Academics - Things at our School for the Gifted and Quirky have been going well. We've really gotten into a good habit and rhythm for getting schoolwork and chores done on a daily basis. Perhaps there could be a little improvement in the chores area, but at least the school part is going well. The kids have been working hard, prompted somewhat by a family rule I posted about always giving 100% in all we do. That, of course, goes for me too; sometimes it's hard to practice what I preach.
There has been significant improvement this year for the boys in the area of reading. Jacob especially has just taken off. Michael still struggles a bit, but I'm not sure if that struggle stems more from apathy or lack of skill. I'll keep plodding on for now. After a bit more time I may look for some sort of intervention to help him out. Audrey continues to love all things school and begs to "do school" every day. She knows all of her letters now and many of their sounds. I'm disappointed that she no longer says "bubble you" for "w" or "wex" for "x"; I never got her on video with her little Audrey alphabetisms. I bought Before Five in a Row for her to use next year, but I think I'll go ahead and start it this year so she has something extra to do.
I know it is early, but I have already received the core curriculum I'll be using next year for the rest of the kids as well. You know me...always the eager planner. I'm so excited to dive into Learning Adventures. It is geared toward children grades 4-8, so there will be some things I do only with Alex, but most things will work well with the boys tagging along. The curriculum is stocked with hands-on activities for my kinesthetic learner; perhaps this will motivate him a bit in his reading and attitude toward academia in general.
Every Tuesday I'm reminded about what a blessing it is to have him home with me. If he was at a traditional school, I would have this type of conversation on a daily basis instead of just weekly after co-op:
Me: Michael, what did you learn in Anatomy today?
Michael: I don't know.
Me: Well, what did you do?
Michael: I don't know.
Of course Alex, who has the same class during a different period, is more than willing to elaborate on all they did and learned.
Co-op for me represents a very tiring part of my week. I spend almost 3 hours with 14 1st graders. I know regular teachers spend much more than that. But let me remind you that I am not an elementary school teacher. I may sign up to help out with the older kids next year. Don't get me wrong--this class is a great bunch of kids. I'm just tired when it's all done. Jacob at least is beginning to open up in class.
Sports - Only two basketball games left, and my two have actually shown marked improvement in the sport. I think what made the biggest difference is that one day Mark and I got them out there in our driveway and ran drills and talked strategy with them for about an hour. I guess that goes to show you we don't need to pay someone else to teach them how to play. Of course, if we didn't, I realize they wouldn't have the opportunity to play a "real" game. Mark's and my little coaching session was prompted by Michael's question Why don't the other boys ever pass the ball to me? It broke my heart. Mark and I were honest with him about the harsh realities of life, though, and he did work hard with us to improve. And the very next game he scored! Alex usually scores a few every game, but she's just too nice. She needs to get in there and get the ball. At least she's improved a bit from last year; at one game in 2008 she stole the ball from another girl and then apologized.
Kids - They're all growing up way too fast, physically and socially. It seems Michael is always wearing highwaters around because he grows out of his pants as fast as we buy them. Same with Jacob. Alex is about the graduate to the Junior department. Then there's Audrey. She doesn't grow much, but that's fine with me; I'd love it if she stayed 3 the rest of her life. She had her first haircut ever the other day. It made me a little sad to see how grown up she looks now. She's certainly a character.
And of course there's Max who is like a child but not in the I love him so much I would give my life for him sense. Rather, I can see some similarities between him and my real baby: they both occasionally have accidents, and they both leave a Trail of Mass Destruction in their wake. At least I'm no longer having to get up in the middle of the night to take him out.
Other Details - Today is Friday at last. TravelDaddy has been gone since Monday and will return today; it feels like he's been gone for a month or so. We're going to take it easy on school today; the kids have been working so hard and deserve a break. They also have all been fighting colds and haven't felt 100%. In fact, at breakfast this morning Audrey said, "Mommy, I want you." I took her up in my lap, and she followed that up with, "I'm not feeling dood." Sweet little thing. So anyway, we'll do a couple of things academic: spelling tests, math tests. Then we'll do a few games. I typed up a list of topics for charades as well as a Scavenger Hunt list, so I know they'll all get into both of those activities. After that, we'll see where the day leads us. Perhaps some reading or board games or baking...whatever the kids want; I'll make today their day.
And tomorrow will be my day! TravelDaddy and I share a birthday (I must point out, though, that he is the older one). Grandma and Grandpa are going to come take care of the kids tomorrow night so we can celebrate. I love my kids, but it sure is nice to get a breather every once in awhile.
And so, with all of the writing energy I could muster, thus closes my ramblings. As I promised, nothing clever, witty, or deep.