January 31, 2004

A Month in Review... Well this was officially our first month of schooling. I had originally planned to start in September but with Sirah's birth in August it got pushed back and then we moved and I just waited until January to start. I figure it was just fine to cut myself some slack as she is just 4 1/2 and couldn't be in public school K yet.

This month we focused primarily on reading and it was successful. In the past week and a half she has read 8 of the Bob First books and 7 of the Primary Phonics Set 1 books. She knows 6 sight words and is getting close on 4 more. It is amazing to witness the light going on when it just all clicks together. We've also tried reading some Dr Suess but she gets frustrated that she can't sound out all the words properly yet so we backed off those for a little while. We have also been working through Phonics Pathways. She has recently been much more excited about reading the books though so we've done less in the workbook. We will need to get back into it now to start two consonant blends.

We have worked through four bible verses - her memorization is very good (better than mine). Even Ciaran has memorized a few of them. We focused on the story of creation and Noah's arc. She loves singing praise songs. She also enjoys writing her verse for the week - I stamp out the dotted manuscript letters for the verse and she traces them.

For math we have been working on addition and subtraction with manipulatives, simple addition of numbers 1-5, number recognition up to 100, matching number sets up to 12, and counting pennies and nickels. She does file folder games, worksheets and hands on activities. She is beginning to show an interest in time so we will probably start that this month.

In science we've talked about earth, continents, and planets this month. We also focused a week on astronauts and space exploration. She has also been keeping up with a nature notebook. The interest in space and the planets surprised me but we went with it and it has been a lot of fun. Ciaran has joined right in for most of it as well.

We've also been working through short poem and nursery rhyme memorization and recitation. She can do about a dozen without flaw and is working on about a dozen more. She really enjoy standing up and presenting them in a more formal way.

I must admit I have not been good this month with keeping up with our reading list. I will try to be better in February. We have read probably our average 100 books or so for this month. Our current chapter books are in the Little House on the Prairie series and Kirsten An American Girl. We are also reading Ciaran the Frog and Toad books as chapter books at night before bed. We only made two library trips this month though with the cold - so we have read more from here. We have also been working through Aesop's Fables and some short stories found in What Your kindergartener Needs to Know by John Hirsch (an excellent reference book).

We have focused on Claude Monet and Antonio Vivaldi this month. The kids have focused on one painting a week of his - we have a calendar of his art on a display stand in our schoolroom. Ciaran's favorite is still "The Luncheon" and Rhiannon's favorite is " The Japanese Bridge". We have mostly listened to "The Four Seasons" though we have also expanded occasionally to some guitar concertoes. I love that the kids ask to listen to Vivaldi all the time. It adds such a peaceful and light feeling to our home and the music is so full.

Only two field trips this month: the model train museum and our homeschool class on self esteem. Both were very big hits. The remainder of the things we had planned we cancelled due to weather, lack of a car or some other unforeseen circumstance.

Ciaran had his first two preschool cooperative classes and they went very well. I think it will take a little time for the kids to settle into the way of things. Right now it is just nice for them to get together and get to know each other and learn what little they can concentrate on, but mostly have fun together.

This month it seems several things have clicked for Ciaran as well. He is counting to 12 correctly now and is just starting to recognize numbers. He is showing some interest in his ABC song and can do some of it. He is very interested in listening to ABC books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Dr suess ABC's and "A You're Adorable". We are beginning to focus on the phonics with him as well - with simple games like "what begins with the letter X and rhyming games.

He knows all his colors and can answer both "What color is this" and "Find me a ____ ball". For the longest time he would always get it right if you asked him to find a certain color but could not tell you what color something was - it clicked together this month. He also knows all his basic shapes and some of his more complicated ones.

His vocabulary and conversation skills have been soaring as well. He is very clear and often able to express what he wants through his words now. His imaginary play skills amaze me - he is very creative and I think it helps that he and Rhia could spend all day in their imaginary play together. I am really starting to see the benefits of having kids so close together.

Sirah is growing so fast - she is sitting up and playing with everything. Her favorite toys are her feet, our fingers and anyone's hair (Rhiannon's most often). She also loves brightly colored soft toys that have different textures and make noise and her wooden rattles. She is beginning to enjoy being read to - though the basic test for enjoyment of a book is still how good it tastes and how well it withstands drool. She has no interest in playing on her tummy or rolling - she wants to be in the center of it all and sitting or being in the sling gives her a much better vantage point. She is cooing and beginning to babble and she is just so much fun to be around. Her smile is infectious and her red hair does come out in her temper when she is unhappy. She actually enjoys having Rhiannon read to her, Ciaran sing and dance for her and watches very intently whenever we do "Baby Einstein" flashcards.

Sirah just lights up whenever daddy looks at her or plays with her and I already know her first word will be dada - just like Rhiannon. Ciaran's was "ball" also no big shocker! But she does love being with me and is starting to get into that mommy anxiety stage. I am just trying to enjoy each moment of these early days while still balancing the needs of the other kids, Serona and the household.

Well that is probably more of an overview than you bargained for. Hope all is well with you.


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