Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day Three

Day Two of homeschooling was Sabrina's birthday.  So, after we did the work in the morning, we went to see a movie: The Smurfs.  It was cute.  These pictures were all taken on Day Three (Wednesday).

Here is a picture of Sabrina's letter project.  She placed a letter sticker on each letter which I have written:
 Here is Sabrina's "Big Project" (she had to mach and glue sets of big and little letters:
I didn't realize that I had no pictures of Catherine.  But, by Day 3 she was over the newness of homeschooling.  The phonics and the math worksheets I had given her were way too easy for her.  Instead of doing her work, she stared off into space or started giggling with her sister.  I ended up yelling at her quite a bit. 

My back and shoulders were hurting, so I was less patient than I want to be.  These days were actually kind of rough for us.  I had a lot of self doubt because I could not make Catherine do her work.  I felt very guilty that I had screamed at her and made her cry.  It seemed especially bad because we were getting in these arguments over material she already knew.  The phonics assignments from GCA were ridiculously easy for her: circle the vowel, add a starting letter to a word.   

I had to re-evaluate what I was doing.  My goals for this semester are to improve her reading and writing skills, have her learn her addition and subtraction skills by heart, get her to love learning, and get her medical stuff under control.  My yelling at her over dilly-dallying instead of completing worksheets which were way too easy for her was not going to accomplish any of my goals.

I have lots of friends who home school, both in my church family and in my brain tumor family.  I had long, long conversations with several of them.  They all have completely different styles of homeschooling and have had various levels of experience.  They all gave me lots of insight.

One told me that there should be absolutely no "busy work" in home school.  That everything you do should either introduce new material or strengthen a skill they still need to master.  So I re-evaluated the phonics curriculum GCA sent.  Because phonics is merely a pre-cursor to reading and Catherine can already read, I decided to focus on just reading with Catherine and on doing the vocabulary games. 

I have given Catherine several of the Phonics tests.  She has gotten 100% or almost 100% on every one of them.  She was very confused when I asked her to tell me the "-en" sound.  It was on her test and my teacher's guide asked her to say the sound out loud.  She said "But Mommy -en is not a word.  If I put a P in front of it, it will be pen.  Or an H will make it hen."

I told her I understood that, but the Phonics Test wants her to say just the sound for -en.  Catherine looked at me quizzically and said "Why would I say just part of a word?"  I could not think of a good answer for her and by then had realized that she knows the carious sounds.  I could see no value in testing her on these sounds.  So, I let her skip that portion of the test.  Two days later we took another Phonics Test.  She drew a big X across the sound portion, telling me we would skip that part go straight to the whole words.

Math is also boring for her.  She understands the concepts of addition and subtraction, but she does not know the facts well.  She still uses her fingers or the math manipulatives we have.  So, another friend suggested that I let her do her math problems on a mirror or to use flash cards.  She said that with homeschooling Catherine may never need to do a worksheet again, that I need to focus on her learning the facts rather than completing a stack of worksheets.  So I decided I had to get more creative about my methods.

On Day Three we were invited to a bowling party for kids with brain tumors.  The girls had a blast:
Thank God bowling alleys have bumper guards and ball ramps.  Sabrina yelled "Ready, Set, Go!" every time she made a shot:
It didn't make sense to us, but before she took her shot, Catherine lined up the ball ramp to point it straight for the gutter.  Then she went and got the ball:

I am not sure if this counts as a field trip or not.  When we told Catherine that we would home school her, we told her she would have more field trips.  She seemed to love that idea.  We are not technically started home schooling yet, so the extra fun things seemed OK to do this week. 

On Thursday we had to go to Catherine's doctor in the morning to have her scalp stitches removed.  After we went to the doctor, we stopped at the library.  The kids love it.  I took them to the library at least once a week before we home schooled, so it doesn't feel like a "school" activity.  But, in Catherine's public school the classes each went to the library once a week.  This was a good visit to the library because Catherine wanted to borrow the DVD "Zoe's Dance Moves."  She and Sabrina could not find it on the DVD shelves, so Catherine (on her own without my prompting) asked the librarian for help.  The librarian was able to help her find the DVD.  Catherine was so excited she ran over to me (yes, ran) and told me "that lady found the DVD for me!"  I took it as an opportunity to explain to her the term "librarian" and made her go back and thank her.

So, school could not start until about 11:00 a.m.  Actually, Catherine is not a morning person at all.  So, the first hour or so that she is up she is not very mentally alert.  I have also learned that Catherine does not have the endurance to work for too long.  It is better for her to work about an hour to an hour and a half, and then take a break.  So glad we have flexibility now!

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