Fortunately, he can provide a lot of this himself. He's a very motivated "researcher", not only loving to read, but to experiment and write up his results as well (all entirely self-motivated, I need to point out -- I have not suggested or encouraged this in any way). But because of this tendency of his, it takes a lot of the burden off of me to have to provide it, and keeps it pretty much out of Zoo Boy's hands (who is nowhere near ready for that sort of thing). Classes at the CT Science Center and other museums and nature centers also fill that need in him. He just started a class about the human body yesterday (with our Monday Homeschool Classes), and during the first class they drew skeletons and labeled the major bonus -- this is right up his ally, and he raved about the class afterwards. So really all I need to do is to find some stories that mirror where he is (which would be creation type stories of the cultures that we'll be working with anyway during Zoo Boy's 2nd Grade year).
One thing I really need to do is find him a Spanish teacher. The introduction he received in the fall was wonderful, but she's been unable to continue doing classes, and he's so ready to go on. In fact, lately he's been translating nursery rhymes from English to Spanish with the help of his Spanish/English dictionary, but not speaking Spanish myself, I am unable to tell if the work he's doing is correct or not. He's got a pretty good grasp of syntax. For instance, when he was translating "Row Row Row Your Boat", he realized there were several uses of the word "down", and he needed to figure out which one was the right word. When he settled on "down the street" as the correct one, he realized that the Spanish phrase had the word for "street" before the word for "down", so he looked up the word "stream" first, then went back and put "down" after it.
On the social scene, he's got a few kids he likes spending time with, but nobody that I'd say is a true friend quite yet (other than his brother, of course). I'm hoping some of his activities this coming year will have enough consistency with attendance that he'll have the opportunity to get to know some of these kids a little better. This is the right age for him to be exploring real friendship, so hopefully the opportunity will be there with the right kids. (This photo is of him at a friend's birthday party this past weekend, he's the one farthest to the left.) He gets along equally well with girls and boys, but does seem to surround himself with girls quite frequently.
The big excitement for J these days is that he's finally begun taking dance lessons, after bugging me all fall about it. Here he is at his first ballet class last night. He's also taking a Jazz/Hip Hop combo class, and a Musical Theater class at the same school. He's absolutely thrilled about it (on the night we signed him up for classes, he told me it was the most exciting day of his life!), and he's of course carrying his incomparable enthusiasm along with him to this new pursuit, so his teachers are pretty excited as well. J's a kid that will be successful in whatever he pursues just due to sheer determination.
Personally, I'm pretty impressed with the dance classes. These are very physically intense classes, and the stuff they are working on is the same exact stuff I'd be focusing on with J in regards to sensory integration -- balance, mid-line crossing, endurance, movement to music. The high-quality music they are working to is also a plus. And because kids tend to stick with the same school for years, I think the opportunity to make some friends also exists. So, it's got the big thumbs up from me!
I'll be blogging more about 2nd grade and how I'm meeting J's needs (since he's technically more of a 3rd grader) as we get rolling with our newly upgrade rhythms this week. But for now, this is where J is at! He's also continuing to enjoy his weekly sports/gym class (and they are talking about possibly adding a 2nd day during the week for that class as well come spring so that they can concentrate just on baseball -- hey, K, Wednesdays would be good for us, hint hint). He also has a formal choir class once a week until mid-March, and will be starting rehearsals with the youth chorus again in a few weeks. It's enough to keep us all hopping!