Friday, November 27, 2009

Sports and Homeschooling

Sports has and always will intimidate me! Growing up my parents gave me a taste of a few different things but I didn't delve into anything and didn't experience a team sport. With our kids we didn't have a plan in mind when it came to physical activity. I just wanted them to try a variety and have a good sense of physical health. We want them to find activities that they enjoy that they can take into adulthood. Many of these extracurricular activities are a stand in for the physical education. So far the year is going really well and everything has just slipped into place.

Mason is taking Aikido once or twice a week. He goes to a FANTASTIC dojo in Kitchener and has a Sensei who is highly experienced, traditional, and does what he does because he loves it and loves Japanese culture. It's relatively inexpensive compared to many local martial arts. On Fridays he's participating in tennis at a local tennis club. He's with a group of homeschool boys all between the ages of 6-8. They're a really great group and we're thrilled with the lessons. He loves it! He also does a shared swimming lesson with Mickey and has plans to try snow boarding this winter. We're working on this one!

Mickey is of coarse (as mentioned a few times in the past) is in a pre-competitive gymnastics program. This activity is so different from everything else we are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. Most activities teach the kids the skill and gives them a taste of the sport. In a pre-competitive/competitive program they are training her to be an athlete. This has been a HUGE hurdle for me. Not only is it scary to watch... seriously it is... but I've really had to take a step back and relinquish control to a coach who spends 6 hours a week with my child. We take this program day by day and although there are sometimes tears and difficult challenges she still seems to love it. Actually she seems to love it more and more each day. Hard to believe. I think this is what makes our decision as parents so difficult. Tears + love of sport = confusion for mom and dad!

Here's some photos of some of the activities:



Gymnastics in the family room:

Check out Mason's face! Priceless.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I've been glutened!

I cheated on Thursday and had some Doritos Sweet Chili Heat. Have you tried them yet? I love and hate them at the same time. They are completely addictive and so so good! But, yes, they have gluten in them. I always know when I've been glutened. 12 hours later I have a significant headache and 24 hours later my pinky finger dislocates! Odd, I know. This dislocated pinky finger was how my celiac disease was diagnosed. As long as these are the only symptoms, the indulgence was worth it! This will be it for a long time now. I'll be a good girl.

Found this recipe. Oh...I'm going to have to try it today! Stone Store here I come! Everyone around me lately has been talking about having a Julia Child dinner. I'm quite tempted. I was telling Heinrich about Crepe Suzettes so I think we will try those tomorrow.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sound of Music

Check out this video. Love it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mickey is a finalist - please vote!

To make a long story short, we purchased some hair clips at my hair salon and the owner asked if I would submit a picture of Mickey wearing them. I did so and now Mickey is a finalist in a competition. Please help us win! Visit here and become a fan to vote. If you go down the page to view the Ciccia Bella 2009 finalists you will see Mick in the purple sweater. Click on the photo and type VOTE in the comment section. Thanks. We really appreciate it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learning to Read!

Teaching my son to read has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a parent. Each week his reading evolves and it's so much fun to be a part of it. There are so many programs available to teach your child to read. I still think one of the best ways is to just read to your child and often! Beyond shared and guided reading I used the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". The nice thing about this program is that each lesson only takes 10-20 minutes. It looks boring and the stories are nonsense but my guys seemed to like the structure of it and felt a sense of accomplishment after completing each lesson.

Last year through a friend's blog we discovered Progressively Phonics. This is a free site and the printable books are free. You'll spend a lot on printer ink but they've totally been worth it for us. Each book focuses on a sound/blend. The kids don't have to read every single word, only the words in red. Again, the stories are ridiculous but the kids seem to like them.

Here are some additional tips for early readers:

1) Sight Words:

Some sight words are easier to learn than others. Some can be sounded out phonetically. Others make little sense and have to be memorized. For sight words we use flash cards. We don't do them that often but find that the repetition does help with memorizing. The kids enjoy the challenge of improving their score each time.

2) Letter Recognition:
Often kids will mix up letters, especially as new readers. Below is a picture of cards that my mom made up during her days as a primary teacher. She made each letter into a picture. Turn a "b" into a bat and ball for example. Or if b's and d's are tricky, turn the word "bed" into a picture of a bed, with the pillow on top of the b!

3) Accentuate the sounds:
If we're working on a particular sound/blend it helps to print the word with the sound/blend written in a different colour.

4) Outline the word to give it shape:
Mason often knew larger words quicker than he knew 3 and 4 letter words because he's a visual learner. He often sees larger words as a shape. It you take a word and outline to give it shape this will help your visual learner.

5) Yellow paper:
Did you know that by printing with black ink on yellow paper that you are bettering your chance of remembering what you've written down. This would be a good strategy for those tricky sight words that your child just can't seem to remember!

6) Syllable break down:

For larger words it helps to break the word into syllables or smaller words/sounds.

7) Picture clues:

Encourage your kids to use pictures for clues. As they're reading they may misread or get stuck on a word. Encourage them to finish the sentence. By finishing the sentence they may be able to go back and correct their mistake or they may be able to use picture clues to figure out the difficult word.