Homeschooling, potty training, and my husband’s new diet

Jamie did a little better with homeschooling this week.  I told him that he  cannot watch TV while he eats breakfast.  Instead he must do all his schoolwork before he gets TV or computer privileges.  We were only allowing him 1 half hour show before, but it seemed to affect his school performance so I decided to make him wait.  I also started using the reward chart I got from Scholastic.  He puts on a sticker for each subject we work on, under the appropriate day of the week.  This encourages him to try to read a little bit too, at least until he memorizes where everything is located on the chart.  We are working on memorizing the unit bars in the Math U See manipulative set.  Each number one to nine has a different colored bar with the appropriate number of squares on it.  I started yesterday and he knows them already.  I expected it to take a week or two, but once we colored the workbook picture of the unit bars he seemed to know them.  Today we played some games suggested in the teachers guide.  “If you’re happy and you know it…” grab a five, Simon Says “put a three on your nose” and things like that.  Jamie really wanted to play musical chairs.  I couldn’t figure out how that related to learning the unit bar values but he suggested putting a bar on each chair.  Then he told me the value of the unit bar in the chair whenever the music stopped and he sat down.   I kept changing them around too.  It was sooo much more fun than doing the workbook.  Next week we will work on addition.  I think that is pretty good for just starting Kindergarten.

Reading is still a challenge.  I’m trying to make it a “just right” level of challenge, but he really balks.  He understands phonics very well, but it seems to be a visual or attention issue that is holding him back.  His OT says that she feels he has difficulty tracking objects with his eyes and covers one eye sometimes when he colors,  so we made an appointment with a behavioral optometrist to see if there is a problem.  I know he is young still, but I also know he is quite capable of reading many words if he would just keep his eyes on the book.  His phonemic awareness is very good, and he only gets confused about whether the vowels are short or long.  If I could start again I would never have taught the long vowels when I first taught him the sounds the letters made.  But once he gets some of the rules down he should figure it out.  (Like an “e” on the end makes the “a” say it’s name, and that sort of thing.)  I’m going to order him a spelling book from Modern Curriculum Press and we will alternate that with phonics/reading.  Spelling is basically phonics in reverse, so it should help.  The book is a little below the level he is working at, so it should improve his confidence too.  I understand that the book starts with matching words that begin with the same sound, and moves on to some of the phonics rules later in the book. 

Samuel is doing a little better with the potty.  He actually went independently to his little potty when I had him in just a t-shirt, and had a bowel movement.  Another day I thought he was ready and he went again on the small potty.  He doesn’t wet much anymore, he has that down cold.  Even most nights he is try, I stopped using diapers at night.  I’m hoping to get him into Head Start in the fall, I just got through the first part of the red tape and now we will wait and see if he qualifies for a spot.  Apparently his receiving Birth to 3 services almost guarantees him the spot.  It does seem easier to work with Jamie on school without Samuel distracting him.  I think it will be good for both of them.  And the lady from Head Start claims that they can finish potty training him, LOL.

On the health front, my husband started on the Cinch Inch Loss Plan this week. Basically you replace breakfast and lunch with shakes. Their shakes are very high in protein to help you feel full, and high in leucine to prevent loss of muscle mass. There is a snack bar included in the plan for a snack, to get you through between shakes. There is also a metabolism boosting vitamin supplement and energy tea mix. My husband told me the first day that he did not feel hungry on the plan and that he felt like he had more energy. He even played with the kids right after coming home from work, which is unusual for him. Stay tuned to find out how well it works for him.

Seeing improvements in 5 year old Jamie

This week I have noticed that Jamie seems to be gradually improving in several areas.  I had increased his b-complex to a full tablet a couple days ago. I still have to use a little “tough love” to get him to take it, as in making him drink the crushed tablet in juice before he can have breakfast. But he is getting used to taking it every morning anyway, and I have seen some positive changes. He is fighting a little less during the transition from play to homeschool activities.  His focus and attention are much better. 

Jamie is doing very well reading the “floating notes” in his piano book and playing them with fairly accurate timing.  That is, he is playing the half notes and quarter notes shown in the music more accurately than in previous weeks.  He is picking up the new songs more easily, and seems to be doing a better job reading the music instead of trying to play by ear or memorize the pattern of the song if there is one.  I’m really glad I chose to start piano with him.  I thought with his fondness of music he would take to it, it’s nice to be right sometimes, LOL.  I don’t really know much about piano, but I’m having good luck using The Music Tree beginner book to teach him. 

Jamie is also focusing longer on math and handwriting.  Today he even asked to do more math after I had done one page with him and was satisfied that it was enough.  He wanted to bring out “decimal street” and build numbers on it.  This is something unique to the Math-U-See books.    Once we finished that and moved onto handwriting, he asked to write the number 10 after we had practiced what I had prepared for today.  We are using Handwriting Without Tears for that.  Usually I don’t have him write in the workbook, but just on the magnetic “slate” and the little chalkboard one.   He is now doing better writing in the book, which is a good sign.  I know that writing on the chalkboard is using more of the large muscles of the arm, while writing in the workbook uses the small muscles of the hand more.

Samuel is coming along with the potty training too. He actually told me he needed to go yesterday, and had a BM in the potty instead of on the floor or in his training pants. He is getting very independent, he actually told me to “Get out” after he sat down. LOL.

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