Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Friday, August 31, 2012

And... off to school

I now have a third grader who has survived the first two and half days of school without major incident, yay!  I really like what I've heard so far about the efforts to keep him challenged in the classroom, so now we'll see how all the nice words play out in action.  It's been an awesome start :)

Cute antics:

• using the intonation of Animaniacs' "Hello nurse" to greet me, "Hello person!"  

• getting all profound when I told him I was feeling sad over a wilting rose given by my sister because I really wanted it to be a plant that lives a long time… he said contemplatively, "Well, people face sadnesses in life."

• accidentally giving himself a giant hicky on each arm

• when Andrew said he would "possibly" have time to play games, Cameron asked, "Can you move your possibly to something in my favor?"

• flooding the sink and then asking in a curious manner, as he cleaned the water up from the floor and cabinet, "Why did I have to flood the sink?"
(Conversations on learning are getting more and more common around here.)

• setting a new record in his spontaneous need to literally run off energy; he did 111 laps around the house.

• poking at my foot and saying, "I'm feeling the intricate-ness of your foot!"

• telling his psychologist, "If I was really playing [chess], I'd clobber you." 

• "If I saw a tsunami, I'd say 'Yaaaaaa and run like heck."

• singing to the Pirates of Penzance tune, "Take hugs, take any hug, take any hug, take mine." (…and giving me an awesome hug.  Very cool!)

• conversation:
Mom: Tell Dad what you did to make the macaroni with me
Cameron: Things!
Andrew: Things?
Cameron: Things, he said vaguely  (speaking of himself in third person)

History go fish is up to over sixty pairs and he still begs to play!

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Mommy School" Summary

As we draw to a close of the summer, we near the end of this summer's session of "Mommy School" (Cameron's term for his learning with me over the summer).  We've had a particularly positive experience and again learned more about how to work together and how to adapt learning methods so that we're both enjoying ourselves.  I think the biggest challenge was when he would want to be right so much that he'd argue about something like an algebraic fact.  He'd get so upset and insist that, for example, -2+(-3) = 1.  We did all sorts of things to help work around this block and were eventually successful, as usual, once he's learned something, he insists it's a "piece of cake".

The biggest challenge for him academically and we made tons of progress.  I offered choices at the beginning of the summer, and, we still weren't finding something that he was eager about doing.  My first big break through was suggesting he write me lego instructions for how to build something.  It worked beautifully!  He was interested and he learned about being precise and he had some enjoyment.  We found he was getting to dislike it more and more though as it just seemed too long to him, so we decreased the number of sentences and focused on writing them with particularly good handwriting.  Finally, three weeks ago, he was resisting again and we tried decreasing amount of writing to learn cursive.  Wow, he did his first run through the cursive alphabet the first week and has been writing 40 cursive words each day for the last two weeks and his writing is already better than his print!  He likes the idea of being able to write faster :)  Also, throughout the summer, he's been doing a typing program and getting faster and faster with that!  So, with cursive and typing, we're working on the physical difficulties of writing and by writing each day, he's getting better at expressing more detailed ideas.  It's still the subject he puts last each day, but he's improving!

We completed both the Ancient (started well before the summer) and the European History at our House classes this summer.  Considering how much writing is a challenge for him, I took dictation for the tests and review sheets, but he did really well on them (especially considering he moves so much when listening and sings to himself often so that it's hard to imagine he's listening).  We're still keeping the knowledge current through my use of History Go Fish and History Taboo.  To finish off the summer, we're listening to some of the History Through Art classes which he skipped during the first listening because he wanted to hear what happened next in the story.  We also completed a college course in mythology lent by my dad which was lots of fun!

It's gone through many different implementations, but over the summer, Cameron has practiced math each weekday and learned or cemented his knowledge of: all basic arithmetic (including long division and multi-digit multiplication), fractions (including finding a common denominator), decimal word problems, exponents, square / cube roots, negative numbers, and basic algebra.   While he often doesn't remember the correct way of saying what he's doing, he understands these manipulations of numbers and seems to really zoom through these subjects.  He does have an investment in doing well and will sometimes reject something new as a threat to his view of "I'm good at math."  We work on developing that growth mentality i.e. finding something challenging is good, it's the way it should be and part of learning something new, not a threat to his current skills.  For the last three weeks of the summer, I finished up introducing new material and had him practice mixed arithmetic drills so that he could brush up on quickly getting responses to those questions.  (I was noticing that he'd occasionally get stuck for ten seconds on an arithmetic question and need to figure it out instead of having it memorized.)

A little older picture from when we first started algebraic equations… now he doesn't mind if the variable is squared or cubed and, yes, he does have pants on, but he rarely makes it through the homeschool day without taking off his shirt.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with our summer experience.  We were really flexible and listened to each other and he grew a great deal.  Reading isn't on our list because I just do that a bunch naturally as does he.   He's always been at least three or four years ahead in reading (started reading before age three due to hyperlexia) and I've found any measurement or even tracking of reading tends to rapidly turn him off.  (I fill out the occasional request from school for a reading log for him without letting him know because his motivation gets so drastically reduced if he hears about this.)  I'll definitely take advantage of this flexible approach in the future to keep us enjoying learning together!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Creation Concoctions

My kiddo likes to create concoctions of various foods and I'm all for him making his own food, as long as he eats it.  This latest was particularly questionable, but it was devoured so... add quirky tastes to all the other quirks of my delightful kid!
Voila! Bananas and raisins covered in ketchup and pimentos and olives and surrounded by cheese

Cute antics catch up:

• getting this very grand, announcer voice and making official declarations of the obvious, such as "I dub thee reader" when I'm about to read to him or "You are exiled to the shower" when I'm going to take a shower.

• while practicing cursive and catching his own mistake, "I better make my oops be a good oops!"

• giving me a good laugh when my timer went off for us to watch the Mars landing live… Cameron jumped up and opened the door to go out on the deck :)  (Um, a wee bit too far to view with the naked eye)

 • while we were rough housing and I was pretending to eat different meat from Cameron's body he told me, "You can have some bottom meat, too!"

• responding to his history teacher saying, "He [Napoleon] was the greatest land power and Britain was the greatest naval power." with, "Just like Athens and Sparta!"  (I just love this finding parallels!  When I came down in the morning, he'd created a huge, lego ship... starting his navy.)

• surprising me by coming up to me and scratching my back for the first time and then declaring "That should get me out of a few years of purgatory!"  (That's what you get if a kid learns about indulgences as "get out of purgatory free (cards)" which infuriated Martin Luther into writing his 95 theses!)

• recalling his Anne of Green Gables knowledge, he remarked on a fly's death that it was a "romantic way to die for a fly" and then told in detail how he was using the literary reference (in which a mouse drowns in sauce and Anne thinks it's a romantic way to die).

• dictating this email:
Note from Cameron to Dad
I want to fix this and I don't want you to yell and have this be a big disaster, so please tell me how I can fix it.  I didn't realize how hard the brass was on the door.
Bye, your faithful child,
(Downstairs bathroom door swung too hard so the lock piece on the handle indented the wall.  It was really an accident waiting to happen because there was no door stop and it is a small dent too.  We'll just place a wall door stop.  We already ordered it together, so Cameron is fixing the problem by paying the few dollars.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


How cool that my kiddo is getting into fencing!  Tonight, he followed his Dad and watched an adult class too!  I'll append Cameron's dictated report on the experience!  Here are a couple pics and the latest cute antics too.

Cute antics:
• doing division with decimals, "Seven into zero? Zero.   Seven into dot?  Dot!"  (The problem was 7 divided by 0.021489)
• requesting extra reading time by leaving me a note on my pillow, "Extra time by Cameron"
• responding to my question about how he figures out negative number equations with, "I usually just look it up in the math dictionary and it gives me the answer."  (When I asked where that was, he pointed to his head.  He definitely thinks differently!)
• when I was explaining the word "distain" I used the example of Poobah in the Mikado and he chuckled, "The patricians had distain for the plebeians in Rome!"  (Ya, he's got the idea... he particularly liked the story of the two plaebian secessions).

Daddy Fencing
by Cameron

Dad and I walked into the Fencing place.  When we arrived, in the waiting room, there was a teacher teaching another class of Saber fencing.  It was the same teacher that I have.   Sabers have a bigger guard with a metal thing around the grip.  Saber fencing is more slashing than poking.  
We were a little early.  Eventually, Dad sat down and said, "I'll let you play a little bit." and handed me his phone.  I did a little bit of Trenches.  That's a video game meant for the phone but can be played on the iPad.  Then I played a kind of technology Cut the Rope, there are a lot more things to make the ball move to different places.  I played that until it was time for Daddy's fencing to start.
First, I'll talk about what I was doing during the lesson and then I'll talk about what Dad was doing.  First, I watched Dad standing on the other end of the wall, just looking and thinking this isn't very interesting.  When I overheard someone saying that you could hop in fencing.  Then I got up and practiced a hop in fencing.  Then I got multiple temptations to climb onto the top of the wall and lie down.  There's a wall between where the fencing action is and where the waiting room is.  It's not a very tall wall.  Eventually, I did climb and faced forward.  It made me feel a tiny bit like a tiger resting in the shade.  Then I was looking and thinking, "Oh, Dad exchanged a play with her and I was like, Woah, her hair is kind of like a man's."  It was yellow, but kind of big, pushed back with a little front and a lot at the back, everything was pushed back.  Dad taught her a few moves like an under slope which I immediately went and practiced.  You dip under and pick up the enemy blade and then immediately lunge, immediately extend and you automatically poke them and bend the sword.  Foils are supposed to bend and they must have been very handy long swords.  It is a kind of long sword.  Soon after that, I learned you should point your blade directly at your enemy instead of diagonally at your enemy's head.  Then one of the teachers told me to get off the wall and I did.  Then it started to get darker and darker and darker outside and I got boreder and boreder and boredor inside.  Dad was probably having a lot of fun.  Until 1,999,999 years passed and then Dad finally came out and said we could go and fencing was still going on.  
That was only my part and I'm not really sure how to kind of put myself in Dad's perspective.  Dad kept trying to teach his opponent a bunch of things until they switched and they started playing with other players until finally I didn't notice him anymore and started looking off and thinking about beeping little things on the opposite of the gym.  There were little cords connected to suits for fencing for a score.  Dad was the one who pulled off the little jump thing, the hop.
Overall, I thought it was pretty boring and a waste of time.  At least I got to play a little bit of video games before.  I learned some things that I might value in the future.  Fencing at home with Daddy is more fun.