Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Dubruiel’

As noted elsewhere…we’re back. I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I’ve posted here. Sorry!

— 1 —

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.

— 2 —

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.

— 3 —

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.

— 4 —

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.

— 5 —

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..

— 6 —

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.

"amy welborn"

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.

"amy welborn"

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.

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

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??

— 7 —

…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.

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"amy welborn"

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.

"amy welborn"


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