We started homeschooling this week. I never really planned to homeschool Nasko (or any of our children!), but when we were shown his classroom options for the year, we realized that none of them were good fits for him. Nasko has always shown the most progress cognitively at home, so we decided to play on his strengths and homeschool him. Please pass the bean dip... Nasko (who's chronological age is seven) is at the level of a four year old, cognitively. Because of this, we are beginning the year by doing preschool activities. We hope to add in some kindergarten skills soon, but we realize the need to help him progress in developmental order.
Preschool though, is something I've taught before! I've always done lessons by weekly theme, so my homeschooling plans are no different. It's been interesting going from teaching a classroom of 20 students (of whom I have a limited knowledge of their home and family life) to teaching one student (of whom I know every bit of his home and family life). I do love the idea of being Nasko's teacher because of my ability to use our daily lives to help reiterate his lessons and explain complex ideas.
This all from a woman who swore she'd never, ever homeschool.
So, for anyone who is interested, here's what we did this week.
Theme: All About Me!
Nasko loved yelling, "ME!" whenever I'd ask him what we were learning about this week. He has a very limited view of self; in the orphanage, he was seen as part of a group more than an individual. Before being adopted, he was rarely given the opportunity for choices or preferences. This theme seemed like a great way to increase his knowledge of himself.
Art: Self-Portrait Painting on a Mirror
We headed to the bathroom for this activity, and I won't lie... It's my new favorite place to paint! Clean up was so easy! We used regular Crayola paint for this project. While painting, we discussed different body parts and features that were being painted.
Bible: God Made Adam and Eve, God Made Me
We read the "God created man" story from Nasko's children's bible this week. After the story, I listed off most of the friends and family I could think of, and asked Nasko who made them.
Who made Mama? God.
Who made Taty? God.
Cooking: Cookie/Cracker Man
Nasko is a relatively picky eater, so I'm hoping that cooking lessons will help encourage him to try new foods.
This week, we discussed body parts and used snacks we had around the house to create a cookie/cracker man. I originally planned to make the man's legs out of pretzels, but Nasko was wanting to eat a Kit Kat, so he went to the fridge, pulled it out and said "Break! Kit Kat pants!" Any way that he can consume more chocolate...
Nasko had to at least try/take a polite bite of every element of this snack. He liked that these things were mostly sweet! He wasn't too fond of the graham cracker though.
Dramatic Play: Dress-Up Clothes
We didn't actually formally play with dress-up clothes this week. We've played with them many times before, and checked our appearances out in the mirror. That was the goal of this activity. Nasko was more interested in playing "hospital" this week, so we did that quite a bit instead.
No trip this week since we took Labor Day off, and had to celebrate Nasko's birthday on Wednesday as well. We typically take trips with my best friend and her three sons. Five boys (including two with special needs) and two mamas makes for some interesting outings!
For now, we are working on writing the letters in Nasko's name. We actually did a brief three-week trial-run of homeschooling in July (to make sure I wouldn't murder the poor child while trying to educate him) and we focused on the letter 'N' at that point. This week, I had him write his whole name a couple times before realizing that we needed to go back to focusing on individual letters. We'll be working on 'A' for the next couple weeks.
Just for the sake of passing along an awesome resource, I use this website to create handwriting practice pages for Nasko.
Math: How Many Fingers?
We traced Nasko's hands and he placed the stickers onto his fingertips. We practiced one-to-one counting with this activity. I'm hoping he will soon understand that holding up all of his fingers symbolizes ten. For now, he still has to count them when asked how many he has.
Memory Verse: Psalm 139:14
"I am wonderfully made."
We will probably keep memory verses for a month to help with actually learning them well and hiding them in his heart. Nasko still remembers the one we learned in July: "Trust the Lord with all your heart." I'm hoping to keep the verses short, but gradually increase them as he's able to memorize more. It's good rote memorization practice (for all of us!)
Music: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
This song wasn't new to Nasko, but singing it a few times was a good way to fine-tune his ability to keep up with the motions.
I plan to try to find a youtube video for our music every week. Even if we don't always use the video to sing it, I'll soon have a playlist of songs that Nasko knows and can review.
Reading: Books About Me
I'm going to try to keep our weekly booklists short, because I know that repetition is important. Everyday, we read 2-3 of these books, so obviously many were repeated. This allows Nasko to develop favorites and preferences. This week, his favorite was Mercer Mayer's "All By Myself." I didn't realize why until now, but Nasko has started using that phrase regularly this week! "Nasko do it. All by myself." Yay for reading!
From Head to Toe - Eric Carle
Wiggle - Doreen Cronin
When I Was Little - Jamie Lee Curtis
A Color of His Own - Leo Lionni
All By Myself, It's Mine, and Just A Little Different - Mercer Mayer
The Big Orange Spot - Daniel Pinkwater
Sensory: Me Tub
I never know how Nasko will respond to a sensory activity, but he did very well this week. Sometimes he refuses to touch/participate. Other times, he's bored with it after ten seconds (even if I've spent two days preparing it!)
We used this week's tub to reiterate the idea of "Favorite." First, I asked Nasko what his favorite colors were. He responded with "yellow" and "green." We then dyed rice those colors.
After it had dried, we gathered pictures and objects that represented some of Nasko's favorite things. I had him engage in a short dialogue about each one with me.
Some of Nasko's favorite things that were represented:
riding a city bus
Connor and Finn
"hair noodles" (Ramen)
We then added these objects to a tub containing the dyed rice. Nasko spent time digging around and naming the things that represented his favorites.
Speech: Answering "Favorite" Questions
Nasko didn't seem to be grasping the concept of "favorite" until we completed the sensory tub. He now seems more confident in answering questions such as, "What's your favorite color?" Chance helped when we practiced having Nasko ask us our favorites. Through this exercise, Nasko discovered how dull his parents actually are... The Reverend's favorite color is grey and my favorite color is brown... pretty...
Now, I cannot guarantee I'll write this much every week, but I do like the idea of documenting Nasko's activities and progress. Also, I love to share and receive ideas, so this seems like one way to do that!