Friday, July 25, 2014

Night Time Terror, Night Time Delight

One of the best and worst times of my day is usually bed time. It can go one of two ways: a complete nightmare or a great delight. Today I am thankful to say it has been much more of a delight. 

About 8 months out of the year my husband isn't around Monday through Friday because he works very long hours, so I put all three girls to bed myself. I have had to find creative ways to get them all into bed, which seems to change continually. 

In the past some of our nights have been terrors literally. My oldest had night terrors as an infant. The second had whopping cough at three months and spent the next four months in our bed waking every 45 minutes. The third didn't stop nursing during the night until about 17 months and then finally started sleeping through the night every once and awhile.

Getting the girls to bed has had a lot of ups and downs. I am very thankful my oldest has been very easy. She listens, gets dressed, goes potty, jumps in bed and falls asleep. The middle has been the hardest. When she was in the crib I could put a blanket over her head (I know this sounds weird and unsafe, but she started doing it herself around age one and that's how she would sleep) and she'd fall sleep. Once she got the toddler bed, it was a different story.

 I first started rocking her, then she just needed to be tucked in. Soon she was having a hard time staying in her room so I put the baby gate up and she'd just knock it down. Then I would lock her in the room and sit outside until the crying stopped and unlock the door. Next I tried massaging her arms and legs. That really helped relax her and sometimes fell asleep. Now she has a weighted blanket that helps relax her and I sometimes need to sit by her and sing for a bit.

Our current routine has been working very well for us lately and it has made our nights a true delight. After getting the older girls in jamies, they get in bed with a few books in their containers and can read until I get back down. I take the little one up and get her ready for bed. She has her own routine which consists turning off the light, closing the door, rocking with me, and singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Then on nights that aren't too late, I read a chapter in the book we are reading which is currently "Little House on the Prairie".

I hope if you are having a tough time with your kids at night this post will help encourage you. There is no doubt that you will have times that are tough and you may want to cry, but know this: There will also be times where you get to kiss your little ones good night or rock your little and just know that you are blessed. You will get to feel that you can finally relax and enjoy the time of peace and quite and now that no one is going to need your attention. There will be good times.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our Kindergarten Curriculum

No matter if you are a well seasoned home school parent or a beginner the one question everyone always asks is what curriculum are you using. So for those who are curious I will share that information with you today.

In searching for curriculum I found that a whole curriculum didn't work for us. I know families that love Sonlight and My Father's World and other whole package curriculum and it works well with their families. For me, I knew that wouldn't work as well. I have a background in teaching and don't feel I need something so scripted. My background in special education has given me the ability to adapt curriculum for the individual child, which I will need to do for my own kids since they are very different learners. 

What we have ended up with is a bit of a hodge podge. I've taken from several different places. I will start preschool with the two younger in the fall because they want the school time too. It establishes the routine early for them as they are a year apart and will continue to do reading and math together for the next several years. We will use the Horizons preschool for 4 year olds. 
Together all three will do social studies and science and we notebook for those subjects. It is simple and easy topics that they want to know more about.  At night we are reading through the Little House Series. We pick and choose things that interest them with in the book to talk about during the day. They are very curious about how different things were back then and I want to cultivate that interest. 

Science we are talking about dinosaurs. They are curious about the different kinds and love seeing the pictures of skeletons. Each dinosaur has a page in their notebook with a picture of the dinosaur and the skeleton along with something they learned about it. 

We also do experiments from time to time using Clifford Science Kits. These are great simple experiments for little ones. Before the experiment begins the girls are to predict what might happen and draw a picture. At the end they tell what happened and draw a picture. This has been a lot of fun. 
For our Kindergartener we have chosen Spelling U See, Logic of English, and Math U See. All have worked really well for her so far. 

Spelling U See focuses on the visual part of spelling. Since we don't spell phonically most of the time, Spelling U See doesn't focus only on that part past the first level. There isn't meaningless word lists that the student will memorize and then forget. The lessons are short 10 minutes and focus on reading, copywork, listening, and speaking. My kindergartener actually likes spelling, and is cruising through the program. What I like about it most is that my other two will probably need to go through it slower and this has the ability to really benefit those students who struggle with spelling.

Math U See is similar in the fact that students do better when they can use as many senses as possible. It also focuses on mastery, which is really important to me. This is different then most curriculum used in schools today. Schools use a spiral approach where they will introduce and then reintroduce the next year. Math U See believes in mastery so that if you can count, you can add. If you can add, you can multiply and so on. Students have a video to introduce each new lesson, manipulatives, and work book pages. Students work as fast or slow as needed.

English of Logic is a phonics, reading, spelling, and handwriting program. Although we are already using a spelling program, we use the spelling portion to practice reading words and writing them. We have chosen the cursive program and I'm very surprised how well she is doing with both reading and writing cursive. What I like about this program is that it teaches specific phonograms instead of briefly teaching what sounds letters make. We blend words and chunks, play phonogram games, and practice different fonts that the letters may make. It is a very well rounded program that uses as many senses as possible to help students learn. 

All three of these programs I chose because they are based on ability levels and not grade levels. Each focus on mastery. My girls will be able to move through the levels at the pace that is best for them. My oldest will probably move much faster then the other two because of her learning style, but I believe these curriculums are set up in a way that not only cater to many different learning styles but also at different learning speeds. There is no pressure to finish by a certain time so that they can start at the next grade on time.

If your homeschooling I'd love to hear what you are using and what you love about it.