Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16

Actually, it's May 17, around 1:30am!  I've been having fun with my new Mac laptop.  LOVE it!

We've had another good couple of days, school-wise.   We're definitely getting back into a groove.  We're not at full speed yet, but things are going well.

N4:  We've noticed he's having some sort of intellectual developmental leap the last week or two.  He's been extremely crabby.  Been driving me to distraction, and then some, actually.  But his vocabulary and language type stuff has just exploded.  Yesterday he told me a story, as he colored an alligator picture I printed off for him, about:  "Did you know I have a pet alligator in the back yard?  I feed him fish - blue fish, green fish, and red fish.  Fortunately, he can't climb steps, so he doesn't bother us in the house.  As a matter of fact, he doesn't bother the dogs, either.  Because I keep him happy feeding him fish!"  Today, as he helped carry in the groceries, he grabbed a bag, held it high in the air and said, "I am victorious!"  and today he asked me what the word "vengeance" means, and was suitably pressed when I explained it.  He's having a lot of fun coloring while his brothers work on handwriting, and he watches math u see with his brothers and gets more than he lets on, I suspect.  Yesterday he told me he "wasn't smart", and I explained that he was just so much younger than his brothers, and his brain had to grow a bit, that was all, he was really smart for being 5.  He seemed to feel better after that.  I think it must be hard to be so smart, like he is, and yet be the youngest.

S3:  S just continues to plug away.  He is really getting into handwriting, and drawing pictures.  Yesterday dh made a big bowl of popcorn and the boys were going to watch a show.  S got all excited, and wanted to make a list.  So he asked how to spell, and then wrote:  Popcorn, drinks, blanket, movie, brothers.  We didn't have to show him any of the letters, he was just able to write them all down. - and he almost spelled 'popcorn' by himself.    He is breezing through phonics, he's done about 8 pages this week.   He did run into a bit of a problem yesterday with math, though.  For some reason, he just could NOT get subtracting by 9s!  It's so simple, and he just cried about how hard it was!  I got kind of frustrated, too, I'll admit.   We worked for a good 20 minutes, but I think he *finally* got it.  I don't think he's internally "clicked" with subtraction, though.  He will.  I think math u see is actually confusing him a bit.  They have all sorts of tricks for learning, and he sees a "9" and thinks that "9 sucks 1 away to become 10", the way they do it for addition.   There aren't those kind of cute tricks (so far) for subtraction, and he's confused.  I tried to explain it several ways, and I think he's ok.  We'll see.  I know he'll get it - part of the problem yesterday was that he kept looking at all the other problems on the page, comparing them, rather than actually just doing the '9' problem.  Ie; he did 17-9=8, then the next problem was 15-9, and he said, "hmm...if I know 17-9 is 8, and 15 is 2 less than 7, that means..." and he'd think and think and be stuck- I'm guessing it was just too many steps to put all together as he's learning.  But today, I had them do the on-line facts drill for both addition, and the subtraction that they've done so far.  S got 20's (out of 20) on both addition drills, and then a 17 and a 19 in subtraction.  Not bad!  Reading, he's doing great!  He's reading Arnold Lobel stories right now - yesterday was - can't remember the name right now, but it's one of those stories where it adds on stuff - first the mouse was in the lake, and he asked the wind to blow, then the west wind came and blew him up in the air and onto a house.  Then the north wind comes and blows him and the house on a tree,  then the south wind came and blew him and the house and the tree up onto a mountain, etc.  Anyway - he thought it was *quite* funny.  He reads about 95% of the story all by himself, with no explanation from me.  Well, that's not *quite* true - I rather often have to slow him down a bit, and make sure he's reading the actual story, not embellishing it as he goes.  He's so funny!  He's excited about reading, he asked me to "read 15 minutes a day" with him, and thinks he can read books on his own "without talking" really soon.  I agree!

A2:  That stinker!  Yesterday was the first day in a few weeks we sat down with "100 EZ lessons" and I was prepared for him to struggle.  But he did *great*!  Had almost no problems reading the story in Lesson 51.  I mentioned that I really thought that in 4-6 weeks he'd be able to read whatever he wanted.  He just shot me this look, and I *knew* - he is so totally fooling me!  He already CAN read anything he wants to - *want* being the operative word.  So today, we sat down and he did even better than yesterday.  He's really starting to gain fluency and ease and speed in his story reading.  It's only a few short paragraphs, but still - he has made such tremendous progress, he really has.  He is insistent that he wants to go through the whole book before he'll read books on his own.  So, though I think he could, we'll stick with how he wants to do it and get through all 100 lessons - or at least as far as he wants to go!  I'm really pleased, though.  Considering I despaired that he'd EVER read just a few months ago, I'm much relieved.  In doing phonics, though, I have noticed that he needs to fill in some skills.  Handwriting is tough for him, and so I haven't made him do the writing portion of 100EZ lessons.  But now, he has the skills to read words in phonics, and  can hear sounds in words.  He can *tell* me that "pot" starts with the sound "p" and ends with the sound "t", but he can't write, from memory, the letters "p&t".  He even struggles just a bit to pick them out from a list of letters.  So, we will work a bit extra on doing some "backward engineering" and get him some facility with writing the sounds and recalling the letters, in addition to reading them.  In math, he's great.  He got "9" facts quickly, with ease.  He still needs to work a bit on his addition facts memorization (he got a 16&17 on his drill, and a 17 and 19 on subtraction).  Overall, though, I'm very pleased with this first week back.  Gotta work on his handwriting, though!  He's got that boy messy thing going, big-time.

J1:  We've had a slow, but good, week.  Yesterday he practiced piano some more, but today he had to give it a miss cuz dh was SO busy at work (the home office is where the piano is).  He's coming along with the handwriting, the italic series is working wonders for his legibility.  He had some trouble with math and needed a lot of hand holding earlier this week, but today he did it on his own, with only a couple preemptive questions, and got 100% on the whole lesson.  I think he'll continue to do a regular math schedule next week (one lesson or test per day, evens or odds on the mixed practices), then if he continues to do well, we might accelerate a bit again.  He's on L. 71 in Saxon pre-algebra.  We didn't get to science or history this week, but he did finish his art, and every day in our house there's some history lesson involved.  J and dh often sit around the dinner table, talking history and current events - I'll try to pay more attention and capture some of that next week.  

Well, this is long enough for 2am!  Still love my my new laptop! :-)  

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