Iced In (Theoretically)

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All the kids’ therapy was cancelled today due to an ice storm hitting Missouri… although we haven’t seen any ice as of yet.  I know they were hit by the storm down south, but we woke up to sunny skies and the most threatening thing that’s happened are a bit of gloomy clouds.  I’m totally ok with it, however.  I’ve been so productive today!  Having a day off from therapy has been just what I needed to get my energy back apparently, and Jacob’s PT said she could add a couple days on to the end of the program, so we aren’t actually losing any of our really important therapies!

I feel like we have “started school again” about a million times this school year, but we are off of our Christmas break officially and starting slow with Bible memory work, reading and math.  The kids are responding really well to the added structure.  I’ve also got a load of laundry done today, did some paperwork and we have been doing our therapy homework with Jacob.  He took another step for me today!!! I was so excited.  Hopefully I can get one on video one of these days!

Hope has homework to do also, but she went back home with Daddy this weekend so I’m not in charge of that.  He went home early for fear of being iced in so far away from church.  So we miss him a lot, but hopefully without all of our distracting selves he is getting a lot done. :)

I am still feeling really positive about therapy.  I’m mostly excited about what we are doing with Jacob in physical therapy and I’m mostly excited about what Hope is doing in speech and occupational therapy.  Her therapists yesterday suggested some interesting approaches to therapy with her, and we are going to try those out next week (stay tuned!!).

For Jacob, they ordered quad canes (with four points) for him to try and also single canes to try.  His tripod canes are just so big and bulky at the bottom that it’s hard to walk without him running into the base.  And an added bonus is, if we move to a smaller base it will be another step in the direction of independent walking – which is what we are shooting for!  We get to use them in therapy for a few days and decide if we want them before we buy them, which is super helpful.

And now I have a really grumpy baby… toddler… I know, I know.  But I’ll still call her the baby anyway, and she’s grumpy, so I’m going to sign off for the day.  Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

Home-Style Preschool

So far this is what we have been doing lately…  (AKA not school).

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Now that most homeschooling mamas have spent all summer planning their curricula and have had pajama parties and fun zoo adventures to celebrate their first week back at school… I have finally got my planning hat on to gear up for the year. Ya’ll know what I was doing all summer (not planning for school, that’s for sure) and with the new family dynamics, we just needed to figure out where exactly our new children’s levels would be at before I could even begin to plan our days.

For those who are new to the blog, we have four children, two newly adopted. Hope and Jacob are just recently home from Ukraine. Hope is nine, but developmentally a baby. Jacob is six but developmentally about four in most areas at this time. Evangeline is also four years old and Stephen is two. So when I talk about home school and curriculum, we are basically doing preschool level activities, so keep that in mind!

However, we are quite settled in and I feel ready to begin! (With a rhyme even!) Today I just wanted to blog about what the goals for our littles is going to look like; then, later I can go back and detail how we’re reaching those goals and scheduling our time. So here is what our learning goals are for this year in each subject:

Christian Living

This early in the ball game they need to learn the vocabulary of the Church and to experience the vibrant life of the Church before they can begin to understand the meat and potatoes of theology or to appreciate the nuances of Church history.  So what do I want my very young children to know? I want them to know the words, the prayers of the Church, the Catechism and the Bible. I want them to sing hymns and learn how to cultivate a daily life of prayer and how to be reverent and attentive during Church. My goal for Evangeline is that she would learn by heart twelve hymns and that she would sing them beautifully.

For the other three I am aiming simply for exposure, to engender a love of hymnody and that the boys would attempt to sing some of the hymns they know, as their language skills are not polished enough for entire songs quite yet. (In English Jacob and Stephen are about in the same place verbally.)  I also want Evie to know the Catechism by heart, and for the boys to be familiar enough with it to speak it from memory when their verbal skills permit.  And my last goal for this subject is to study and memorize, as a family, ten whole chapters from the Bible.  Daddy and I will be memorizing the full chapters, and the children will recite what they are able, according to their abilities.

Reading & Literature

Ah reading, one of my favorite things to do with the littles. For now my goal is just to expose them and teach them to enjoy quality children’s literature and poetry. That’s really it! I am going to be spending about 5-10 minutes a day with Evie on actual reading lessons. She is so ready for them, and it would be lovely to have her reading at a basic level before our school year next year. Not to mention, she just wants to be able to read so badly! How could I deny a desire like that?

Arithmetic

Jacob and Evie are the only two who will be getting any practice in numbers this year. Maybe Stephen will learn to count to ten, maybe he won’t. We’ll see. He will pick it up when he’s ready. However, I do want Jacob and Evangeline learning the basics of addition and subtraction this year. Evie can already add and subtract numbers up to four in her head. We haven’t worked on this, we just discovered it one day! My goal this year is to have both of them adding and subtracting numbers up to ten.  That way they’ll be ready to start more formal arithmetic lessons next fall.

Art & Music

This is one subject I am de-emphasizing. I really have no goals. I would like to do some basic drawing lessons and to get them listening to some children’s songs and classical music each day. If I can do that, I will be quite pleased! We are considering piano lessons for Evie and possibly Jacob, but that will be a ways down the road I think.  Sometimes you just have to cut corners to get everything in, and this is something I’m comfortable cutting down on for now.

Nature Studies

Nature studies! So fun! Ok, so my goals here are to get the littles outside as much as possible. They were truly made for the outdoors! I also want to start teaching them basic directions (N,S,E,W) in relation to our home, the sun rising and setting, which way the wind is blowing, and other tangible markers. I want them to be familiar with the hills and ponds and woods and pastures around our home and for the older ones to describe those places. I also want to start teaching them how to identify flowers, trees and birds in our area.

This will be taking up a lot of our day, especially in the nicer months, and I am so excited. This is more than science; this is endearing them to their Creator through His creation, and it’s learning how to learn through observation! This is giving them the tools to take in information and use it meaningfully.  It’s experiential learning and not just absorbing through books. Both are so important!

History

My goal for history is just to start teaching the children that history exists. Very basic, yes? I have twelve little events from history that I am going to be telling them as stories. With each new story we will do a library run to find other books on the event or person, we’ll do a fun project or field trip, a timeline and markers on our world map, and just make it into a fun exercise. I definitely want Evangeline and Jacob to be able to tell back these stories, even just very simply, by the end of the year. But I’m not holding us to any real standards other than that.

Foreign Language

Another one of my favorite subjects this year! Yet, I have struggled more with this than any other. When we only had one little I imagined that she would be close to fluent in ASL by now and starting Spanish. Ahem… being in survival mode for so long that didn’t quite happen. She does know quite a few signs, but not anywhere near conversational. And with having adopted two Russian speaking children, we have decided that Russian would be a better foreign language than Spanish for our family.

Jacob already speaks Russian, albeit not clearly, as he has a speech delay related to his Cerebral Palsy. But he understands all of it perfectly. I really don’t want him to lose that! Also, our Hope loves it when we talk to her in Russian. Besides, I think it’s a good foreign language for a few reasons, politically there is a lot of upheaval in that area of the world right now.   Russian is an official language of five countries and has 155 million native speakers. Russian is also a difficult language to learn, which means, we get this one down and picking up Spanish, or any other language that our children are interested to know down the road, will be a piece of cake.

We are also friends with several fluent Russian speakers, so our children will be able to have access to conversations outside our family, which is so important for language learning.  Anyway I am off topic. Goals. Right.  So my first goal for this year is that our family would maintain the level of Russian we have.  My husband and I learned a substantial amount before travelling, and our bio kids have picked up several words and phrases as well. I’ve already noticed Jacob’s Russian grammar starting to slip, so we really need to get ourselves immersed in the language more in order to accomplish simple maintenance.  Next year I plan to focus much more intently on Russian, after I have a chance to learn more myself.

So on top of maintaining Russian, we will be really pushing sign language this year. I want Evangeline to be at a conversational level by the end of the year, and for the other three to follow along at their own pace. Signs are a little more difficult for Jacob because of his fine motor skill issues, but I think it’s a great exercise for him!  Hope is also going to benefit from it, as signs will likely be a main mode of communication for her in the years to come.  And if Evie is conversational by next year, I’ll feel super comfortable diving head first into Russian while being able to maintain her ASL and slowly build her up to eventual fluency in both.

PE/Therapy

My goal? Just do it. For some reason corralling four hyper children into specific physical positions and feats is not my idea of a super fun time. Usually I would just let them run around the yard and check off the box, but Evie is in gymnastics and has practice at home to do and Jacob and Hope have stretching and physical therapy that are going to need to be at least a once a day routine. So we’ll just schedule it and give it a name, right? :) Oh also, we caught Jacob doing like twenty push-ups one morning just because so… maybe that might be a fun bonding activity for him and Dad.

Life Skills

And last but not least… or maybe least, life skills. There are two reasons I even glorify this as a school subject. One, My kids need to learn how to be more self sufficient before Mambo gets here. And two, life skills are an actual serious necessity in our home now that we have children with special needs. Tracking life skills will help me to know where Hope and Jacob need extra support and I think we can make it a fun way to encourage everyone to learn new chores and responsibilities. Again, with this my goal is just to do it, to make a chart, track things, encourage the kids to reach new levels… I don’t care how fast or slow they go. Just as long as we’re making a little progress here and there, that would make me more than thrilled.

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