This week has been a full one for us. On Monday we began the next Sonlight core, Core C for ages 5-7. I was slightly concerned that the extra time involved would discourage Charis and Tobin, who have admittedly been getting away with the bare minimum of effort ever since Kenna joined the family. When I looked at the instructors' guides for the core (which includes Bible, History/Geography, and Read-Alouds), language arts, and science, I began wondering if I'd be greeted with groans immediately after breakfast was over. Charis particularly had been giving me difficulty even on the days when all I was requiring was math and handwriting.
I needn't have worried.
The following are true and actual comments heard in our house this week:
"Yay! We get to do school today!"
"Do we get to do school tomorrow?"
"I love our new school!"
"Just one more chapter, PLEEEEEASE?!?!"
"Can we do all of the science experiments again?"
We are all LOVING Sonlight! I can hardly believe it when I look at the clock and find that it's after 11 a.m. and I haven't heard any complaining at all from the kids!
With that said, however, there are still some things I need to tweak. First of all, I feel as if I have been completely ignoring Arden during our Sonlight hours! I'd love it if he would listen in on the reading, but so far he has not been interested. I do read him his own Bible stories in the early morning, and I try to take time to read other books of his choice throughout the day, but when school is in session, for the most part, I am trying to keep him out of our hair! Thankfully he is great at entertaining himself, and sometimes he does enjoy playing with the Math-U-See blocks. (He also enjoys watching the "math movies," the DVD teachings that Charis and Tobin watch about once a week when they move on to the next lesson.) So, my goal is to figure out how to include him at least part of the time. For one reason, I know it's valuable to spend time with him. For another, I dread the day when I must require him to "do school" if he hasn't been disciplined to sit with us for anything other than the fun read-alouds! I'm already having that difficulty with Tobin!
Which leads to the next thing I'd like to tweak. First of all, Tobin is, well, Tobin. He has a mind of his own, and if he wants to do school, GREAT! If he thinks his time is better spent coloring or reading other books of his choosing, well, it's easier for me at this point to just let him do his thing so I can focus on Charis. However, now that he's technically kindergarten age, I do feel that he needs to be consistent in some areas--not necessarily sitting through ALL of the stuff we do each day, but at least getting in the habit of some daily work so that he can gradually work his way through some math, reading, handwriting, etc. The good news is that Tobin enjoys just about anything that we're doing through Sonlight. And he does enjoy math and handwriting...on his own terms. If it's his idea, he'll do it! Or if he's in the mood, or if he thinks the day's work page looks interesting, or if he gets to color on the sheet...you get the picture. I've learned that a great way to keep him interested in any kind of reading is to allow him to color nearby. The boy loves to color!
Originally I had followed a fellow Sonlighter's suggestion to keep the kids on the same language arts level, so I ordered extra activity sheets for Tobin to use. The problem is, the activity sheets are way over his head. He can read any of the readers just fine, but applying the knowledge necessary to evaluate sentence structure, well, that's a different story. So I think I'm going to go ahead and order the next level down. He'll have a whole different set of books, plus activity sheets that will be more on his level. The reading level will be WAY easy for him, but this isn't necessarily for reading practice--it's foundational activities for grammar, etc. So I think it's important to keep it at his level. So I'll need to schedule separate times to work with each child on their language arts, but you know what? It really doesn't take that long to do each day's activity! And I think it will actually go more quickly if I can work with them separately anyway rather than trying to keep Tobin's attention long enough to explain what's going on!
I've scheduled science for Tuesdays and Thursdays rather than doing a little bit each day. Tuesday was a very fun day as we got to watch the Discover & Do DVD to see the experiments performed before we actually tried them ourselves. The topic was air and how it expands when warm and contracts when cooled. The kids' favorite experiment was making a quarter dance on the top of a long-necked bottle after we poured hot water in a bowl that the bottle was sitting in. They're still begging to see it over and over!
I've scheduled our read-alouds for bedtime. This allows our whole family to enjoy the great books. We're currently 4 chapters into The Boxcar Children, and even Arden is hanging onto every word. I look forward to many more great stories and making memories as we all pile on the couch to find out "what happens next!"