The Young Christian Academy just celebrated the 100th day of the school year with this fun (if
somewhat so incredibly tedious!) craft (shamelessly lifted from Pinterest) on Friday. I have no confidence at all that any of them actually has exactly 100 gumballs, which was the idea. In fact, I’d say my confidence that there are exactly 100 gumballs is inversely proportional to how much I had to help the child count them. Pippa’s and Ro’s might very well be perfect, as I had nothing to do with them. Delia’s and Coraline’s most certainly are not. You can count them all if you’d like and let me know how we did in the comments.
I thought this milestone might make a good time to give a little update on our school year, which is really ticking along much more smoothly than I expected it to. My biggest concerns were for how Delia’s school day would look, since we still find so few things that she will engage in willingly. I worried at the beginning of the year that I’d have nothing to show for her year and put in her portfolio, but she’s really making good progress. She and Cora are working through a big all-in-one preschool workbook as their main curriculum. This usually happens each day between lunch and Coraline’s naptime. At the start of our year Delia hated “school time”, and it was a struggle just to get her to stay at the table. Now she comes willingly (sometimes even signing “school” to initiate if I’m not quick enough to get us started!) and stays on task throughout our time, even if her ability to do the activities is still limited. She still shows some resistance to coloring, but will now draw vertical lines down her coloring page and get a chocolate chip for her efforts. She will attempt to place a sticker on a spot that I point to, but is still unable to find the hidden letters without my help.
We are supplementing the workbook curriculum for Delia with hands-on letter-building activities, counting activities, beading, flash cards, water-color painting and whatever else we find that interests her (or doesn’t but that we make her try anyway!). We watch Signing Time and Super Simple Songs with her, which often does more to draw her out and get her verbalizing than anything else we can think to try with her. She is increasingly interested in books and willing to sit and be read to, and continues to love to sing along to nursery rhyme books and the like. I am reading and learning what I can about using ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis, a strategy recommended for children with autism) principles to plan new activities to engage her better. Her attitude toward schooltime has improved a hundredfold since we started the school year, but in practice I am still doing a lot of hand-over-hand and wondering how much she is taking in. In the meantime, Coraline may end up being the youngest Young ever to know all her letters and numbers, so my efforts are not going to be wasted.
The rest of the kids are divided into two “grades” for the more teacher-intensive subjects (history,science and read-alouds). I tend to work mostly with Pippa and Ro on 5th grade reading materials while Trevor works with Niko, Bea and Junie on 2nd grade material. We switch it up sometimes to keep it interesting, and I teach both of the science curricula since Trevor has a real job to fit in, too. We have to tuck in school wherever we can sometimes to make it all fit (evenings and weekends are popular times to catch up on read-alouds, which the kids love anyway), but we never have to turn down a playdate or a Grandmom day when it comes up, and that’s how we like it.
Math, language arts and handwriting are grade specific, and we usually focus on those in the mornings. The kids work mostly independently while I float and help as needed. And drink coffee.
This sweet little person just generally hangs out with us and brightens everyone’s day. She says “mama” and “dada” now and I feel like she might mean it. She blows raspberries and definitely does mean that. She waves enthusiastically and often. She shows zero interest in signing and much prefers to let us know when her food isn’t coming fast enough by screeching at us. So, yeah. We’re working on that.
She can stand holding onto something if we put her there and really wants to pull herself up on the coffee table but so far hasn’t managed to. She gets around very well on her tummy, and she gets her knees under her more and more, but she still hasn’t quite mastered the whole crawling thing. Did I mention she’s sweet? That’s still probably her main superpower.
For the most part, I feel like the system is working. Everyone is learning stuff and getting smarter and largely enjoying what we do. They spend their free time reading, writing, drawing, lego-ing, pretending, crocheting, and perhaps over Christmas break there may have been a bit too much of watching Pentatonix on youtube, but in general I feel pretty good about all the things that are happening around here. It’s been a good year so far. And just 79 more days till summer!