Promise and swear this isn’t staged. I had the book in the backpack, and we took it out to review Clovis because there’s a statue of St. Clotilde in the Luxembourg Gardens. M. grabbed it and walked along reading it. In fact, he got irritated when I took his photo.
Side note/rant: European children’s books are so much sharper, in general, than those published in the US. Frustrating because they’re so nice, but we really do much better in English than French.
So, yes, how is it going?
Fairly well, I guess, although not as organized as I had hoped. Although it’s not over yet, so, there’s still time for reform.
We do math and vocab/spelling curricula from their school back home to which they may or may not return. Thought it would be good to stick with those in case they do return. They are both way ahead of their respective classes in those subjects at the moment, and relish being able to forge ahead and work at their own paces. We do this grammar. For reading they, er, read books.
Science, art, history and religion are ad hoc, although the latter will get more organized soon. As I indicated, it’s not as organized as I whole as I had hoped, and my hope for organization lies in my concern about retention. Don’t tell me, “Oh, they’ll just absorb it all” – because, well, they don’t. We don’t. You have to have a context in which to remember what you “learn.” For most of us, it just doesn’t stick without some effort. Nothing sticks with me unless I turn around and teach it or I write about it. So they journal. Under duress sometimes, but it happens. We have a notebook of “Saints of France” that’s growing as we encounter and learn. We have this “History Through the Ages” notebook which is like the Charlotte Mason “Book of Centuries,” but prettier. We’ve been reading through the pertinent parts of The Story of the World. At every historical site we visit, I purchase a guidebook, and we read through it during and after the visit. Slowly, it’s all coming sort of, kind of together.
Every day is basically full of questions. I bought an Ipad with a data plan specifically for this trip. I find the thing useless for work myself, but it does come in handy – more than that – not only for Google Maps (no update to IOS6 for me!) when I’ve emerged from a Metro station, totally at sea as to what direction is where, but also for helping to answer the 429 questions a day that come up as we’re walking around.
- How many kilometers are in a mile again
- What’s 14 degrees celsius?
- Why is it so rainy here all the time?
- How do the Metro trains run?
- Who was St. Clotilde?
- What does Montmartre mean?
- Who is this Clemenceau in this big statue?
- What does “d’accord” mean? Why do people say it all the time?
And in the past few days, we’ve deepened our knowledge about Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides, where we also saw so much armor, I have now excused myself from ever having to take anyone to a knights/armor exhibit ever again, anywhere. Seriously. It was ridiculous. We’ve read about St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac and St Catherine Laboure – and prayed in the presence of their relics. Today we stood in front of St. Joseph de Carmes, where scores of priests were slaughtered – the September martyrs of 1791. (I couldn’t figure out to get in – but we will return. St. Frederick Ozanam is buried there, too.) Every day, the outline of French history gets a bit more filled in. Gauls…Franks…Charlemagne…monarchs…revolution…Napoleon…wars… We’ve seen – among others – Les Nympheas, The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, and a fantastic Soutine exhibit. We’ve learned to ask for our hamburgers well done or else they might be a little, well, gooey in the middle.
Every day, we encounter new (to us) ways of doing things, we discover that different is fine and interesting and that with a little bit of patience and attention, we can figure things out, no problem.
It’s something that we’re fortunate to be able to do right now, and I don’t take it for granted. Nor do I take for granted that it will all stick or that it’s sufficient. We’ll be back home eventually, and it will be good, with more space to be more organized about things like science and more disciplined about writing, reading more classical selections in a systematic way, not to speak of their own interminable building projects and Scouts and basketball and exploring more of our own area. This? This is great, and I’m grateful to be able to do this odd kind of learning on the run that we happen to be doing right now.