This is Dino, our 6yo cutie-pie boy. Lover of dinosaurs and trains. Resistant and easily discouraged, but full of joy when achieving success or actually liking something new he tries. Full of questions and constantly asking how things work. Every day looking older and taller and more like a little young man. Even though he still has most of his baby teeth!
Being the third child, he has wanted to be somewhat involved in his sister's school time for the last four years. He has learned so much just from osmosis. This year he finally has his own official curriculum. His 1st grade MODG books look like this all laid out on my desk:
So far this seems enough for him. Almost. On days when he seems up to more I add these and activities from ArtPac 1:
The main challenge I am still wading through is whether to have him complete his work right away when he is fresh or let him play with Wild Strawberry and keep her occupied while the girls begin. His work would take less than an hour without distractions, but takes two or three hours with everything else going on. If only I didn't need a nap after lunch I would sit down with him one-on-one and get it done without distractions.
Another question I ponder is the difficulty level of 1st grade. Kids this age seem so bright and capable of so much more than a typical 1st grade curriculum offers. And yet, kids this age often excel in some subjects but not others. For Dino, his handwriting seems right on track after completing two years of Handwriting Without Tears. His is right on track with reading, not having been an early reader like the girls.
It's the math that stumps me. He can tell me that 80 + 20 = 100. He figured out that if there are 8 rows and 8 columns on the chess board that there must be 64 squares all together. He loves helping my 4th grader with her math. In other words, he is way beyond the 3 + 2 problems in his math book but he doesn't want to skip ahead and doesn't seem to mind filling out the pages anyway. I don't think he is a math whiz or anything, I just think that most first graders are can do way more than first grade math books expect.
I think the lady at the local homeschool store would remind me why math books are written (for the masses, in public or private school) and how they are designed to fill up 180 days, to catch up the kids who are behind, to review, etc. This makes me tempted to skip math books with him until around 3rd grade, but know that there will be more concepts coming up in his math book that I might forget to cover if we didn't use one. So I will probably keep him on grade level with math, supplement with Games for Math and let him help Dancer when she needs it!
The other little struggle is that my Dino can focus better if he sits across from me at the Teacher's Help Desk but Wild Strawberry think he is invading her territory and throws a royal tantrum. Sometimes she is willing to share the chair -
We aim to eat lunch by noon and I send the kids outside before or after lunch. Nap Time/Quiet Time is at 1:00 until I wake up and then he has some time to play before music practice. Here are a few things Dino enjoys in his spare time -
Looking through his favorite book -
Watching Dinosaur Train at 2:30 -
Learning to ride without training wheels!
Bear hunting in the backyard (he finally likes exploring the backyard by himself)
Learning to read notes on piano:
He is tolerating his second year of violin better that the first and is having his first taste of participating in a theatrical production of Daniel and the Lions Den with his sisters and dozens of other home-schooled kids.
He also loves rocks, insects, constructing with K'Nex and Legos, domino run, marble run and playing with his sisters. He loves Wild Strawberry so much that he was in tears the other day as he accused Sunshine of stealing her away from him. Good thing we have another one coming!
Does that bring be to the guilt factor segment (otherwise known as Are We Meeting His Needs?) of this series of posts? I have to admit that I am a little bit worried that we will have another girl in April. Even the neighbors are concerned that he will be the lone boy sandwiched between two sets of girls. Not much I can do about it, though, is there? God will have to know best on this one. If we do have another girl he will have a lot of sisters to protect and torture.
What I do think about when I can't sleep at night are all of the activities I think he would enjoy if we had the time, money and energy to get him there.
- Cub Scouts
- Karate or Tae Kwon Do
- an internationally acclaimed boy's choir in the area
- after-school Lego robotics classes through community ed
- more after school sports like soccer, basket ball or hockey
But then I think, he's only in first grade. Can these activities wait? Or will he be hopelessly behind in some sports unless he starts early? Personally, I would like to see each of the children narrow their interests to one musical activity and one physical sport.
I know parents hold wide opinions about outside activities. Some strongly believe in keeping their children home without the hustle and bustle of chauffeuring children around and exposing them to outside attitudes and language. Others believe the effort is worth it when they see their children blossom and develop their passions and talents.
For me, well, I have three other children to tow along, dinner to cook, enough $$$ being shelled out for our current music lessons and a bedtime to keep. Some of these activities go awfully late for little ones!
So, what do you do? Do you let each child pick one activity at a time? Do you require piano for a certain number of years? Do you try to get as many kids in the same activity as possible? Or do you encourage each child to have their own sport or instrument suited to their talents and interests? I would love to hear your replies!