Sunday, January 17, 2010

our unschooling and learning...

Soul today, taken with corn starch all over her face. She is on the cusp of walking. She is standing for prolonged periods balancing without holding anything. She is starting to try to walk and walks everywhere holding on. It will be days or weeks. She is not yet 9 months old. She can climb stairs with terrifying speed as well. She is currently 16.6 pounds and 26.5 inches tall. A wee thing to me. She is precious.

K77 asked me about our homeschooling stuff in my last post so I am family getting to writing on that. We are doing primarily unschooling in our home. I was a great rote learner in school. I did well with that methodology growing up but I do not really agree with it. When I was teaching I used a lot of rote methodology in my classrooms, along with alternative methods, Gardner's 7 Intelligences and a whole host of whatever I thought would grab their attention and imaginations. But still I used a lot of rote methods.

I came to unschooling like I came to much of my choices. Through reading and self-searching what my ultimate goals were with him. But the hard part was unschooling myself. That took work. I learned though, that being the constantly-curious-researching-random-crap-I-think-up-always-looking-to-understand-the-who-what-when-where-why-and-how-of-things type of parent makes me a great source for guidance in unschooling.

The reason I say we mostly do it has much to do with reading. Bliss was never interested in being read to. I would do it but often it was met with "are we done yet's" and I learned not to even push that. When he was interested I read to him. He was also not ready to learn to write or read and when I shifted to unschooling away from what we had been doing with lots of workbooks and timed lessons I also let go of all pushing. I did, however encourage any interests and realized early on his preferred medium for learning was the computer.

So we got lots of great learning games like "Pajama Sam" and "Freddy Fish" and "Putt Putt" and he loved those as did I. We had some educational games as well but again I did not push. At 6 I began worrying about reading more often and I found a great site called Click-N-Kids which was perfect for him. It was phonics, it was computer based, and it was a lifetime one time reasonable price so it could be used later for Soul. And he started it. He liked it but was still just on the verge of really interested. It was more a hit or miss and I knew with learning to read it is best an every day thing. But I was pregnant and in hell with getting stuff wrapped up to move across continent and to another country. Then when we got here things were still crazy and then we had dial-up and it was not working. So I put it off.

I had Soul and gave myself permission to not worry about it for a while. Then things settled down and Bliss also suddenly began showing huge interests in reading. I could not get anything working on his computer with our shitty dial up so I began searching for something else to help. He knew the letters well in capital form and he knew the sounds also but he still struggled sounding out words or reading.

After a lot of searching I decided to try "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Siegfried Engelman. It is didactic to say the least as it is completely scripted but I discussed it with Bliss and he sounded interested so we decided to give it a go. I even made a star chart for the 100 lessons and bought colored stars and gave Bliss incentives for every 10 lessons. We made a pact that if he completed all lessons with me he would be able to read. This excited him a lot. We also had a pact that it would require 15 minutes a day of complete focus but that was all.

I do not do star boards or incentives usually but this was a commitment of 100 lessons and/or days depending if we did more than one lesson sometimes. We began and did 2 lessons a day for the first 50-60 lessons. He has really excelled at it and really enjoyed it. He is sounding out words everywhere. He is asking to be read to and forgoing video games in favor of reading or writing.

One thing I was not expecting in the book was the writing practice at the end of every lesson. I was seriously worried about it as Bliss did not even have proper holding of a pen down and balked whenever I tried to guide him or suggest practicing writing. But with the book, because he knew it was scripted I think it helped. At the start for sure because he was following what it asked of him and it promised him he would be able to read. The book starts out telling the child that. So at first he was ok trying and soon he realized he could write letters and then it quickly became ok for me to be helping him with it.

I am a stickler with letter writing because I know his first imprinting learning how will follow him forever so I make sure he does it completely how it is shown. And although there are days we have to do it over and over he still loves it when I high five him and tell him how awesome his letters are.

So today we finished lesson 80 and this week I got Click-N-Kids to work on my Mac computer with the dial-up. So now along with his one lesson a day he is also doing a Click-N-Kids lesson each day (there are 100 lessons there too) And those are totally different and also encourage spelling practice throughout the phonics learning and also keyboard work since it is online. He also told me yesterday that when he finished the book he wants to do it from the start again, with another star chart but without the every 10 lessons incentive because that was just for the first time and he thinks a second time will be great practice and fun.

So to say the least I am thrilled.

As for other subjects we do math together and he has a lot of favorite Leapster math games. Bliss, however, is a total math head and asks numbers questions all day every day of his life. And other subjects, well we happily unschool those as well.

I thought I would share a lesson we had today about reproductive physiology. Bliss asked about when he would be a father. He thought it would be when Soul had a baby and I explained to him how it didn't work like that and how he would have a baby just not carry it and it could come from him through sperm from his bally's (what he calls his testes). So I then decided to explain sperm and eggs and mitosis and meiosis to him but where we were we did not have paper so this became the ultimate unschooling lesson and I decided to capture it on film for our future enjoyment.

FYI it also gave us another opportunity to discuss how he was made and his donor and how Soul was made and her donor. We have been discussing this openly since he was 3.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

new year happy...

So Christmas was lovely. New Year's was also very nice. I am at moments taken aback by how truly fortunate I am. I did a toast with my family this year and sobbed my way through it thanking Bliss and Lu for their patience and support and love in helping me finally get Soul in mine and our lives. It was so deeply felt, all the struggles, all the heartbreak and pain and all the emotional hell through so many years.

She is so truly my Soul. She just has me utterly besotted. She is funny and clever and so smart it is frightening. She turned 8 months this week and she is trying to walk. She has been letting go of stuff while standing and just balancing there for eons. She will race in the opposite direction if you walk towards her and she is up to something. She steals my glasses off me and then squints and lifts her shoulders with this little sneaky look waiting for me to call her "thief!"

Bliss just adores her and she him. He is always taking care of her and watching out for her and talking to her. If she is away from him for very long he tells her how much he missed her while she had a long nap or whatnot. He checks on her when I need him to and loves to carry her around. She just adores him doing all this and will still laugh for him way more easily and way longer than for anyone else. She also never ever minds him picking her up or carrying her anywhere which cannot be said the same for me. The other day I wanted her out of the pantry but whenever I went to get her she would screech at me like it was going to upset her so I asked Bliss to get her and she just smiled up at him and grinned at me.

She is long but still small otherwise. Almost 16 pounds but long long long. She does not have fat rolls like Bliss did but the cutest round belly ever. She dances to music and sings the sweetest soft high pitched songs. We do this singing back and forth thing when I can get my voice to go high enough.

In other very exciting news I have been working with Bliss with our homeschooling and he is now officially reading. It has been very exciting and we do work on it 7 days a week and we both love it. It is so exciting to experience this with him. He truly finally became interested and ready and then it was just up to me to teach it and he is just amazing at it. The thing he does that blows my mind.... he reads with voice inflection the first time through. You know how usually children will first read very monotone and not stop for periods all the time? Well Bliss reads with vocal inflections in all the right spots naturally. He automatically raises his voice at a question mark and adds emphasis mid sentence when appropriate. It stuns me and I am so in awe of his talent.

Winter has been lovely here except for my great snow blower debacle. I will never again make the mistake of buying a used snow blower. Enough said.

We are doing ok. Things are very rough financially but we are making it through slowly but surely. I found out this week that I will not have high speed internet until May 2010 which was pretty devastating foremost because without it I still cannot work online which I would like to be able to be back doing. Secondly because I have so much day to day stuff and pictures to post. It took almost 3 hours to upload the pictures for this post alone and it just makes it hard to blog and I so want to.

Anyhow that is my latest update. I am happy and in love with my children, my family, and Canada.