As noted elsewhere…we’re back. I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I’ve posted here. Sorry!
Reentry has been good. My house survived and I’m actually sort of shocked about it.. I love my neighborhood, but it has its share of break-ins to both homes and cars. (And I don’t have a garage) I’m on the neighborhood email list, and every morning while I was away, I would open the digest of messages with great trepidation, wondering if I was going to read one regarding that house on ______ …anyone notice how the front door’s been broken in? Isn’t anyone living there? And what happened to the car that used to be there?
Phew. Never happened.
The question of continued homeschool remained open until the last minute. My older son was firm about it. He was good with continuing at home. The second grader was on the fence, however. The issue was sacramental prep. He’s in 2nd grade, so it’s That Year, and he really didn’t want to go to PSR. (I didn’t feel the need to push, ‘I MUST HOMESCHOOL MY CHILD FOR FIRST RECONCILIATION AND EUCHARIST AND NO ONE ELSE MAY TEACH HIM ABOUT IT” at all. I mean – at all. Our parish is very sound and the catechesis is good, and sacraments are about communion with, you know, the Body of Christ – the whole body.) He didn’t think he knew anyone there, though, and it was all just new to him. So for that reason – and that reason alone – he was saying, “Back to school” for most of the trip. Until, of course, a couple of days before our return, seconds after I pressed “send” on the email to the principal setting up a meeting for his re-enrollment. Of course. I told him what I’d done and he said, all shocked at my cluelessness, “Oh, I want to keep being homeschooled.”
I gave him a couple of days – until our return – and he stayed firm. He got a little nervous Sunday morning, but as it turns out, he did know a couple of children in PSR after all, and we also scored a spot in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd section – the “Atrium” – and since they do Atrium as part of religion class in school, it’s also something he’s used to.
So he’s good.
Still feeling our way on the homeschooling thing, though. It’s going well (I think). Right now, we are being pretty formal with math and grammar, as we have been. History/science/art/geography have all been related to the trip and religion has been related to the trip and the liturgical year. We’ll keep on that track for the next couple of weeks, but in January, I’m going to change it up a bit, since I know for sure we’re on this particular track at least until next fall and I have no need to keep up with or follow what the school is doing. We will add more writing for both of them, more systematic religion and science and Latin. I studied Latin through the second year of college, and I enjoyed it, so I’m confident about teaching it. Famous last words.
While I’m not a true unschooler, I also know I could never, ever do a formal, complete curriculum, either.
Given Alabama state laws (very relaxed – all that is required is an attendance report – no testing, etc), there is no need, and for me, trying to live by one total curriculum would sort of defeat the reason for homeschooling. In a way, as I said before, I almost feel as if I am cheating at this. Other people – wonderful school teachers – did the hard work with these boys. They taught them to write and helped them learn to read and taught them the basics of math and just…doing school. I just strew interesting books around the house, work with them on math for a bit and help them find ways to get their zillion questions a day answered (Why did they build the Great Wall of China? How long is it? Where’s Luxor? What’s there? Why is it famous? What’s carbon monoxide? Who’s the Greek version of Vulcan? What’s bedrock? – and that’s just from about fifteen minutes this morning.).
And they give me no problems at all about any of it. It’s too easy.
More famous last words.
So this week’s schooling has involved:
For the 6th grader: Reviewing math on his own. He had worked through chapter 10 of his math book (the one they use in school, since he might be returning) by the end of October, and then took a break, since we were doing quite a bit of moving around in November. At that point, I just sent most of the school books back with my Birmingham friend who had visited us in Paris, anyway. So he’s reviewing a math chapter a day, supplemented by a few extra review worksheets per chapter. He’s also continuing in his class’s vocabulary workbook. He’s working on grammar using this book. He’s doing a review/more intense study of Roman history to take him to the end of 2012, taking more time with Julius Caesar than he was able when we were over in Europe.
2nd grader basically finished the 2nd grade math curriculum back in early October. So since then we’ve been introducing multiplication concepts and tables. This week, I flipped through the workbook to see what needed reinforcement, so yesterday, we worked on basic fractions, first on paper. Then I had him go get a bunch of Legos and show me whatever he wanted to about fractions using the Legos – so ¼ of this set of Legos are gray and ¾ are brown – and so on. Today we worked on time on paper, and then using this Ipad app.
(I wrote that yesterday. Today was more of the same, plus him reviewing his 3′s & 4′s times table with ditalini pieces grouped on the table, and then all of the times tables up to 4 with flash cards and this app.)
He does grammar using this book for now, and is almost finished. And then when he’s done with all of that, he goes and reads from the stack of thirty books on ancient history we got from the library the other day.
Next week, we’re going to start going through all of our trip photos and pamphlet/booklet type of materials I picked up along the way and do a “review” that will, I hope, reinforce the geography, history, art and religion we encountered along the way..that should take us till the end of the year..
Field trips! It’s been beautiful this week, so once our couple of hours of school is done, there’s no reason to sit at home. Tuesday, we went to the Sloss Furnaces. If you have ever even driving through Birmingham, you’ve seen the imposing stacks east of downtown – one of the first and most important iron-producing furnaces here, fundamental to the city’s origins, shut down in the early 70’s. We drive by it all the time, but had only been there once before – to a performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream there a couple of years ago.
It’s a fascinating visit, introduced by an serviceable short (10 minutes or so) video and assisted by a helpful pamphlet, you can just wander amid the stacks and blowers and even in a tunnel and atop a train car.
Then yesterday we traveled a little further away – about an hour to Cherokee Rock Village. It’s a very interesting formation of rocks, evidently and understandable popular with climbers. It was good for wandering and exploring, although my daredevil’s daredevilishness made it unwise for me to just let them run wild. He will be one of those rockclimbers someday, but not until he’s much older and when I don’t have to be around to watch him.
Birmingham isn’t Atlanta, but it is decent -sized, with a good cultural and natural opportunities. One of my older kids, upon seeing my FB posts this week, said, “Why can’t you guys just stay at home?” Well, we do. And once school is done…and the weather’s nice…why not go out for a few hours??
…and there’s basketball and scouts and PSR and serving at Mass, so we’re busy enough. But, I’m relieved to say, not busy with meaningless crap and busy work. Let me amend that. At least any meaningless crap we do is my fault and my fault alone. As I “reasoned” months ago when I was inching towards this decision, “Well, if they’re going to waste time, they might as well waste time at home, and without me paying money for the privilege.”
There’s a sacrifice on my part. Not a huge sacrifice, but it’s there. For an introvert who’s accustomed to having her weekdays to herself to work, having absolutely no breaks is a sacrifice. I haven’t quite worked out exactly how I’m going to work, and there is work to be done. I used to be able to write at night, but I’m finding it more and more difficult to focus at night these days. I think I’m just going to have to do a massive shift in personal habits and start going to bed earlier and rising a couple of hours before everyone else. I never, ever thought I would say that – being a night owl and all – but the few times I’ve managed it the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt my former morning-phobic self slip away and I’ve actually gotten stuff done.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!