The Child and Her Brain

Ani is a really funny kid. She is normal when she’s around other kids and plays with her Barbies and things like a normal nearly 6 year old. She holds age-appropriate conversations with other children her age (the very serious conversation between Ani and Buddy – he’s about 3 months younger than she – at church a few weeks ago about where they would like to fall if they fell out the upstairs window in the classroom and where they would be least likely to be injured was priceless). Yesterday we had a friend’s daughter Alexis – about 9 months younger – over for a few hours and they played all sorts of things.

But her brain is the weird part of her. She is extremely smart. To give her a “grade level” I told her she is essentially a second grader. That seems young enough to me. She is able to do math on a third grade level (if it weren’t for me wanting her to really cement her math facts she’d already be in Math-U-See Gamma or Delta – she had finished through Alpha Omega third grade math before switching to MUS). She is reading on about a fourth grade level. And so Ani, knowing this, decided the other day she is actually in third grade. Whatever. Grade levels really don’t mean much when you are homeschooled anyway. As far as filing with the state, we go with age-mate level (which is kindergarten this year).

Friday night Ani couldn’t settle down. I really think it’s because Jamie read the kids to sleep and Ani chose “An Incomplete Education.” Any time she reads or is read to something that is educational she tends to get very mentally excited. She stayed up three hours past her bedtime doing math in her head (and in the process figuring out exactly what the next four lessons of Math-U-See will be) and spelling words aloud. Of course we didn’t help because we kept feeding her math problems and spelling words like she wanted us to. I fell asleep more than an hour before she did according to Jamie. He ended up giving her the first volume of the My First Britannica set and she read some (and now she has decided she will finish those twelve volumes and move on to the Compton’s Encyclopedia set and then either Annals of America or the Encyclopedia Britannica and then on to Ian’s huge TCP/IP and Frame Relay and what not computer books – hey, maybe one day she’ll win millions on Jeopardy! right?). After a while he played some songs from The Children’s Songbook and that helped her settle down to go to sleep. Finally.

Ani really is happiest when she is learning. She was absolutely on top of the world Friday night gleefully doing school-type things. She is incredibly driven. I have a very high IQ, as does Jamie. I’ve always said I don’t live up to my potential (particularly since I think IQs and IQ testing are somewhat meaningless though in the 80′s when I was still in public school they insisted on testing all the kids’ IQs). Ani, however, given how driven and excited about learning she is (and the fact that she is not being sent to school where that excitement could be pushed right out of her) may just live up to her potential, whatever that may be.

Cameron is much more like me whereas Ani is like my older sister. He finds it rather easy to learn his letters right now and he is excited about learning to read (speaking of, I think it’s time we pull out those Bob Books Ani enjoyed reading so much). But if he doesn’t feel like doing school, he’s just plain not going to do it. Things are done on his terms. That’s fine. He’s only 4 and if he was going to public school wouldn’t even be starting kindergarten until fall of 2007 since he misses the cut-off for this fall by three days. I wonder how the baby I’m growing will be. The baby already seems to like when I read to Meldoy and Wil given how much the baby wiggles and kicks during those times (or maybe the baby doesn’t like it and is trying to tell me to stop!).

Various Things, Particularly About Ani

Ani’s up to something like lesson 24 in her McGuffey First Reader. She just likes to sit and read it. She was very distressed that we weren’t having school yesterday. Jamie was home for MLK Day so I gave them a holiday. She really is happiest while she is learning.

We were reading some books yesterday and one of them was The Berenstain Bears in the Dark. In it the Bear family sits down for some quiet reading time. Ani decided she wanted to start doing that each evening. So at 6:45 we sat down to read (well, three of us… Cameron doesn’t read yet and didn’t want to look at book either). Jamie was reading Dune, I was reading Ben Franklin, and Ani was reading Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1). I read it to her a few months ago, but now she’s reading it to herself. She ended up reading a whole chapter in one sitting. Usually she gets tired of reading after a couple pages. She insists we do this every night now. Honestly, this kid was made for Classical education!

A Little About Us

Our family consists of two parents, a daughter, a son, and another little one on the way in about 6 months (due July 1st). Before we ever had kids my husband and I knew we’d homeschool them. I was homeschooled so it is just natural to carry that one. Ani is almost 6 (next month) and would be in kindergarten this year. She’s doing about second grade level work. Cameron is 4. He misses the cutoff in VA by 3 days so he wouldn’t even be in preschool until this fall. Nevertheless, he has asked to “do school” and so he is about a preschooler.

We have a very eclectic mix of what we do. Some days we completely unschool. Others we are structured. Right now we’re doing unit studies, but that’s going to change after the arrival of our new one. I don’t want to keep on planning them. Plus Ani still seems to want workbook work and Cameron just sucks it up, too.

I’ve had a lot of nausea since I got pregnant and chances are it’ll keep up a few more months. I have more good days now, though, and more evening sickness. We haven’t been doing much school lately and Ani has been begging for it. She’s happiest when she’s learning something. So now we’re heading back toward more structured school (but still relaxed) rather than unschooling since I’m feeling better.