Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trying to figure out when to start MFWK

This post is a bit of a brain dump. I'm trying to sort some things out, so I'm hoping that by putting my thoughts to the keyboard (and asking for feedback!) I can make some sense out of when to start my son on My Father's World Kindergarten.

Some background:

- Johnny is turning 4.5 this week (December birthday).
- He is interested in learning to read. He knows all basic letter sounds, can sound out many CVC words and some extras if it follows the phonics rules he knows.
- He likes to write. He'll grab paper and a pen and compose a message of sorts, and he thinks that's pretty fun.

I already own the MFWK set, so I've been able to look through the materials. I think he's academically ready for the curriculum, but I know that some moms think the Bible lessons in some units are better grasped as a 5 or even 6yo.

I'm not sure if he's ready for formal daily schoolwork. We've never tried anything formal. I know I could start really slowly and just do a few days a week. I also know that MFWK starts off really slow and gentle, and gradually builds up.

I'm also not sure if his scissor skills are up to the cutting needed.

If it were just Johnny and his sister on the scene, I would most likely start MFWK this fall and just go at the pace needed.


Baby #3 is coming! She's due in late September or early October. With Johnny as a newborn, I was barely functional for a long time following his birth. It probably took me until spring before I felt reasonably human, but even so his entire first year is a hazy memory. Something about massive sleep deprivation and PPD causing problems...

Vivie was easier on me as a newborn. I had more confidence and experience, and she was less demanding (only as a newborn!! heh.). I bounced back much faster with her.

With baby #3, I'm hopeful that the due date will help with my recovery. Should still be decent outside, and it won't be around the horrible winter solstice. No daylight makes for a crabby mama!

So in theory, I might only want a month off after the baby comes before I think about adding school stuff back.

But in practice, I don't want to set myself up for failure. I don't want to have high expectations for the semester or even school year. He's 4 turning 5 mid-year. I don't have to report to my state. The only requirements are the ones I make for myself, ya know?

At the same time, if he's ready and I'm ready, I don't want to miss out on a fun learning time together. I'd hate to delay MFWK for too long, in case I miss the prime window of opportunity for him to get the most out of it.

I could:

1.  Start MFWK in the beginning of August and do a few weeks until the baby comes. Doing this would help me get in the swing of a more structured program, and by the baby's birth, I should have a good feel for how MFWK flows. It might help me get back into it later, knowing more of what to expect with each day/week.

If he's not ready, we could easily stop. No problem. A downside -- he's still so young. Do I really want to start as a 4yo?

2.  Start MFWK in January. From Aug-Jan. I could do some of the preschool activities we have, and keep it pretty low-key, but building up the structure (for both of our sakes). If we start in January, it might be difficult to finish by June or so unless we pick up the pace near the end. Not sure if I'd want to keep going, or combine some units/go double speed, or just shelve some of it for the following fall or skip it altogether.

Not sure if I even care when we finish. I did summer school in some form in each of my high school years and several for college, though as a youngster I think having summers off is fun (though of course, knowledge melts out of your brain during the summer if you don't practice your math. Reading? No problem to keep on reading through the summer).

3.  Start MFWK the fall of '14. His true kindergarten year. By that point, I bet he'd be reading much more and the phonics within the program would be all review. But, I like MFWK because it's much more than a phonics program, and I still think he'd get a lot out of it. I think it's ok if the kindergarten year is easy, because it's kindergarten! And it's a huge confidence boost for everyone.

After MFWK (whenever that may be), I'm open to using Heart of Dakota LHFHG (their k or 1st grade) guide. I also now own that, and I'm reading through it and some of the books to see if it might be a good fit. Or, if we do MFWK when he's a true kindergartener, we may go to MFW1st the following year.

I just don't know which start point would work best for me, for Johnny, and for my other kids.

Vivie is 2.5 (tomorrow!) also with a December birthday. She will probably want her own version of activities to do alongside her brother.

Who will be the better tag-alongs? A late 2yo/newly turned 3yo and a newborn/3mo? The baby will hopefully sleep plenty, and I think Vivie at 3 could be a decent tag-along.

Or, Vivie at 3.5 turning 4 (and definitely more preschool-aged in her own right) and a 1yo. Yipe, the 1yo. I wonder if that year might be a challenging one. So would it be better to have one year of a more formal structure under my belt ahead of that, or would it be just as well to start MFWK at that time, knowing it's gentle and doable, toddler tornado and all?

K, ye who have walked the path before me or have Googled until your eyeballs glazed over: lend me your brain cells and tell me what you think?

Swimming lessons are over, and a mile!

The kids finished their swimming lessons last week. Eight lessons total, and they ... wait for it ...

blew my expectations out of the water.

Heh! I'm here all week.

It took two classes for Vivie to really relax and uncling from me. Then, she started to be comfortable enough to explore more of what the instructor would have her do. Except, she didn't want the instructor anywhere near her. She'd give her the stink eye and wait for her to move on, and then she'd do what I told her. Sorta.

Ok, then.

Vivie enjoyed kicking like a frog, kicking like she's riding a bicycle, and then kicking like a frog riding a bicycle (??) while I held her at her waist. She blew bubbles in the water on occasion, and on one day I did dip her all the way under the water.

I held her nose for her and told her to close her mouth, and then dunk! She didn't like it at all, but she didn't cry.

She liked jumping from the side, but only if my hands were already on her. No blind-faith leaps. This was fine...but she is 30+ lbs. flying at me from shoulder-height and whoa, I got a workout.

Johnny's class went so well. I can't believe this is the same kid who as a toddler, regarded water and bath time as the ultimate form of torture. He listened to the teacher and tried to do all that was asked of him. His report card showed that he needs more practice with being underwater...but overall I think he did great!

Each day, all of the preschoolers gathered in a corner together while one instructor talked about safety and general swimming things. After a few minutes, they broke off to go with their individual teachers. The first two days, I helped him find his teacher. After that, I had him do it on his own. I thought it would be a good thing for him to do. Of course, I watched him the entire way from across the pool to make sure he made it to the right place.

On the last day of class, he even went off the diving board. What. There were two instructors/life guards in the water -- one to catch and one to assist getting them to the side. There was another guard standing right on the side, so I think they had the safety thing covered.

An instructor walked right behind Johnny, pushing encouraging him along and then dropped him in. His head didn't even go under, which probably relieved him a lot. Big smiles as he got to the side. He got in line to do it again, but let other kids in front :).

Class was over at that point.

Oh, and also on the last day the kids were given tiny inner tubes to use so they could more independently paddle around the water. We were given pool noodles. Such fun!

I'm planning to practice their skills at the hotel pool on our vacation later this summer. And also going to the public pool here.

Overall, money well spent. I wasn't even sure if the kids would get in the water every day, let alone participate. So proud!

* * *

Today, Johnny ran a mile on a track. Previously, he did 2 laps I think? Maybe 3 total at some point. Anyway, he heard I used to be pretty good at running a mile (way back in my high school days) and he thought he'd see if he could do it, too. He also heard how Daddy ran a marathon, so he's got his eye on that, too. :)

So, we all headed over to a school and he ran those 4 laps! Mostly running, with some walking. A mom-enforced water break after each lap and a minute or so to catch his breath and he was off again. I think it took him 13-15 minutes?

Vivie ran about 50m and then walked to the 200m mark and found a nice bench to sit on. Hehe!

Mama did no running. Didn't wanna, and since I haven't run in awhile I didn't want to mess with balance issues with the baby.

Daddy ran along side Johnny and took a victory lap with Vivie on piggy-back.

All we have to do now is teach the kids how to ride a bike, and I guess we'll get them signed up for the Iron Man or something. Sports!

Monday, June 3, 2013

First day of swimming lessons!

Ooh! I'm so proud. Johnny and Vivie had their first day of swimming lessons, and it went...wait for it...



Johnny was in a preschool group of 3-5 year-olds. There were four other kids with one teacher. Great ratio. He listened to his teacher and as far as I know, did what she told him. Yay! This is the same kid who as a young toddler would scream bloody murder during bath time, and fight with every ounce of his being to stay dry.

He's normally a laid-back kid, so you could tell there really was something about the bath that he didn't like. He has since gotten past that issue, and now takes baths cooperatively.

A few months ago, we went to a pool that had some fun things -- a kid slide, sprayers, etc. and a zero-entry access. It went well with both kids, so I was optimistic about signing them up for classes.

Vivie and I were in the mommy & me class for babies-toddlers. Vivie was less enthusiastic about it. Maybe because the water was really cold. Maybe it was because she couldn't reach the bottom, and was just a bit unsure about the whole thing. I didn't push her. I just wanted her to be in the water with me for the whole class, and to not throw a fit. We'll try more tomorrow.

She clung to me the entire time, except for when the teacher had the kids jump into the pool into mama's arms. Vivie didn't go under water at ALL. But she loved the jumping to mama thing, so that went well. I got an upper body workout I wasn't expecting (hello, she's 30+ lbs)!.

But yes. Overall, good stuff. Seven more sessions to go.

Johnny wanted to know why his teacher didn't show him how to do the freestyle stroke yet (he didn't know the name; he just did the motions). I like that he's thinking big-picture here.

In the middle of the pool, there was some sort of middle or high school swim team doing laps, and it really impressed my kids. It was a good distraction for Vivie, too, when she started getting ideas about getting out of the pool before the class was over. Heh!