Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What We are Working On Now

 As many of you know, Rowan is being homeschooled/unschooled, even at this early age. I have considered sending him to preschool a couple days a week (for mainly social reasons), but the one that I would prefer has a huge waiting list. I will not send him to a traditional elementary, though- his father and I are united in that.

Currently, Rowan is 32 months (or a little over 2.5 years old, for all of you non-parents out there). He is precocious and whip-smart. I have a loose plan on what comes next, based on his age and abilities, as well as his interests. Our strategy is to explose him to as much as we can, see what piques his interest as well as making steady progress on some key areas (below):

The three Rs:
He already knows his alphabet, so we are starting phonics this fall. Once he can recognize the sounds that letters make, he can't be far from reading. I read at age three, and I think he will be able to as well. He loves stories, and we get new books from the library all the time. He is motivated to read, because he is always asking what printed things say and memorizing the books he has already read. We have told him that once he learns what sounds the letters make, he'll be able to read soon after that. He's excited and we are thrilled!

He knows his numbers, zero-nine. Now we are working on counting things. He understands that the symbols are the numbers, but he has not yet made the leap that four fish on a page are "four" yet. So he has memorized the symbol but not the meaning, much like his take on the alphabet.

He draws, paints, or plays with playdough every day. I think he's actually best at making identifiable things with the dough. I can recognize when he is shaping an animal- whereas when he draws, it's all a scribbly mess still. He is surrounded by art all the time, especially having the neighbors that we do. (They run a local art group.) He loves music and is looking forward to taking music lessons this fall. We found a kindermusik program within walking distance! He asks for music in the car and at home all the time, and we hope to give piano lessons after he turns 3. There are Suzuki method teachers that will start him that young here.

Life Skills (the important stuff they don't often teach in school):
He knows forwards and backwards, so now we are working on left, right, and the cardinal directions. Once he understands the directions and how they work with the sun and moon, he will be closer to participating in esbats.

He can express himself eloquently (sometimes much too eloquently!), but we are working on manners (such as interrupting people when they are speaking and yelling to get noticed or get what he wants- oy, toddlerhood!).

He is an intense kid who loves touch and being close to his family and friends and sometimes overwhelms other kids. We are teaching him that some kids need space, and he should back up when asked.

Delayed gratification is a basic life skill that so many fail to master. So we have a sticker chart. When Rowan makes a good decision, he gets a sticker. This could be following instructions or something he initiates himself. But when we notice (or he points it out, clever child), he gets a sticker. Once his sticker chart is filled, he gets "something special". He gets to choose between several things we offer, like eating at a restaurant, getting some ice cream, seeing a movie, or getting a new toy.

He is learning how to build towers with his blocks, which is teaching him about gravity, spatial relationships, and developing his hand-eye coordination. It is also a wonderful way he uses his imagination. He builds "towers" and "castles"  and "see saws" and "zoos". And of course, my little Shiva LOVES to knock his creations down.

He is required to pick up his own toys. He has friends that are in constant struggles with their parents over cleaning, and I am happy to say that Ro is not like that. He always has a job to do when we are cleaning and is expected to contribute to the household as a condition of living here. We may decide to give him allowance one day, but I have to think about what I want to teach about the philosophy of money before that happens. I personally hate capitalism and don't want to encourage that model- but he also needs to learn about money, too- so he can survive under a capitalist model.

Speaking of money, Rowan has a bank and we give him our loose change and he squirrels it away. The bank has become too stuffed, so this week when we got o the credit union, he is excited to bring his bank and start his own savings account. Now Rowan will be able to accept checks, LOL!

We are also teaching him about the passage of time. He understands that the clock tells time and often guesses what time it is ("7:30 'o clock, mommy?"). He knows that daddy gets picked up from work at 5 PM. He knows that breakfast comes before dinner, and that naps happen before he plays outside or goes on an outing. Right now, I give him a run down of his entire day, starting when he wakes up:
"OK, Booper. Today we are gonna get dressed, take daddy to work, come home, eat breakfast and let the girls (my parrots) out, then we'll play a little bit before your nap." Doing an item and crossing it off the list means reviewing the list and adding to it. "OK, Rowan after you play, you are going to take a nap, then when you wake up, we'll have lunch and then you can play outside with your friends (or go to the library/zoo/science museum)!"
I find that he transitions really gracefully if he is given a map of the day and countdowns to things he fights, like naps. Maybe not all kids need this, but Rowan thrives on routine and knowing what comes next.

Chill Out jar
Another thing about time, since it is so abstraact and relative is the passage of time, esp. when waiting for something fun or while in a time out. I have started to use cheap kitchen timers for countdowns and this chill out jar for time outs.

He is also learning about the calendar. "Can I go to Halloween, mommy?" is an opportunity to start counting down and show him how a calendar works. He has decided to be a lightening bug for Halloween this year and he cannot wait!

Cooking is also something we show him and he participates in. It is not only a life skill, but counting and measuring, chemistry, and creativity all rolled into one!

Another thing he will learn in this category next year, after he is three is swimming. Everyone should know how to swim!

He is enchanted with animals and plants, so we are starting plant identification, insect identification, and learning about zoo animals he is fond of with books from the library and the internet. I want to get him this awesome board game called Wildcraft! which will help him identify medicinal plants. Once he starts showing interest in other science, we will start learning about that, too.

To help with his love of animals up close, we go to the zoo almost weekly and he has a pet of his own (mama has two parrots, which he loves, too)- his is a toad named Peia (short for Cassiopeia) and soon Peia will have a buddy, whom he's decided to name Dromeda (short for Andromeda). He watches his toad hunt for crickets several times a week. I always show him how his animals need care- he watches me feed Peia (when he had a fish, he fed the fish. But live crickets are hard for a toddler to catch!), turn on and off his light, and clean his enclosure. We shop for crickets together.

I have been accumulating links and tips for homeschooling on my Pinterest boards. What skills are you working on with your kids, whether they are homeschooled or not? How do you work on them?

1 comment:

  1. Hello! Very helpful post (though my oldest is 12). I was wondering how do you make a chill-out jar? It looks so lovely, but just looking at it I can't figure out how it's made (how you got in the colours, the bubbles on top, etc.).

    (PS. I can't believe, Blogger finally lets me post as me!!)


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