Monday, August 17, 2009


I provide the Q. You provide the A.

1. Should I "homeschool" Calvin and how much?

He is in Chinese preschool two mornings a week again with the possibility of staying for their extended day program those two days if I choose. Auntie M is also coming one half day a week to do "Auntie Em School" with the boys, which will consist of art and nature and science and whatever fun they can come up with. They will also be at the in-laws' farm one day most weeks.

That leaves me with two and a half unplanned days. It doesn't seem like much, but I think Calvin really needs some structured activities. He is ready to learn. He also needs to be free to play. What would you do with a five-year-old boy who is reading chapter books and doing basic math?

2. What do I do with Hobbes?

If I do homeschool Calvin, should I also work out some sort of curriculum for Hobbes? Any suggestions for a three-year-old? Yes, I know I should have been thinking about this months ago. I am a slacker like that.

3. Are reward charts a good idea?

They are sort of time-honored, but I also know plenty of people who think kids needs to learn to be motivated from within. Not sure how that works. Stickers and rewards for full charts DO seem to work. But can I use them for chores or just for good behaviors we are working on? Should chores just be expected and not rewarded? Thoughts?

4. What can I feed Linus?

He got over baby food a long time ago, but he still has no teeth. I put a lot of our food through the food mill for him at dinner, but I am running out of healthy breakfast and lunch ideas for him to gum up into swallowable pieces. We already do oatmeal, yogurt, bagels, cheese, rice cakes, toast, soft veggies, and fruit. Any creative ideas are appreciated. He eats A LOT, and if he doesn't get enough, he wakes up hungry at night.

Just some of what's on my mind this week.


Leila said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on the blanket!

Now, when your kids are little, is a good time to read as much as you can about education. Have you looked at Good book lists and ideas for teaching even young children in a way that challenges them and also leaves them free to play and imagine!

In my humble opinion, as to reward charts, do what works! some children LOVE them and feel so big and happy. Others hate them and feel oppressed. Ditto moms. If it makes you peaceful to do it or some version of it (you could take it in any direction, you know, even a journal), then do it. If not, then don't!

Catherine said...

Re. Hobbes, this book was recommended to me today as a kind of homeschool preschool curriculum for kids under five. I haven't see it yet, but I thought I'd pass it on.

Daniel, Laura, Cora Marie, and Eliot said...

I agree wih Leila re: see how Calvin (& Hobbes?) respond to chore chart. We found that our 2 have responded very differently to potty-training motivators (CM needed a jelly-bean, E just loves proud happy-dancing) and I know that sticker charts were THE way for other kiddos to potty train. Not exactly a chore, but you know...

Does thinking about homeschooling make you want to run away? If it gives you life, pushes toward exciting creativity, and can give a new (enjoyable) spin on what it means to mommy Calvin (& Hobbes), I saw go for it. You can't do wrong. You could talk to Kel Kirk re: ideas )and even tag-team with her some?). But I say that if homeschooling makes you want to go fetal, than live in FREEDOM and let those times be adventure times where you explore new things together in your city, have play-dates, or something. I know that last option was particularly helpful.

Daniel, Laura, Cora Marie, and Eliot said...

Oh, and re: foods for Mr Bottomless Pit... you're doing great already, girl. Any thoughts re: breakfast meats in small bits? Scrambled egg? Tofu? (Yeah, I know soy & egg-white are *allergens*, but I'm not Ms Cautious, personally in that regard.) Egg yolk with cheese on top was a baby-fav at our home for a while. Great brain-food

To resource out my SIL yet again, ask Kel if she still has that Baby Food book for more ideas. Loved perusing that in years past...

TwoSquareMeals said...

Leila, thanks so much for the advice. Your blog may be my current favorite. I love your very practical approach that is so free of today's "mommy-guilt." I have looked at Ambleside and think it is the perfect place for us to start. It just seems to fit with my personality.

Cath, I'll check out that book. Thanks!

LK, I especially like the "or something" option :) Oh, and we are not cautious about food allergies either, other than peanuts...for some reason I just can't give them peanuts before one...we have no allergies. Anyway, I do need to get together with your lovely SIL and discuss...

Marie said...

Homeschooling -- I'm a big fan of the idea that the best way to learn how to read is to read. If he's on the way already, I think just providing lots of fodder should do it. As for math, we wanted some early math to do but didn't want to start a "program" that would just be duplicated in school. So we found a book called Family Math that is excellent for lots of math games, and then started playing with a series on using the abacus. I figured that way they would develop math sense, and it is working well.

We have "resorted" to reward type chart type programs for times when a reminder was needed and I felt like nagging wasn't working. . . my favorite was when I put up papers on the fridge with their names, and then lists on the fridge of things like the gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc. -- patience, charity, etc. Every time I noticed some trait in them, appreciated some gift in them, I'd put up a sticker (gold star). They never knew precisely why they got a star, and there were no rewards linked to numbers of stars. It was just my way of trying to show them that I saw all these wonderful things in them and noticed even when I didn't always show it. They LOVED seeing the stars fill the page.
Just the weird stuff that works for us. ..
Can't help with the food thing, I'm drawing a blank. Best to you with it all.

Kerry said...

Well, of course you know I love homeschooling! :) I'd suggest whatever you decide that you focus less on academic skills at this point (especially if Calvin is already doing preschool) and focus more on "play". But play can be very educational, of course. Lots of games and such!

Two suggestions:

Before Five in A Row and Five in a Row books. Each of these takes a popular children's picture book and offers ideas for learning activities for you to do. The idea is you read the book each day and do an activity. Really lovely books and fun activities.

And Ruth Beechick's 3-part series of books "An Easy Start in Mathematics", "A Home Start in Reading", and "A Strong Start in Language". They are small boks packed with great ideas and encouragement. You can find them combined in one book, too.

As for Hobbes, you might look into something like Toddler Story Stretchers... kind of along the same line as Before Five in a Row, but for the younger set.

Hope those ideas help!

Doug said...

hi friend! fun and helpful to read all of this! not much to add.. but wanted to recommend my new fav ck bk:

it's pretty amazing and pretty challenging to do... but lots of room for baby steps and lots of good suggestions to your q's.

i second laura re: homeschooling vs. not. pretty much i just really like laura and miss her a lot. so if she said you should just bungee jump with your kids every morning before dawn while juggling tomatoes, then i would say do that. nostalgia just does that to me sometimes.

whatever you decide, i would keep your main focus on reading to them though. hopefully calvin is letting you read to him even though he's reading... that's the best thing for him (and the other 2 of course). and then i echo whoever said just running with the latest interest... find bks in that interest, plan little adventures, do little art projects, etc. just go with it. i don't see you loving an extensive plan, but more see you enjoying spontaneously running after loving live together in various ways, know what i mean? have fun exploring and enjoying each other- man i need to tell that to myself!

love ya (and my woman crush laura too of course.)

Nickname unavailable said...

oh gracious. now laura thinks doug has a crush on her. that was ME, RACHEL F. i can NOT seem to get my comments right. anyway.

Paul said...


I've been a reader for a while, but I think this is the first time I've commented here. I'm a friend of Daniel K's, for whatever that's worth.

Anyhow, our family sounds quite a lot like yours. We have three boys. John turns five in about three weeks, Isaac is three and a half and Daniel is 18 months. My wife and I both like the idea of homeschooling but neither of us have had any previous experience with it.

My wife decided to order a bunch of materials from Sonshine. We've been pretty inconsistent with it so far, but John is reading well and doing fine at the math we give him. The history book we got didn't seem worthwhile to me. I don't think younger kids are really ready for systematic study of history anyhow.

The things that have really benefited our kids have been: going for walks together a lot and talking about what we see, reading stories, and visiting the library often. We have also, inconsistently, been doing Bible memory verses.

My wife and I both feel like we should be more organized/consistent, but I've been very happy with how our oldest is doing. Our three year old seems to pick up on a lot of things as well.

FWIW, my favorite book I've ready on education is John Holt's Teach Your Own. I highly recommend it.