All About Learning Press (AALP) is a publishing house that produces several unique and extremely effective language arts products: the All About Spelling and All About Reading series, All About Homophones, and the Beehive Readers. In early 2009, I was personally invited by Marie Rippel, AALP's founder, to serve as a regular contributor to AALP's first interactive website, The ChatterBee, which she ran from February, 2009, through September, 2011. This was one of my articles.
Well, sadly, I've been out of The ChatterBee loop for about six weeks now - and I've missed being here! But between organizing my daughters' birthday party in early May, putting together scrapbooks for my three regular daycare kids, and taking on the temporary full-day care of seven school-aged children for the past three weeks (which entailed creating a detailed unit study to keep them all occupied and me sane!) - in addition to my regular school and daycare responsibilities - I've lacked time and energy to do much reflecting and writing.
The good news is that the tide turned yesterday at about 2:20 pm - the moment my last daycare charge left for summer vacation. Since I specialize in taking care of teachers' children, my summer vacation starts when theirs does - when the parents finish their last required school day for the year. So today it was just my girls and me, which - though I truly love my regular daycare kids and most of the school-aged ones - was heavenly.
We slept in and took our time with our morning routine (I didn't even fill up the Do-It Door charts last night!). Then I hopped onto my stationary bike while the girls pulled out their latest craft interest: stamping. We did have a couple of things to wrap up before we could officially transition from this past school year to our summer schedule. But I'd only filled three workboxes for each girl - just two of which actually needed to be accomplished.
Finally, at about 11:00, I decided we should tackle those boxes. But before we began, I announced that Box Three - a dolphin paint-by-number related to our just-completed unit study of Australia - was optional. They could do it after finishing the first two boxes or simply choose to save it for another day; not surprisingly given their super-relaxed morning, both girls chose the latter. :^)
Box One was a test in our newly-adopted math curriculum, Math U See. We'll continue with math through the summer (my plan is to set up six workboxes a day for each girl and use them to keep up with the 3Rs), but they were ready for a test on one particular lesson, and I didn't want that to hang over the weekend. The girls have thrived with Math U See so they knew the concepts well and finished within 10 minutes.
And then we were on to Box Two: our very last lesson in All About Spelling, Book 1! Since we started AAS in November, I've simply taken things at each girl's individual pace and did not necessarily plan that they'd go at the same rate (though they have) or that we'd finish up the first book to coincide with the end of our school year. But it worked out that way, which was pretty exciting! So, after just a few minutes of discussion and their end-of-step "test," they gleefully found stickers to plaster onto their AAS progress charts - thus, officially closing up one school year (and - because we school year-round - tacitly beginning the next!).
As I've noted previously, AAS has been a God-send for us - particularly for my now eight-year old daughter, who really had no mastery of spelling before November (and also for her seven-year old sister, even though she is a more natural speller). Rachel now confidently writes without complaint in all kinds of settings - making signs for her make-believe play, jotting notes to my husband or me, doing journal or narration assignments, filling out worksheets in Sunday school - none of which she would even attempt before we started AAS because she knew she couldn't spell, and that made her feel stupid.
Sure, she doesn't spell everything perfectly yet - though it is obvious to me that she has mastered all but a couple of the concepts in AAS Book 1 (the sound of /k/ at the ends of words and FF, LL, and SS are still hard for her to remember consistently). However, she's now willing to try because doing AAS has proved to her that she's capable of making regular progress. And - as with any learning task - believing that one can accomplish it is at least half the battle.
What a great note on which to wrap up a year!