Thursday, January 11, 2007

School-ish stuff...

Yes, we are still sort of on Christmas break. Yes, dh has been sick early this week, working from home in the very blue room/school room that I need to clean and organize before school "officially" starts, so that it is Thursday tomorrow (today!) and I have not even started to clean and organize said school room. But, guess what I realized? We have done LOTS of school work over Christmas break.

J1 is on his 3rd Redwall book in the last 3 weeks. He is actually on something like #10 of this series, and he was quite upset this evening when he couldn't read in bed because his book light broke and his brothers were trying to get to sleep and whining about the lamp being on. The other thing that has been wonderful is the games he got this Christmas season. In particular, he got a nice Scrabble set for the Epiphany. And playing it with him was very interesting. For one thing, for his very first game, he got a really respectable score - 162 - despite the fact that he absolutely refused all but a couple of hints of help. The best thing is - I could see this game forcing him to think in a different way, spatially, than he's used to. For the first part of the game, it was very difficult for him to realize that you "read" the board left to right and up and down. I could *see* his brain working to place words in space in relation to the letters on the board. It was awesome to see. J1 struggles with spatial relations - he is like my exact opposite of the visual-spatial learner. He struggles with geometric math problems, and obviously struggled with Scrabble. There were tears at first, with the game, and about 1/3rd of the way through it, he claimed, teary-eyed, that he hated the game. But, by the end of the game, he was laughing and talking about how it was the best game ever! I liked it because it took something J1 is good at (vocabularly, spelling, words in general - he is my intensely verbal child) and combined it with something he isn't good at (spatial relations) and putting them together really made his brain stretch - I could *see* it, it was awesome! And he had fun besides, how great is that?

A2 - ah, my challenging child. What I will share with you seems to be not very school-ish at all. This is the child I worry will never read, and perhaps I should be more concerned with that. But today! Oh, today was just beautiful. We had company, as I shared in my last post. They got here rather early, and as most of my brood are night owls, the only one up when they arrived was A2. This is my child who barely talked at all till he was almost 4, and who didn't have much to say at all until about a year ago. This is my child who was/is an intense introvert. This is my child who I worry about endlessly. The one who I lied to the pediatrician about for a couple years, because I knew if I shared what was really going on when he was 3, 4 and 5 years old, the pedi would have insisted on speech therapy, where they would have diagnosed him with Asperger's or ADD or some such thing (not that there aren't those of you out there who struggle with those diagnoses, and therapies, just that I *knew*, deep down, that wasn't my A2), and who I just knew was fine, and just needed time. This child, who is now almost 7 1/2 years old, handled himself SO WELL with our company this morning. They had lots of questions about a new game we have, and A2 answered them clearly and engagingly. I very unobtrusively watched him with his friends, and he was just so very charming! He just had absolutely no trouble at all speaking with, interacting with these children. He nurtured the baby, was patient with the 3 year old, and thoroughly engaged with the 5 year old and 8 year old. He even was kind of charming with the girls! I just sat there in complete and utter awe. My shy introvert child is blossoming before my eyes. Ok, so he's 7.5 and can't read yet. But he can talk, and interact with children, and adults, perfectly normally. He is such a unique, beautiful child, and I was so darn proud of him this morning, I can't even begin to tell you. Oh - and I must share another A2-ism. He has such a wonderful, unique way of looking at life. Last night he asked if he could have the last candy cane. "They are so good, and so wierd! They make your mouth feel funny! They have breath sugar, mommy!" Mint flavor is breath sugar - isn't that cool?

S3 is my sneaky-smart child. He appears, on the surface, to be kind of space-y and easy-going, but he holds hidden depths, he does. I have realized, over the last few weeks, that he is reading an AMAZING amount. I would have to say that 60-70% of everything he encounters, he's reading. He's not using phonics, he's not exactly sounding out unfamiliar words, and I wouldn't call him a fluent reader yet, but he is reading a LOT. Lots of sight words, cleverly inferrring words he doesn't know from context - it is not going to be long before it all clicks with him and he's reading voraciously like his oldest brother. He's also having lots of brain development through some video games. Daddy got a game called, Sword of Stars for Christmas. It is a fairly complex strategy game. In fact, J1 had some trouble with it at first, which is unusual for J1. At one point, dh and J1 couldn't find the rule book, and S3 found it for them right away when they asked. I didn't think too much about it, because S3 is known as our "finder dude" child - he can find anything! But, S3 asked to start a game, and dh became a little wierded out when he realized S3 (just 6 years old) had started his mission and was doing better than J1, and in some ways better than dh himself! So he asked him how he did what he was doing, and he said, "Well, dad, I read the rule book and it's pretty simple." Now - did he *really* read the rule book? I have no idea. Dh insists that his scenario was really complex, and he was doing amazing things. So I just kind of go - hmmm... Then, recently, he's become obssessed with some online games, in particular Bejeweled 2. It's a fairly simple - but really fun! - game, and my 6 year old got to level 8 - Level 8! - before running out of moves. He's definitely stretching his brain with all these games. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next!

N4 (4 years old) has become obsessed with math the last few days. He came up to me, out of the blue this afternoon, and said, "Mom, what is 3 plus 3?" So I showed him 3 fingers on one hand, plus 3 fingers on the other hand, and he counted them out and came up with 6. He proceeded to go through all the permutations of addition, up through 8+3 =11. Pretty good for a 4 year old, I think. The sparkle in his eyes as he "got" it was priceless - he has a very expressive face!

Even though we've taken a big long break for Christmas - they're all learning, each in their own way. I love watching them grow and develop, it is just the most amazing blessing I can ever hope to experience!


Luci1 said...

Hi Jen,
I found your blog from the link you left on the Northern C food coop yahoo group we both belong to. Nice to know you're somewhat close to me geographically speaking. We live parallel lives except you are a bit further along. We have 3 sons, ages 5, 3 and 1! Hope that we'll meet at the coop soon, although I probably won't be out there til March or so. I've done coop pick-up in the cold months plenty and I'm taking a break!

I've began to read your blog and enjoy it VERY much. I will be checking back! I can certainly relate. We call the pee-ing together thing, pee-pee collide. My friend w/2 girls cringed when I told her about it!

Thanks and hope to see you soon,

Deep Thought said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MamaJen said...

Hi, Luci! Thanks for "stopping by". I look forward to meeting you sometime soon, it's always fun to meet other moms with lots of boys! :-) And thanks - my dh assured me that all little boys play pee games, but it IS nice to hear from another mom of boys that her kids do, too! :-)

(accidently posted this first logged in as my dh, which is what the deleted comment is! He keeps using my computer and not logging out! ;-)