I can not believe we are already at week 3. Things are going well as we ease into the new school year. Last week seemed a bit easier since we were starting to get into a rhythm. We were also gone a lot more which made some things harder.
This week I am introducing a few more items to our routine. In addition to spending 2 weeks listening to a song by a chosen composer, we are also going to spend the next 5 weeks listening to, and hopefully learning, a folk song and a hymn. Below I have links to Youtube videos of all three.
Composer – Brahms – Symphony no 1 Opus 68
Folk Music – The Bold Grenadier
Hymn – Abide With Me
I am also adding in a workbook called My Calendar Book. Very un-CM like, I know. It is not so much a work book as a book to keep track of observations. Now that is more Charlotte Mason-like.
This book was recommended by someone I ‘know’ in the blogging world and I thought it seemed like a fun addition to our days. Each month the kids are asked to record something different about the day – the type of clouds, clothes they needed to wear (short sleeve, long sleeve, or coat), temperature, etc. It varies by month. The kids also have to fill in the dates for each month, as well as some facts about it (3rd month of the year, 30 days, etc.). In the back of the book are graphs they can create with the data they have gathered. I am not sure if this counts as an add-on to math or nature study. Who is to say that it has to be one or the other?
I do want to make a disclaimer, in case it matters to you. The publishers are clear about their beliefs, you can read more on the CLP About Us page. I noticed it was reflected in some of the illustrations in the book, with the women wearing head coverings, the little girls sometimes had on head scarves, and all the females were wearing dresses. Honestly, it gave it the feel of a picture from the 50’s but not in an in-your-face sort of way. Here is a sample of the book, showing some of the illustrations/coloring pages, as well as some of the months’ activities. FYI, they also do not take orders on their website on Sunday. None of these matter to me, as they are not telling me I have to believe as they do or dress as they dress, or … whatever. You might feel different, though, so I thought I would mention it. It does seem like a great little book and I (and Jack) are excited to get started on it.
One of the things we are doing this week is a trip to a local nature center for a class geared towards home schoolers. They do this once a month through the school year, covering various topics. Last year we were able to attend the last class and it all seemed to go well.
While our days are going well, in general, there have been a few bumps in the path that I can not seem to fully flatten using the methods we are now. One of those, the one I feel the most guilt about, is our morning Bible Time. I like the Foundations curriculum, but I know that I can not fully implement it in our morning between breakfast and getting George to school on time.
What I found to work really well, so much better than I thought it would, was to download the chapters we would be studying onto a CD and play it in the car on the way to school, or at home during the afternoon. Last week we went through Genesis chapters 5-11. After doing the chapter or section designated for a particular day, I would play the ones from before also. It really helped the kids, and me, get a feel for the flow of events and details. If things keep working this well, I see no need to try and force extra activities. I will give them the option if we have time, but not sweat it if we don’t. Keep it simple and get out of the way, or as the title says, “Faith Comes By Hearing“.
My husband has taken to reading a poem, or several, from A Child’s Garden Of Verses each night to the kids. Jack does not know it is supposed to be ‘school’ and George does not know that he is participating in our home school activities. That is the way it is supposed to be, sort of. In reality, it should just be one poem and then it gets narrated back. However, I think the fact that it comes from their Dad means I can give a little leeway instead of harping o the finer points of CM, many of which I myself have yet to learn.
I did find this book of poetry and two other books at one of the library sales this past weekend. The other two books were by Holling C. Holling, and one was something I had just gotten from an online auction. I ended up giving away the extra copy to a younger mom who is starting to build their library for their child. The second book I will save for free reading or using during Year 2 if we continue to home school next year.
1. While picking up school supplies for both kids, I stopped by the Dollar Tree. Here I found several foam puzzles of various types. They are not hard, but are something different and fun. This one of the elephant has the alphabet on one side of the foam shapes and is blank on the other. When I bought it, I did not turn it over and see the letters, so they were a surprise for me, too. However, they made it so much easier to put the shakes back into the outline. Jack, who really does like order, loved that he could work his way from A to Z. The M and W got him frustrated for a few seconds before I thought that perhaps they were switched. Then all was right with the world again. I added this as a final activity one day; something fun to end the day with.
2. These are the bases for Jack and George’s LEGO creations. They made them for a local contest, which we had heard about two weeks before it actually happened. I did not expect them to win anything, but to have fun doing it and learn. My goals were also: to follow directions, to think of something on their own and work towards achieving that idea (stay focused). They are already thinking of things for next year’s contest.
3. I added in Library Story Time to one of our school days. While it is supossed to be for kids not yet in school, they are very welcoming of young home schooler’s too. After all, small town means there are only a few of us. This is one way where I am putting Jack in classroom settings for short periods of time. Yes, they are sitting on the floor, but they also have to listen, sit somewhat still, be mindful of others, etc. It always ends with a craft that is in line with the story – again following directions. This time it also meant thinking ahead as you cut things out, motor skills using the scissors, planning what order to put the pieces in, etc.
4. I had mentioned taking Jack to a book sale at a local library. While there I took a break and went to build something with him. This was his idea that we worked on together. He was so proud of it. Not exactly sure what it is, but the wall are high.
5. This is the rabbit’s nest we found. It became the focus of several days, with the boys wanting to check on them, make sure they had things to play with, etc. It gave us an opportunity to talk about why the mommy rabbit builds the nest the way she does, why she does not stay on top of it all day long, etc. We also found out that if you forget it is there and step on it by accident, they sound like loud squeaky toys and the mommy rabbit will come running.
6. Ah, the wood chip pile. We actually made quite a dent in this. It would be gone except that I do not have landscape fabric down on the next sections I want covered. This is a ‘job’ Jack loves. Proprioceptive sensory activity, he LOVES it. This is definantly not a case of a dysfunction, but of a seeking out of something that calms him. It comes across, in this instance, as someone who is a hard worker and will keep going, and going, and going. Need something heavy moved, this is your man. Have something heavy that will move, even if you don’t want it to be? He is the kid that will move it just because.
While the 6 pictures above may not be considered typical home school activities, these are types of things I have purposefully sought out to add to our days. And they are not just for Jack; George is invovled too, which leaves him feeling less like a third wheel, or so I hope. These are things we use to help extend learning outside of ‘the classroom’ and make it a natural part of our day. Our theory is that learning is something you will do for the rest of your life, and does not need to take place only in a classroom setting. Besides, who would not love to play around with physics while building with blocks to see how high you can make a wall or figure out why your ramp is not staying up? Sure beats someone telling you about it while sitting at a desk taking notes.
Okay, if you followed all of that and kept up till they end, Congratulations. I know it was not the most edge-of-your-seat reading, but I hope I gave someone else the confidence to change things up so they work for you; start slow and ease into things; and above all, Don’t Make Your Day Harder if you are able to avoid it.
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