Sunday, August 7, 2011

Homeschool Plan for the '11-'12 School Year Continued

I decided to use monthly or twice monthly themes to make Henry's learning more fun. Right now I'm looking for books, games, puzzles, toys, and items for the sensory bins to use with these themes. As a practice run I made a sensory bin for July and am working on a beach-themed bin for August. I will try to take Henry on some kind of trip at least once a month and I feel like the themes are a great way to tie it all together. Here is a tentative list of the themes I'm going to use next year:

- Apples
- Farm
- Trains
- Halloween
- Autumn Leaves
- The First Thanksgiving
- Christmas
- Snow
- Outer Space
- Valentine's Day
- Vehicles
- St. Patrick's Day (really a green theme)
- Dinosaurs
- Easter
- Growing Seeds
- Zoo Animals
- Bugs
- Around the World
- Rainbows/Weather

Homeschool Plan for the '11-'12 School Year

This year is going to be incredibly busy and tight financially, but I still want to make sure that Henry gets the attention and opportunities that he would have if he were in daycare or preschool.

A couple of months ago I wrote out a list of skills that I wanted to work on this next school year. Many of these were just a shot in the dark, I have no way of knowing which he is capable of or which he will exceed. Since the list was written he's actually picked up some of the skills on his own.

- counting objects 1-20
- potty training (if he is ready, I'm definitely not going to push this)
- phonetic reading of three letter words
- saying please and thank you (started doing this recently)
- learning colors/sorting by color (knows colors, will continue to solidify with games)
- recognizing some sight words if ready
- pouring liquid from one container to another
- setting a table and eating well with utensils
- stringing large wooden beads
- matching lids to jars
- using a dropper to drop liquid
- able to do a Montessori cylinder and stacking blocks puzzles
- matching fabrics of different textures
- identifying animals, babies, group names and sounds
- understanding cold v. hot, big v. small, open v. closed, on v. off, up v. down, in v. out, over v. under and perhaps biggest, smallest, coldest, etc.
- learning to be quiet and listen for a quiet sound
- listening to classical music (one composer per month to build appreciation)
- recognizing basic shapes (pretty good at this now, but has some trouble saying some of them)
- associating words/objects with the first letter sound (great with this)
- obeying simple commands, following directions (especially when it comes to directions like, turn around, it's behind you, etc.)
- drawing a counterclockwise circle
- transferring objects with tongs or large tweezers
- sweeping with a tiny broom/dustpan, wiping up spills, tidying up toys
- making own bed
- gross motor skills (tbd)
- naming clothing, ability to put on and take off some clothes

As far as what each day will look like we'll have to see how it goes. I am planning on "doing school" either three or four days a week depending on our schedule. Right now I'm thinking we will continue to start with the calendar time, then do a Bible story and possibly something crafty to go along with it. Then one to three other learning activities, some outside time, a little music while we play, and that's it.

I'm planning to have a new theme every two weeks, but can adjust to a new theme once a month if we need to. For September the themes I picked are "Apples" and "Farm", mainly because I was able to collect some books at a used book fair and good will. I also think it will be fun, easy and cheap to go to an apple picking place or farm for a field trip.

Summa' Time

We've been pretty laid back this summer. Most days Henry and I read books in the air conditioning and go for long walks early in the morning before it gets too hot. When Daddy gets home he takes Henry to the beach and if the water is gentle they swim in the ocean. Henry is absolutely obsessed with Thomas the train right now and will play with his little track forever. I think a Thomas themed birthday party is in the works for November!

On the learning front we are also being lazy. I made a simple calendar and each morning we talk about what day of the week it is (I figured we would start out simple). We sing the days of the week song:

(to the tune of the Adam's family theme song)

Days of the week, snap, snap
Days of the week, snap, snap
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week, snap, snap

There's Sunday and there's Monday,
there's Tuesday and there's Wednesday,
there's Thursday and there's Friday,
and then there's Saturday.

Days of the week, snap, snap
Days of the week, snap, snap
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week, snap, snap

We sing a few other songs and talk about what we did yesterday and what we will do today and tomorrow.

A few times a week I bring out his sensory bin. This one is fourth of July themed. The bin for August is a beach theme and I've collected all of the stuff but haven't put it together yet. I'm not sure if it has more to do with his own development or if the sensory bin is working but I've seen the biggest change in his fine motor skills this summer. He also plays with puzzles every day so that might be helping too. We usually do Starfall at night a couple of nights a week.

He still knows all of his letters and can count to 20, he usually speaks in two or three word sentences but sometimes uses longer ones. He is climbing like a maniac, and we had to get him a toddler bed after he got out of the crib. (Notice I said got out and not fell out, he actually maneuvered himself out pretty well, but we didn't want to risk it.) He still generally ignores other babies but likes to play near older kids.

Next up: my plans for next year!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Sometimes Henry and I spend all day busily learning and playing without going on the computer or vegging out in front of the TV. And on other days . . . let's just say it's kind of embarrassing how often I hear "watch dvd." from my toddler as he positions himself on his favorite chair. I also find that the computer can suck up time that I just don't have. For some reason the ability to find out anything I'm interested in at that very moment is addictive. Who knew? While the internet has been great for discovering new resources, I've noticed my stack of books is taking a little longer to go down now that I'm reading so many education blogs and websites. That said, I'm thinking of putting some limits on the time we spend plugged in. At least until there is an emergency that requires Henry to be occupied by Thomas the train . . .

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Knowledge

Henry counts to 20 but doesn't recognize the numbers over 12 yet. He also likes to play with change, and can name quarters, pennies, nickels and dimes. He likes to point to your thumb ("fum") and pinky fingers. If you ask him what does .................start with and use a phonetic word, he will tell you the first letter. When playing with blocks he will arrange them in simple patterns, and can stack eight in a tower. He loves his little counting bears and likes to sort them into their colored cups. He also loves puzzles and his favorite books right now are Mr. Brown Can Moo, Caps for Sale, Five Little Monkey books, and any Fancy Nancy book. He often brings these over to us with the request "read again?" even if it's the first time that day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homeschool Convention

I went to the ENOCH homeschool convention this past weekend, and Greg came too on Saturday. It was fun to touch and read all of the different curriculum and we got some really cool books at the used curriculum sale. The seminars were so-so, but it didn't really matter. I think just sitting there and listening to a talk about a topic sometimes just gets me thinking. I've been so focused lately on the academic details that I forget what my primary responsibility is to my son.

Greg and I had a chance to talk in the car and during the conference, and I'm happy to say that we've decided to start doing some low-key family devotions. We also talked about having our own little family dinner together at least a couple of times a week (we tend to eat with my family a lot, and usually don't get any time to talk together.) I'm so relieved to be on the same page with Greg on this finally. It's not that we didn't want the same things, but we've just seriously been so busy or tired that we hadn't been able to articulate what we wanted.

It was so easy when we were first married, we spent so much time together and we lived in a very isolated little apartment, there was never a shortage of opportunities to communicate.
This year everything has changed, Greg is commuting over 4 hours a day, plus his working hours, and we are just so tired at night that we both want to just veg out. Next year he will be working close to home, but for now we just have to be intentional about making time for each other. Believe it or not, this convention was maybe the first time we spent a day together without Henry since we took the bar exam last summer.

Even though I did miss Henry on Sat, it was good to be reminded that Henry needs his parents to be in tune with one another too. If that means taking time away to reconnect and talk about our goals then that is what is best for him in the long run.

So what do we agree on, now that we've talked? It all boils down to this: It's not enough to teach Henry about God. He needs to see us relating to God. He needs to see Greg and me praying, reading the Bible, talking about what we've read. He needs to see the Holy Spirit change us, and feel God's love through our interactions with him. A great education will be completely meaningless if he grows up without knowing his Best Friend.

If I have the perfect house and cook the best meals, but have not love, I have nothing.

If I have the most energy and take my son out every day to explore, but have not love, I have done nothing.

If I provide the best education and opportunities, and send my son to an Ivy League college, but have not love, I have given him nothing.

If I work hard to provide for him and die leaving him a trust fund, but have not love, my work will have been in vain.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I feel a growth spurt coming on soon! Henry went back to two naps a day, although the first is very short now. His appetite has also taken off, and some days he eats more than me!

He is also saying more sentences, like "give me blanket" and "need help". He is also repeating new phrases every day. One of his favorite games involves answering questions, like what animal makes this sound? or what does this letter sound like?

He doesn't seem interested in the potty yet, but I am trying to talk about it more so he gets used to the idea. I'm debating whether or not to order another huge case of diapers, since I'm not sure how much he will grow or for how much longer he will need them.

My favorite new words: Gam-ma, purple, umbrella, honeybee. He still calls me mama, which melts my heart every time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Starting "School"

This week was my first ever planned out "school" week for Henry. By school I mean purposeful play directed at acquiring certain skills.

I am loosely basing my plans on the ABC Jesus loves me curriculum for three year olds, with some significant differences. First of all there is no writing, because Henry is too little :) We read a Bible story (just a few verses long) and sing a song and say a memory verse every day. They also suggest books on the site, but since I didn't see the first book at the library and I'm trying to limit my book binging we just watched a reading of it on youtube. By the way, did you realize that every children's book is on youtube? Seriously, it's great. I wish I had known about it this winter when I kept losing my voice.

I also printed out some of the linked coloring pages of the creation story. At this point Henry will color over the objects on a page, but is more interested in looking at the crayons and talking about the colors. He knows red, yellow, brown, green, orange, pink, black, and white. If I ask where "the blue one is" he will point to the correct object but won't spontaneously say blue. The same with my favorite color, purple. Learning his colors happened almost as soon as I started making a habit of pointing them out to him.

I try to get him to use the triangle crayons because he is much more likely to hold these correctly, like a pencil. I don't even try to put the crayon in his hand the right way yet when he colors.

We also tried lacing beads, which he did very contentedly, although he liked playing with the wood beads by themselves more than the lacing. We played with a Mr. Potato Head and reviewed body parts, and with some Melissa and Doug animal magnets, talking about the sounds they make.

We watched Talking Words Factory whenever he begged for a "dee-dee-vee", I don't think he gets the linking of the letters yet, but he loves the video anyway.

Now that it's not so cold out we've been taking very long walks on the boardwalk together, which has helped us both so much. When I can get a little exercise I don't feel so couped up and crazy and Henry is happier when he gets to run. When we go on these walks Henry walks and runs nearly a mile of the way home. He sleeps and eats better and is so cheerful and loving when he's had a chance to work off some of his wiggles. In fact, this week my independent little guy has hugged me and his dad more than ever!

His pronunciation is getting better and he has started to say two word sentences. He still refused to eat anything that's not milk or a cracker or pretzel, but I did get him to eat some veggie baby food when his cousin was over. I'll have to remember that for the future, when Mercy gets something, Henry wants it too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

18 Months

Henry is a year and a half as of yesterday. I was planning on starting to do this ABC Jesus loves me curriculum with him starting at this age, but I think instead I might borrow some of those ideas but do more of a Montessori themed curriculum that I'm working on. Most of the plans for toddlers that I've seen focus on one letter or number at a time, doing one a week and centering the activities around that letter or number. I'm not sure that's the best plan for us, since Henry knows the letters and the numbers (non-sequentially) and the letter sounds already. We may just work on colors or shapes and I'll probably spend most of my baby-teaching energy on potty training and banishing the bottle. I love the tray-activity idea explained on this site, and I ordered some art trays to try it out. The problem for us is space - there is no way we have space to have multiple trays of activities out at a time, but maybe just one a day would be good?

Also our sand/water table came in the mail today and I can't wait to set it up. The days are getting warmer and I know Henry will love to play outside more!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


We were playing a game with Henry where we pretended to sleep, (closed our eyes and made snoring sounds), until he would say "wake up" or "good morning", then we would pretend to wake up. Henry decided to play too and laid down. He made snoring sounds... with his eyes wide open! He also pretended to be upset when we "woke him up."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

18 Month (approximately) check up

23.5 lbs (10th-25th percentile)
34 inches (90th-95th percentile)
Never cries for shots, just complains.
Dr. yelled at me about his bottle.

Henry Counts

Wan. Dos. Tree.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Supplies!

My mom and sister gave me some cash in lieu of Easter candy this year, which made my week. After paying for a load of groceries and filling up the car with gas, I headed to Michael's and the dollar store and dropped a hundred bucks on cool stuff for Henry. We got a ton of craft supplies that I'm trying to find places for right now. Henry has a new favorite word: "beat" for paint.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Words He Says

Here are all that I can think of at the moment:
Mama (for his mom and his grandma)
Aunt Sarah
Baby (to refer to his cousin, any kid, or his yogurt, which has a baby on the package)
Bop (Grandpa)
Amy (for Trouwbottom, after she leaves he will point to where she was or the toys they played with and repeat her name, like he's asking when she'll come back)
Bar (cereal bar)
Toooo-toooo (train noise when he sees Thomas the train)
Emmy (for Emily the train)
A-Z (but says "ess" for C, and makes the sounds instead of saying the name for some)
Duck ("Duts")
Hoop (For basketball hoop)
Bob (for veggie tales)
Pop (for Hop on Pop, and when he sees a lolly pop)
Cat ("at") (for cats and for Cat in the Hat)
BUG (his favorite right now)
Oh No
Man (like "oh man...")
Up (also uses for open)
Down (also uses for close)
Walk (to go outside)
Boom (for purposely falling down)
Bunny (actually says money)
Ba-Ba (hopefully a thing of the past soon)

These are the ones he uses consistently right now, although he recognizes many more. If you show him a picture and ask him to point out the _________, he can easily do so.

Why Does My Baby Need His Own Blog?

I got some books on homeschooling from my local library and have been devouring them like cans of diet coke. I know it's early to be thinking about Henry going to school, but when you think about it, we are sort of home schooling right now anyway. With babies, almost everything they do is about learning. When Henry plays with toys, or the vacuum cleaner, or a Brita filter he finds under the sink (for a whole week), it's really all just education for him.

So in most of the homeschooling books they talk about how to document your learning, and many kids who are homeschooled create journals or "lapbooks" about the different subjects they study. This way they have a record of their achievements and can look back at them later for reference. Well I started thinking. How can I keep a record of Henry's educational development for reference and for my own sentimental reasons without creating more clutter? A Henry blog, of course. This way I can keep track of all the things that only a mother really cares about and still keep my personal blog for reflecting on other areas of my life.

So here it is, Henry's Learning Blog.

I hope to use it now to keep track of milestones, and later to plan out how to educate him more formally, then someday as a place for Henry to add his own acquired knowledge.