Yes, well, between nighttime runs to Office Depot and the Dollar Tree and even later nighttime and early-morning (as in 2am) Internet-scouring sessions, this homeschooling thing is kicking my tail.
In a good way, though. I think.
But it’s a time-sucking rabbit hole, though – worse even than trip-planning and real-estate searching. I mean – there’s no end to it. There’s no end to it because even if things are going well, you just know there’s more you could be doing (and there is) or maybe even a secret key to what you have not yet achieved, which is the perfect, holistic, fun, fully engaged, all-skills-on-deck, arts-centered, science-intensive, writing-across-subjects,tactile, fun, living-books, classical, nature-immersed, Catholic, fun, individually tailored experience you just knew homeschooling would be.
And all you need is that whiteboard to pull it all together.
So, what’s happening here, homeschool-wise:
- We begin every day with the a very freeform Morning Prayer that includes some of the responsorial then the Mass readings. Morning Offering. There’s usually something to talk about afterwards. The first readings have been Hebrews for the past weeks, so that leads to talking about the People of Israel, sacrifice, and so on. The gospels are Mark, so we’re talking carefully about all of that, pulling it together as a whole as we go, and also constantly (after prayer) reviewing geography and basics of life during Jesus’ time. If there’s a saint, we talk about the saint, and if the saint is in this book, we talk about some art related to the saint.
- I’ve started doing some daily dictation and copywork with them. Very inexperienced on this, so I’m taking it slowly. 2nd grader copies something, 6th grader studies a passage and then writes it as I dictate. The past week, we seem to have gone between Scripture and Julius Caesar. I need to be more organized about that – and let them select their own sometimes, as is suggested. But I can already see the value. Spelling and punctuation issues arise and are considered very organically.
- 6th grader is continuing the same math program, enhanced by an extra worksheet or two when I sense a wobble, as well as videos – mostly Khan, when a level-appropriate one exists. He is also doing some grammar using this. He’s diagramming, which is very useful to him. The visualization and almost puzzle-solving aspect of it works for him. History has transitioned from our travel-heavy fall explorations to All Ye Lands supplemented by Story of the World and what have you. All we have is the text (that is no workbooks or anything), so we just read it and talk about it and go where it takes us. The past couple of days we’ve talked about Roman persecution of Christians and he’s read bits and pieces of original accounts of the martyrdoms of Perpetua and Felicity, Polycarp, Blandina & Ignatius of Antioch. This leads to some geography review (where are Lyon, Smyrna, Antioch, etc.) Is reading Johnny Tremain which then leads to conversations about the American Revolution (which he studied in school last year). He is also learning keyboarding – through a program we have, plus various online drills and games. Some geography.
- 2nd grader – He’s long finished with traditional 2nd grade math, and last week it finally dawned on me: “Duh. Just start him on 3rd grade math already. Idiot.” I guess this had not occurred to me because I had been living with the subconscious expectation that he would be returning to school next year, even though he repeatedly assures me that he is never going back to school AGAIN. I won’t bore you with my decision-grinding on math curriculum, but for now, I think we are going to go with Math Mammoth & The Life of Fred. We started Math Mammoth today, and I think – just from this one day – it will be a good fit for him. Life of Fred will be a totally new thing – the books should come in a few days. They are popular and have a high resale value so my thinking is that if it doesn’t work out, they will be easy to sell. Oh – I’ve ordered the Fractions Life of Fred for the 6th grader, as well.
- The 2nd grader is my natural unschooler. He will take a topic and run with it, read about it, insert himself into whatever else I’m doing to talk about it, and write about it without ever being told. The past couple of weeks have been all about pre-Columbian civilizations. Please accept my apologies if you have wanted to check out any books about Aztecs, Mayans or Incas from any Birmingham public libraries recently. He has – on his own, without even a suggestion from me - learned all the countries of Central and South America. Studied photographs on the internet. Watched videos. He has written in his composition books and drawn pictures.
- Even so, he got a bit frustrated last week because he didn’t feel as if he were doing “school.” So I had to sit him down and sort of review with him every conversation we’d had that day and point out how he had, indeed, learned. He’d just read A Lion to Guard Us by Bulla, which is a fictionalized account of a ship – the Sea Venture – bound for Jamestown that wrecked on Bermuda. He read it and narrated big chunks of it back to me. We looked up more information about the voyage on the internet. We traced a map of the ship’s voyage. We talked about Jamestown and remembered our visit there and what we’d seen. We talked about Bermuda…and this was only one thing we’d done that day. He understood what we were doing better after we talked about it, but still – I could tell he needed a bit more c oncrete schooly-things, so I picked up a couple of Evan-Moor workbooks on geography and science and he’s doing those – the pages of which inevitably lead to more extended rabbit holes about how dolphins sleep, or cacti spines or the geography of Arizona or the rivers of North America…..
- Science is more ad hoc than I’d like. I almost jumped on a purchased curricula last night, but then realized that there is so much free stuff online – good, solid stuff produced by people passionate about science and knowledgeable about introducing children to content and process – I decided to just stick with those and be more consistent.
- Going to start Latin once the books come. Minimus for the 2nd grader and Getting Started with Latin with the 6th grader. We’ll see how that goes and then perhaps move on to something more substantive as the months roll by.
- We finished Julius Caesar - I think Macbeth might happen tomorrow – the BBC animated version and a story/narrative, that is, at first. Although maybe we should do The Tempest, considering that the Sea Venture is what inspired Shakespeare in the writing…yes, I think we’ll do that….
- So, today: Prayer – talk about the Gospel (Gerasene demoniac) and why sometimes we are resistant to the graces Jesus wants to give us. Copywork: “This was the noblest Roman of them all….etc.” 6th grader reviewed percentages with a Khan video and some worksheet problems. Started Mammoth Math with the 2nd grader – reviewing mental math addition. With a brief detour into his reflection on all the ways that the body gets rid of, er, unwanted and unneeded elements. I have no idea what brought that on, but he was please with himself for all the ways he could think of, from tears to, well, you know. Then Christian martyrs with the 6th grader – discuss, read, maps, written and graphic additions to his timeline - while the 2nd grader did..what? Those geography & science worksheets. 6th grader reviewed lie/lay and sit/set. 2nd grader read about Mayans and then studied Google Maps on the Ipad, searching for ruins sites in Mexico. 2nd grader is reading this, which is by the author of Pippi Longstocking. He narrated chunks of it back to me, and then we discussed the Scandinavian countries and he started to learn their names and locations. Learned Stockholm, looked at photographs and he said that he’d rather not see any more because he wanted to depend on his imagination while he read. Then an hour at the Jewish Community Center where they
arguedplayed basketball and I walked/ran the track above them. Then late lunch and they watched a couple of episodes of The Way Things Work, which they think is very odd, but it inspired an attempt to generate electricity via citrus – 6th grader had done it in school, but we couldn’t get anything to happen – I’m sure the materials weren’t correct. But then that inspired the retrieval of the Smart Circuits set, followed by a bit of “what would ______ look like under the microscope?” Keyboarding practice. Then they played outside, then we played this card game…then dinner.
- I’m still absorbing Brave Writer – and we will begin that tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it – I think it will be transformative. Will report to you.
- At some point over the next couple of weeks, I want to get over to the Alabama Natural History museum in Tuscaloosa.
- I still don’t know what we’re doing and what this is. ”Rabbit Hole-Schooling?” Because that’s what it feels like…..
Now. It’s late. Will. Not. Search for “homeschool ANYTHING” tonight. STAHP.