Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Little Friends in the Forest

I was captivated by the "Instant Friends Kit" in the June/July issue of Disney's Family Fun magazine.

I was bored this afternoon and wanted to do something outside with the kids. I happened to have a handful of googly eyes on hand, so we made our own! Cute critters, don't you think?

Yay! Our Kindergarten Curriculum is here!

I guess I'm officially a homeschooler. I've always considered myself a homeschooler, but now that my son is officially of kindergarten age, it feels more official. People are going to start noticing he's not in school, even though he "should be."

We are enrolled in a homeschool enrichment program through the local school district. It's a neat program that meets one day a week and offers some of those enrichment activities that can be difficult or inconvenient to offer at home (group games in gym class, big messy art projects, dissection, etc.). It also offers a great community of homeschooling families for friendship and support. I'm really looking forward to it.

One of the really great benefits of the program is access to free curriculum, and I just got our supplies today. If I were to buy everything I just got for free, I'd have to spend over $600. So this is a really great perk. Each family is allowed to check out one product per subject per child/grade.

So what's in our package?

Sing, Spell, Read and Write
This looks like a really fun way to learn to read. It came with a ton of little readers and kids keep track of their progress by moving a little race car around a race track. I think DS will find this motivating. I'm excited about the music CD (he's a very auditory learner) and the games. We got it out and looked at it today and he's excited about it being special time with mommy while little sister naps.

I don't know much about this except that the mom I talked to at the curriculum affair kept going on and on and about how clearly and easily it teaches basic math concepts. She had been using the Saxon program and then switched to Math-U-See and couldn't believe how well everything clicked for her kids after that. I like that it's hands on.

Power Glide Children's Spanish
This teaches Spanish through an action and adventure story. It's a very auditory program and I think DS is going to love it.

Artistic Pursuits
I actually wasn't sure about getting an art curriculum, but since it was free, I figured it didn't hurt to check it out. I liked this one because it comes with prints of famous pieces and teaches art appreciation and isn't just a "how to draw" course. I figured even if DS hates it, I might learn something from it.

I didn't get a social studies or science curriculum because, frankly, what was available was totally lame. We do a lot of science through our homeschool preschool co-op and, when I looked at the available text books, I realized that what we've been doing is at at least a 3rd grade level. So we're good there! As for social studies, I feel like DS is getting plenty of that through just our natural living - particularly what is considered kindergarten-level social studies.

I should mention here that I've been really hesitant about using curriculum at all. I certainly don't think it's necessary. But if we can keep it fun, I think it's a great way to provide some structure to our days and offer activities that DS and I can do together that we (hopefully) will both enjoy. DS seems excited about the idea of learning to read and write and do math. So I'm excited too!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Mass-ive Headache

I have always felt called to attend daily Mass with my children. Not everyday, but at least once a week. I've never done it. Well, I may have taken #1 once or twice before #2 was born, but it's certainly never been part of my routine.

Recently, daily Mass attendance was a topic of conversation on a Catholic homeschooling board I am a part of, and I heard once again that this is something I need to do. "If today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." I've been working on instituting more discipline into my life, and I have somewhat of a fledgling weekly routine, so I decided Thursday would be my day for taking the kids to Mass. Today is Thursday.

I have to tell you, I was not looking forward to this. My kids are not the sweet little angels that fold their hands neatly in their lap and sit, stand and kneel with the congregation. My 5yo boy likes to alternate giving me kisses and an angelic "aren't I being good?" smile with flopping his body around in the pew pretending he's just been shot. My 2yo girl likes to alternate "singing" loudly from the hymnal with digging through my purse to find my lipstick to smear all over her face while I'm attempting to pray.

They're cute. They're hilarious. So long as it's not your job to keep them "still and quiet" for the duration of Mass.

Now I don't have unreasonable expectations. I don't expect them to actually sit still and be quiet for the entire Mass. I expect to have to remind them of appropriate behavior. But I do expect my 5yo to respond to my reminders without "sassing" me. When I ask him to sit up, I expect him to sit up, not to let his tongue hang out of his mouth and kick the pews.

By the time the final blessing rolled around I was exhausted and discouraged. A kind older woman who had been sitting behind us came and told me I have beautiful children and that she "had to chuckle" because she's been there. She told me I was doing a good job. I appreciated her kindness, but I didn't believe her. I felt like a miserable failure.

We went home and I put the 2yo down for a nap, and, after some quiet time, my son and I had a snack together.

Suddenly he raised his cracker, broke it in half and said, "Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body." He turned to me and handed me half of the cracker. Then he asked, "Can the water be the blood?" Uh, sure. "Take this all of you and drink it. This is my blood." He handed me the cup.

Then he said something I don't quite remember about how Jesus makes him happy.

"How does Jesus make you happy?" I asked.

"He shares. He shares his body and his blood."

Well okay then, I guess it wasn't a complete waste of time taking him to Mass.