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:
- I was curious about CC.
- 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.
The Garden Song – not a fan of the “Mother Earth” sentence, but the rest is cute
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
plant parts – the parts of a flower, sung to the “Head and shoulders, knees and toes” song
Solar System Lesson for Kids | Learn about Planets , Stars, Galaxy – a decsripition of the solar system, no songs
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
YouTube.com, really like
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
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
Favorite – Counting by Tens – Barbara Milne
Count by tens song – also mentions money though a bit busy
count by 2- a sing-along for early elementary – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching – a song that probably works best with the visual
VIDEO showing chart and explaining – 1st Flipped: Skip Counting
Coin Value Song- Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, Quarters! – Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching
Money Song – fun video for once the kids know their coins and values
CALENDAR – DAYS, MONTHS
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.
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.
No More King! (Schoolhouse Rock!) – Pilgrims sailing across the ocean to leave the King of England behind
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