I haven't posted much since we've been so so busy. Hurricane Sandy threw us for a loop and since then it's been non-stop dealing with damage to the house and rearranging our house now that we have no storage space. We have continued to do preschool at home, but with all of the non-essentials cut out. Just this month I've been able to add back in more of the fun theme-based activities that I'd planned on doing. Without further ado, this is where we are now:
Life Skills - Henry FINALLY was able to use the potty (consciously, not just accidentally because I was putting him on every ten minutes). This has been our main focus as far as teaching him to be independent. We got him a special new train for the first time he did it, and now have a sticker chart for another reward. I got three packs of chore chart things from the dollar section at Target (awesome sauce). I'm taking baby-steps with this. I tried just putting him in underwear cold turkey and I still have PTSD from the number of accidents I was cleaning up, so for now he is still in diapers. I'm sure he would train faster if I had the guts to ditch the diapers again but for now I'm ok with the gradual approach.
Reading - Watching Henry learn to read has been one of the most exciting experiences for me as a homeschooling parent. I'm not a former teacher like many homeschool moms I know, so I was a little worried that I would do something horribly wrong and Henry would end up behind with this. Fortunately for my inexperienced self he has always been obsessed with letters and as soon as he "got it" (figured out how to put the letter sounds together to sound out words phonetically) he was reading.
I let him watch the Preschool Prep Sight Words dvds before he was reading phonetically, and he could pretty much read their Sight Words Readers, but I didn't consider him to be actually "reading" until he was sounding out new words on his own. He started doing that soon after he began reading the Sight Words books, so I think allowing him to take the whole language approach first actually triggered something in his mind that allowed him to "decode" the letters and read. Starting with whole language is controversial, and I wouldn't have chosen to do it, but he loved the Sight Words dvds so much and kept asking for them and in our case it worked out very well. Now he can read many many picture books, BOB books, and the leveled readers like Step Into Reading books. He also loves sounding out signs and other words whenever he encounters them. He will verbally spell out words (unless asked!), like MILK, and CAN'T!
Henry loves Starfall and anything else that has to do with the computer or movies so I'm trying to use that to my advantage. We are doing the portion of Starfall that teaches silent e's and he is doing well with that. Also the Leapfrog dvd WordCaper explains silent e words very well so I think I'll try and show him that again. He knows the rule but needs more practice to apply it quicker.
Writing - Henry is either average or behind with fine motor skills for his age. It's hard to say, because I think he's actually capable of writing but is very easily frustrated and gives up quickly. We went to a birthday party for two sisters this weekend, and he wrote his name on one card, looked at it, and refused to try the second card even when I tried to help him. I think the fact that the letters don't look the way they look in his mind is frustrating to him. He often asks me to write words or letters for him, but I try to hold back a little so that he'll develop the desire to try himself. He is stubborn and won't cooperate when I try to correct his pencil grip. I'm hoping this will be one of those developmental things and that he'll just wake up one day and want to do it :)
Math - Greg does "Math School" with Henry at least once a week. He uses the first grade materials from Right Start Math, level B I think. This program is very conceptual and doesn't yet require writing skills so it is going well. There is a cd with rhymes to learn their system and some visual aids that Henry likes.
Behavior - I've been really encouraged these last few days. Henry is still going through a "no" phase where he basically just says the opposite of whatever we say. I'm not too disturbed by this, since he has actually been more obedient, he just says no but still follows directions and has been sweeter than ever. For example, we'll say "Henry do you want to go swimming in the pool?" and he'll say, "No! Not the pool! We can go take a bath!" A minute later he'll realize what we said and what he said and run up to us saying "The pool the pool, we can go swimming in the pool." His negative responses seem sort of reflexive. I've been ignoring it. I think focusing on it would just make him dig his heels in. I think it has something to do with becoming more independent, trying to have his own opinion, that sort of thing. We're hoping he outgrows this phase soon though :)
Other Subjects - Like I said, I've been planning to do some more theme-related activities. Some are new, others I planned to do earlier but never got to. Up next are Penguins, Snowmen/Snow, The Gingerbread Man, The Mitten (the book), Valentine's Day, Dishes (setting the table, putting the silverware away), Clothing, Weather, Bugs, and Growing Plants. This just means I try to find library books, gather books we have, and buy a few books about the theme, print out some little activities with theme-related clip art, and maybe do a craft or two. It's just a way to get Henry into what we're doing and create some unity between the other subjects.
As far as the bible stories and memory verses are concerned, I'm not sure what to do. I was trying to use the ABC Jesus Loves Me website as a basic guide and planned to gather different resources, books, crafts, etc to go along with the Bible stories she suggested. I'm having such a hard time with this. Maybe I just don't have enough time to do it well. I'm going to research it a little more and see if there isn't some bible curriculum that requires less work on my part. I really wish we were going to one of the big homeschool conventions in March, but money is just too scarce to plan another trip right now. The NJ and PA conventions we're planning on attending are not until May and I don't want to wait that long to change up our Bible time. I may have to try and just ask around.