Thursday, September 04, 2008

Our First Day of School

I was just looking at my posts from last year's first few days of school and am so relieved to find that I was a nervous wreck back then, too! I really wanted yesterday to feel special, and while we marvelously exceeded my expectations for the day, I just also have to There were a few really tense moments there! I'm so glad that, by pure circumstantial chance, Darren was able to be home for the morning. It was such a tremendous help to have him here with me, and he did an awesome job of keeping me level headed, and plus, we were just really thrilled to have Daddy here for our first morning back to school!

My two early rising girls were a big help to me in the kitchen yesterday as I lovingly prepared a delicious breakfast surprise. (When I saw Margaret's Monkey Bread posted a few weeks ago, I knew it would be perfect for the first day of school.) As expected, it was a huge hit. :)

Oh, and see those beautiful autumn cones there? I totally stole that idea from Margaret, too. Darren helped me put them together in about ten minutes Tuesday night with items we already had on hand...some cool pen and post it note sets he had from a conference, small note pads, nuts, new crayons tied with ribbon, some sticker sheets, new pencils, and my old Matryoshka dolls, with which they had fallen instantly in love when they were rediscovered in the top of my closet a few days ago. (I'm not so much into doll collecting anymore, so I rather they make my children happy now.) Easy, and so well received! I love doing little things like this for my children. How happy it makes me to see them so happy!

Our first project of the day was "A Book About Me!", an impulsive idea I had come up with the day before. I made one each for Dylan and Caitlyn, identical in format but unique in colors and fonts. I simply typed up questions relevant to who they are right now, as well as what they hope for the future, and also included a page for their handprints with sweet little poems I found here. Meghan didn't have a book, but she got to make handprints, too. These were by far my favorite part! They already make me want to cry...I can't imagine looking at them again in another ten or twenty years! I'd like to make these books a first day of school tradition; they will become priceless keepsakes for the children when they are older!

Math was fun. I've been strongly considering Math-U-See for a very long while, and would still, at some point, like to go ahead and order from them. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, this fall is just not the time for us to be buying a lot of new curricula when we've already got so much we can be using in the meantime. Instead, we gathered together on the floor of the living room and played with our linking cubes, devising equations and problems appropriate for Dylan, Caitlyn, and Meghan. Dylan is beginning to grasp the concept of multiplication now, so that's what he and I worked on. I got him started with small groupings, and soon he was creating his own and correctly writing their equivalent equations. He did a great job! I'm so proud of him! In the same way, Caitlyn and I worked on addition. I was impressed to see how much she already knew about writing equations (which symbols to use and where to use them, etc.) and she, too, did an excellent job with her cubes! Meghan and I sorted colors and counted cubes and I am just so astounded when I see how far she's come. Her speech has really improved since beginning therapy and sometimes I just am filled with awe at the new found verbal abilities of my little girl! She amazes me!

I wondered how I might include all of the children in lessons at the same time, as they are, obviously, at quite different developmental stages. But actually, what I've come up with has worked out beautifully. It was important to me that, as much as possible, they would be able to work together. They really enjoy that, and I do, too. So, we're going to be doing little unit studies, I suppose (for lack of better explanation). Yesterday, for example, we began with the letter "A": "A" is for Ant. Dylan has been so eager to begin cursive writing, so I printed out several worksheets to practice upper and lower case cursive A. He loved them! And it is so fulfilling to me, as his mother and teacher, to see his little face just light up when he finally grasps a concept! He first practiced each letter individually, but then advanced to linking the upper and lower case letters, and was just so thrilled when he finally mastered the technique! Caitlyn, in the meantime, was practicing her printing in one of the many Preschool workbooks we have for her. She loves to write so much, and is doing so well! Meghan was busy coloring her letter A picture while the older children worked on their pages. We're still working on letter sounds with her.

Later, continuing with our Ant theme, we read from our selection of Ant books and made special treats to enjoy as a snack! I had wanted to make Ants on a Log, but my children don't really like celery...and also, I hadn't realized that we were completely out of raisins. So instead, we made these superb cookies, and called them Ants on a Log. See? The chocolate chips are ants. We've even got some green grass, there. (I never knew my kids love coconut!) :)

I think we're off to a really great start. It thrills me to see how eager my children are to learn. Dylan begs to stay up just a little bit later to keep making just one more workbook for Caitlyn. He works through workbooks before I'm ready to review with him. Caitlyn asks, a dozen times, if "we get to do more school". Meghan cheers each time I announce a new activity. It is so cute, and so rewarding. My children can, I admit, test my very limits. They are not always perfect. But if, at the end of the day, I go to sleep with sides sore from all the laughing, arms tired from all the holding, mind numb from all the negotiating and planning and doing, then I know it's been well worth it all. It's been a good day. A blessed day.


Jamie said...

I wish we lived closer!! I know our kids would be great friends, not to mention us, of course!!

You are a Wal-mart shopper, come on admit it, our girls have a lot of the same outfits!! Same jammies, same dresses!! Our Pink dress has a long sleeve polka dot shirt underneath though!

Those cookies look great! You are doing great homeschooling! It's so fun to see what others are doing for school!

Jen said...

I seriously don't know how you do it with a baby in the house. When David was that age, I was happy to just get Math done, forget baking and all the extras. You're kids are very lucky. Glad you had such a wonderful first day. :-)

Michelle said...

That sounds like a perfect first day back to school. I hope the kids continue to hold their excitement for learning time.