There are so many people to pray for. There always are, of course, but at times, it seems to arrive as a storm of needs: Jen Fulwiler. This sweet boy – Fulton Poppe – burned in an accident this past Monday – go here to help. Dominic Pio. Parents, children, the young, the old. The grieving. Those suffering, those in mission to serve them. When I was younger I would consider the lives of contemplative religious and think, “How could anyone pray so much? And why would you want to?” Now I think, “How can you stop?” Pray without ceasing. I get it now.
So to switch gears. We are back in the swing of school, doing our weird mix. I resolved not to read homeschooling blogs when I began all this, and I don’t, but Facebook and Pinterest still live on my screen and regularly give me pause about what I have done and what I have failed to do. Our days are certainly full, but there are no lapbooks being made here and no color-coded bins.
Egypt boy got a little crafty today, though:
There are advantages and disadvantages to starting this homeschooling thing midstream in a child’s educational life. The greatest advantages are two: first that someone else (as I mentioned before) has done the hard work of teaching basic skills and secondly that since the children have seen the other side, we have zero problems with cooperation. That is to say, all it takes is a reminder that you could be dressed in shorts , sprawled on the floor or on the couch or on my bed doing your schoolwork in 2-3 hours or you could be in a uniform sitting at a desk for the better part of 7 hours…you pick.
The disadvantage (to me) is that I have a little problem with initiative with the older one. So accustomed is he to being told what to do and living with schoolwork as an obligation from which one yearns only to be free, I haven’t gotten him to that ideal unschooling point of just following his interests down a rabbit hole as the center of his educational life (as it is for adults, you see). That actually is part of the reason I wanted to try to educate him at home. Part of it is due to the unfortunate conditioning of regular school, but it’s also personality. His 2nd-grade brother is quite different, and sits happily for hours in the midst of a pile of Egypt and animal-related books he checked out of the library, leaving only to draw, inspired by what he’s read, or tell me about something he’s read.
Working on that. It’s tricky though – “Here’s what I am requiring you to do in order for you to develop more personal initiative. “ Not quite sure how that works.
I mean he does have interests – mechanical/engineering, mostly (translation: Legos) – so I’m working on that, simply trying to provide opportunities.
I usually wake up around 7, and they around 8. We start school around 9:30. Prayer – Mass readings – and then copywork and dictation. This is something I’ve just started and I am very ad hoc about it. Next week I’ll probably get more organized with the Brave Writer component. So far, the 2nd grader has copied the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary and the 6th grader has written (from dictation) the Lord’s Prayer, Genesis 50:19-20 and then 1 Samuel 16:7, both of the latter related to his OT studies. Short, but we’re just starting.
Why copywork and dictation? You can read the Charlotte Mason explanation here. Even after just doing it for three days, I’m hooked. I think it is such a simple, powerful way to help a child learn to listen and to internalize not only grammatical structures, but also just good writing.
Then math – 6th grader is using his school’s text (Envision – which I don’t hate.), reinforced by Khan Academy videos -and videos from this teacher, which are also good (2 minutes on rotational symmetry reinforced the concept very well, for example) – and various reinforcement exercises. 2nd grader burned through 2nd grade math by November, so we’re doing multiplication tables now, with regular reviews of other basic skills.
When I was mulling over this, a reader wrote to me about math curricula – specifically Singapore Math. She told me it was great, but that I needed to be careful about just plunging into it, since it’s so different. I toyed with the possibility for a while, but ultimately decided against it, since one or both of the boys might be going back to school and I wanted to keep them on the same track as their schoolmates.
(Sidebar: Envision is not the most controversial math curriculum out there, but it’s not beloved, either. When our school brought it in, I read reviews, most of which were from teachers, and most of which were negative. The next year, there were still many negatives, but there were more “I’m getting used to it, and I actually sort of like it,” too. As a non-mathematician who is, at the same time, not awful in math and has pretty good mental computational skills, I’m finding that it actually seems to fit the brain of a non-mathematician better than many other math curricula I’ve encountered. As the name implies, there is a visual component to it, which is mostly helpful. I bought the homeschool edition, and we are finding it very easy to use. Pearson is really going after the homeschool market. Smart. )
This same reader encouraged me to help my kids “think mathematically” – which is something I tend to do anyway (always looking for those durn teacheable moments, right?), but what I’ve been even more conscious of since her encouragement – it’s just a matter of being conscientious about those opportunities – which happen when you’re cooking together, when you’re playing Yahtzee, when you’re driving down the road, when you’re buying items in the store, when you’re talking about the temperature or when you’re looking at maps.
So, math. A little grammar, before we get the Brave Writer thing started. The 6th grader is diagramming, the disappearance of which from school I really don’t understand, considering all the emphasis on multiple intelligences and learning styles. It really helps him work out sentence structure.
Then, today, the 6th grader constructed the trebuchet model he received for Christmas, so there was much conversation and research into the history of the trebuchet and then the physics of it. This led to review of photos we took of Castelnaud castle on the Dordogne, and reviews of that geography. Then the 2nd grader pulled out the geodes he had received, and we proceeded to crack them open – he did most of them, but one was stubborn and required my heavy hand. Again, accompanied by a bit of study of what geodes are and how they happen, and also by him bringing out the other rocks in his collection along with his rock identification book.
6th grader worked on keyboarding – still on the home row. 2nd grader practiced multiplication tables on the Math Evolve app. We worked on this 4D puzzle of Paris one of the older siblings gave us. Read A Wrinkle in Time aloud, and they had their own reading time (The High King and Jim on the Corner. )
They’d earned some play time – indoors, since it was rainy. Madden 13 for the 6th grader and Minecraft – the appeal of which I DO NOT understand – for the 2nd grader. Basketball practice. Home. Dinner. Yahtzee. Bed.
I binge-watched the first season of Homeland last week. I was certainly caught up in it. In the great tradition of binge-watching, yes, I stayed up until 2 am two nights – it’s just a bad idea to put in a disc of a show at 11 pm and say, “I’ll just watch one episode. “ I mean – bad idea.
But ultimately – meh. I got caught up in it, but then afterwards thought, “Why?” I know that themes of identity are supposed to resonate through it, but because of the superficiality of the characterization, I feel they really don’t. I mostly just felt whipped around and a little manipulated. Fiction is hard, whether on paper or on screen. To build suspense and bigger themes organically takes (it seems to me) really careful and deeply thought writing and better acting than Homeland boasts. I ultimately just didn’t care, had no desire to watch the second season – mostly because I didn’t trust the series not to waste my time with red herrings and twists and turns that exist only for their own sake.
Weekend: 2 basketball games, serving at Mass, Cub scout den & pack meetings. Too bad about that whole “no socialization” thing.
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