We kicked off our third year with The Homegrown Preschooler’s A Year of Playing Skillfully— with a hurricane.
As per usual, I had laid out all my plans for the first week of school only to have them interrupted by LIFE. Looking back now I see that I would have had to rearrange my plans with or without a hurricane because this child of mine blew my expectations out of the water.
One of my favorite things about AYOPS is its monthly organization presenting a wide array of choices with varying developmental skill. Our first year of AYOPS we spent the majority of September trying to introduce my son to new sensory experiences. Our second September found us moving into more difficult motor skills, songs, rhymes, art and science. Now in our third September with AYOPS he is all about math and letters. His evaluation therapist initially predicted an introductory phonics start time of 8-9 years old. I was prepared to wait many more years for this child to become interested in letters. Imagine my amazement this month when I set out one phonics, activity which had been ignored for two years, and found him forty minutes later still happily playing away.
This interest is no small part due to his eldest brother. He wanted to use the many, many phonics tricks he has learned throughout his Dyslexia journey to teach his little brother. Its been so redeeming for him to pour his hard-earned knowledge into someone else. I have found him looking through our AYOPS manual several times asking what else he can teach his little brother. How empowering for a child with learning disabilities to now find someone he can help. These early weeks of school were a precious gift to my heart as I watched these boys grow individually and in their relationship with one another. Its funny how AYOPS has become so engrained in our family culture. As I have said before, we are a family that plays together.
Now that he is officially interested in letters, I was ready to charge ahead into our print rich environment. I was about 10 notecards in when he started tearing them down and asked me not to do that again. I had to figure something else out for his specific personality. He loves art, so I asked him to draw a picture of different objects in the house and then I labeled them. We made a sweet little book for him to look at and this worked just fine! I also got him a blank composition notebook and he has since filled at least a quarter of it with row after row after row of letters. He takes it everywhere with him.
Its now his turn to make a nature counting book and a manners book and a world book. I am treasuring these little memories he is making. The joy on his face when he finished each book was wonderful. I am so glad I kept him home. I am so glad I chose to believe in him and support him. I am so glad I said yes!
The implementation of his work for the month of September began in August. I chose which activities would work best within our calendar limits and supply budget, I tried to adapt as many activities using what we already had on hand, and then I organized as much as I could into accessible bins. The other activities were written out on notecards and placed in the folds of my school planner. Whenever any older child had a break, I would send them outside with a notecard of instructions and a basket or shoe box of materials.
We averaged 2-3 activities per day, repeating many of the activities for days on end. This is a boy that craves repetition. When the activities were done, he would keep playing. I have noticed his level of play mature over the years, in large part because of the wonder training involved with Homegrown Preschooler.
Once we finish our spindle box activity, (ours is made out of ten soup cans glued to a piece of wood!) he starts to play with blocks and he counts each one out as he stacks them.
When we wrote out his story, he put on costumes and came up with other people’s stories for the rest of the morning.
He has moved on from clearing dishes and now loves to set the table and even prepare the meal. He loves contributing to the life of the family and its gladdens my heart to see how he is thriving these days. What a difference from that first year!