Summer break.  A time away from public school.  A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.

How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.

Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year as a pack of papers.  His OT even send home ideas he could work on.  These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.

I was organized.  Truly.  Each kid had a bind of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc.  In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day.  Should have.

Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse.  Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?

I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to.  Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there.  Here is one great example:

This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought.  George was to work on this page one day.  I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes.  2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.

Here is how things were going…during Week 1:

Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others.  When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.

Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind.  While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.

Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out.  Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.

Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me.  He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.

Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.

Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day.  Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”

Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.

Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out.  Just circle it.”

Okay, so now we were off and running.  I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words.  I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.

Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?

George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.

Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly.  Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?

Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?

George – The rest are animals.

Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?

Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?

George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.

At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.

See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for.  Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.

George’s brain doesn’t work that way.  I tried to lead him there.  I was painful.  So painful.  He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.

Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.

No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.

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A day with fun mail, not a bill or notice or advertisement for a new furniture store, is a somewhat rare day lately.  It is even rarer for the fun mail to be for the kids.

This particular day was one of those extremely rare days.  The kids were vibrating with excitement to see what was in the box, and even more so once it was opened.

I am always in search of sensory items, things which may make our day a bit easier or fulfill a need one of the kids seems to crave.  I have found that sometimes the best items are not marketed as such.  When I was given the opportunity to review a Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animal, from Calendars.com, I hoped it would become one of those items.

The stuffed animal arrived quickly, and thrilled its new owner – Jack.  However, an custody battle quickly ensued with joint custody being negotiated between Jack and George.  It was cute … until it wasn’t.

Apparently both were drawn to the large stuffed animal, “Twist”, thinking they could provide the best care to the newest member of our household.

Twist even came with information about his origin, his birth date, and a bit about his personality.  Jack loved the silliness of one of the stories involving Twist, mentioning it again that night at bedtime.

When I mentioned the Tiny Headed Kingdom animals being large, I am not talking about baby doll big.  When the kids were sitting down, Twist easily covered Jack’s face.  When I held him, I was able to see over his head, but could have rested my chin on it.

While Twist is large in size, he seems to have worked hard to keep the weight off, as he does not weigh much. (I tried weighing him on our scale but he would not register.  My guess is a pound or less.)  If you are looking for weight as a sensory input, this stuffed animal is not for you.  However, if you are looking for something to cuddle, to be able to add pressure to your chest or arms while squeezing (Proprioceptive), these animals would be perfect.

George, our lover of all things stuffed, was quickly found with his arms wrapped fully around Twist, watching t.v.  After an argument, again over ownership of Twist was settled, all was right with the world … and Twist was back in Jack’s bubble of ownership.

Even I was able to cuddle with Twist while watching t.v., after both kids were asleep, feeling fully like I was hugging something, not a limp rag and air.  His stuffing, while not heavy, is dense enough to push back when given a hug or carried around.

At night, Twist can now be found in Jack’s room, next to his pillow.  One of my hopes for Twist, and the reason I “gave” him to Jack, was to help Jack gain a sense of something being near him while he is sleeping.  He often seeks out a wall, bed, table, etc. when asleep, only resting fully once he finds an object which will not move.

In the end, Twist did not quite fulfill the need I was looking for in regards to Jack.  I think his weight needs to be more.  Jack did like the soft texture of his fur, though, as well as his size.

As for custody of said Tiny Headed Kingdom animal, for now he resides with Jack.  I do not foresee George taking over care, as Jack has fallen in love, in his own way.

In the photo above, Tiny’s belly is actually pure white.  My camera was having trouble with it and the red curtains behind it.  So, while it looks to have a grey spot, in reality it is pure white. Next time I will know not to sit him next to red curtains. 😉

For the price of the Tiny Headed Kingdom stuffed animals, if you are solely looking for a new stuffed animal for a lover of plush, you might do better looking elsewhere.  If you are looking for something which feels denser than air, is great to cuddle with, is unusual, will withstand daily use, and ships quickly, then this would meet your needs.

To make it even better, through August 31, 2017 use this coupon code to receive 20% off any purchase at Calendars.com

If you happen upon a 2018 calendar you really love, now would be a great time to pick it up. Through August 13, 2017 Calendars.com is offering \$1 Shipping on ALL 2018 calendars.  How great is that?!  You do not even need to leave home and you will be able to have this end-of-the year chore taken care of well ahead of time.

Time spent outside fighting dragons, conquering the great flood threatening your kingdom, surviving the natives who are chasing you, or perhaps soaring so high on the swing that you can almost touch the sun – Summers are for adventure and new experiences.

While this is true, not all adventures need be saved for summer or for disposing of the forces of evil.  Some can take place over a few minutes on the back deck or kitchen counter.  Some of these “forces of evil” turn out to be not so bad, maybe even friends.

We have always tried to expose our kids to a variety of foods.  The words, “I don’t like that” do not come out of our mouths in regards to a food being served.  There are food we may not prefer, but I also point out to the kids that I eat certain things anyway because that is what is being served. (Yes, I am the one making the food, though they  have not thought of that fact yet.)

While I do not like green peas, my husband loves them.  They get served and I quietly do not take any. Sorry, Mom.

My husband does not like fish.  The kids finally picked up on this when we had it one night while my husband was not home, yet he refused to try some of the leftovers the next day.  They now know we only have fish on nights Dad is not home. 😉

As for liver, “Grandma makes great liver.  I think we should wait till we visit and she can make it for us.”  Turns out, the kids like fried liver.  Sorry, I will stick to eating it in Braunschweiger.

#### Finding Adventure to Fit Your Life Right Now

These past few months have seem time and energy on my part limited.  However, I wanted to keep new things happening for the kids.  One day I realized “adventure” did not have to be synonymous with lots of time and money.  Instead, I added something new to the grocery cart during a routine shopping trip.

That night I make a slightly larger deal of this new item.  We went around tasting it and giving our opinions; describing the taste, how it felt in our mouths, how it smelled, and how we might like it fixed a bit different.  You were allowed to not like the item, but you had to take at least two bites before saying, “No thank you.”

If we had it before and you did not like it then, you still have to take two bites.  Your taste buds may have grown since last time, meaning you might like it now.

A recent adventure contained an item I thought I did not like – sardines.  While I like fish, I had it in my head that I did not like sardines.  My dad likes them, took them to work fairly often, and was teasing me about them recently.  When I saw them in Aldi I figured this would be a great lesson for the kids – to see Mom try something she did not like.

With a can of sardines in mustard sauce and a can in oil, we grabbed a box of crackers and proceeded to go out to the back deck in hopes of keeping the fish smell out of the house. (We failed on that front, by the way.)  Over the next 30-40 mintues we talked, played, watched birds, and found that we all liked sardines, preferably in sauce.

We also found out that while the heads had been cut off, there were soft bones (?) still in, as well as the skin of the fish.  As these are small fish, the skin was thin and the bones were not an issue.  The kids still had fun throwing the bones over the railing “for the birds”.

This Adventure was marked as a success.  Two of us really liked these, while another said they were okay.  Everyone tried it and we all had fun with our impromptu picnic.

With summer looming very close in front of us, one of the items on my non-gardening to-do list involves signing up for various summer reading programs.  This is also a great reminder to keep participating in other reading programs that are not season oriented.

##### One of my highest goals for our kids, to love reading.

Participation in summer reading challenges is one of the ways we use to hopefully create kids who turn into young adults who love to read. My thinking is that if they can read, they can learn anything.  They can also travel to places otherwise unavailable to them.

In addition to your local library’s reading program, here are a few more you can check out.  (Pun intended.)

Meatheads Burgers currently offers the Voracious Readers reading program during all seasons.  There is no guarantee that this program will continue, so make use of it while it is here.  The kids love being able to order their own burgers and ‘pay’ for them with the certificate they earned by reading books.

From the website:

The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program is here to help you on your way, encouraging you to read books of your own choosing and earn a FREE book, simply by following these three easy steps:

1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español).

2. Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store

3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

My kids are excited about being able to choose from the books and have already selected the ones they want to work towards.  I love the fact that they are excited to be reading.

Books-a-million’s 2017 Summer Reading Program runs now through August 16th.  As the image above shows, read 4 books from their Reading Challenge secelction, fill out the form and return to receive a free Maze Runner series water bottle.  Click here to find a store near you.

There are book selection for both kids and teens.  The Kids’ selections online are not easy readers, so you may have to help your young reader choose something appropriate (or maybe read aloud to them).

Half Price Books’ summer reading program for kids 14 (or 8th grade) and under is for June and July.

Once you’ve read 300 minutes, turn in your completed log to earn HPB Bookworm Bucks.   By August 31, cash in your HPB Bookworm Bucks in store for books, music, movies & games.- Half Price Books bookmark

While 300 minutes may seem like a large amount, it works out to just 10 minutes a day for 30 days.

If you need ideas for young ones, they have put together a list of Alphabet books as well as books for even younger ones. You are encouraged to read aloud to your kids if needed.

Read six books over the course of the summer and memorize six Scripture verses. Then, turn in a completed summer reading journal at your local LifeWay store to earn a free book and a new free Bible.

Join them in-store for a Kickoff Party May 26-27 to receive your FREE Summer Reading Program Journal, Bookmark and Pencil. At that time you will also be able to purchase books from the recommended reading list at 40% off!

Turn in your reading journals by August 31, 2017

For every 10 books you read, we’ll give you one free*. What’s the catch? You just have to write a short report telling us: 1. Your name and age 2. The title and author of the book 3. Why you liked or disliked the book You can even include drawings. When you’ve finished your 10 book reports, bring them to your favorite Bookmans and we’ll reward you with a free book for all that hard work.  – Bookman’s Programs Page

Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange has locations in Arizona.  While many of you may not live or visit these areas, it is a great example of finding a reading program at a location you may not have thought to look.  We visited a Bookman’s a few years ago, while in the Tuscon area on vacation, and loved it.  The initial reason for going was to attend their story time, as we were looking for things to do with 4 little boys  under 4 (we had nephews along with us).  While the kids were listening to the story, I got to indulge myself (my husband was with the kids) and look through a large selection of used books.  We came away with several classics for a very reasonable price.  I probably would have bought more, but we were flying home, so space was limited.

There is also a Kid’s Club, which offers enrolled kids a discount on books, as well as sending them a gift certificate on their birthday.

*The free book come in the form of a \$10 certificate to be used in the store. I could not find the information online, but a call to one of their stores confirmed they are still doing this program

Chuck E. Cheese is a restaurant I did not grow up living near.  However, there was a time or two that we went for a party and I always had fun going.  With George and Jack being on the young side, and easily overwhelmed, we have not gone before.

I was surprised to find that they offer a very diverse reward program.  Fill out one of the calendars, bring it in, and earn 10 free tokens.  Their calendars are one that will help you form good habits in your kids and include the following calendars: reading, picking up your room, doing homework first, no picking your nose, daily chores, and more.  In all, they have 15 different calendars to choose from.  Additionally they have other awards you can earn and redeem for 10 free tokens.

A food purchase may be required to receive your tokens.

“Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.” – Book Adventure website

We have yet to participate in Book Adventure, as our kids have been too young previously.  Their prizes page does include some unique items that the kids can earn points toward.  Teachers can also set prizes for their classes.

“The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online program designed to motivate and excite your kids around reading books this summer. Kids can log the minutes they spend reading, play games, earn virtual rewards, and enter sweepstakes, all in an effort to set a new reading world record for summer 2015!” – Scholastic Reading Challenge

Scholastic’s 2017 Summer Reading Challenge begins May 8 and ends September 8.

“During the summer months, DoD-MWR Libraries around the world will host a range of free activities for children, teens, and adults that encourage and support a love of reading. Participants also can earn incentives by reaching their reading goals.”

If you do not live near a base or libray on base, there is also a Virtual Summer Reading Program available.

##### Keep an eye out for the following programs this summer:

TD Bank had a summer reading program in 2016, which rewarded readers with money in their bank accounts for reading so many books.  They have not said yet whether they will do it again in 2017.

I should be mowing the yard ahead of the rain.

I should be planting beans ahead of the rain.

I should be making sure everything is in order outside, ahead of the rain.

I should be grocery shopping ahead of the … no wait.  I need to shop because we are almost out of milk.

What I am doing is paying bills … not ahead of the rain, but because they are due. A much better reason than the rain.

While doing so I emailed a question to our insurance person, which then led to me “clearing out a few emails”.  You know how the rest goes.

What I came across was something I thought might interest a few of you – it is not gardening related, but a free offer that might help you in your parenting or working on school with your kids.  No looonnnnngggg drive required.

From May 8 – 23, the GHC is offering a free online home school convention for parents of 5-12 year olds. (They are not going to card you, so if your kids are out of that age range, you are still welcome to “attend”.)

“But I am not  a home schooling parent. I have absolutely no interest in home schooling.”

That may be true, but there are several talks which may interest you anyway.  I find that these are not only useful in the schooling we do at home, but also in helping with homework and parenting in general.

There are two options for this online convention:

1. The FREE option which allows you to see a session for up to 2 days.  If that does not seem like enough time, the second option may appeal to you.
2. Get Lifetime-All Access for \$99.  The talk will be available to you at your convenience, as well as having access to pdf summaries of all convention sessions.

The GHC online convention website outlines which talks are happening on each day, with Sundays having a break, which will help you plan your time wisely.  They also offer more information on each talk and the attendance options available.

I have not attended this online version before, but look forward to seeing how it compares to the in person one we attended a few weeks back.  While the session offerings are not a diverse, the convenience and price can not be beat.

Has it really been 3 years since I put these thoughts out there?  Wow!
It is interesting to reread the insecurity we felt in taking this step, even though we felt it was the right one to take.  I am so glad we did and have no regrets.  He is responding so well to this learning environment.  While it was not a solution to all his struggles, and there are new ones as there are with any journey one travels to become a more mature person, it had defiantly helped.

Every time something new goes on here with the construction, I feel bad that Jack is not here to see it.  George too, but Jack is more into construction stuff than George.

That is no longer going to be an issue, as come Monday, Jack will not be going to the public school for Kindergarten.  We have decided to try homeschooling him for various reasons, part of it being the hope that with one-on-one attention and more time with Mommy and Daddy we can address some issues related to his past.

After talking with someone who has more experience in the area of early childhood trauma, and asking if homeschooling was a completely unadvised option or if it could be a possibility, I was advised to be careful of homeschooling as “the emotional attachment right now between you and him is more important than his education.”  They meant that we should not let being his ‘teacher’ come before being his ‘Mom’, that the stress of teaching should not get in the way of strengthening our attachment.

That evening I repeated to my husband what I was told, reminded him of how much better Jack was last Spring when it was me and him, and that we still had the stuff we used when we supplemented George and Jack’s schooling over the summer.  We were pretty sure what we were going to do, but he said he really would like to ask someone else’s opinion or get some been-there-done-that advice.

All the homeschoolers I know near us have ‘typical’ kids, none with beginnings like our kids.  So I turned to a group of foster parents I know and asked their advice.  Everything I heard back was encouraging, especially on the part of getting the attachment and security down before focusing too much on academics.

One mom even said what were were thinking, “If that is what is needed during this season, then do it.  Life may change and the next season may not need him to be home for school.”

That night we decided to take him out of school, where he was just not ready to be, and keep him home.  At some point we may change our minds again, but we feel this is the place we need to be at right now.

This is the main thought my husband finally came to, and one I have been feeling for a while but was unable to put into words – if kids are not emotionally in the right place (or if they are continuing to experience triggers), learning will not happen to the best of their abilities; you will be fighting the current to get ahead.

This interview, done during the Attachment & Trauma Network’s Educating Traumatized Children Summit 2014 between Anna Paravano, MS, ATN Education Director and Christine Moers, Therapeutic Parenting Coach,  says very much how we are feeling right now:

Also:

###### “In addition, many of these children have difficult times allowing themselves to trust and attach with their parent or care‐giver and end up needing more time, not less, with these key individuals to help them grow and heal. For these reasons and more, home schooling can provide the answer parents and care‐givers need for the educational piece for of the child’s life puzzle.”

But what about learning, it has to happen right?

###### “And again because we should always be learning – adults can always learn, it’s always there and it has helped me to breathe and remember what is most important for my children now. And I encourage all parents regardless of their schooling situations to remember that too.”

So what about George?  He seems to be doing fine in public school.  It provides the structure and social setting he needs.  A large part of this is due to how we have his day set up there.  Advocating for your child’s educational needs happens no matter the setting of said education.

Talking about different needs in different season, George’s education from year to year has never looked the same.  We started with him in Early Childhood (preschool) in the morning, followed by Head Start (preschool) in the afternoons.  It was a long day, but he was immersed in structure and enrichment.  There was also consistency and encouragement.  All things he needed during a time of emotional upheaval.

As the year came to an end, we realized the following year would not need as much out-of-home support, so we pared down to just Early Childhood (preschool) and I got to spend more one-on-one time with him.  (Jack was in preschool at this point.)

Then Kindergarten was getting ready to happen.  We worked with his EC teachers to set up a routine that we hoped would enable him to succeed, or at least not get left behind.  This involved having him attend Kindergarten for half the day, then return to the EC classroom for the other half.  He would get the extra support in Kindergarten, but in a smaller setting with fewer distractions and at a slower pace.  Thankfully several other friends of his did the same thing, so he never realized it may not have been the ‘normal’ way.

At the end of the Kindergarten year, there were still weak places in his learning.  He had struggled and pretty much given up on the reading front.  Over the summer we continued working on reading, but in a different fashion and not sitting and reading.  He played games and had fun with words and letters.  I am not sure if it clicked finally, or if it was the relaxed atmosphere, but he ended the summer about where he should have been at the beginning of it.  Math, however, took a bit more time and desperation on my part before we figured it out for him.

If you remember, George also deals with apraxia, which affects his speech, and is now almost unnoticeable to those outside the family.  It also seems to affect his learning style and the ability to retain information.  After 2 years of Early Childhood and 1 year of Kindergarten/EC, we think we are starting to figure out the pattern and his style.  This has helped a lot in 1st grade, though he still has to work harder and some things are just downright struggles.

We can also pretty much predict the causes of the few minor behavioral issues he may present.  This helps in avoiding those issues and making his day easier.  Thankfully, George has two things going for him that aide a lot in his success.  1. God made him a talker.  Even when he could not get his words out or think of the right one, he was determined to make you understand.  And before he even ‘found’ his words, he would jabber and jabber as if you could completely understand him.  2. He is a friendly kid, ready with a smile and to be your friend.

Again, do what works for the season you are in.

Okay, so back to homeschooling.  I told George that he could also join in on some of the extras, like learning about the stars (nature study/science) and learning new songs, but that all the other stuff he was already learning at school so he did not need me to reteach him.  He was thrilled with this arrangement and excited for the change.  In reality, with his homework and how we do it, he already gets a lot of extra support from here at home and I did not want to make it more official than it already is.

Here are a few more things I found while looking online:

RESPONDING TO CHILDHOOD TRAUMA: THE PROMISE AND PRACTICE OF TRAUMA INFORMED CARE

###### “Trauma informed care also involves seeking to understand the connection between presenting symptoms and behaviors and the individual’s past trauma history. “

How To Thrive As An Adult After Childhood Trauma – K Expert on Kirsty TV

Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma – “The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to: 1) identify traumatized children, 2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and 3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.”

This PDF was relatively short but did have a few good, basic tables showing how certain stresses may manifest themselves in behavior and academic related ways.  There were a few behaviors that I saw which I had never associated with stress, I thought they were just bad habits.  So, while this pamphlet may not have been a thorough study on trauma and children, it was a quick look and a good first place to start for someone who is beginning their process or for pediatricians to begin talking with their patient.

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe For The Earth giveaway ends tonight!  Have you entered yet?

From their Facebook page:

“THREE weekly winners will be drawn (April 8/16/22), each to receive a hardcover copy of the groundbreaking picture book, COMPOST STEW: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth….Open to US/Canada only. Ends April 22, 2017 at 9 pm (PDT).”

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This is a post from a few years back.  As I reread this post, I was reminded to keep using what works, and adjust what does not.  We still move while learning, especially math facts and spelling words, but I need to find other methods to use for abstract concepts and general remembering.

Last summer I went to a 3-day Parent Practicum held by a local Classical Conversations group.  My reasons for going were two fold:

1. I was curious about CC.
2. The kids got 3 days of a summer activity that was educational and fun.

I am so glad I attended.  Here was a group of parents who were pushing their kids beyond the standard I saw most of those around me doing.  What they were doing is what I had been trying to do at home with our kids without any guide to follow.  They were taking an active role in what their kids were learning and asking them to do things I would never have considered possible.  I left that practicum with a renewed sense of what I wanted our kids to do.

Then George started Kindergarten at the local public school.

George had been in preschool at this same school from Day 3 of living with us, and did well in preschool.  We did have some concerns about how he would do in Kindergarten, so set up extra help before he even started.  He was able to spend time each day in a much smaller class with a teacher who knew him.   He was able to get extra review of what he just learned.  Due to his learning disability, review is a must.  Though George might learn something one day, there is no guarantee that he will remember it in an hour, or tomorrow, or on Friday.  He might know something three times, then forget it the next five.  Eventually he gets it, it just takes a bit longer and a lot more review.

The biggest difference between preschool and Kindergarten was the focus.  Instead of a small class setting where everyone had individual goals, they were setting the challenges for a class of over 25 kids.

I really struggled for the first few months.  The homework they sent home was too much for him to do every night.  Every night ended in tears and frustration on both our parts. Aren’t parents and kids were supposed to finish Kindergarten still liking each other? Life became better.  We learned through what we happened to be doing at that moment, something we as a family do naturally.  At one point I gave up. We did not do any homework.  None at all.

After a few months, I began to think of alternative ways to do the homework and help George learn at home. After all, what example was I setting to say that he did not have to do his homework?  What would happen when he got older and actually had to complete assignments?

I began to think back to the CC Parent Practicum and how the kids there seemed able to do so much.  In my searching online for ideas, I also kept coming across blogs of families who homeschooled their kids using Classical Conversations.  How were they able to learn so many things every year?  Not only that, how were they able to retain it and recite it back?

Hand motions, songs, and movement is what I noticed accompanied all of the recitation given by the kids.  These things also showed up in the suggestions for how to teach the lessons.  It was also something I remember them demonstrating to the parents last summer.  And come to think of it, this was the exact method I used to teach George and Jack the names of the 12 Disciples and the books of the New Testament.

Okay, I may be a bit slow, after all it took me over 6 months to get to this point, but I got there.  Not sure why I didn’t make the connection sooner.  Perhaps because I didn’t think about the method I used when I taught them the Disciples and NT books – I just did it.

George needed something beyond verbal reviewing and me drawing demonstrations of concepts. (i.e. the things that caused him to shut down, me become extremely frustrated because I knew he could do it, and we both ended up in tears.)

So where do I find what is needed for George and what he is learning in school?  The audio CDs and DVDs that go with the CC material had some of what he was learning, but there was a lot that was not related.

I began the search for CDs and songs that would match the topics the school was teaching him – I searched online, asked people, checked out teacher resources … nothing fit what I needed.  Back to the drawing board.

(I’m not sure if we just do more with our kids in this area, or maybe we just do not know the right people.  Either way, there was no one around me who does something similar with their kids so it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was I was looking for.  I actually got a lot of confused looks from parents when I asked which CDs of songs to help their kids learn some of the things from school.)

One week, George came home with a new thing he was supposed to learn.  In a moment where I was short on time and patience, I turned to the web.  That is when I found a YouTube video that explained everything.  In fewer words than I would have used.  AND it had pictures.

He got it!

The next day I began in earnest to search for videos to review what he had learned, videos to cover things he might learn, and videos to review things he already knew.  It took a while to put together a list of videos that weren’t too flashy, too loud, too long or too boring,  I was looking for catchy songs, quality videos, to the point lessons without a lot of fluff, and ones that he would also enjoy watching.

With these in hand, I was able to make a play list for George (and Jack) to listen to during breakfast … or lunch … or after school.  We can even listen to these in the car while running errands.  What took him months of saying over and over, yet not learning, he learned in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  Now he may still not be able to count by 2’s and still forgets what coin is what value, but he can count by 10’s to 100 down, tell you the days of the week, months of the year, and many other things.  Add this to the Starfall, Reading Eggs, and an online math programs we are doing and I think we are set at home to help him review and learn in a fun stress free way.

Now I count it as doing his homework if he can sing me the song or pick up where I leave off while singing it.  At random times through the day I may break into song (didn’t I say they were catchy?).  There are even times I catch him singing while playing or explaining something to someone.  YES!!

Some of these, like the one above, have been helpful when we are working on things like reading.  I can remind George of the rule by singing the first line of the corresponding song.  A much better method than nagging him.

Once I got the basic songs down I began to look for others that he may enjoy or that Jack would like.  Speaking of Jack, he too has learned a lot of the songs and can sing them.  He is prepped for Kindergarten when it is time for him to start.  Actally, a few of the videos are for him, as his brain works differently and has been able to grasps concepts that George still struggles with.  To help avoid bad behaviors due to being bored, I began to give him things that he would actually be doing if he were in Kindergarten already or about topics he finds interesting.

Here is my current list of songs.  As time goes on there will be more added to this.  What are some songs/videos not on this list that you have found helpful?

Jack loves saying, and I love hearing, “fundamental process”.  He even tries to give it an accent.

GARDENING (Science)

The Garden Song – not a fan of the “Mother Earth” sentence, but the rest is cute

Spring Songs for Children – Spring is Here with Lyrics – Kids Songs by The Learning Station

THE PHOTOSYNTHESIS SONG

Butterfly, Butterfly! (a song for kids about the butterfly life cycle) – Harry Kindergarten Music

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle – reading of the book and showing of illistrations

I Like the Flowers – by Beat Boppers Children’s Music

Let’s Plant a Garden – Nursery Rhyme

plant parts – the parts of a flower, sung to the “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” song

SCIENCE

Solar system

Solar System Lesson for Kids | Learn about Planets , Stars, Galaxy – a decsripition of the solar system, no songs

Animal (Classification) Song

4 Seasons In A year  – Harry Kindergarten Music – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – asks you to name the seasons as he describe them

Seasons Song: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – video asks you to name the seasons they show

LANGUAGE

ABC’s

Phonics song

Between the Lions: “When two vowels go walking” by BTLfanatic – fun to watch youtube.com and also catchy just to listen to.

Super “e”!!!!!!! (hip children’s song by Mark D. Pencil) by harry kindergarten music

The Sentence Song With Miss Jenny / www.edutunes.com – a quick video and song, but a favorite of our preschooler

Punctuation Explained (by Punctuation!) – not flashy, but very clear and to the point

Kindergarten Sight Words

Classic Schoolhouse Rock : A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing (1973)

MATH

Shapes Song 2 – circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, diamond, oval, heart, then some more advanced shapes.  May work for a review of shapes rather than a teaching of the shapes themselves.

3D Shapes I know (solid shapes song- including sphere, cylinder, cube, cone, and pyramid) – Harry Kindergarten Music

Good video to go with it – The Big Numbers Song (counting 0-100)

Learning Numbers from 1 to 100 – Counting Song for Kids

Counting by 5’s

Favorite – Counting by Tens – Barbara Milne

Count by tens song – also mentions money though a bit busy

Counting By Twos Song

count by 2- a sing-along for early elementary – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching – a song that probably works best with the visual

When You Add With A Pirate (addition song for kids)

Counting Song 1+1

VIDEO showing chart and explaining – 1st Flipped: Skip Counting

The Big Numbers Song for Children – Ep 6

“Penny Your The One” Penny Counting Song (Money Math)

Coin Value Song- Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters! – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching

The Coin Song

Money Song – fun video for once the kids know their coins and values

CALENDAR – DAYS, MONTHS

Days of the Week Song – 7 Days of the Week – Children’s Songs

Days of the Week Song

Months Of The Year Song

Kindergarten Time (Sun travel with words) – a visual display of the different times of day – tracks the sun across the sky from morning till night.  Has words telling the time of day but no audio.

GEOGRAPHY

The continent song – this has become a favorite bedtime song, as we can do it with me singing the first part and the kids doing the response.

HISTORY

No More King! (Schoolhouse Rock!) – Pilgrims sailing across the ocean to leave the King of England behind

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To raise Tax Day spirits, Schoola is offering an early “return” at Schoola! April 10th through April 15th, buy 4 items and receive \$15 in Schoola credit or buy 8 items and receive \$25 in Schoola credit. It doesn’t end there! They are also offering See You In The Garden readers 40% off their order with code GET40.

Pair this up with the Free shipping on all orders over \$25 at Schoola.com offer for an even better deals. (Keep reading for some other codes that may save you even more on top of these deals.)

Perfect timing! George has decided to edge up into the next size of pants, yet we are not quite into shorts weather.  I had hoped we would solidly be in warm weather clothes when he decided to do this.  Add to that, he has used his skills, yet again, to put holes in several of his pants.

We have had great results with Schoola in the past, and I was hoping to catch a good deal before reaching the point of buying new pants.  Seems my patience may have paid off.

Knowing these clothes are preloved, the selection varies.  There is no guarantee that what you are looking for will be there today.  Thankfully, the search features are easy to use and you will know in a matter of a few minutes if they have what you are wanting.  If your kids are anything like mine, that is faster than they would be able to get their shoes on to drive to a store and shop for new clothes.

I’ll take checking the computer instead, thank you very much.

I also appreciate the description of the clothes, which I have found to be very honest in their assessment.  A few times they even noted flaws, though I could not see them on the computer nor when the item actually arrived at my house.

Additionally, if you are wondering where all the money goes for the clothes you paid for, well, 40% goes right back to the schools who donated the clothes.  How awesome is that?!  Personally, I like this fundraiser better than buying pizzas or candles or any of the other overprices items which I do not need.  Clothes? Clothes, especially for the boys, I always need!

Here are some other offers from Schoola which may still be available. You might be able to combine some of these deals for even greater savings:

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click a link and purchase something, a small portion will be returned to me. I hope you find what you need and are able to save a few dollars doing so.

This week finds us out of the house quite a bit.  So, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at some posts from the past.

One thing that stuck out to me was the difference in weather between years, even though all these posts are from March.

Another theme I noticed is that I often posted about food.  That may have to do with the first things that stood out to me – the weather.

Soon it had been over three weeks and I had not even begun looking for a new stove or coming to a decision as to repair it.

Living Without An Oven – This phase was actually easier than I thought, though it did take some thinking.  We were also blessed, several months in, with a \$1 toaster oven find at a local garage sale.  That toaster oven even moved with us, as I came to find it useful for different situations.

Once the warm weather comes, I would rather be focusing on outside rather than stuck inside doing these things.

30 Days, 21 Projects – It is amazing how all the little things around the house can be put off numerous times.  Suddenly, no matter where you turn there is something glaring at you that needs to be done.  Having a plan of attack, and a deadline, helps you realized the list is not never-ending.  It also gives you a sense of being in control rather than being controlled by your stuff.

I didn’t plant all the tomato seeds I had, but I got 75 of them started.

Weekly Goals – March 18, 2012 – Not only is it interesting to look back and see what was happening at this time in years past, but you may also be reminded of things you used to do and can do again.  While I will not be starting seeds indoors this spring, I hope to do it again in the future.  I also learned that I did not need 75 tomato seedlings.  Live and learn.

At first \$4.30 didn’t seem like a lot to Mr. Arends, but by the end of the 6-weeks time frame, he had learned several lessons.

Comparing The Numbers – Before making statements about what can or can not be done, it is a good idea to take a look at the reality of your situation.

Last week he spent over 6 hours across several days working with cardboard and duct tape.

This Week in School, practical life skills – the above quote would be called a STEM activity in public school.  At home, it was called free time.  This post highlighted a season where Jack really did not respond well to sitting to learn.  While we were following Charlotte Mason’s methods, I had not fully implemented them, nor researched them.  So some items, like short lessons, were in play, there were other things I was learning on my own.  I am still not fully doing what she recommends, but we are getting closer.