Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day!

We have finished our official first day of PreK 5 at home and it was a blast! All day long, I kept thinking this is too much fun. I wanted to share our first day highlights with you. (Don't worry, I won't do this everyday!) I wanted you to see what our day looks like. We did our official first day of school pictures like many of our friends heading to school today.

We started our day with Bible. God has laid on my heart that education begins and ends with Him. So, I want to make sure that our schooling always starts with the true source of widsom. We started a new Children's Bible today by Catherine Vos. I loved the first chapter and we had a great discussion on angels. The picture (below) is SharkMan coloring his Proverb card for the week. Our Proverb for the week is Proverbs 25:19. Our question is who is like a broken tooth? (Answer: Confidence in a faithless man in time of trouble.) Each week, SharkMan colors a picture that represents the proverb and then puts it in his own proverb book. During the week, we talk about what the proverb means, use Bible stories to illustrate the Proverb (this week we will talk about Haman) and then talk about current day illustrations. Once a week, Papa Shark reviews all the proverbs learned with SharkMan (mom and dad are learning a great deal also.) We also read the Proverb and Psalm for the day and worked on our long memory passage (Psalm 1.) I am so thankful how God calmed my fears today by reading His Word. I watched the news this morning and the coverage was all the kids returning to schools. I wondered, "Are we really doing the right thing?" During Bible time, God ministered to me. I loved Psalm 1 where the Lord says that the blessed man delights in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water. My prayer for SharkMan is that he will be firmly established and homeschooling allows us to fill his days and nights with God thoughts.

While SharkMan finished coloring his Proverb, I started our Sonlight read aloud. For the next few weeks we will be focusing on the ocean. We read Chapter 1 of Dolphin Adventure. Then, we used our Markable Map to find Florida, the Gulf Stream/Gulf of Mexico (from the story) and Alabama (where we are going in a few weeks.) Sharkman loved the big map. After story time, we worked on our calendar. This month, we will work on identify week days and weekends (days Papa Shark goes to work and days he doesn't.) Each month we will add new components to the calendar.

We then took a break and watched Sid the Science Kid, did morning chores and played. Next, came Math. My approach this year is to do an extraordinary amount of hands on work with manipulatives. After much research, I think this is critical to later math success. We worked on logic and patterning using Reasoning with Teddy Bear Counters.

Then we used Cuisennaire rods to make the letter A. This activity was amazing. We used the rods in different proportions to fill in the letter A and then we found other rods that would fill the same area. We filled a second page of pictures that start with A. We spent about 15 minutes with lots of counting, comparing and sorting - not to mention the fractions. Of course SharkMan doesn't realize what all he's learning - he still thinks we are just playing.

Mondays are 100's Board Day! So we used today as an opportunity to explore the Hundred's Board. SharkMan made pictures and then methodically used different colors to fill in all the rows on the board. I asked SharkMan how many green tiles were in his row. We then "discovered" that all the rows had 10 and the columns too (yes we did a great deal of counting.) This will be useful information in the next few weeks with our activities on the board and it just came so natural in the converstaion. Amazing - no worksheet - just observation and discovery.

We spent a few minutes clapping patterns and then we started our book on three. My research from this summer showed that children need to have multiple exposures to how a number looks to really internalize this. Although SharkMan is great at counting, I figure this can't hurt. Today we played with wooden cubes and came up with different combinations (of colors) to make three. As if he had read Mathematics Their Way, SharkMan said, Let's draw this." All this week, we will use different manipulatives to come up with combinations of three (more to come on this later.)

We also did 1 worksheet today identifying the 3 sounds of A and practiced writing A a couple of times. We also read some books about how fish breathe and about how dolphins used sonar. SharkMan jumped up and started clicking like a dolphin around the house. So, cute.

I know it seems like we did a great deal, but really it only took about 2 hours with several breaks. I even made it to the gym today to workout!

I am awed at how much fun we had today. All of my education classes said learning should be full of hands on discovery. Today, I saw that realized. Having time to work one-on-one was fabulous. I realize all days won't necessarily look like this but I am so grateful that I was able to spend such a great day with my son!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Game Time

SharkMan and I spent the afternoon playing some of his favorite newly learned games. He spent about 30 minutes this afternoon playing Rush Hour Jr. He methodically would slide the cars back and forth until he could free the ice cream truck from the traffic jam. He would just smile with delight when he finally succeed. He played through all of the beginner level and started the intermediate level. Then, he started making up his own puzzles - which were difficult if not impossible to solve. Great gift Aunt T!

Last week, I introduced SharkMan to Blokus. It's a great game for non-readers. We have played it several afternoons. It's a wonderful improvement for mom over games like Candy Land. I love that SharkMan is now able to play some games with strategy and thought. He's a quick learner. He beat me for the first time this afternoon. This evening, we had family game time and he and Papa Shark tied for the win.

Waves of Excitement

We will officially begin homeschooling SharkMan on Monday. We decided to forego kindergarten this year and do a PreK 5 year instead since my former "teacher days" taught me that giving a boy one additional year before school can make a huge impact of their future education. So our PreK 5 year will include many of the traditional Kindergarten experiences but still allow for plenty of time to play, explore and create. One reason I love the homeschooling option is that I can create a curriculum that is right for my child without worrying about which grade a specific topic/skill is covered.

It's funny how I am nervous about our decision. I have never met a mom yet who regrets holding her child back a year before Kindergarten (while I've met many moms who wished they would have waited,) but I still wonder what impact it might have on him. He is very sad that he will not be in the same Sunday School and AWANA class as some of his friends who are going on to Kindergarten. While I hate to see his tears, I know that my dh and I have prayed about this option over the years and we remain unwavered on our decision that this is best for SharkMan.

While I am nervous, I am very excited as well. I have spent the summer reading and scouring curriculum to find exactly what we like. I have pieced together my curriculum this year by taking from all of my favorites - Sonlight, Singapore Math, Veritas, Phonics Road to Reading, Charlotte Mason, ETA, and The Well Trained Mind. Yes - we will be eclectic in this journey. I also have found a group of like minded moms of Prek and Kindergarten age children who also plan to educate their children at home. We are planning on getting together to have Science Days and playdates. I am so blessed that the Lord has provided such great friends to take this trip with.

My goal with this blog is to give our family and friends insight into our journey and to watch SharkMan grow up right before their eyes.