I am relaxing on my deck as I write this, watching the flame of the bug candle dance in the breeze. It is a comfortable 90 degrees, compared to the 100 (had to be) earlier today. Yes, it is July.
For days I have been writing little posts in my head as I walk around the house. But have been so caught up in the day-to-day stuff have not had a moment to sit down and unload. The week has been very nice. We have been busy, but it has been a good type of busy. We are finding a rhythm again to our homeschooling, one that has been missing with MB going out of town so much. My attempts to make things fun and hands-on have been met, well not exactly joy but at least not with groans and arguments.
I believe I am finding my way through the whole phonics thing. After torturing both MB and I with the various sit-down programs such as 100 Easy Lessons and then just throwing aside phonics for awhile, I have finally found something that seems to work for us. Since sitting still and listening closely frustrate MB's learning style, I decided that I would be sneaky and play some phonics music CDs in the background. She caught on to the sneakiness almost immediately, "This could help me learn to read." Said as she dances, off beat, around the room singing along to the songs. That is being mixed with some worksheets, since they involve writing and coloring, and with various computer games. She is learning and no longer seems frustrated by the whole phonics, breaking down words into sounds thing. K is even enjoying the songs and I catch her (my musically intelligent child) b-bopping along as she plays.
We worked on counting by 5's this week, along with grouping and breaking larger numbers down into sets of five. I had that tingly feeling about it today, when waiting to check out at a local bookstore, MB and I overheard a boy counting $5.00 toys to see how many he could buy after his mom told him he had $20.00 to spend on presents. She turned to me and said "he is counting by 5."
We also worked on a Geography lesson teaching MB how to find the USA on a world map, find NC on a US map and find our town on a NC map. It was fun and we also branched off in finding and talking about Oregon, a trip with her Mamaw that she is very excited about.
And of course we did the Prairie Schooners (below) and read some more books on the Oregon Trail.
I am learning to keep lessons short and put as much hands-on into as possible. I am finding when I drop a topic when she is obviously tired of it, there stands a much better chance of coming back to it at a later time than if I just keep pushing at it to get it done. The short spurts are actually resulting in better retention.
In my ongoing mission to have MB read, I asked her today how I could help her learn to read. What does she want me to do? She looked at me and said, "I will teach myself, like I taught myself to ride a bike." Struggling not to smile, because this is so true of MB's personality, I asked her when and thoughtfully she replied, "Oh, at about 10." Then I did inform her that it was likely that if she waited that long K will be reading before she is (K is very much interested in the letter sounds and words on the page of a book now). She replied, "well maybe before then."
The whole conversation was a bit funny, and kind of scary for me. Because first of all, when MB says she is going to do something, she will do it when she says. When she was 15 months she informed me that she no longer wanted to wear a diaper. Although she had shown no interest in training up to that point, she immediately potty trained and from that day forward did not wear a diaper. She has never had an accident that I remember. Then, with the bike it was nearly the same thing. I had been mentioning trying without the training wheels for a few months, and she would just say "No." One day she came to me, asked that the training wheels come off, and within a few hours of trying by herself, she rode. So, it worries me that she doesn't want to read until she is 10. Secondly, I realize now that there will be nothing I can do to help MB read any sooner. I am doing my best to teach her the rules and skills, but she will not read until she chooses to. That does not mean that she is a non-reader. She writes very well for her age, spelling most words by herself. I have also caught glimpses of her reading ability, especially when she is trying to get my attention, she will read something to me, then stop and tell me that she cannot read.
So basically my 5 1/2 year old is telling me what I have been reading all along. I have taught and can continue teaching her the basics, but until she is ready to let go and read on her own, she won't, so "Stop Bugging Her." I am just finding it very hard to let go of my dreams of a reader. Another person, who loves as much as I do, to just curl up with a good book. Also I just worry about handicapping her enthusiasm to learn. She loves to learn things, but unless I am free and available to stop everything and read, it goes un rewarded. I want her to be able to walk over to the shelf and pick up a book and read, be fascinated, be transported.
I did tell her today at the bookstore that while I will continue buying her books for school, I will no longer buy her fiction books to read unless she is prepared to read them. Before anyone thinks I am cruel, we have so many early reader and short chapter books that I have to alternate shelving and storing them. I am not keeping her away from any reading material.
It no longer feels comfortable out here, and my battery is starting to flash.