Moving to ‘easier’

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Considering I haven’t posted on here in about a year, you may have feared my death or capture by pirates.  Rest assured, I am fine.  After moving home, its taken me a year to get a sense of balance and calm again.   Part of that calm, however, is simplicity.  I am trying to move the unnecessarily complicated and difficult pieces of my life into a place that is easier.  Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.  So, not having family and friends to keep abreast of Australian travels and adventures, I am no longer blogging on FoxesandKangaroos.  However, if you are interested in visiting or revisiting those posts (I like to think they’re worth at least a laugh here and there), you can find them at www.foxesandkangaroos.wordpress.com.  There, they will remain for all future generations to pour and dote over at their leisure.

Or to be ignored. Whichever.

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E: Inspecting a stick he has found. I love this shot, surrounded by the green of my parents’ back yard, an amazing natural play land I remember well from my own childhood.  28:52 Elwyn B: Feeding the fishies at Bush Wildlife Reserve.  He LOVES feeding the fish.  This is a perfect area for kids to see fish, ducks, turtles, and a beautiful pond of water lillies.28:52 Baz2Nature: The pond mentioned above.28:52 nature2I wanted to include this other shot of them inspecting bugs beneath a rock because it speaks so well to this part of their lives.28:52 boys 2

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Baz: Lost another tooth.  And there is that winning smile!27:56 Baz Elwyn: With assistance from his aunt and brother, Elwyn helped create an obstacle course on the driveway.  He worked hard on the “dangerous parts”.  E loves drawing very detailed ‘machines’ and ‘obstacles’.  27:52 ElwynNature: Raccoon tracks in my parents’ yard.  They were beneath the tree swing.  Perhaps someone is having fun at night.27:52 nature

Birthday

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Today is my birthday.

36.

Today, I will share with you all my favorite poem.  I think it is an appropriate sentiment for this loveliest of days.

 

Loveliest of Trees  by A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

 

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

 

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

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Jump

This water is really really cold.  Really cold.  And the current is strong.  And those rocks in there . . . very slippery.  I’m dry and comfortable.  Why do I want to do this?

looking F#%! it.   I’m doing it.scootingjumping

 

jumping2Oh my goodness.  It is really cold.  swimmingYeah me.

 

Potty Training and Reading

20130601-215630.jpgTHE COMMENTARY PART:

I tried potty training Baz at the age of three.  That is when all the books/people/websites said to start – the ‘normal’ time.  So, one morning, we took off the diaper.  Underpants.  Thats it.   He liked sitting on the potty.  He knew when he had to go, what it felt like to go.  These are signs.  So we gave him a sticker chart and some underpants – and started cleaning up puddles.  In short, we were defeated by noon.  There were like 10 puddles in 3 hours.  10!  Everywhere!  So many urine soaked clothes, floors, rugs.  It was horrid.  We put away the underpants.  Our sanity, and continued love of children, was worth more than potty training.  We tried again a few months later, and while it took a little longer this time, we were still defeated.   We were, again, happy to change more diapers if it meant not being paranoid and ridiculously anxious every time we left the house.  So, finally,  at the age of four, Baz became potty trained.  You know how it happened?  He decided to start going on the toilet.  Huh.  He still pooped in his pants, which is infinitely worse than pee, because underwear just doesn’t hold the excrement the way a diaper does, but we managed.  But, after a couple of months he stopped that too.

When Elwyn turned three, we said ‘screw normal’ and kept the diapers coming.  Then, one day when he was around three and a half, he became interested in the toilet.  And there it was.  A few days later, he was wearing underpants.  An accident here and there, but not many.  And he was POOPING ON THE POTTY TOO!  This was magical.  We didn’t train a damn thing.  He was ready, and he did it.  A couple weeks later, he declared he would no longer wear swim diapers or pull ups to bed.  And he never needed to.  This rocked.

The point here, as I see it, is that kids are ready for certain things at certain times.  That time is different for every child, and if you try to force it, there will be a lot of puddles, tears, incredibly loud cursing, and pulling out of hair.  So, as I move forward into homeschooling, I constantly retell myself this story.  Don’t push.  Don’t worry.  Just support.  Provide opportunity and example.  It will come when he is ready.  It will be easy and second nature when he is ready.  Just be patient!

THE HOMESCHOOLING PART:

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I just read this post on reading readiness in homeschooling, and thought this was a good time to post on it- both because of the reference, and to keep myself calm and reassured.

The facts:  Baz is 5, turning 6 next month.  Generally following the trivium outlined in The Well-Trained Mind, we are focusing our formal learning on reading, writing, and math concepts.  He also gets a heavy dose of music through Suzuki piano lessons and daily practice (including playing and reading music).   Each day (usually) consists of 3 small piano practices, a half hour or so of phonics and ‘workbooks’ (math, kindergarten skills workbooks, reading, etc.),and then several books read aloud.  We have outside time every day, and have Art several times a week.

So, when I write that all down, it sounds great.  My intentions are great. The reality of it is that, of course, things don’t always go according to plan.  Baz’s reading progress has been slower than I would have hoped for; but as Amida says in the article, it takes patience and a confidence in the ‘natural flow’.  I keep having this notion that, ‘He is smart. We are smart! We are homeschooling!  He should be ahead of the game!’  And I have to remind myself that we are homeschooling not because we want him ahead of the game, but because we want him immersed and engaged in the game.  The ability to go at his pace is a perk of homeschooling, and to get worked up about our speed would be counter-productive.

Theoretically, children don’t leave a public school Kindergarten without knowing how to read. Kindergartens teach reading because that is the average appropriate general time for a single teacher to teach a large group of various children such a skill.  That is what works best in public schools.  Many kids are even reading before they enter Kindergarten, taught by parents or preschools.  There are some elite and private kindergartens where, if a child can’t already read, they can’t even enroll.  Between these sorts of standards, bars, and videos claiming to teach our babies reading by age two, our society hardly encourages children to take their time learning to read.  I’m not saying reading isn’t important, or a great thing to learn as early as possible.  But, a standard, bar, or social influence is not what my boys have teaching them.  It is not with what I want my boys to learn.  And it is not by what I want their success measured.  Pushing my son, through tears and frustration, to do something he is not ready for, is not why I homeschool.

We work on reading every day, and while he is getting better, certain things are not clicking just yet.  And that is okay.  He is 5.  He will likely hit a point in the next year or two and breeze through reading.  And it will be no big deal.  Whether it is at the age of 3, 5, or 7, there is no way that in this household, with this support system, my kids will not learn to read.  It will come.  When they are ready.  We will support them.  And they are going to be awesome.  To hell with normal.  My kids are Baz and Elwyn.  To treat them like anyone, or everyone, else would be a shame.

 A VARIETY OF PHOTOS, ALL OF WHICH I CONSIDER PART OF HOMESCHOOL:16:52 both boys

 Baz playing keva
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Elwyn celebrating his completion by drawing a slide in the middle of the parking lot.

Elwyn celebrating his completion by drawing a slide in the middle of the parking lot.

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26/52 The Year is Half Over!

Baz: Quietly playing by himself while Elwyn naps.  I will often realize that I haven’t heard Baz for a while, and find him deeply involved in some elaborate make believe or building project, where he will play independently for an hour or more.  26:52 Baz Elwyn: Donning his hand-made paper crown, waiting to read some books.  Elwyn is always so relaxed and so unique.IMG_3520 Nature: Those colorful specs across the lake are Chris and the boys, trying their hat at fishing in the lake in our neighborhood.   They have yet to catch anything between their few fishing outings.  Here’s hoping they don’t lose interest before the fish decide to cooperate. This photo is a bit of a cheat, being more about the boys than it is about nature. I realize I did not focus on nature at all this week, as this feature was intended to promote.  The best I could do, apparently, was to walk to the lake here.  IMG_3522