 months and a week. She crawled far earlier, too. Which just proves that early gross motor skills mean nothing, because Charlotte is much more physical despite crawling/walking much later.

We’re still plugging away at geography. Finishing up Australia/Oceania, and about to move on to Africa. After Africa comes Antarctica, and then we’re done! I’m really looking forward to starting Core B.

Jenny’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and she loves giraffes, so we’re going to be having a giraffe party. I made a giraffe pinata, which I’m actually rather proud of. We’ll play Hot Giraffe (like Hot Potato) and Elephant, Elephant, Giraffe (like Duck, Duck, Goose), and find-the-animals (little plastic animals hid all over). I’m going to make giraffe cupcakes, which I’m hoping won’t be too difficult. I got cupcake liners that have little animals on them, including giraffes (although monkeys on the bottom). Oh, and we’ll have giraffe goody bags and little zoo sticker books. We’ve invited 7 kids, so we’ll have 10, including our own (well, 11 if you include Maggie, but since she won’t be consuming candy or playing games, I’m not). 3 cousins, 2 neighbors from next-door, and 2 kids from church. Plus our 3. Should be pretty lively if everybody can make it! We just sent out invitations, though, so hard to say who will be able to come.

My favorite quote today, from Emily: “Mommy, can we go to the library today? I’m STARVING for new books to read!” It’s so much fun raising a reader.

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