March 25, 2008

School Roundup

Been awhile since I did one of these. Realized today when I was introducing Ciaran to division and handed Rhiannon The Hobbit to read. Overall the school year is going well. I had my "Oh no it's almost April moment" and got through it. I like to finish school in beginning to mid May. Knowing that I have a surgery coming up in mid April I have to plan a bit more if I still want to hit that deadline and enjoy one of my two favorite months in Minnesota.

As I type this I am still struggling to admit that we had one of our "big snowstorms" just this week. For Easter we always get the kids outside toys and sports items. Feels a bit strange to purchase horseshoes and baseball cleats with 6 inches of snow on the ground! Still I know in just a few short weeks we will all be ready to put the books aside and enjoy the wonderful time in Minnesota (read before the mosquitoes arrive) and be outside as much as possible.

So that gives us about 7 more weeks of solid school time before every one's hearts and minds wander outdoors. We are actually surprisingly on track, I am always amazed when I hit April and don't need to panic - it is a great feeling. I am sure it is going to end as they get older but for now I will take it :) Even with switching history mid year we are doing great. We study history chronologically following Story of the World but once we reached the New World time period I stopped world history and went into and American history study, focusing a lot of our studies on the American Revolution time period. This has been rewarding and interesting for us all. While everyone is on track for finishing their texts and workbooks and accomplishing what we set out to do, the thing I am definitely most excited for this year is Ciaran's progress in reading.

I recall last fall having to use the carrot of video games to stir any interest in reading anything, even something simple like a BOB book. Just last night I came home with a stack of readers and he read himself four books before bed. He was excited to read to us all today and read me two stories. He is working his way through the Magic Tree House books and is finally realizing that reading is just fun, not only work for school. He reads his beginner bible on his own proficiently, this same book he was convinced he would never be able to read back in October. It has been really special to be a part of this process and see how far he has come. He also has a love of numbers and math seems to come more naturally to him. Of course I am still convinced if I ask him of his biggest accomplishments this year he will tick off a list of video games he has cleared and learning to skateboard and snowboard. Which are fun and great achievements as well I know.

For Rhiannon - her proudest moment this year was writing her book report on The Little Princess . She was very reticent to write, convinced she couldn't do it and would hate it. After taking our time working through the book of her choice she completed a project she was very happy with. She also is content with the progress she has made in drawing, especially fairies and princesses which are her favorite to draw. Her details and features have grown more realistic and consistent. On a personal note she seems to really enjoy that she can bake bread on her own, ride and care for a horse well, and hand sew items with proficiency.

Sirah continues to surprise us all. She goes through stages where she wants to sit and "do real school" and other times where she can't be bothered and just wants to makes us all meals in her kitchen or dress up as a princess and put on dance shows. We are happy to let her just find her own rhythm and follow it. She has a special school notebook where she has been working hard on writing her name. Her goal this year is to learn to write her name neat and tiny enough that she can get her own library card. She is very close and I am sure by summer she will come home with her very own library card. She has shown interest on and off with learning to read. Right now she simply wants to run her finger under what I read and "read" it to by repeating what I just said. She has little interest or patience for bob books and prefers listening to stories like AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh books, CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia and any picture/storybook about cats and other animals that talk. So that is what we spend time doing. Today I asked her and Ciaran to each pick two storybooks to read and they both came down with a pile of 8 each plus Rhiannon picked out a few. I snuggled everyone into my bed for what was to be a 2 hour reading session. But they were all enjoying the stories, behaving well and sitting still - so who am I to argue?

They promptly got up and practiced and then performed a gymnastic show complete with actually climbing on my walls and swinging from one door to the next in what they called the Monkey Doorknob show. So they obviously built up some energy during that long reading session.

Overall it has been a good albeit a flexible school year filled with successes and challenging moments. I look forward to finishing out the last few weeks and watching them complete what they started and feel a sense of accomplishment at meeting our goals for the year. I have to admit it feels good to begin talking about spring and looking forward to long nature walks, playdates at the park, mornings at the beach. Things that all seem very far away as I watch the ice form on my driveway and pray that the snow won't melt too fast and cause another flood in our basement.


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