Saturday, September 23, 2017

Preschool Kumon

Here are some thoughts on some of Kumon's preschool workbook offerings:

  • First off, the age ratings on these books are often over-ambitious.  For example, My Book of Numbers 1-30 is rated for ages 3-5.  As a 4-year-old, Baby T has done a number of the dot-to-dot type exercises pretty well, and the concepts are well within her grasp, but she's much less good at writing numbers over and over again (and frankly, we haven't really tried).  In general, I've gotten much less excited than I used to be about the number writing and letter writing exercises for really small children.  We have not finished this workbook.
  • Fessing up here--part of the reason I'm less enthusiastic about some of these workbooks is that they require constant parental supervision.
  • I have ordered Kumon's My Book of Number Games 1-70 to give Baby T some number practice without a lot of copy work--it's basically a dot-to-dot book.
  • Related: Kumon's My First Book of Drawing is also rated ages 3-5.  Baby T did quite a number of drawing exercises by herself at 4 and did a very decent job:  the apple, cherries, eggplant (!), watermelon, kite, etc.  However, she also just scribbled a little on some of them, or treated them as coloring exercises.  (Baby T did a lot of this workbook by herself.)  Some quibbles:  a cupcake that doesn't look like a cupcake, a ladle (what do 4-year-olds care about ladles?) and a very creepy clown.  Definitely not for the typical 3-year-old.  We have not finished this.
  • I last posted on Kumon's pre-k Logic workbook.  It starts with finding a match for an animal in a group of different animals and moves onto matching a cross-section of an object to the object itself and baby animals to their parents.  So far so good.  Things get a little trickier in the next section, where kids need to understand how scales work, and that being lower indicates that the animal or object is heavier.  Then there's a section on choosing which object or animal is faster.  We found this problematic as it's more about real life knowledge and experience than abstract logic.  Why should a 4-year-old know that a bird is faster than a bee?  And I still don't know whether a lion is faster than a rabbit.  Baby T did surprisingly well on the section where kids are supposed to figure out which things in a picture are pretend.  Baby T did well with pattern sequencing (at least as well as her mom).  Object rotation was kind of a pain for both of us.  There was also an exercise where you need to figure out which animal is missing in a design, with lots of obstacles to make it hard.  There were many times where I found myself thinking, "This is for 4-year-olds--seriously?", especially since there were times (like with the pattern sequencing and missing animals) where I struggled, too.  Baby T is very close to 5, so heaven knows how a young 4-year-old would do.  The workbook has really nice full color pictures, but I would say that the second half of it is more appropriate for 5.  Baby T did finish this (with help).
  • We found ourselves much more at home in Kumon's pre-k Spatial Reasoning workbook.  Again, I'm not totally sure that this is a good workbook for a typical 4-year-old, but this one was a very good fit for Baby T.  It contains the following:  drawing lines to connect matching objects (which eventually builds into mazes), multi-stop mazes, matching partial pictures, matching outlines to animals, figuring out which picture shows two shapes smooshed together (really good performance on that), copying more and more complex shapes (with help and some wobbly lines), comparing height (not fooled by animals sitting on chairs) and coloring exercises.  I've ordered the kindergarten version for Baby T.   
  • We're also working on the pre-k Differentiation workbook.  So far, the hardest thing in there for me and Baby T is the mirror image exercises.  
  • All in all, I'm happy to have preschool workbooks that are not primarily about practicing copying letters and numbers and where fine motor skills are not a major obstacle to doing the work, but age-appropriateness is sometimes an issue.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Kumon Logic II

Baby T finished the pre-k logic workbook.  Some thoughts:

  • There are a lot of exercises in the beginning of the book that are more knowledge-of-the-world and less logic (Baby T had trouble with that).
  • In the middle of the book, there are some interesting exercises with trying to figure out which animal is riding a carnival ride.
  • It gets really hard at the end of the book with exercises where you study a pattern and predict the next item in the sequence.  It is not easy, even for big people.  (Baby T was good at those, though.)  
  • I wonder how appropriate this book really is for 4-year-olds, as Baby T is almost 5, and it was challenging.  
  • I have ordered and we are expecting the Kumon "Spatial Reasoning" and "Differentiation" pre-k workbooks.  Baby T is excitedly waiting for them.  I may eventually order the kindergarten "Logic" workbook.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kumon Logic

Baby T and I have almost finished her Kumon pre-k Logic workbook.  It's SO HARD.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Playroom II

Here's some of what's happening:

  • I finished the playroom (with some input from Baby T).
  • Baby T likes to say, "Baby cat loves mama cat!"
  • She just came over and wiped my hands with a wet wipe.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


I have a very slow, totally non-KonMari decluttering program going.  Here's what I've done recently:

  • moved a bunch of Baby T's clothes from my closet into her new closet (Baby T and D switched rooms this summer)
  • gave away some of Baby T's outgrown clothes
  • decluttered, dusted and vacuumed my walk-in closet (for a closet, I'd say it looks pretty good) yesterday
  • decluttered two linear yards of Baby T's playroom downstairs (the playroom is probably about half done now)
I can only do the playroom about 15-30 minutes at a time, as that's about the point where Baby T's helpfulness gives out.  We've done two sessions so far and I foresee it taking at least another two.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fall II

It's been a very productive Saturday.

  • My husband and D assembled both the brown IKEA wardrobe for D and big white dresser for Baby T.  (D got paid for the dresser assembly, which took 2.5 hours.)
  • Basically, there was about 5 hours just of IKEA assembly today, with both my husband and D working the whole time.  Baby T came and helped with the dresser, and was actually rather helpful.
  • C got to go to her first riding lesson of the fall.
  • I moved D's clothes from Baby T's closet into his wardrobe and dresser.
  • Husband hung a sun/moon decoration up for Baby T.
  • C hung up Baby T's old My Little Pony wall decals and she and I hung up a Pokemon poster that C bought for Baby T a while back and has been saving for her.
  • D's old room/Baby T's new room has a castle photo mural and D left Baby T his old homemade wooden castle wall (it has hinges, so it can be folded up or made into a square).  The castle stuff combines pretty well thematically with Baby T's new purple princess tent and her My Little Ponies.  This room is not going to get us into the local glossy, but I think it's up to 4-year-old/5-year-old standards.
  • Husband and I also gave D some lighting help, as his room is a bit dim in the evening.
  • All in all, a strong team effort.  Here's what's left to do in those two rooms:  move Baby T's clothes out of master bedroom closet, replace window in D room (waiting for window people), buy D a blind (waiting for new window), and install a lower, reachable rod for Baby T's closet.
  • Down the road, we need to get Baby T an actual bed, mattress, and new bedding (her pick?)--probably in about a year.  We'll eventually (around 10?) need to get her a cork board, desk and bookcase, and possibly repaint, as it will be about time by then.  Basically, we'll just be doing a white version of D's room, with the furniture where D's furniture used to be.  


Here's some of what's happening:

  • We went to a department potluck and Baby T got to see a classmate.  I had a couple of "small town is small!" chats with new people.  (It was mainly on the subject of how you keep bumping into the same people in our town and how the local glossy features people you know.)  The hosts had a big trampoline and a nice swing and D ran around madly with the little kids chasing him, executing amazing bullfighter style last-minute pivots to escape the little kids.  I also (much to D's relief) instituted a one-kid-only rule when the little kids started to swarm D.  There was also marshmallow roasting!  Baby T was probably one of the most socially benefited by the potluck, as her classmate and siblings were there, as was a family of old chums.  There are a lot of kids in the department around Baby T's age.  
  • D and his dad are working on assembling D's new IKEA wardrobe.  D's new room (Baby T's old room) has no closet, so he needed a wardrobe to keep his stuff that hangs.  This was not the cheapest available wardrobe, but I'm partial to the Hemnes solid pine line at IKEA, and I've been trying to move our family away from particle board furniture.  Plus, the solid pine is less fiddly to deal with than particle board when there are assembly issues--less crumbling to bits.  There's also a dresser for Baby T to assemble, but they may not get to that today.
  • I was working on organizing and decluttering Baby T's playroom with her earlier this week.  As I discovered, it's going to take several sessions with Baby T to do the whole thing.  However, I did manage to clean up Baby T's playdoh area (table, large bin, etc.).  Right now, she's playing with her awesome My Little Pony playdoh set and she's making manes and tails with a playdoh press. 
  • It's so pretty right now! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

September Ukulele Club

We had the club today in just about ideal weather.  8+ kids came and one girl said, "I'm learning "Hallelujah"!"

The kids who have been coming have just gotten to the point of being able to learn songs, and they're very excited.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T has made peace with her uniform.  She has decided that the green looks like a favorite character (from Skylanders?).
  • She likes just about everything about pre-k.
  • They get lots of playground time and some indoor physical exercises (which remind me a lot of physical therapy exercises).
  • The academic activities seem very moderate
  • Baby T has suddenly decided that she likes books again.
  • We are currently hosting the class mascot, a stuffed dog with the school insignia on his/her (?) denim overalls.  We are supposed to show the mascot a good time, take pictures, put them in a special album, and send it to school.
  • D is in 7th grade and C is in 10th grade.  C is taking pre-calculus and pre-AP physics.  This is D's first year in the junior/senior high building.  It's a big adjustment for him, but his grades are very good so far.