I’m having a hard time believing that today we began our seventh year of this home education experiment. As beginnings go it was not all that auspicious. I wasn’t really ready (when am I ever?) and I’ve been undergoing something of a philosophical shift these past six months. (You can read more about that here and here. I think I’ve even drifted further from my original classical roots now than I was when I wrote those two posts.) Things feel like they’re unsettled. Add to that the fact that I have a sixth grader (!!!) and a brand-new kindergartener who is definitely READY for action, and I feel like I’m brand new at this.
So, what did we do? Well, we started our time together with a first day of school tradition–new somethings. Some years the somethings are even really “school” related. This year, in keeping with my new philosophies, they were not. Benny got a new Sandra Boynton book, Hippos Go Berserk. The DLM got a kinetic sand kit. Louise got a new seashell book which caused her to positively squeal with delight. (Seriously. Y’all should’ve heard her.) Lulu got a new 1000 piece puzzle which kept her semi-distracted for much of the day. 🙂
The girls worked through a bit more of Khan Academy to review last year’s grade level while I worked through lesson two of All About Reading level one with the DLM. (He got a head start on his kindergarten studies while Lulu was at robotics earlier in the week. 🙂 ) This all went pretty well, frustrations over technology notwithstanding. We bought two Kindle Fires for school use this year, and the girls have been mostly working on Khan Academy through the app on these devices. Sometimes that’s a bit more trouble than it’s worth to me, but it’s what we do.
After that, we headed upstairs for poetry tea time, which was without a doubt the best part of the day for everyone. 🙂
I commissioned the girls with the task of finding their new memory poems during today’s tea time, and they did. Louise chose the John F. Kennedy poem from Marilyn Singer’s collection Rutherford B., Who Was He? and Lulu chose Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet. (She was intrigued by the fact that he wrote it for Queen Elizabeth I.) My favorite poem today was the title poem from Michael Rosen’s collection entitled Bananas in My Ears.
What ever we share, poetry tea time is always worthwhile.
During tea time I suggested a little month-long Brave Writer project in which we will all collect words and phrases we read that capture our imaginations and gather them in a basket. I didn’t reveal to the girls what we’ll do with these later, but the whole notion was well-received.
After tea time it was back downstairs for us to tackle a bit more of our together-work. First, though, the girls and I covered a trio of composition books to make our own commonplace books. I had them choose their own copywork today, an idea I borrowed from, you guessed it, Brave Writer. I chose to copy a lovely passage from Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter, which is our bedtime read-aloud. The girls both copied their memory work poems. During this Benny played with playdough and the DLM had a glorious time with his kinetic sand. 🙂
Lunchtime came next, and with it a couple of read-alouds: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and several chapters from Tree in the Trail. The girls gave me brief oral narrations at the end of each chapter.
After I read to and rocked Benny (with the DLM listening in) and put him down for his nap, I took a few (very needed!) minutes to rest while the girls worked on their history readings (from our current volume of A History of US), narrations, and reading from their assigned books. My goal was for them to read about an hour. I intended for Lulu to start reading The Cay, but she was in the middle of Bomb, so I let her keep working on that title instead. (I find it somewhat humorous that I let Louise, my nine year old, check this one out from the library on our last library run, especially when I go back and read my own review of it. She devoured it, as has Lulu. So much for sheltering my kids. 😉 ) Louise’s assigned book was N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards. The DLM listened to a Beatrix Potter audiobook.
After this, the girls and I worked through the first lesson of Latin for Children’s primer A. One girls liked it, the other didn’t. She’s really balking at the whole learning Latin proposition, so Steady Eddie and I are prepared to offer her an alternative. While we worked on Latin, the DLM played on the Starfall app (as well as some drawing app) on the Kindle Fire.
Next up, while the girls finished up their Latin, the DLM and I worked through lesson two of RightStart A. (It’s funny to me that he doesn’t consider this math. If it doesn’t involve actual mathematical operations, it doesn’t count!) Next it was on to some book-related preschool actitivities (sort of FIAR-ish) from Ready-Made Preschool.
By this time it was nearing supper time, which is rightly called by many “the witching hour.” 😉 However, I had a plan, and I wanted to conquer it today, so I pressed on. Thankfully, one of the few undone activities was a math game, so the girls were willing to keep going. 🙂 We played a quick game of Quixx just as Steady Eddie was getting home from work. Meanwhile, the DLM stayed in the basement and used an entire small bottle of glue and half a bag of cotton balls on his own project. 😉
If I was looking to check boxes today, well, that’s just not how things are shaping up here. I suppose a respectable amount of learning did occur today, nevertheless. Mostly this home education thing feels unwieldy and messy, not nice and measurable. I know enough about education to know that that’s not how we like it. I’ve been reading a lot lately about unschooling (particularly here), and while I don’t know that I would every completely do away with my own agenda, I see a lot of value in student-led learning. Folks like Brave Writer and Melissa Wiley help keep me sane and help me see that family-based learning can’t be nicely compartmentalized, and that’s ok.