I’ve been trying to reevaluate all that I do with the kids in order to figure out where I need to make adjustments. Right now, I’ll admit that I’m more of a “what do I feel like doing today” kind of parent/teacher, and I’d like to try to improve a little. Here’s what I’ve been mentally tabulating lately:
I’m considering getting a Tag reader for each of the kids so they can “read” books on their own, but actually have to touch the word, not just a random spot on the page (that’s what the Tag Jr. does, if I understand correctly). I want them to recognize that letter patterns make words, if that makes sense. I’m still on the fence about getting anything, though. I am a little tired of reading nine million books a day (especially since it seems to be the same 10 books over and over again), but I also know that when I read to them I can stop and ask them “what letter is that” or “what sound does a B make” or “how many fish are there” and a reader isn’t going to do that. Not that I would stop reading to them just because I got a reader.
Something I’ve been noticing lately is that Lucas is really catching on to letters, numbers, and trying to “read.” Kyla doesn’t seem very interested. When I ask her a question she automatically says “I don’t know” without even looking. When I press her more, she can (usually) give me the right answer, but she’d rather not answer. Lucas will jump in with an answer before she has a chance if I don’t stop him. Now, that doesn’t mean she’s less interested in books. When I read I’ve always got a little echo sitting next to me because she repeats every word. And when she “reads” to herself, she tells the story out loud the best she remembers it (often word for word, but not always). Lucas, however, “reads” to himself. He doesn’t talk while he flips through the pages of a book, but he spends time on each page, really studying it.
It’s been fascinating to me watching their different approaches to learning. The problem I’m having right now is that I feel like I’m not giving Kyla what it is she needs. I’m afraid that maybe she’s got a learning style that doesn’t click with mine, so I’m having a hard time catering to that style. She loves music and sings songs constantly, including making up her own. That just isn’t me. I need to make a more conscious effort to find activities that work with that auditory learning. I’m just not positive where to begin. With Lucas it doesn’t seem to be taking any effort at all, but I think that is because he is visual, like me, so I’m more likely to teach that way naturally.
I’m also wanting to spend some more time actually focusing their learning (or rather, my teaching), rather than having it all be a complete follow-their-lead style. I’ve read quite a bit about a curriculum called “All About Reading Pre-1” that has activities for each letter of the alphabet, but I just don’t know that I want to spend that kind of money. Instead I hope to sit down and make a plan for us on my own. Just have to find the time/motivation to do it. I frequently start out doing a “unit” (like number recognition) and it kind of fizzles out. I think that I will need to have all of my materials planned and ready before I start so that I don’t have to plan each week as it comes. I’m pretty sure that’s why I haven’t kept up with some of the things I’ve started.
I have read several blogs by moms of preschoolers that have a great approach to their teaching, including having a visual for their child to see what they are learning that week. They seem to be much more organized and “with it” than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I know I do a lot with my kids and they are learning. I just would like to be more consistent and have a better plan in mind for our daily activities (I do okay with our Tot Time activities with our friends). If I want to go through the alphabet, I’m going to have to pull myself together and get a plan and materials in place.
Perhaps I should set a goal of starting a concentrated effort on the alphabet after their birthday. That will give me 3 months to get it all planned and get all the materials. That may sound like a long time, but when you only get to “plan” during nap time, which is also your down time, I’m sure I’ll need it! If I get everything done sooner than that, I could always start sooner. But setting a start date goal should (hopefully) get me motivated to get started.
I also wanted to evaluate how things are going with the Chores. We started the chores one month ago. And I have to say they are actually going quite well. We don’t actually mark off their chores on the chart most days, but they can reference the chart to know what their “job” is for that day (we have tw that alternate between the two of them). I will say that I need to redo their charts, though. I had high hopes in the beginning of them learning to do things like folding laundry, dusting shelves, and whatnot, but it turned into too much work for me, so I stopped making them do those chores. The only once a week chore I’ve kept up with (and I forgot last week) has been to gather the trash to take out on Tuesday nights for the Wednesday morning pick up. I like having that one as a reminder to me, to be honest. And they do pretty well with the task. I did not make chores for Saturday or Sunday because the templates I downloaded did not include those days. Now I wish I’d made some for those days because I love that they clear the dishes and feed the dogs (with my help, of course) during the week. I think I will be making new charts as soon as I figure out exactly how I want them to look.
The Fudoo Board really helped me to start talking to the kids about food groups and working harder to incorporate a variety into their diets. It also helped motivate the kids (Kyla, specifically) to try foods that they initially reject. However, I’ve gotten out of the habit of having them put the magnets on the board. The main reason being that we had family over for dinner a week ago and I had to clean off the dining table. Up to that point, the board had been leaning against a toaster oven that sat on the table (don’t ask). Now that the toaster oven is gone, I’m not sure where to put the board. It’s currently in the play room, on their easel, but out of site is often out of mind for me (and them) so it gets forgotten. I do hope to work at bringing the board back into our dining so that we can better evaluate how we are eating.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that the days N is home, the kids eat a LOT more sugar. For example, he was kind enough to let me sleep in yesterday. But from the bedroom I heard him offer the kids pop tarts and chocolate milk for breakfast. Considering I’d been serving them fruit, yogurt, eggs, and toast just days before, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know it’s not going to damage them to have pop tarts now and then (and honestly, neither of them finished it) isn’t going to kill them. And to be fair, it has been a while since I last made a grocery store run, so the fruit and yogurt is all gone and I’m sure he didn’t feel like cooking eggs. I’m hoping to join a produce coop soon, so hopefully this will motivate all of us to make better choices.
I also have not really done much with them on the “Do” side of the board. Probably because it means I’d have to “do” more. When I initially introduced that side of the board to the kids I was exhausted from the cath. Now that I’m feeling back to normal, I probably should go back to it and we should pick at least one activity to do together each day. I know it takes time to make it into a habit, but hopefully we can stick with it long enough to make it one.