Anders made it 3/4 of the way through the Hooked on Phonics second grade level. We are currently taking a break while he does summer camps.
During this time period, Anders realized that there are books he can read on his own. We started going to the library for him to check out his own books to read, but once summer camp season got under way, we ran out of time for this.
For the first time in over two years, my books are out of our storage unit and on bookshelves. Anders has been a little obsessed with them, constantly trying to read them, taking whole stacks to look through, asking me what they were about, and saying that he wants to know everything that I know.
Before camp started I was still reading to Anders for about an hour each night. After camp started we have not even had time for that!
I still read frequently and give my husband the play-by-play of whatever I am learning. Anders now insists on being a part of it. Anytime he sees me reading he wants to know what I have learned. Often he asks me to read aloud to him from the book I am reading.
One time when we were in the car Anders asked me why there are so many ugly buildings in LA and I went off on a mini-lecture about how a man named Kant convinced the world that beauty is subjective about 140 years ago. When I realized I was lecturing I paused and said, "I'm so sorry Anders, you asked a simple question and I started lecturing at you!" He replied, "That's okay, Mom. I like listening to you talk. It makes me smarter."
Despite not having a lot of time to read, during this time periods we did manage to finish the adult book about airplanes Cockpit Confidential, and we reread the entire Little House series.
For the last four months Anders has relished going to the Kumon center twice a week to do his work with Miss Mariko. He runs in there with a big smile, races through the ten pages they expect him to do, and then asks for extra work. They are wild with laughter every time they return him to me as they have never seen a child so excited to do his math. One time he stayed for almost two hours completing 110 pages of work. He finished the entire unit of 2A in and is now working on A (first grade).
We had a lot of discussions about the pros and cons of doing Kumon, the SAT's, and going to college. I was asking him every month before I paid for the Kumon program if he was sure he would like to continue, and every month he said a very quick, "Yes." Then in May he told me I didn't have to ask him again until he was 6.
Once the camp season started in June and Anders got busy, Kumon became less interesting/exciting/fun to him and returned to being work, albeit work that he takes a great deal of pride in. He generally puts off doing it until I say, "Anders, it's almost seven; if you don't start your Kumon now, you won't have time to do it today!" Then he races down to do his pages while I do dishes in the other room. Every now and then he says he is too tired to do it, and I ask him if I can support him in some way. He asks me to sit with him at the table while he does his work.
During March, April, and May Anders did math tutoring with a Montessori teacher at a nearby Montessori school once a week. This he loved immensely and would never let me cancel no matter how busy we got. His sessions were ninety minutes long (he chose the length) and his teacher reported to me that he is two years above grade level.
This makes sense to me because in daily life I have seen Anders do (simple) subtraction, multiplication, and division problems with ease, like if I had 100 dollars and divided it up among 4 people, how much money would each person have?"
Anders taught himself roman numerals using the Mathopia app on my phone.
Anders has continued to go to the office with his dad and just loves it there.
We watched The Apprentice television show on DVD, which I found to be an invaluable teaching tool about business. We will likely watch this show again when he is older. My favorite episode was the one with Trump's son – I could tell he was already being given a business education.
Anders told me in April that he really wanted a job and asked if I could help him get one. His father offered to hire him for $3/hr to pick up trash around the auto square where his security company is located. Anders said he would do that, but he wanted a real job. I explained to him that 100 years ago the government made it illegal for children to work in every industry except one – the entertainment industry. So the only legal job available to a child of his age would be acting or modeling. He asked what actors and models were, and I explained the jobs to him. "That's fine. I'll do that." He said. "Well, " I said, "as long as we are in LA, I guess I can look into it..."
Papa then asked him why he wanted to work. We told him we will feed, house, clothe, and take care of him for many years to come. He said that he really wants to buy assets, like cows, a farm, apartment buildings, and companies. He wants to find a partner and have children of his own and before he does that he needs money so ... assets.
Before camp started we played a lot of Money Bags. Currently we just play Legos and hide and seek.
One evening we were making pumpkin cookies and had all the dry ingredients mixed together before we realized that we did not have any butter. Anders wanted to go to the store right, then but when I said I couldn't go until the next day, he was fine with it. It has been that way during this entire time period. We have no disputes, no issues. He is super easy to get along with.
In many ways I feel deeply like "my job here is done." Anders still doesn't know many things of course, and my job most certainly isn't done, but he is so solid, confident, happy, assertive, respectful, and curious that I feel very at peace, like whatever happens he is going to be fine.
Then again he is five. Five is famous for being a very easy and pleasant age.
A conversation I shared on Facebook:
Camp Counselor: You're Anders's mom?
Camp Counselor: I have to tell you a story about your son!
Camp Counselor: Yesterday, your son was sitting with three other boys, and one was like, "I hate girls!" and the next boy was like, "Yeah, girls are so gross!" and the next boy was like, "Yeah, girls are the worst!" And Anders just looked at them all with his mouth open and a big, confused, smile on his face, and he was like, "How can you hate girls?! They're so beautiful!"
Anders switched camps every week all summer, doing gymnastics, four different science camps, ballroom dancing camp, ice skating camp, and Spanish camp. He has made new friends wherever he has gone, but he commented to me that last summer he went to the same camp for six weeks, so he was able to make much better friends. He said that that is what he would like to do next summer, but this summer he is just interested in too many things, so despite the constantly changing peer group, he wants to stick with his plan to do a new camp every week.
Anders continues to exhibit none of the tensional outlets that the books I read tell me are normal for his age (that I have never thought were normal). No finger sucking, nail biting, clothing chewing, eye twitching, stuttering, or attachment objects. He has still never had a nightmare (except that one when he was 2 about cookies) nor is he afraid of the dark or harmless bugs. He does pick his nose occasionally but not often enough for me to think it's a tension thing. He also swings his legs under the table when he is bored, but again, it doesn't seem to be tension related.
Anders continues to play games with his Legos for hours each day when he comes home from camp. Usually he is building farms, robots, or armies. He has conversations with himself and will sometimes tell me not to talk to him because he is playing a game.
He continues to exhibit a solid ability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
Eating & Nutrition
In his camp lunches each day he usually packs some kind of grass fed meat stick, but sometimes sardines or oysters or homemade sausage, a cheese, a sliced up piece of fruit that is almost always an apple, a vegetable which is almost always seaweed, a grain which is almost always crackers but sometimes gallo pinto, and a treat which is almost always a small piece of chocolate. He always brings a thermos of water and sometime adds a bottle of coconut water as well.
His favorite thing to have for dinner during this time period has been Erewhon sushi. He likes the salmon and tuna with rice. He also likes it when I make him lox and cream cheese rolls. I found a great hot dog from US Wellness meats that we have been eating with fermented ketchup as well, though he isn's ever as enthusiastic about the hot dogs as he about sushi or lox rolls. He also likes it when I make pesto pasta or when I serve liver pate on crackers. He goes through phases of being obsessed with kefir smoothies and drinking a pints worth every day for a week or two to not liking them or drinking any at all for a month or two. He also goes through phases of loving a certain nut (it was pistachios and then almonds and currently it's walnuts).
After it turned out that the snacks given to the children at his camps gave him red cheeks, Anders stopped accepting the snacks offered to him at camps sometimes, but not all the time.
Anders is generally effortless to feed. I buy whole grain sourdough bread, but sometimes I buy white sourdough bread. Anders is happy to eat either. I cut the crusts off for him (because my mother would not do that for me) but he doesn't care all that much. I slice apples for him. I stopped peeling them for him because he really didn't mind them with the peels on. Sometimes I serve brown rice and sometimes white rice. He likes both. He thought the brown noodles were tastier than the white noodles with pesto sauce. He will taste anything I ask him to taste and doesn't spit it out or make a big show of it if he doesn't like it.
I wrote down everything Anders ate for a last week and analyzed it on NutritionData.com to see if he was getting all his vitamins and minerals. I shared the results with him, that the good news is that he was getting at least some (50% of his RDA) of every vitamin and mineral through his diet and that the bad news was that he was low (only 50% of his RDA) in vitamins A, E, and K. I told him the best foods to eat more of to get those vitamins, and he has taken it from there. I also told him that most likely he doesn't gravitate towards foods with A and K in them as he gets those from his cod liver oil high vitamin butter oil vitamin, which were not input into the analysis. So we are going to focus on eating more nuts (soaked!) at our house for the vitamin E.
I continue to believe that children are rational and make great choices if given information and control over their own lives.
It is stressful to decide that we are doing "good enough," that 80% in any given vitamin and mineral is good enough, that I don't need to go after the 100%, that I can continue to maintain this relaxed attitude about nutrition. But for now, that's what I am going with! Because it makes me happy. I love my relaxed attitude and how well it has worked with Anders. He doesn't act like a deprived kid, stuffing his face at parties or camps. He acts like a kid who gets plenty of treats. I am hoping that we are eating well enough for Anders to get straight teeth without ever needing braces (both Tom and I wore braces for years, and we both need them again as adults). Only time will tell, unfortunately, and even then, I wont know for sure that the WAPF claim is true until child number two has grown because I did not take cod liver oil when I was pregnant with Anders, so he did not get ideal nutrition in the womb. Thus far his dentist says his palate looks great, so ... I hope!
Anders recently watched the entire documentary Food, Inc.
Though Anders has loved all the camps he has done so far this summer, the one he loved the most was the robotics camp.
Average day in Los Angeles
8am: wake, dress, eat, brush teeth
11am-12pm: home school work
1pm: errands or more play
3pm-5pm: class (Krav Maga, ballroom, Montessori math, Kumon, music, pre-hockey)
6pm: bath, get ready for bed
730p: read and talk
Average day in Los Angeles during camp season:
8am rush: wake, dress, eat, brush teeth, pack lunch, go!
345-5pm: play with Legos or read books to himself
7p: bath, get ready for bed, wrestle with Papa
8pm: lights out, cuddle up and talk
Home School Work (about 1 hour)
4 problems from Ray's New Primary Arithmetic (I was doing 1 but Anders upped it to 4)
Addition flash cards when learning something new
10 pages of Kumon math
1 page Brain Quest questions, first grade level
1 lesson in Kumon Spatial Reasoning work book, kindergarten level
1 lesson Kumon coins workbook
1 page (both sides) in Gifted and Talented Test Prep work book first grade evel (logic)
1 page (both sides) in Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Kindergarten level
1 page or 1 book in Hooked on Phonics
6 NVC flash cards
Read to Mom for twenty minutes
Generally he has a current favorite workbook in which he does many more than one page, more like sight pages. Which workbook is the current favorite changes by the week.
Anders's Music Playlist
Whenever Anders hears a song playing that he likes, he asks me to add it to his playlist. These are the songs that have been added so far. Despite the variety of songs on his list, I only ever hear him playing Josh Vietti and "I'm Goona Getcha Good."
Alanis Morissette: You Learn
Ben Harper: Gold To Me, Fight for your mind
Bucky Covington: It's Good to Be Us
Capella Istopolitana: Mandolin Concerto RV425 Allegro
Carrie Underwood: Wasted
Cross Canadian Ragweed: Constantly
Dave Matthews Band: Best of What's Around
Enya: After Ventus, Evacuee, I Want Tomorrow
Jamey Johnson: In Color
Josh Vietti: In A Trance, Night in Paris, Fur Elise are his favorites but he likes everything by Vietti
Kenny Chesney: Young
London Symphony Orchestra & Micheal Tilson Thomas: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Nina Gerber: Lullaby
Secret Garden: Passacaglia
Shania Twain: I'm Gonna Getcha Good
Sting: When We Dance
Taylor Swift: White Horse
Terri Clark: I Just Wanna Be Mad
The Beatles: Birthday
The Civil Wars: Dust to Dust
The Evening Guests: Lost at Sea, What a Show
The Youngbloods: Let's Get Together
Wynonna: Always Will