I wanted to do a post about the 2013-2014 school year for Nasko before I forgot what exactly we had done!
During the summer last year, we made a very difficult decision to homeschool Nasko. There weren't any good public school options for him and we decided to give homeschooling a whirl.
When we started, I assumed he needed more preschool-type activities. I blogged about those first few weeks here, here, and here. Then, I realized that Nasko needed more difficult activities. He was ready to use a pencil and paper. He was needing more structure and less play. (For school anyway. He still only, always, and forever just wants to play.)
So I did what (apparently) every homeschool mom does her first year - I started over!
I went to a local teaching store and bought workbooks for numbers, and letters. We started studying one letter every week. (We eventually stopped working on numbers as that was too confusing and Nasko was starting to think that numbers should make sounds too!)
We weren't perfect with this system. I lost my patience WAY too often, but overall, I think Nasko and I both learned how to make homeschooling work for US.
Now, I see that homeschooling is the best option for Nasko. At home, he is able to focus and think without (as much) distraction. His fear and fight-or-flight responses are kept at a minimum, and the reasoning part of his brain can engage. We will be homeschooling Nasko again in the fall.
(Actually, the poor kid is being forced to do work all summer. More on that tomorrow.)
Our "school year" technically ended in May, but I wanted to document some examples of what we did this year:
We "had school" twice daily, Monday-Thursday. (Fridays were co-op days where we met up with other homeschooling families for a morning of classes and socialization).
This pocket chart holds folders that are labeled "Monday Morning, Monday Afternoon, Tuesday Morning, Tuesday Afternoon, etc."
At beginning of each week, I would make all the copies and prepare all the supplies. They were stored in this hanging chart.
We tried to do our school time when Nasko is at his best - shortly after he wakes up. We did our first session after breakfast and our second session was after nap.
We always started school with prayer. Nasko and I took turns praying that Mama would have patience and that Nasko would be a good learner.
Everyday we worked on knowing the month and the date. This was also a good way to practice counting in the teens. Whoever invented the numbers thirteen and fifteen needs a swift kick in the head. That's all I'll say about that...
Nasko also learned our weekly routine. He now knows that Tuesday is bible study day (for both Mama and Taty) and that Thursday is when he goes to see Miss Alyssa (his counselor). He now understands counting down to major events (like horse lessons, trips on an airplane, or, like in the photo, Mama's birthday!).
Next, we would work on our posters.
At the teacher store, I purchased 15+ posters with different educational skills. Everyday, we would work through 3-4 of them. From these posters, Nasko learned things like a word to associate with each letter, the days of the week, how to identify his birth country on a map, counting, and emotions.
Each week, we focused on one letter. For documentation purposes, I took pictures when we learned the letter "N" (you know, for Nasko!) in March.
Most days, Nasko completed a couple worksheets during our morning session.
We spent lots of time working on writing his name every time a paper asked him to!
While we would briefly discuss the lowercase letters many weeks, we mostly just focused on capitals. Straight lines are the first skills that children can draw, and most capital letters have at least one straight line in them.
This spring, we started using the curriculum Handwriting Without Tears to supplement our worksheets. I highly recommend this program, especially for hands-on little boys.
We started by creating the letter out of wooden straight pieces and wooden curves. For this letter in particular, we used three, long straights.
Next we used more of our wooden manipulatives. These have magnets on the back, and are cut to fit a special magnadoodle.
After creating the letter with the straights or curves, Nasko traced it with the magnetic stylus.
Following all the manipulative practice, Nasko is ready to use a pencil and draw the letter himself.
We did this handwriting routine three times every week.
And (usually) his writing got better and better!
To drive home the idea that every letter makes a sound, we completed a few different projects during the week.
For this specific week, we practiced writing Ns on a Newspaper...
...used a hammer to hit the Nails...
...and we glued stars to the black sky at Night time.
We did a "creative writing exercise" a few times every week as well.
No matter the topic, the first day's answer was almost always "bus."
Most weeks, we also studied a story from the bible that coordinated with our letter.
N is for Noah!
I think Nasko gained some very basic and appropriate "school-readiness" skills this year. He is much more comfortable using a pencil and he ended the year being able to recognize a few more letters. Nasko did not retain all the letters or their sounds (no matter how much I would have liked that...), but he did learn to sit and attend to "work" for at least 30 minutes at a time - and for Nasko, that is HUGE.
He also gained some independence in his tasks. A few worksheets could be given to him with simple directions and he would complete them appropriately without any more assistance.
While this school year was a learning experience for both of us, I really feel like I got to know Nasko and his learning style much better.
And despite losing my patience many days and wanting to strangle him on the other days, we survived and Nasko did learn a lot!
Tomorrow I'll share what we've been doing this summer so far. Nasko has made great strides with a new curriculum and I'm much more confident that we'll have him reading in no time!