Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Keeping Up with a Super Tot

Let me preface this by saying that this post is not intended to be a complaint or an opportunity to brag.  These really are the types of things about which I wake up in the night worrying!  I have the most amazing, independent, intelligent little boy, and I want to do my absolute best by him!

The Wake-Up Call
I have spent the last few weeks (months) trying to figure out what we are going to do after we finish the Mommy and Me ABC materials.  I thought I had it all figured out and had even drafted the "curriculum" post.  Then I watched him read me a book, I mean really read me a book and I realized that he has blown by me.  No idea why that day was different, I have known he could read for over a year, but for some reason it never quite clicked to what level he was reading now!  I have known that he has picked up phonics without being taught and can often read most of the words when I give him new books.  However, I don't have a "teacher" telling me "your son is reading at a such-and-such grade level," so I guess it never really sunk in. (Do other homeschool mom's ever have that problem?)
To try to figure it out where he was I printed out the Dolche words, preprimer through third grade, from Home Schooling Haven.  We spent the morning going through them, off and on.  The 220 most prevalent words in his written language and he missed 8.  Not only that, but his mistakes were all logical (he read the words phonetically or was in a hurry and said a similar word like here's instead of hers). 
That's awesome and amazing and wonderful and I'm so proud, but it was also a huge wake-up call that made me take a much harder look at my kid and his needs.  I had a major panic moment of WHAT THE HECK DO I DO?  How do I keep him challenged and interested?  I had planned to focus on sight words with games and activities, but that is not exactly going to work when he can pretty much read them all.  I don't want to bore him or make him feel like learning is tedious!  On the other hand, he is two and a half.  I can't just go out and buy a first or second grade language arts curriculum.  He does not have the motor skills to write or the cognitive skills to comprehend it all, nor do I want him doing excessive seat-work.  I cannot just stop or slow down, he ASKS for words and worksheets.  If we skip Tot School for more than a day or so, he asks me when he can do his "work" (a term he came up with, not I).  I cannot just give him harder books because he gets overwhelmed by small font and long paragraphs.  He needs books with large fonts and only a few sentences per page, but with new and challenging words.  What we do for school has to meet HIS unique needs, not what seems appropriate for his age.

I LOVE that he is so bright and has such a desire to learn new things, but I also feel grossly inadequate.  Keeping up with him would be a full time job and I am an only parent.  I can pray for the opportunity to be a full time homeschooling parent in the future, but until then I have to just do my best and hope we can both be satisfied.

The Plan
Each child is different and early education needs to meet their individual wants and needs.  Therefore, Tot School is going to undergo some changes around here.  (Honestly, I'm kind of wondering if I should move to calling it preschool or something else.  I'm open to thoughts on the subject).  

As far as language goesI'm going to do my darnedest to keep finding him books that are challenging enough without having the formatting overwhelm him.  I will continue making 3 Part Cards for vocabulary, even though I know he would learn faster if I just flashed him the words, he likes them too much.  We will probably play some occasional sight words games just for fun review.

We are also going to start spelling and forming words.  I was very resistant to the idea, thinking he wasn't ready, but I think I was wrong and that he will enjoy the challenge if I can approach it the right way.  I bought him a set of magnetic letters with an organizing box so that we could work on words without him having to write or become overwhelmed by a huge pile of unsorted letters.

I am also going to be intentional about presenting other subjects, specifically Spanish, science, and math.  I am adapting Right Start Math Level A for him, I am making my own science "curriculum" for him, and Spanish will be a random collection of resources and my own materials.

I'll post a "curriculum" list once I have it updated!

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