We’ve had several exciting changes in our home since I last posted some 3 1/2 months ago. First and foremost, we’ve added a family member:
The new little guy officially made his appearance shortly before noon Oct. 10, 2013 — on my 39th birthday. What a birthday present! And while I was recovering from a c-section, all three kids enjoyed a rare visit from Nana.
Of course, Buddy Bear’s arrival threw a kink into our Little Bear/Baby Bear nickname system. Baby Bear politely informed us that she was no longer the baby and no longer wished to be referred to as such. She was, however, perfectly content to continue responding to “Bitty Bear.” Meantime, our new little buddy quickly became known as “Buddy Bear.”
The arrival of a new cub put us over the legal limit of four residents in our two-bedroom apartment, so house hunting became the chief focus of November and December. With a move looming on the horizon, we hadn’t planned to take of a break over Christmas. But between family visits and house negotiations, our planned one-week break quickly stretched into three.Yesterday, we we officially dusted off the school books and began easing back into a school routine. So how much ground did we lose amid the chaos and craziness of life?
With more free hours to fill, Little Bear has read and read and read. Over the past three months, she’s progressed from easy readers to classic picture books to chapter books. She’s entertained herself in the car with various “mental math” games and mastered double digit addition with regrouping in the process. She’s discovered Playmobil and progressed from Duplos to Legos — great for honing her fine motor skills. She’s learning to play the zither and the xylophone. She’s spent countless hours watching Wild Kratts and Popular Mechanics for Kids, and she can remember almost every detail of every show. She’s learned plenty, even with limited formal schooling.
That’s not to say that we entirely abandoned school. We trimmed quite a bit of the extras and cut Mommy’s involvement sharply, but have continued working steadily through math and phonics texts. Little Bear is now nearing the end of a first grade phonics curriculum (and reading at a high second or low third grade level) and has completed Horizons Kindergarten Math, Mathematical Reasoning A, and the first three levels of Life of Fred. She’s now midway through Mathematical Reasoning B and Primary Mathematics 1B … and she’s begging for more. (She lamented today that she had forgotten to put more Life of Fred books on her Christmas list.) Handwriting continues to be a challenge, but we’re continuing to work on it. She desperately wants to be able to keep “fact notebooks” like Jack does in her beloved Magic Tree House books, so she’s at least writing more willingly than she did six months ago.
Bitty Bear, meantime, has begun to show an early interest in all things mathematical as well. She loves counting, likes comparing groups of objects, and is beginning to understand the concepts of addition and subtraction.
On the language front, she loves books. She’ll sit and listen for as long as anyone — parent, sister, grandparents, or aunt — will sit and read to her. And when no one is available to read, she’ll sit down with a stack of favorite books and “read” them to herself, looking at the pictures and retelling the stories in surprisingly accurate detail. She recognizes most letters of the alphabet and can match many of them with their initial sounds.
Most of her time, though, is devoted to singing, dancing, taking care of her baby dolls, cooking in her play kitchen, making noise with her toy instruments, scribbling with crayons, dressing up, running around wildly, and enjoying life at top volume — exactly what she should be doing at 2 1/2 years old.
We’ve got still more changes looming on the horizon. We close on our new house Friday, then comes the work of painting, making minor repairs, packing, and moving. We’ll soon be adding in one morning a week of coop classes. We’re also looking forward to more outdoor time and some spring planting once we get into a space of our home. There will be days when we do extra bookwork and days — perhaps weeks — where we barely touch the textbooks. But I’m confident the kids will go on learning because life itself truly is the best teacher.