Our plan for the year…

Things have been going great here. My stepdaughter has been spending alot more time with us, so that’s always great. Wesley’s tutor is on holidays so I have had him all to myself, which is great! When the babies take there afternoon nap we have a chance to get most of our school work, which means I can relax as soon as the daycare babies are gone.
Explode the Code 1We started Explode the Code 1 workbook. We took the pretest and he did very well 18/20. We do it together as the pictures are not aways that clear(there not as bad as the cover shows lol,he just sometimes has trouble with draw pictures ver. photos), I just tell him what the pictures are and he works it out himself. I looked at tomorrows lesson and I think it will be a good fit for him.
This years we are using
:Math-U-See / Primer Teacher Pack (Complete Kit)Math U See Primer: Right now we are on 15 of 30 Lessons. This level is suppose to introduce the child to different concepts in math without expecting them to master it. I’m debating what to do. He will be done this one come December the latest, if not sooner. I can’t decide if I should order the Math U See Alpha which focuses on Single Digit Addition and Subtraction, or just use some workbooks till we get closer to grade 1 and then start Alpha. I just worry he wont be mature enough to do work for a 6-7year old when he will only be 5.5. In Alpha they start testing and such.
Hooked on Math Addition and Subtraction Ages 6 - 7I also have Hooked On Math. I might use this to mix it up alittle and supplement our current program.

Hooked on Handwriting- Learn to PrintCurrently for printing we are using Hooked On Handwriting-Learn to Print. We are on the blue book, and have 17 lessons left to do, so we will be done this program in about 3 weeks or so. I like a lot of things about this program as an introduction, but in no way is it a complete program.
Next month we will start The Canadian Handwriting Series– Its suppose to be Grade 1, but I think we are ready for it.
We use two computer programs ABC Reading Eggs, then even have the series of books and workbooks. I ordered them when I renewed our subscriptions. They haven’t arrived yet, but the online version of the books a great. But I always prefer to read the paper version with Wes so he is not distracted by the computer.
Starfall is the other online program we are using, we are just using the free version, but I know that there is a version you can pay for. Not sure what that one is like, but seeing as I’m paying for Reading Eggs and still for Little Reader, I don’t want to take on yet another subscription. We love the Starfall books too that we got from amazon.
We will also be spending time at the library getting great books from there. I’m sure I’ll find workbooks and maybe even unit studies I’d like to do along the way, but this is my basic plan to date. We started in May working on Kindergarten for two reasons, 1) This is all new to both of us and I wanted time just incase we needed to restart something, or things didn’t go according to plan 2) I also want some buffer just incase we fall of track. Better to be ahead then behind right?
Have a great day!

Teach Your Child to Read in Just 10 Minutes a Day

I couldn’t keep this one to myself. A few months ago someone on the Brillkids website brought up the book “Teach Your Child to Read in Just 10 Minutes a Day” by Sidney Ledson. I had looked up the website, which is just a single page, and read a bit about the schools Sidney Ledson runs and his books. The idea interested me, but I like as much information as possible before I go out an buy something, and this author interested me because his schools are based in Ontario, Canada. But even after calling the schools, and endless time on Google, I couldn’t find much about his methods.
Well last week, I stumbled across his book again on amazon. *Sigh*, I was too curious so I bought it. Well it arrived Monday and I could not put the book down. on Tuesday I constructed the “block game” and Wednesday I introduced it to Wesley.


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First let me say, I found Sidney Ledson’s book very easy to read. He runs several schools that teach children as young as two to read. He gives step by step instructions, how to teach preschoolers, Kindergarten and Grade 1, as well as students that are older but are not reading or reading poorly. In his school his success rate of teaching a child to read is 100%. And the kids have fun learning. Everything in taught using the block game. Now if you don’t like using rewards this program might now be for you. Ledson reccommends using edibles for young children, and dimes for older children(so they can save up for a much wanted item as a reward). The board is easy to construct. You use a long sheet of paper with 12 spots and an egg carton cut in half and taped together so there is 12 cups in a line.
He has you introduce one letter sound at a time, and slowly adding in another till you make words. For starters you introduce U, then P, then build the word UP, then PUP. Next you teach them C, then the word CUP. You teach them to sound out the words, even though my son knows the word is CUP I still direct him to sound out the word then put them together. I hoping this will teach him out to sound out words he doesn’t know. My son did not want to stop playing. We used tiny mini Marshmellows for the reward and to make them last longer he had to land 3 cards on that one spot to eat them, not just one card one treat.
Ledson suggested something that goes against everything I was taught about teaching as child to read before. That is to use capital letters!?!?! WHAT!? That was my reaction when I read this. I had always been told to use lower case because thats what 90% if not more of the writing is printed in, in the real words. He had an interesting agruement. A lot of children who don’t have a grasp on phonics guess words. They read the sentence and fill in a word using clues from the pictures, the rest of the sentence,etc. Ledson says not to allow you child to guess the word by its shape or content, they should sound out words they can’t read. And by using capital letters they can not guess the word by shape because all the letters are the same size. You introduce lower case later when your child has a good grasp of reading using phonics. He claims his children, and children in his schools transition very easily to lower case.
If you follow the schedule provided the average timeline is 45days to complete to course in a 1:1 student teacher ration, and he claims if a teacher were to use this program with his/her classroom they would be reading over 100 words LONG before Christmas.
So I have tried two sessions with my son and he is liking it. He is learning to sound out words which is great because we were having trouble getting him to sound out words, he would look at the word fat, and all he would see was the end “at” and he would guess cat. He has many sight words, just I think he needs more. Introducing phonic families, was kind of helping but it was a lot of guessing. So we are going to try this program for the next 2-3 months and see were it takes us. I promise to keep you guys posted.
Would I reccomend this book. As of right now without even getting full force into the program I thought it was very good. Easy to read, and full of good ideas. I really wasn’t sure how my son would react to this and he has welcomed it with open arms. Even the suggestion of posting the words your working on around the house has helped. I thought he would just ignore the words I posted on the fridge, but while I did dishes he came in and sounded them out for “practice”.
I hope all my Canadian readers had a happy Canada Day yesterday 🙂

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Trip to Oak Hammack Marsh//Reading//Homeschooling Stuff

Wesley did something amazing yesterday! He took turns reading pages with his tutor. She said he did VERY well. Just needed help with names and really long words. I only wish he would read to me.
So last night I was suppose to go to a meeting, but Wes was off, he was real upset I was leaving. So half way to the meeting guilt took over me and I called and cancelled. I can home and we all jumped in the car and went to Oak Hammock Marsh. Wes was super excited because last time we were there a beaver ran up on shore and made Mommy scream and run away.
It was a really good experience. We got to see the beaver breifly(he stayed in the water this time), snails, and birds, as well as prarire dog wholes. Wes had a great time exploring and running around. Lucky for him, my bf is braver then I am and was willing to take him off the beaten trail and explore more interesting areas.


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I experimented this part weekend and allowed Wesley to have a few hotdogs that contained milk and gluten. It seems to have been a no go. He seems extremely emotion and tempertantrums are up. So back to gluten free and dairy free for now. I find that he is ok if something may contain milk, but if it does for sure its not a good thing I guess.
I can’t wait for things to quiet down around here. We haven’t had time to do math in a week or so. Which is not terrible considering we are over 1/3 kindergarten math, I just like to make progress every week. But I have to learn to accept that this is the bonus of homeschooling. Some weeks we will get more done then others.
We started doing DadDude from Brillkids fleshcards, its introducing phonics. We did half of the first pack and he seems to be getting it. We turn it into a game. I lay 12 out and pick one, we sounds it out then he can put it in his complete pile. So far so good, the first pack he is use to because of Hooked on Phonics. So hopefully they will keep going well.
And we are still working on our reading challenge!
This week there is something every day except Friday. My bf has to work, so Wes and I are having a Mommy and Me day after “work”, we will do homeschool after the kids leave and then I want to take him for a nice walk to the park. Maybe we will relax and pop some popcorn and watch Kung Fu Panda or the Bee Movie.
After he is in bed, and the house is a little tidied, I want to just focus on making a game plan for Spetember. Right now we are just winging it, experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. But come September when he is offically in Kindergarten I want to have a nice path to follow.
Breath in and out and I hope to survive the week :)After this it should be a cake walk… Right??
Have a wonderful day!

Early Learning Window of Opportunity (Updated November 2018)

Early Learning Window of Opportunity

Window of Learning Opportunity: What is it?

The window of early learning opportunity is between 0-5 or 0-6 years old, depends on who you are talking to. I feel under so much pressure these last few weeks, and I guess its because Wesley’s fifth birthday is quickly approaching. He is still learning info at a crazy speeds so I’m going to keep exposing him to things like Little Reader and Tweedlewinks. I guess I just feel with the big 5 coming, its kind of now or never, and I know soon enough that window is going to be closed.

Wes had his preschool graduation yesterday. Even though he left his daycare last month they still called me and invited him. Sadly I could not go because I had already taken Monday morning off for an MRI, I could not ask my daycare parents to move their schedules again. So my parents took him. How can he be kindergarten age already! I’m 25 years old but I feel years and years older now that I have a 5 year old.

Hands On Activities. Homeschooling Doesn’t Always Involve Textbooks.

Wesley helped my boyfriend and step daughter plant a garden in the back a few weekends ago. We thought with the crazy rains and flash floods it was going to be ruined, but when the water went away our garden was ok and actually growing better!!

Honestly there is no better way to science then diving right into it.

What Are We Doing to Take Advantage of the Window of Learning Opportunity

(Not everything is done everyday, but at least a few times a week)

This is a hands on math program that uses colorful blocks to teach children math. (UPDATE Nov 2018: This program landed up not being a fit for Wesley. We landed up switching to TouchMath, and he just blossomed. However, I don’t want to turn you off this program just because it was not a fit for us. I know several families that use and love Math U See. )

Hooked on Phonics(HOP). When I think of this company, I think of the infomercials from the early 1990’s. My dad actually called the 1-800 number back then, but the price was OUTRAGEOUS. However in 1994 HOP was forced into bankruptcy due to several lawsuits regarding misrepresenting their product. However in the 2000’s HOP was acquired by the same company as the people who run Sylvan Learning. In 2006 they introduced much more affordable products. A while back my mom found the whole K-Grade 2 set for Wesley at Zellers for $40, and we have just loved it!! Wesley has solidified his knowledge in phonics and has become and even stronger reader because of it.

(UPDATE Nov 2018: The set my mom bought years ago has been a great investment. Zakari is now using the the program. We started him off with their Hooked On Phonics App. While Zakari learned to read mostly using the Doman Program and BrillKids, this helped make sure there were no gaps in his reading skills.

This was another Zellers special my mom found on clearance. It was a great introduction to writing for Wesley. It is very colorful and kid friendly.

(Update November 2018. This was a great program for Wesley to practice his penmanship before we started Handwriting Without Tears. I wish I had the hindsight to have bought 2 of these back in the day. But the one book is reuseable and Zakari has gotten a lot of practice using it.)

Want to start introducing your young child to vocabulary in different languages? Little Pim is a sweet way to start that process. (UPDATE Nov 2018: These videos are now available on Amazon Prime Video)

TweedleWink is a program designed to maximize your child’s natural sponge-like learning state, beginning from birth. Your child can easily absorb information in less than ten minutes a day — quickly, joyfully, without any stress.

I can honestly say this has been a favourite with Wesley. I’m impressed with the quality of the information his is being exposed to. (UPDATE Nov 2018: These are still a family favourite. Zakari has gone through the whole series several times. I have also had many daycare kids who have been in my care enjoy them.)

This is a wonderful program that will help your child recognize different composers and pieces of music. The CD plays  a part of the piece twice. The first time it is just the music. The second time it is the music with lyrics. The thing is the lyrics help the child learn who the composer is and what the piece is called.

(UPDATE Nov 2018: To this day every time I hear Vivaldi’s Spring From the Four Season, the lyrics from this CD are stuck in my head. This has been a timeless program that has been used with all my children and many daycare kiddos.)

This is a classic for Wesley. He often request it. Be sure to check out my review about this DVD! Trebellina and Friends DVD Review/

  • Walking every day

At least once a day I load my daycare babies in a stroller and we go for a walk. There is several great parks near by that we frequent. We also walk to one of two groceries stores within walking distance to get fresh fruit for lunch.

  • Trying to crawl & creep everyday

According to Glenn Doman, crawling and creeping are important steps to a child’s development. If they skip one of these milestone, don’t do it long enough or if they don’t doing it properly this can severely impact their development. So I have purchased several of these Puzzle Exercise Mat and I create a path for Wesley and my daycare kids to crawl and creep around on.

UPDATE Nov 2018: Sadly we were never as religious about this as I would have like with Wesley. But after attending the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child course in 2016, we started doing creeping with Zakari. I was unable to get Zakari to crawl on his belly though. However at our Evaluation visit at the IAHP/Doman International in 2017 we were able to teach him how to crawl on his belly using the Crawling Track. 

Little Reader is the cornerstone of Wesley’s reading program. It is a easy to use computer program that has helped him learn to read before he was old enough to suppose to be able to read. The multisensory approach help babies, toddlers and young children learn to read with comprehension and fluency.

UPDATED November 2018: 8 years later I cannot express how instrumental this program has been in teaching both of my boys to read. You can read more about our journey in the post below:

BrillKid’s Learning System with LittleZMan

BrillKid’s Success Story -He Read His First Book at 4 Years Old

BrillKids Learning Adventures!

  • And of course trying to read LOTS.

We try to make this interesting but keeping track of all the books we read. We are using a sticker chart right now and it is going very well!

What do you do to take advantage of the Early Learning Window of Opportunity?

This blog post contains affiliate links.

Our First Homeschool Convention

Every year our local Christian Homeschooling group, MACHS, host their annual homeschool conference. This was my very first year attending. As a new homeschooling mom I was so excited for this day to come. Originally I had only signed up to attend the Saturday, because I was suppose to work in the Operating Room all day Friday assisting with dental surgeries. However the other assistant asked to switch shifts with me, which freed up my Friday!

I woke up and got Mr. Wes ready and sent him off to daycare. He only has about a month left of daycare in his centre and we will be transitioning to me being at home full time at the end of April. For now though, I am very grateful there was somewheres for him to go while I attended.

When I arrived I found it very overwhelming at first. I was dumbfounded. The original plan was I would window shop Friday, and buy on Saturday. Well after witnessing the line up at the Math U See kiosk, and that the Primer pile was going down very quickly I panicked decided to buy. I stood in the long line and asked everyone a million questions about the program, some moms had used it from kindergarten to grade 12. Everyone said they wouldn’t go with anything else.

(Update 2017)However looking back I do not recommend parents jump to purchase a curriculum because they are selling out. Enquire if they offer free shipping of the items if they run out and you order before the end of the conference. If they do, this you should take the time you need to make sure this is the program you want and is best for your family. Looking back now this program was not a match for my oldest son. It involved many tears before we put it away.

Early on during the day on Friday,  I was taken under the wing of a seasoned homeschooler. She was a wealth of information. I found it comforting that her oldest was participating in the graduation ceremony the next day. It made me see that people were really pulling this off.  She showed me a few other programs, and offered some great advice. This made me feel so welcomed. While I did not come alone, the people I was with were also newbies to homeschooling. Can you say the blind leading the blind? You can tell that this conference is full of people with the hearts of teachers. Everyone was so kind and willing to help a new mom out.

Tip to experienced homeschoolers. If you see a new homeschool parent at a conference and they are open to it, take the time to share your experiences. Make them feel welcomed. You will be such a blessing to them.

Since I had spent a good chunk of Friday in the vendor area, Saturday I figured I better go to a few more lectures. The woman had talked the day before, Stacy McDonald, and really inspired me. Made me think long an hard about how I might be destroying my family slowly by nagging and nitpicking my hubby. Well the next day it was hard to listen to her  Mother/Daughter talk she was doing. She was encouraging parents not sending their daughters to post education outside the home. That once a daughter graduates from homeschool highschool she should basically stay at home till she gets married. If parents of girls what their daughters to be more educated they should encourage her to take it online. She also promoted girls not to work outside the home unless she’s doing missionary work.

I know everyone has a personal opinion about this, but I strongly believe that even if I woman wants to be a stay at home mom, she should have several skills in her back pocket. What if her husband gets sick and for a short or long period cannot work? What if her husband dies? What if her husband up and leaves her? I think that as parents we should be training our children, son or daughter, to be able to be both self sufficient as well as be able to live in a relationship with a spouse. Boys should be able to cook and clean. Girls should be able to work and change a tire. After listening to her Mother/Daughter talk, it was hard for me to take her lectures to heart knowing she has such a different point of view on raising children.

I landed up back in the vendor area again. I decided to pick up some basic Rod and Staff Homeschool Preschool Activity Workbooks- Set of 4 (for 3 & 4 Year Old Children). They were fairly cheap, and I think they will help get Wes use to doing workbook type lessons. Each book contains 32 pages of color by numbers, tracing and matching. They are advertised as being great for teaching numbers, shapes, colors, and more

Something I have found helpful is it to unbind all these books and put them into binders. This way when I want to do the lesson with Wes, I can take them out and put them in the page protector and he can do them dry erase. That way we can reuse them if we need to review and I will have them to use with future children as well as with my daycare kids.

All in all it was a great experience. I definitely plan on attending next year. I think I will make sure to really study the schedule ahead of time. This way I can plan which sessions are important to me, and which I think I will skip to spend time in the vendor hall.

I do wish there was a non religious or secular convention here too. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I do. I know though there are secular material available for homeschoolings that might be an amazing addition to our homeschooling classroom. These types of programs are not typically offered at Christian conventions.

UPDATE: Check out the other homeschooling conferences I have attended since 2010.

MACHS Homeschool Conference 2011- Keynote Speaker Andrew Pudewa

MACHS 2017 Homeschool Conference in Winnipeg- Keynote Speaker Heidi St. John

 

5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship & Mommy and Me Baking Time

Wesley and I spent the day at home together, while my hubby took the car to work. It is so nice to have a day off in the middle of the week and be able to spend one on one time with my son. What a perfect time to work on some preschoolers penmanship skills and place math while baking. Plus he likes to play hookie from daycare too.

First thing we got up and after breakfast we tried out the new wagon I got free on Kijiji. It worked great. We stopped at Giant Tiger to return some curtains. We landed up buying a DVD and cd about Kids safety, plus we got a free set of reusable sticker and cards about anatomy.
Then we walked to Superstore and got some basic groceries, and we walked home. When we got home I made Wes lunch and then we made some no bake cookies.

This is what we made 🙂 They taste better than they look, I promise. These no-bake cookies were childhood favourites of mine. So when I found out that you could purchase oats that were gluten free, I was so excited to make these for Wes. I clearly remember as a child my mom making these for me, and sneaking some while they dried on the wax paper.

Then we sat down and did some coloring. I’m really going to have to make this a regular thing as Wesley really struggles in this area. Really it is my fault, I never provided him enough coloring time. He just hated it before so it was hard. But he’s starting to enjoy it a bit more. His tutor had been working on teaching Wes how to write his letters, but the occupational therapist said we should work more on coloring and tracing letters for the time being. So we did some coloring together today 🙂

If I could have a do over when it comes to fine motor skills and penmanship I would have prioritized colouring time more.

5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship

  1. I would have introduced colouring utensils(crayons, markers, pencils crayons, chalk, etc) at a much younger age.
  2. Purchased rolls of paper and done larger drawings with him to build up the muscles in his hands.
  3. Worked on hanging from a bar and eventually teaching him to brachiate on an overhead ladder. This would have helped build strength in his hands. Check out Glenn Doman’s book,Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby!: From Birth to Age Six
  4. Looked for one of those kiddie easels, and had him work with different mediums on an upright surface.
  5. Spent more time outside drawing on the ground with sidewalk chalk.

We are also starting a reading/spelling program. But we’ll do that after nap I’m pooped.

 

Tonight I’m cooking chili! Hubby’s not crazy about it, but there are leftover steak skewers from yesterday. I just need to make a big pot of something so we can have frozen lunches. I spent way too much on food yesterday for dinner. I told hubby we have to stop splurging like that. I really hope that once I’m a WAHM I can manage to feed us good meals for less money. At least this chili will get a good run for its money, and I’m going to make some freezer meatballs too.
Last night I called Calvert School and talked to a teacher there. They were so helpful. I decided to put Wes in the kindergarten program. I was looking at the wrong assessment before, he is so ready for kindergarten!! Yeah! I haven’t ordered it yet, because I want to wait till after the Homeschooling convention here in Winnipeg, just to make sure there isn’t something I like better.
I also started printing out some stuff for our Hungry Caterpillar theme. I have to laminate(or macktak)some stuff first, but it should be good. I’m hoping he enjoys it.

 

How to Teach Your Preschooler the Days of the Week

How to Teach Your Preschooler the Days of the Week

Well I just counted out all Wesley’s retired flashcards that he has shown me he can read 90% of the time(other 10% he’s not focusing)and we are at 195 words!!! That’s not bad for just really starting just 4 months ago!

Some of these words he has learned were the days of the week. While its great to be able to read the words, I wanted him to learn in what order they go in. So Mr Wesley is also learning to sort the days of the week.

The first step is using the Doman method in the book “How to Teach Your Baby to Read (The Gentle Revolution Series)“, and teach your child how to read the days of the week.

I start with Monday Tuesday and Wednesday. I mix them up and asked him to sort them in order.


 

After 2 days I added Thursday. We did this for 3 days before we added the next one because I found that unless Wesley was really focusing he often mixed up Tuesday and Thursday.


 

Today I felt he was ready to add in Friday. Of course he was able to sort them no problem. He made mistake here and there when he was rushing, but when paying attention got it right away.


 

LOL then he asked me were Saturday was. So in regular Doman style, I stopped when he still wanted more and told him we will introduce Saturday tomorrow 🙂

I also played the “Days of the Week”, found on this CD Learning Is Fun every day in the car on our way to daycare.
I’m hoping that our next step will be the months of the year.

Share with me how you teach your children the days of the week!