Since Cava was home for the day after being suspended from school, I told him, "You may not be going to school today, but you will be doing schoolwork here."
After we dropped Benjamin off at school, Cava and I came home. While I went online to find 1st grade worksheets for him to do, I had Cava make his bed. Then we started our curriculum for the day. He did a farm animal seek-a-word since he absolutely loves animals. After this we did a math worksheet that went from 1 - 100 and he had to write in the missing numbers. Since I didn't want to simply have him to do worksheet after worksheet, when he'd finished that one, it was time for a little bit of calisthenics. I challenged him to a competition to see who could do the most push-ups (something I already knew he was good at). No surprise, he could do 20 push-ups to my ten. This was also a good way to not only break up the monotony of doing schoolwork but also to get out some of his energy.
When he was done proudly prancing around over beating his Papa at push-ups, I got him to sit down and read In A People House. He thought the mouse and the bird getting into all the people items was funny.
Since he has art at school and, of course, because I love art, that is what we moved onto next. I got out some paints and my brushes to let Cava express himself. He did two paintings: one for our refrigerator gallery and one for Mama to take and put in her office at work.
Science came next. Working off of his love for his favorite movie, The Lion King, we studied a bit about African animals and then did a worksheet about what we'd learned. At the bottom of the worksheet, he drew his favorite African animal: the meerkat (after Timon, of course!).
The only time I got any complaint over work I'd given him to do was when he had to read, trace, and then write basic sentences. I told him that when he'd completed the worksheet, we would go to the library, which has become one of his favorite places to go. He quickly began kissing my hand like I was the Pope and telling me, "Oh, thank you, thank you. Thank you very much, Papa."
Because one of his favorite shows is Dora the Explorer, I played off of this by telling him that we were going to go to three places: the library, the doctor's office to pick up his Russian medical records, and the grocery store. Then, after we'd go to one place, I'd ask, "Where do we go next?" Cava would think for a moment and then announce wherever we were to go next and he was very excited about doing it this way.
At the library, we signed him up for a computer and he played a few educational games. I sat next to him and a mother who was there with her two young children asked, "What language is he speaking?"
"Ukrainian / Russian," I replied. She then asked me about Cava and we began to talk about adoption. When she asked me if I home-schooled, I answered, "Only today - I hope." I could see that confused look in her eye, so I explained. She also has problems with her son's behavior at school and often has to come and pick him up early. We began to talk about the difficulties we both faced with our boys.
Soon Cava took off his headphones and told me, "Done."
He and I then picked out a stack of books and some CDs to check out. On the way to the library I put on Bach's Goldberg Variations and I would turn it up or down in volume and ask, "Loud? Or soft?" And he would respond in a voice that was either loud or soft. But at the library, he found a Dora the Explorer CD with music from around the world and we listened to that for the rest of our travels.
At the grocery store, I used that as an opportunity to teach Cava about fruits and vegetables so he could learn their names, about money and the cost of items, and about the different jobs people have working in a grocery store.
Once the travel portion of our day was done, we came home, ate lunch, and then Cava did an addition worksheet. He was more than willing to oblige since I told him we would do a Spiderman craft once he'd finished that. Printing up the parts of Spiderman (head, arms, torso, legs), I let Cava color and cut them out. He then pasted the parts onto an empty paper-towel roll. He was very proud of his handiwork. (Yeah, that's about as "craftsy" as I get).
To give him more exercise, as well as find another opportunity to teach him new words, we went on a nature walk around our neighborhood. We stopped whenever he spotted something interesting (a plant, a rock, or any of the squirrels and birds he noticed). I taught him the names of the birds we saw (Robins, Cardinals), the trees (oak, dogwood), and about the veins on the leaves and related those to the veins on his arms. It wasn't long into our nature walk that Cava discovered a bird's nest that had fallen from a tree. He picked the nest up and carried it with him.
It's funny, but every time he spotted a bird, he would hold the nest up to them and offer it in the hopes they would make a home in it. Sadly, no takers, so we put the nest in a tree by our goldfish pond.
Cava also learned about the numbers on houses, which provided not only an opportunity for him to count, but to learn about odd and even numbers.
What I loved about our walk was the enthusiasm he had for discovering the simplest of things (an acorn, a rock, or even something he sees every day like a squirrel). He was genuinely curious and repeated the things I told him. He was proud of himself when he would then spot a Cardinal and he'd point to it and say, "Papa, a Cardinal!" "Great job," I'd tell him and he would beam a big smile.
As much as I disliked him getting suspended from school, I was equally proud of how much he was willing to learn today. I repeatedly told him both of how proud I was and how smart he was. He not only liked hearing this, he needed to hear this. I think one of his biggest obstacles is overcoming his poor self-esteem. Cava does not see himself as smart and he needs accomplishments to so that we can tell him how we're proud of him and provide an opportunity for him to take pride in his achievements, no matter how small. So I approached schooling in a Robert Frost fashion when he wrote, "I am not a teacher, but an awakener." Hopefully I did a little of that with Cava today.