Friday, September 26, 2014

One Month In...

Today we wrapped up our first full month of home school. I just cannot believe how fast time has flown! With the exception of a few tough moments, it has been uneventfully smooth, fun, and incredibly rewarding. I hate to sound like I had low expectations, as I truly didn't, but it's been surprising on all levels how joyful this has been for all of us.

We mixed poetry with art this day.

This was a picture narration of Abram leaving Ur upon God's command. Since we're from Texas, it should be no surprise that we imagine the move to include camels AND longhorns.

We used Legos in our geography lesson to create our own pyramids.

I am in the process of tweaking some scheduling challenges and reminded of one of the things about homeschooling that so appealed to me: the flexibility. If something isn't working, change it! So I'm working on that. I had hoped to have the new schedule written out by the time we start Week 5 next week, but not sure that's going to happen. And you know what? It's okay. The boys have been very content for me to just dictate what's next on the daily agenda and they will be none the wiser when an official change is made, whenever I get to it. The Lord has blessed me with two boys that have been happy no matter what we do...they are just happy to be HOME!

A couple surprises in our journey thus far:

B's willingness to sit and do our daily writing. Bless him. His older brother has had incredible fine motor control from a very young age. So when B was 4 1/2 and still not able to scratch out his name very legibly, of course I worried like crazy. So on the advice of a friend in the early childhood development world, we lazily worked on fine motor exercises for a few months. And I was shocked at how quickly he made progress. We always did fun things like beading or sorting or clay or lacing. But he never enjoyed it for more than 4 or 5 minutes at a time. It made me a little nervous about school. So fast forward to a month ago: everyday we would sit and write our letters or practice sums and he has never ever complained! Even when I have doubled up on some lessons, he hasn't complained. He just sits at the table and buckles down and does his work. Talk about shocking my socks off! Today he complained about table work for the first time. But it was me asking him to free form copy Picasso's "The Weeping Woman" in quadrants and I think it overwhelmed him. And after me sitting with him, guiding him, he did much better. For my noisy, chatty, bouncy, theatrical, listen-to-story-time-upside-down-on-the-couch Tigger...this amazed me!

The second thing that has surprised me has been how much more bonded my firstborn and I have become. We are a LOT alike. In the good ways and not-quite-as-charming ways. One thing we have in common is physical touch is not our primary love language. But I think all the cuddling on the couch reading together is changing that. He consistently approaches me to offer or receive hugs and kisses. He often asks me to cuddle at bedtime. He willingly lets me hold his hand at random times. Its been pretty awesome! When I asked him not to long ago what he liked best about homeschooling so far, his enthusiastic answer was, "I get to see you SO much more!" Wow. Um, yeah. I'll take that! :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

So Far So Good

Week 1 of homeschooling was successful! And so was week 2. Not just successful, but a joy! We've had a few bumpy moments, but they were nothing more than that - moments. I've generally worked very hard to make sure our home has a sense of learning and fun throughout the day, not just during school hours. Sometimes we don't get done with all of our lessons by lunch, so it goes into the afternoon schedule or onto Friday, our "leftover day". It's worked so far!

Some successes and funnies thus far:

  • As the boys are working on some color-by-number worksheets as part of their math today. (JK's are math problem color-by-number.) I explain they need to go slow and be careful, to not rush through, as I was checking their work when they were done.

B: Fail you must not. 

(Thinking we watch too much Star Wars at night.)
  • We took a Nature Walk over the weekend with Daddy. We had been outside hiking for about an hour and finally crawled down into a ravine with a creek. There was a small pebble beach where we chose to picnic. My youngest (5 yo), always with a flair for the dramatic, raised his arms to some passersby far above us on the trail and proceeded to loudly recite some of the previous day's reading from "Trumpet of the Swan"."Welcome to  the pond! Welcome to the sunlight and water!" I was overtaken in a fit of giggles and shock that he remembered the story at all. He's usually my bouncy fidgety one that is somersaulting off the couch inattentively.

  • Several times during some of our readings, JK has very specifically caught "foreshadowing", which I find so interesting! I never understood that until high school, but his little spidey-senses detect upcoming story lines and sub-plots incredibly well for his age. Watching those little light bulb moments and moments of furrowed brow as he attempts to comprehend have been so amazing! These are the very moments I would have missed had he gone to public again this year.
There HAVE been moments of frustration and irritation on my part. After the heat of the moment is gone, I realize it is almost always rooted in my own stress about not completing the day in a timely manner. We don't HAVE to finish by lunch. But that's my goal. And when my goal looks like it's going to fail, then I get irritable. Which does wonders for the joyful learning environment I'm trying to create for these little men. 

Please read that with the sarcasm intended.

I know this journey is a marathon. I know it'll be exhausting, but I'm glad it's not a sprint. These guys are growing up way too fast. I want to be able to savor it!

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Day of School!

Today was our first official day of school. And it was GREAT! *whew* Haha!

I went into the day wanting it to move as organically as possible. Charlotte Mason recommends that you not spend more than 20 minutes at a time on a subject. I love this! Theoretically, boredom just never happens, frustration on a particular subject cannot get too tiresome, and you get plenty to eat from in a small time frame. So while our daily goal is to have most of our school day completed by lunch, it is still a very rigorous schedule of "educational food". Our day today, with each bullet consisting of 20 minutes, consisted of the following:
  • Morning Meeting (The Pledge, Calendar Work, Weather Graph, Agenda, Scripture Memory, Hymn, and Prayer)
  • Math
  • Bible Reading
  • Science
  • Recess (40 minutes)
  • Literature
  • Copywork (10 minutes)
  • Hymn Study
  • Spanish (10 minutes)
That's a full morning! BUT...Momma was smart and utilized Daddy since he was home on holiday from work. 

He helped with our science lesson and conducting PE during recess. It was pretty wonderful! My in-laws just happened to be in town too, so while I worried that would be a distraction, it was not. It added to the excitement of a new routine and it ended up being a lovely day.

Just for record's sake, here is our official schedule.

Now, what I'm trying to keep in mind is that this is our schedule in "theory". While I've based it off several well-received templates of other Charlotte Mason households, it's yet to be seen in action outside of today in OUR home. But one of the beautiful things about homeschooling that excites me the most? If it doesn't work, change it! So awesome. Hopefully soon, I'll have an update on how it's going.