Learning notes from Sept 8 – Sept 12

As I hope to keep linking up with Melanie at Wine-Dark Sea, I’ll add some background to our family.  Jack, our eldest, is 9.5 and (technically) in 4th grade.  Rebecca, daughter the first, is 8 and an ADHD Tigger of delight.  She is (technically) in 3rd grade.  Helen, daughter the second, is 6 and home for her first year of homeschool (1st grade).  It has been an adjustment adding her to our mix.  Jude, second son, is 4 and in a Montessori pre-school 5 days a week.  He has three full days and three half days and before anyone objects, he LOVES it and actually does better with the full days because they make them lie down for a rest period so he isn’t strung out coming home.  Our youngest, Gus, is 14 months.  He has Benign Congenital Hypotonia and has both gross and fine motor delay that we are working on with Early Intervention PT.  His schedule trumps ours for the moment.

Monday – I probably should be logging this when it is fresher in my mind, but the ravages of old age will have to make way.  SO – we were “scheduled” to do Handwriting, History, Math, Religion and Poetry and we did Handwriting, History, Math and Religion.  *sigh* I so want to WANT to do poetry, but I always leave it for last when enthusiasm is flagging for schoolwork.  And….we never got to it.  I’m just not inspired to *do* poetry because…..confession time…..I don’t love poetry the way I should.  There.  I said it.  I like literature.  I like a rip roaring story.  I am not a fan of poetic imagery.  Details – Jack and Helen did a few pages of cursive.  Jack, after many years of hating writing has blossomed with cursive.  It looks lovely and he, joy of joys, isn’t complaining about it!  Success! Rebecca was having a very off day and chose not to participate in the majority of school this morning.  Helen read us the story of the Tortoise and the Hare (turtle and rabbit, lol) from her Little Angel Reader and we enjoyed discussing who the bad guy in the story really is (duh!  the turtle!  won on a technicality!) and coming up with our own morals (don’t presume victory).  In History we read about the Persian invasion of Greece and what steps Greece took and next time we will read about Persia strikes back. Math was another chapter in Life of Fred.  For Religion we are continuing to read in our text and read about God’s highest creation (angels and men).

Tuesday – Early Intervention was coming this day, so I was motivated to get us through some work in good time.  Handwriting, Math, Religion, Geography and Art.  I consider this the lightest day in our loop – it’s very easy to get through and technically leaves us time to do a fun art or music activity.  This didn’t materialize this time because of EI, but thanks to our loop schedule art won’t always fall on Tuesday.  Cursive work was done.  One letter per day is our current speed.  We read another chapter in Life of Fred for Math – everyone is enjoying it, but since it is mostly a review of concepts for Jack and Rebecca I’m not sure if I’m sold on it as our core curriculum yet.  In Religion we are slowly making our way through “Life of Our Lord for Children”, and finished up Chapter 2 reading about St. John and then the temptation in the desert.  For Geography we are using Memoria Press “Geography I, Text (Middle East, Europe, and North Africa)” as a read aloud for everyone and then Jack is writing the info in the workbook.  We read about the Middle East (how relevant….although I have chosen not to discuss current events with any of them at this time) and Jack labeled a map.  For Art, we paged through “Museum ABC” and chose our favorite pictures.  We all had a lot of fun with that.

Wednesday – ANOTHER EI meeting.  Taking. Over. My. Life.  It’s fine.  I’m extremely grateful we are getting Gus the help he needs and that it isn’t costing us a fortune.  But it’s days like this when I feel like homeschooling gets put on the back burner and I really have no choice but to utilize more screen time than I would like lest I have a dozen interruptions or fights to break up.  I did want to get school done today, so we ditched written work and breezed through our read alouds (which I consider the most important anyway).  Our loop scheduled us for Math, Religion, Science and Fable.  Math was Life of Fred – quick and easy and everyone engages.  For Religion we read a short bio of St. Juan Diego.  It was fun how quickly they realized they knew this story (we are NOT the best at Saint stories around here, so they were thrilled to actually recognize this one) and Rebecca found a copy of the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe that we have sitting around.  Science this year we are reading “Archimedes and the Door of Science.”  It’s interesting and I’m loving how it is matching up with our current History reading AND with our Literature discussion (fables).  Last was our most interesting subject of the day – Fable.  Taking example from Andrew Kern, I am using Fable as a springboard for our introduction to literary discussion.  And other than that I’m pretty much making it up as I go along.  So today I read a basic version of The Ant and the Grasshopper (ant works, grasshopper fiddles, winter comes, ant lives, grasshopper dies).  We quickly discerned the lesson here and they thought they were done.  But then I threw in the curve ball – what if that isn’t REALLY the lesson?  What if I just read the story the wrong way?  And then I retold the story, but this time from a very sympathetic point of view toward the grasshopper (spends all summer entertaining the happy insects, constantly criticized by the ant, winter comes, all his fans abandon him and he is cruelly left to die on the ant’s doorstep).  I had one child (black and white thinker) who immediately condemned my version as “wrong”, one who bought into it immediately and one who was able to see the holes in both stories.  And then, just for fun and completely unplanned, I retold the story where the Ant was a meek and humble voice of reason and the Grasshopper a cruel bully.  In the end, the Grasshopper destroyed the Ant’s home and ate his food while the Ant perished.  They were amused, but weren’t into that one.  Everyone agreed that they liked the first story best.  I’m not sure if it was my less than stellar storytelling (although I don’t think it was….they were riveted) or the cut and dry moral at the end.  And if the second is true, I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I suppose children really do prefer the “easy lesson”?  OH – we also discussed the story of the Good Samaritan in relation to this story.

Thursday – mmmmm……I woke up cranky.  The baby is teething (I hope – because if he’s not then maybe it’s his ears??) and not sleeping.  AND when Jude crawled into bed with us (while I was already wrangling an unhappy baby) he peed in my bed. Which he NEVER does.  But of course he did last night.  Because it was a night of horrors.  I told the kiddos we were blowing off school today and………………………………THEY WERE UPSET!!  *choirs of Angels sing*  Anyway, I didn’t do any read alouds, but on their own Jack and Helen both did Cursive and some written Math work.  Rebecca has been AWOL all week from school.  I’m not liking the trend, but I feel like she’s testing me to see if I will get crazy about it and I will NOT be pulled into a school-related power struggle with her.  She isn’t getting screen time or anything like that while not doing school (mostly doing crafts and free-reading…Little House books right now) so I’m going to give it some time.  Tomorrow we attempt Piano….take 2!!!!!  Scouts tonight.  Heaven help me I haven’t filled out their forms yet!  Interesting thing tonight that continues to bear fruit – driving to Scouts, I begged the children for a little “me time” (lol, yes, I take my me time in a car full of children) and I listened to a podcast from the CIRCE Institute called “On Igniting a Love of Learning in Your Students.”  Unbeknownst to me, my 9 year old was actually listening and later (Saturday) sat me down for a serious conversation where he explained that he hasn’t been applying himself to his schoolwork and he is ready now to be more attentive and participatory.  Um…wow. Thanks, Andrew Kern.  (fyi – I highly recommend the CIRCE Institute as a wonderful resource for doable classical learning in the home)

Friday – I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but the piano teacher flaked on us AGAIN.  Totally derailed the whole day.  We cleaned the house (because that’s what makes ME feel better) and watched blah tv (well, Netflix) and fortunately the baby took a nice nap.  No formal learning, though we had lessons in patience, disappointment, keeping your temper, forgiveness and Christian charity and stress management ;-).  Those are all just as important, right??


Learning Notes Sept 2 – 5

Linking up with Melanie at The Wine-Dark Sea!!


Sunset on a private beach?  Don't mind if I do!
Sunset on a private beach? Don’t mind if I do!

Monday – Home from vacation, lots to do and I was stuck sick in bed!  UGH!!!  How does an adult get Hand, Foot and Mouth disease???  And why o why did it hit me harder than it did the kids????  I was about to call it viral meningitis and call it a day until I woke up Tuesday feeling a bit more human.


Tuesday – With my throat sore as could be, my inclination to take on a morning of read-aloud was low.  We’re still not on a real routine and won’t be until Jude starts school on Thursday but even with that we managed to do a little Poetry reading (I even got Jack to read for us which is a REAL accomplishment!  And regardless of what HE says he is quite good at reading aloud), Handwriting (cursive books are IN and so far beloved) and Math and Phonics for Helen.  She is quite bright and takes to it easily, but she has very. little. stamina for any kind of focused work.  Instead of freaking out and pushing her (like I did Jack and Becca) I am taking deep breaths and proceeding at her pace.  For now.  We also talked a little about Labor Day tying back to an ongoing conversation we are having about paying a just wage, rights of workers to strike and how that plays out in differing environments.


Wednesday – My voice was finally back in action!  We started with Handwriting as a “warm up” to work and then moved on to Math.  I had more planned for today, but realized the kiddos all needed work on converting word problems into number sentences so we did that.  They each (FINALLY) managed a few problems on their own at their own levels (addition, subtraction, higher numbers and multiplication and division).  Even Jude got in on the fun and figured out a few easy addition sentences on his own!  Great Job, Jude!  With most of our time spent on Math this morning, I did a quick Religion review (we are using this text: http://www.olvs.org/ShopCart/InvDtl.aspx?InvId=17302&GrdId=&InvCatId= as a read aloud for all the at home kids this year) on the Blessed Trinity and we moved on to attributes of God (all-knowing, all-good, eternal, creator etc.).  I’m still not sure how much Helen is absorbing in this way, as she is bright but flighty.  Time will tell.


Thursday – Jude started back at school!  We had a great first day with our standard schedule in place.  The morning went pretty smoothly and we have adopted a new school motto,, “Take it slow and do it well.”  SO – I hit all my subjects today (Math, Handwriting, Religion, Science and Grammar) and scaled back when I sensed I was losing them.  I would have liked to move farther through the material, but if they are taking it in and absorbing it, how can I complain??  I’d rather they know one thing well than a few sketchy details here and there.  We practiced our cursive and math skills, read about the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, read about the world Archimedes lived in and gained some continuing insight about those crazy Ancient Greeks and learned about the Articles a, an, and the.  Jude seems to have had a good day at school – he came home cranky but that is par for the course around here.  Everyone is always tired by mid day.  We hoped to swim today, but there was just too much cranky fighting for me to want to try and get everyone going.  Better to have a calm afternoon because tonight is SCOUTS!  And tomorrow?  Our very first Piano lessons!!


Friday – Listen.  Can you hear the steam pouring out of my ears??  I bet you can.  And why, you ask?  Well, we stood outside a locked door for 40 minutes waiting for a piano teacher who never came.  Not a good first impression.  I’m not decided if it will be his last impression as well – I will wait to hear the “explanation.”  When we came home everyone was too annoyed and cranky to try and get any work done, so we are currently moping around the house.  Jack and I watched a cool physics video: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10204436050561637 (not sure if this link will work or not) and now the girls are doing something crafty while Jack works on an extreme finger knitting project.  This thing is long beyond long.  In my learning news – I am trying out a subscription with Creativebug.com and am currently doing a line drawing course.  It is a lot of fun and easier than I imagined.  The kids are amazed at my artistic prowess (haha!) and I kind of am too.  I’m curious to try out some of the other tutorials there.


What’s working

1 – A schedule!  OH how I have railed against the idea of a schedule!  I am unpredictable!  I need space to create!  I can’t just do the same thing over and over again!  Pfft.  I did nothing.  I have been completely predictable and uncreative.  I need to CREATE space to create!  And that is what the schedule does.  No longer do I have to make decisions about what my kids may or may not do at any given moment.  They know!  Because it is (all together now!) On. The. Schedule.  Bah.  

2 – A well defined chore chart.  Hooray!  This one I love!!  Simple chores are getting done and I am not the only one doing them.  Hip Hip, Hooray!  Hip Hip, Hooray!  Hip, Hip, Hooray!

3 – Looping school subjects – there are things I want to hit every day (Math, Religion and Handwriting) but what to do when I can’t promise on History, Science, Geography, Grammar etc?  LOOP!  Oh, we did History last time?  Science it is!  Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s WORKING.

Still coming…..a post on the resources we’re drawing from this year!