Oh yeah, he’s 4

My son has been doing a phenomenal job of initiating learning time, and depending on the day, he has a nice balance of math, writing, and reading. I’m trying to slowly prepare for the fall when we will start organized preschool at home. I need to figure out how to fit in sports, playdates, and learning time into his already full schedule of playing cars and trains, doing puzzles, and dancing to music.

After a few months of watching him flourish with math and learning to read with no expectations, I made my first mistake… I placed an expectation. He sensed the expectation from a mile away and immediately revolted. I made a chart of which subjects were most important, along with my goal for the fall for amount of time spent on each subject. I have been keeping documents of what I’ve been doing with him since he was 9 months old, but I’ve never made a goal with a timeframe!

Here is where we are right now:

One or two subjects per day of reading, writing, or math, lasting a total of about 45 minutes to an hour. I let him choose.

Here is a prototype of where I’d like to be by fall. I created an Excel sheet and froze the first three columns, so I can track actual time spent on each subject with the rest of the columns.

School excel

Our 25 minutes of school this morning mostly consisted of him throwing a tantrum and me holding him while he cried. So often he loves to learn and he pushes me to do school on days that I am completely disinterested. Some days, he sits and reads book after book to me while I clean. Other days, like today, I am reminded that he is only four. He is ahead on all subjects and when he does not want to have traditional learning time, maybe he just needs a day to be four.

Onward towards riding bikes and building Thomas tracks!

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Dear Family: I Am Listening…

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My goal has been to really, really listen to my family’s words and actions. That is what I posted about this morning. Here is what I have been hearing.

My family is jealous of my phone

My family needs a clean home

My family needs me to smile and dance

My family needs me to provide healthy meals and snacks

My family needs my undivided attention

Yesterday, I officially decided to homeschool my children. Yes, I know I am already teaching my son to read and am currently researching preschool science curricula for the fall. However, I have been on the fence due to my low opinions of my abilities (despite my early childhood education training) and my exhaustion level. But, I am quickly reaching my limit with worried parents bringing their children into therapy because they are falling behind in school. Sometimes it is bullying, and usually they have ADHD. These children are starved for healthy attention, to the point where they start destroying my office when I am conversing with a parent! They need me to get on the floor with them and play. They need undivided attention.

They do not need therapy. They need healthy attention. They need their teachers to sit with them and individualize their work so they can learn the material on their level. They need their parents to read to them and play with them (even if it means falling asleep on floor while the children drive cars over the parents’ backs), no matter the parents’ level of exhaustion. They need their parents to shut the television off and take away the iPads and video games. I am not judging their parenting, because the Lord knows I fall short. I yell at my son, I spank (yes, I do spank, and may write a blog at some point regarding using this method of discipline correctly and not harmfully) at times when a discussion and a hug is more appropriate, I fight with my husband in front of my kids, and I sit my son in front of the TV when I am exhausted (though he is the one who asks me to shut it off before the movie is over, because he’s bored and wants to play).

I have decided to delete my email off of my phone for now, except for when I am nursing. When I did this today, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders because I did not feel chained to my phone. I listened to my husband’s frustrations with me for replying to a text instead of focusing on whatever sports clip he was trying to show me, and I apologized for hurting his feelings. I let my son help me vacuum. I cleaned my kitchen- I mean really cleaned it, because my daughter’s new-found mobility seems to have her finding everything she cannot have and shoving it into her mouth before I can reach her. I opened my windows and breathed the fresh air. I danced with my husband and children. I engaged in silly banter with my husband. I noticed my husband’s change in mood when I began laughing with him. I decided to run regularly, both with friends and on my own.

I do not have it all together by any means. I have just decided that I need to stop complaining about how much I am struggling and I need to just do things differently. That means making a better choice in the moment. Do I fall apart in despair? Or do I realize that my husband’s comment was not trying to hurt me? Do I hide from my family? Or do I embrace them?

Though I am standing bold today, that does not mean I’ll be standing bold tomorrow. But it means that I recognize my ability to make choices. It means I am finally listening to my family.

Photo credit: http://www.iphixni.com/apple.html

I Challenge Thee….

To a Pi memorization contest!!!! I challenge you to report back at the end of the day, the following:

-Number of digits memorized

-Mood at the beginning of the day (including 1-10 scale)

-Mood at the end of the day (including 1-10 scale)

Official hypothesis: If a person is spiraling and chooses to memorize Pi, then the person’s mood will improve by at least 2 points.

Why? You’re engaging a different part of your brain that is not connected with emotion.

Ready, and…. GO!

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Photo courtesy of my son’s bedroom 🙂

I guess I am officially a homeschool mom

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After much deliberation and slight marital conflict, I have agreed to homeschool my son for preschool. Apparently, my husband has more confidence in my teaching ability than I do. I began by reading the pertinent portions of THE WELL TRAINED MIND. They suggest the single most important part of preschool is getting your children to “read and read very well.” This is my goal for right now and in the fall, I will have a curriculum for him that includes science experiments.

I have had set learning time for him since he was nine months old (included such things as rolling a ball and learning to climb steps), and by the time he was 18 months old, he had memorized the Greek alphabet. I cannot brag here because although I taught it to him, he knew it better than I ever did! These children just learn what we pour into them. I also knew he was ready to start writing over the summer because one morning I got out of the shower and he had written his name on the white board. We had never practiced writing letters before that!

Right now, learning time in our home looks like this. I don’t do all of these every day, I gauge his attention span and accommodate appropriately. He can usually do about 30 minutes of learning time everyday.

-Either one page of phonics, a BOB Book, or a pre-reader with the pictures in place of the words

-One time over previously memorized site words, and introduction of a new site word

-Math with Lego’s. I write an equation and he uses the Lego’s to figure it out. He understands the +, -, and = signs

-Practicing writing simple letters correctly and holding the pencil correctly

-Reading a Bible passage or memorizing a scripture

I also do “learning time” with my four month old. This includes full body massages while we have deep mommy/daughter conversation, tummy time with toys to her left and right so she must move to get there, and back time with toys to her left so she must roll onto her side to reach them. By far, her favorite portion of learning time is being rewarded with milk and snuggles upon getting fussy.