Friday, April 27, 2007

Nature Studies

I've been having a really good time with the kids lately. The weather has been nice, so we've been spending a lot of time outdoors, and I think I'm always a better mom when we're outside.

We took a walk to Norwood Pond the other day to look for tadpoles, but couldn't find any. Instead, we got to see Maddy's instincts at work as she jumped into the water to try to catch some geese that had swam over to us. Then later, when I invited her to jump onto a huge tree that had fallen across a nasty algae covered inlet, she jumped up onto the tree and then into the nastiest patch of algae. Gross. We did spend a lot of time looking closely at the water and examining the patches of grass and other green stuff that was starting to grow.

When we were sitting on our front steps the other day, we spent a good deal of time watching a few birds go in and out of our birdhouses up in the tree. We talked about what they might be doing, and when we came in, we tried to identify them online (we couldn't.. I need to dig up one of our old Audubon guides).

As I mentioned in my other blog, we've started working on our garden. Last weekend Colwyn helped me plant spinach and pea seeds into peat containers (I just love the idea of planting the containers directly into the soil, rather than pulling the baby seedlings out). We talked about how the little seeds will grow into food that we can eat, an idea which was made easier by the pea seeds which look like, well, peas. He's enjoyed watering them, though I have to supervise him closely since he tends to pour all the water into one container.

Colwyn also helps me with the compost, although he was rather distressed at first that we were putting our old food in there. I don't think he quite got that it was only food that was too old for us to eat, as he kept saying, "But no, Mommy, I love our food!" While I turn the compost, I show him the bits of food that are still decomposing, and the foods that haven't started yet, and the nice black compost that our old food and grass clippings and other stuff has turned into. We talked about how when all our food has turned into compost, we'll use it to feed our growing plants, and that then our plants will feed us. And what we don't eat will go right back into the compost bin.

We've talked about a few other odd things this week.. like yesterday, Colwyn asked me about the cracks in the pavement when we were outside. So he got a mini-lesson in how the ground contracts and expands in different weather, and how that causes the cracks. Then he gave me a mini-lesson in which machines the city will use to fix the cracks. :)

We went to the library the other day to pick up some gardening books that we had requested on interlibrary loan. It was a spur of the moment trip, so I hadn't looked up kids' books ahead of time, and thus my expectations were low. But we ended up finding a ton of good books, most notably Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs, by Giles Andreae. Huge hit with Colwyn, and Lachlann even enjoys pointing out the dinosaurs ("Dorothy!" he calls them.. well, it's more like "Dorwy!") and roaring at the right moments. While we were there, the boys befriended a 6 or 7 year old girl and had fun building with blocks and then spinning around in the chairs. It was sweet to see them playing with an older kid, a kid who was actually really good with them. Kind of reaffirmed my belief that the boys will get to socialize with people of a wide variety of ages. They also talked to the older librarian about the elephants on display, too.

I've started introducing Colwyn to the idea of learning French. A few times in the past week, we've talked about how people in different parts of the world speak different languages (social studies!), that we speak English, that people in Mexico speak Spanish, that people who are deaf use sign language, that people who live in France speak French. I've demonstrated how we can talk about what Maddy is by using English ("Dog!") or ASL (patting our thigh). Then I told him that if we want to use French, we can say "chien." He repeated it willingly for me a few times, and also attempted "J'aime le chien." We're taking it slowly.. if something is very hard or new, he sometimes avoids it, so I don't want to push him.

I have pictures of Colwyn gardening, but they're still on my camera, so I'll have to post them later. That's all for now!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What.. how.. why..?

If I knew how to splutter, I would.

I'm so grateful to live in the Northeast, and so grateful that my kids won't be subjected to public schools.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


So, I do occasionally worry about how well we're doing. It doesn't happen that often, and I'm loathe to admit it, but when I read about a 3 year old who reads Dickens and does algebra (okay, not really, but you know what I mean), I do sometimes reconsider our philosophy and homeschooling style.

I suppose that's a good thing, though. Would I be a responsible parent if I didn't stop and consider what I was doing along the way? Things change, and one of the best parts about homeschooling is the flexibility.

Colwyn isn't particularly interested in letters and numbers right now. He likes dinosaurs, space, singing, airplanes, and a host of other things. We learn about those things throughout the day, and I incorporate some math and pre-reading activities into our play. But I don't make him sit down and trace letters or count out objects on worksheets (although sometimes he does want to do that stuff). The way I look at it, if he can learn about dinosaurs so easily right now, think of how easily he'll learn all the letters and numbers when he's interested.

Better to hold off than cause battles, right?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Accomplishment! And Loneliness..

Wow, have we had a productive day. Colwyn was really in a mood to do schoolish stuff, so he did about five or six workbook pages. In addition to the usual matching ones and mazes, he also did a few that involved circling the face with the appropriate emotion for a situation pictured, and one where he looked at a picture, then chose between two other pictures which one led to the original picture happening. If that makes sense. So, anyway, instead of the usual fine motor and math skills, he also worked on cause and effect, prediction, and social/emotional skills.

He also asked to play Reader Rabbit.. something I should let him do more often, but neither of us ever really think of it. He has so much fun with that game. Aside from the hand-eye coordination needed for using the mouse, he also worked on matching shapes and letters, and a few other miscellaneous games.

Then we worked on a few projects for Grandma's birthday coming up (sorry, can't mention them until after her birthday!). When the kids woke up from their naps, we took them out to Barnes & Noble, since the library was closed. I found a bunch of great books in the bargain section, including Mo Willem's Leonardo The Terrible Monster. We also picked up one of Laura Numeroff's books, and a dinosaur book from the "Let's Read and Find Out" series. What else.. oh! We got a new Kumon book of mazes and also a book of 1000 French Words or somesuch.

I'm hoping to introduce Colwyn to French sometime in the next few days, depending on when I have time to sit down and concentrate with him. He already knows a good number of signs, so he has the concept of multiple ways to communicate an idea. Hopefully that'll help when we start talking about French.

I know Spanish would be a lot more useful, but I remember quite a lot of French from the 7+ years I took in public school and college. A good part of teaching kids a foreign language is using it with them, and I don't really feel up to learning a new language along with them. At least I know that if I stumble across a word I don't know, I should at least know how to pronounce it.

The downside to today was that I spent a good portion of the kids' naptime looking for prospective homeschooling groups online. It sure is lonely being a mom of a homeschooled preschooler. It seems like either everyone else is sending their kids to preschool, or if they're not, they will be in the future. Those few people who say that they're planning on homeschooling are typically not very committed to it, which means that there really aren't any co-ops for kids Colwyn's age. I'm sure there are preschoolers in families where older children are being homeschooled, but those kids probably just get dragged along to the big kids' stuff, and their parents don't really feel the need for them to have their own activities. Which I totally get, but in the meantime, it sucks for us.

I started researching homeschooling over a year and a half ago, and I've gone through my phases of being overwhelmed and backing out of it. But now I'm pretty damn confident in our decision. While I still get overwhelmed sometimes and wonder how we'll handle some things, I know that it'll work out in the end, and that our family will be better for homeschooling. I guess that's kind of atypical.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Busy and Not Busy

We're pretty much recovered from our long weekend to D.C. You can read all about it over at my other blog--the link is right off to the side. We visited the National Zoo, the Natural History Museum, and the Air & Space Museum's annex. We had a great time, and I think the kids learned a fair amount.

Because things were so crazy around here leading up to our vacation and then during it, we haven't done a whole lot this week. We weren't able to make it to our regular playgroup because the car was in the shop.. again.. but we did go over to Mary's house for a playdate.

So, yeah. I don't really have much to write about, but it had been a while since I posted last. And plus, I wanted to point out my other blog so you could read all about our vacation if you're terribly bored or something.

I'm really hoping for some nicer weather so we can go back outside. It was so nice in D.C., and we came home to rain, snow, and temps in the 40s. Yuck.