Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Agency Party & Homeschooling
Each year, my adoption agency has a party. It used to be called Asia Afternoon, but now they have many families who have adopted from countries not in Asia, including the USA, so it's called Heartsent Afternoon. However, the entertainment is still a local Chinesed folk dance troup of local girls. Jie Jie is wearing an outfit I'd bought in China for the first time and it is now one of my favorites. I still can't get over how cute she looked in it. Also, how she's really starting to look her age more often than not these days.
We are homeschooling. I'd always intended to homeschool, but with an open mind to meeting the needs of my child(ren). If homeschool didn't work out, for whatever reason, I was glad to be near a good (is it really?) public school. I had a few false starts that made us both miserable, but it was my own fault. Honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. Thanks to your help and the suggested resources and thanks to a successfully homeschooling mom at church, we are doing well and are happy. I found just the right level to start Jie Jie in and just the right speed. I also learned how best to handle things when she gets frustrated when she doesn't understand something.
YIKES! - We just had an earthquake (11:37pm)! Not too big, but big enough to get my adrenalin flowing super fast and make me run to check on my daughter! Deep breaths...
Here is what we are doing:
Math: The National Standard Curriculum in the UK We are doing the very first level called the Reception Year as well as some Year 1 at the same time. I also enhance this with games and exercises along the same lines as the lessons. She can count visually, but naming the numbers, especially in English, is a challenge. I have a lot of games that she is just devouring.
Reading & Writing: Starfall.com (thank you everyone who recommended this site), Signing Time, Leapster toy, books and games and instruction I give.
In detail, my goal is for Jie Jie to learn to read and write the alphabet and learn the sounds each letter makes. At the same time, I am reading to her, the same book, each night for a week so that she can memorize it and point out and recognize simple words, like the word WE.
I let Jie Jie use the starfall online alphabet game. I print out the sheets to go with it. I give her lessons on writing each letter in various ways, blank paper, lined paper, magnet doodle with stencils. For writing, I am presenting each letter in order of writing development and in order for learning the alphabet.
I got the Leapster fridge magnet toy and gave her a fun alphabet flap book and showed her how to use the book to know the order of the letters. She usually misses only 3-5 after just 3 days and the mistakes are very logical, like Z instead of S or looking across the pages of the book instead of down each page. The toy repeats the sounds that each letter makes as well as the names of the letters.
Art & Development: The goal is to learn the names of the colors.
Coloring for fun, by number, and as I tell her or by looking at a picture or following some kind of other instruction. Sorting, copying patterns (like stringing beads on laces according to pictures), following patterns on a grid. Cutting, pasting, clay, etc...
Science: The goal is to look deeper at the things around us. Today it was learning about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I found a website with time-lapsed video of a monarch butterfly's development, the egg hatching, the caterpillar making a cocoon and the butterfly emerging. Then, I found a coloring sheet of a chart showing the four stages of the butterfly's development. Later, I'll hit the library for books to supplement our lessons, but for right now, this is enough. Tomorrow, we might make caterpillars out of segments of paper and glue.
What I learned most about homeschooling is that I am not trying to recreate a classroom. If I was, I should just send her to school. The great thing about homeschool is that the lessons are learned from real life. She can now recognize the word WE because I read to her and pointed it out over and over as I read it and gave her the Chinese translation. There wasn't a blackboard in sight. A friend also put me onto some fantastic websites to make file folder games. Childcareland.com is the first one I've been using and I love their ideas.
Language: Learning English!
Social Studies: Learning to be a daughter and an American.
Jie Jie is VERY bright. Once she understands something, she gets it and runs with it. The challenge right now is teaching her in a way that she can understand. She has a thirst for knowledge that I love.
Socially, I had an epiphany last Sunday as we had a play date with a friend who rented an inflatable jumper. Two girls were 10, Jie Jie 7 1/2, and one 5 year-old were there. The 10 years olds treated Jie Jie like a two year old, wanting to pick her up and treat her like a baby doll. Jie Jie liked their interest, but looked unhappy and happy in alternating moments, then acted silly and overly boistrous. The more I observed, the more I came to realize how she craves to be able to play age-appropriate games, but communicating ideas in English is still beyond her ability so she settled for playing the only way that worked, even if she didn't really like it. It's hard for children to see Jie Jie as a 7 1/2 year old because she's the size of a 4 year old and can't converse with them and she's as cute as a doll. I wish I could find another little girl in Jie Jie's same shoes, newly adopted and Chinese, that she can play with just to give her some relief from having to try so hard all the time.