Saturday, September 24, 2011

Update on my "Orchard"

It is sad to say, but we did a bit of research and discovered that the lovely little trees that we are growing are not going to grow into "pink lady" apple trees. Granted, I am not much of a horticulturist, farmer or gardener, so I wouldn't have known this, but your favorite brand of apple does not grow your favorite apples on the trees grown from their seeds. Boo, hiss! This is the way the GMO people make money, I guess. The seeds will grow into apple trees, but the apples turn out rather inedible. The tasty-flavored apples are cultivated by grafting. I still don't exactly get how they turn out such great-tasting fruit, and the seeds from that fruit turns out to be squirrel food, but I suppose we have a real topic to look into for our science experiment here. As it is we have a Fuji apple tree and a pink lady tree growing in our back yard. To date we have harvested a total of 2 apples. One last year, and one this year. Turns out they flower on opposite years, so they don't cross-pollinate, so it looks like we must plant at least two more trees in our yard to actually get them flowering and cross-pollinating on the same schedule. 

Like I said, I'm not much of a gardener...but our little woods out back has some places that need filling in and we have deer and squirrels in abundance, so I'll plant the little trees back there and help to feed the wildlife and give the honeybees something to do.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week 3: Again...or still

Wow, has it been a crazy week! Over the weekend I went away on a day-long retreat, leaving the family home to enjoy our church's all-member picnic celebrating the move to our brand-new building. After driving an hour and a half home, as I was pulling into town off the freeway, less than five miles from home (thank God!) the transmission in my husband's car died. It didn't just die. It died. Time to shop for a new vehicle. Under pressure. No fun. To complicate matters further it was supposed to be our first week in our new, permanent meeting place for the TOG group, and it just didn't work out. Time to reshuffle our location and our calendars again. I had that feeling that my head was about to explode because of the amount of unsolicited junk swirling and knocking  around in my brain. So since we didn't really get any rest that weekend, I took Tuesday and Wednesday off from school. It works out well that we had to shift our meeting days to Friday, because it essentially gives me an extra week to get through the material with the kiddos. Today Glen was off so we spent the day dealing with car issues...Long story short we had a great school week...on Thursday!

Sincerely, it was a great day. We really started delving into our Year 2, Unit 1, Week 4 of TOG. It covers Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The kids were finally well-rested and had great attitudes and enjoyed their work. I'm really looking forward to finishing that topic next week, when we plan to take a "Lewis and Clark Expedition" hike in the local national park after our meeting. The weather forecast looks like it may even cooperate with us.

Our little apple trees continue to grow, and we have a small orchard on our windowsill of 10 apple seedlings in various pots. I am in question about whether they can ever produce apples, however, because I do not know if the seeds are genetically modified. Hmmm. I plan to look into that.




Thursday, September 22, 2011

Banner Issues

Sorry readers--I keep changing my banner. I know it's annoying when your favorite blog keeps changing its looks, but I've been playing with it and figuring out how to make new ones. I like this one best and will stick with it for a while now. I think I've worked it out!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Change of Seasons: Part 2

In my previous post I laid out the reasons that our family decided to leave Classical Conversations as our core curriculum. In this post I will explain why I find Tapestry of Grace (TOG) to be such a great fit for us at this time.

Ever since Matty was in the first or second grade I have looked at TOG online, downloaded the free samples, puzzled over whether this would work for us. The one thing that really held me back was that it seemed a bit overwhelming and I did not have a desire to take on such a hefty program all on my own. I was very much a fan of the weekly meeting that we had with CC. I did not want to separate myself from the group again (I had taken a year off from CC in Matty's 3rd grade year). One day my friend and I and were mulling over our options for the next couple of years over cups of coffee while the kids played downstairs. She gave her kids the characteristic 10-minute warning, then drew her leg up into the recliner, pulled her cup closer and said, "Let me ask you a question..." An hour later we were still sitting there. We looked up when my husband walked in from work, said hello, and kept right on talking. We talked through all our doubts and reservations about the future with CC, laid out what an ideal curriculum would look like to us, and expressed our deep desire to stick together both with each other and with others who were like-minded, and who shared the same goals in educating their kids. I told her that I had been looking at Tapestry of Grace again, and she was immediately interested, especially since another mom we knew had recently made that very move for the following school year. We ordered our curriculum and picked through it, talked through it, and chose the books and threads we preferred.

There are multiple reasons why I love this curriculum so far. First and foremost it finally satisfies my son's appetite for history! Since my son was very young, he has loved history, and has always questioned us ad nauseum about history facts, often stretching us beyond our knowledge and our ability to answer. For him there was no waiting for the logic stage, but when that stage did kick in, hoo boy! It has been a challenge to keep up with his desire for answers to the "whys." He also enjoys literature and poetry, has a knack for writing (though he has hated the physical act of doing so until about the end of last year), and loves looking at the relationships between all of these things. TOG begins with history as its core. From there it brings in geography, literature, writing, church history, and government, all of which relate to the central history theme of the week. The reading selections are excellent quality, full of engaging information and include the classics all along the way. So far he has thoroughly enjoyed every selection.

While meeting his needs for history, TOG satisfies my desire for both a Charlotte Mason style of instruction with classical roots, and the logical and organized 4-year history cycle. We love the "living books" approach to learning. There is no busy-work. It all has purpose and it all relates to the history theme. Facts are learned within the schemata of history, not in isolation. Both of my kids are studying the same time period and learning about the same things on levels that are appropriate for their developmental stage.

Finally, the thematic construction of the curriculum lends itself very well to group activities and instruction. Each week in our group we do a hands-on activity, discuss the student activity pages, review the geography, discuss the history points, and reinforce any writing instruction that was assigned for the week. We divide the students into three groups of Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar and Dialectic to gear the activities in an appropriate manner.

At this point it is too early to state any drawbacks to the TOG curriculum. So far it has not revealed any of its flaws. The beauty of TOG lies in its flexibility. I can pick and choose what most appeals to us, what is more available at my library, etc. There are options within every thread. Furthermore, the simple fact that the threads are spelled out as they are pushes me to set the bar a little higher for my students, and they do not seem to mind reaching high to grasp it.

I have made another observation about TOG, as well, and that is its longevity. I have read on message boards and yahoo groups of people who have used this curriculum for many years. Because of the way it increases in its depth and intensity as the students progress through the years, it is systematically building on a foundation already laid in the earlier years. I hope the same is true of our experience, and that this is the last curriculum I need to buy.

I will continue to post our progress both in the weekly reports and in any other items of interest that arise along the way. Suffice it to say that for now we are very glad we chose TOG.

This video is very helpful in understanding the author's intent in writing TOG.

Link to A Change of Seasons: Part 3 (Four Years Later)

A Change of Seasons: From CC to Tapestry of Grace

Updated March 7, 2012: This post is in no way meant to be critical of CC--on the contrary, I hope to give a fair assessment of why it did and didn't work for our family, and why we have chosen not to continue. We had a great CC season. It was a valuable part of our educational journey. The season, however has shifted, and so we must move on, taking what we have learned and putting it to good use in the next.

Many people have stopped by the Accidental Homeschooler searching for information about Classical Conversations (CC). Last year I wrote about what I called "coming full circle" with CC, and in this and future posts, I want to expand on that information and write about why we decided this year to make the switch to Tapestry of Grace. I have said before that "the right tool for the job gets it done." For three years of our home school experience, CC did help tremendously in "getting the job done." Nevertheless, there were a few drawbacks to using the CC method which I will delineate in this post, which is Part 1 of "Why the Switch."

First, let me identify the ways in which CC has helped us. First and foremost, meeting together with other moms was a very important part of our week. It provided a venue for fellowship and community, support, and even friendly competition. Secondly, it helped me figure out how to best organize and carry out our day-to-day lesson plans. Because there was a weekly framework of material to be covered, I could pull together resources which would support what was being presented each week. I learned in CC that my two kids are crazy about history and geography. We squeezed everything we could out of the weekly material. CC also kept me from completely dropping the ball on studying science, which I am prone to do since we all share such a love for the other subjects. Also, it was very convenient to have both of my children studying exactly the same material, allowing me to adjust the presentation of it according to their ability.

Taking all that into account, what follows are the reasons I decided that our CC season had come to an end. From the beginning I could really connect with the Well-Trained Mind approach to framing our school years with a four-year plan, using history and geography as a spine from which to generate our studies. CC uses a 3-year cycle, and this is just a bit too fast for our family, who really enjoys digging into history and taking a bit more time with it. The first year cycle takes a geography-centered approach to world history, and a very brief overview of the history of every continent is touched upon. The second year cycle begins with the Middle Ages and moves quickly through history to the modern times, and geography studies are focused on Europe. The third year emphasizes U.S. History and geography. All of these cycles have their strengths, and one of the things we enjoyed the most about them was learning the history sentences set to music. I find the kids still singing them from time to time, especially when something we are talking about or studying stimulates their memory. Even so, I prefer a more linear 4-year approach beginning with the ancients and ending with modern times.

Another aspect of CC became a challenge for us to manage, and that is the emphasis placed on the "Memory Master" achievement. You can read about what a Memory Master is here. We found at the beginning that the memorization of the material combined with our supplemental studies was done easily. However, as the school year progressed and we were reviewing and drilling more and more material, there was less and less time to dig in to our reading, writing and hands-on projects which were intended to give life and dimension to the very facts that we were memorizing. When it came time to test for Memory Master (MM), we spent two weeks primarily preparing for the examination, not getting much of anything else done. I will say that the value in this exercise was that my boy learned how to push himself beyond what he would normally do and to challenge himself. It was rather exhilarating in the moment, and I am not sorry at all that we did it, but I learned that a more evenly distributed pace of learning throughout the year is preferable for us.

 Lastly, because of the pace at which we moved through history, it was impossible to dig in to all of the areas that the history sentences touched on. This may work well for someone who has little to moderate interest in history, but for my history-ravenous son, I felt I had to keep moving him through the material before he was ready. Knowing just a little about something was not enough to satisfy him. In science, it was fine--the science questions were sufficient since that is not where he gravitates. He enjoys science, but he is not hungry for it.

I was also beginning to look ahead and study the Challenge program. I had friends who had kids in Challenge A and B, and I was observing their experiences closely, not to mention studying the curricula that the students used. Again, the four-year history cycle is not present. This is not to say there is no "method to their madness" because I believe that there is, and it clearly works well for many people. But as I looked ahead at the program, I could not see our family flowing with that approach. Again, I would like to see a 4-year history cycle, and out of that study related literature, geography, church history, fine arts, and even science. Furthermore, the Challenge program is different from Foundations in that it ceases to follow the cyclical nature of Foundations. With the age span of my children, I recognize that it will be difficult to keep them "on the same page" through their whole school careers, however, middle school was a little too soon (to my mind) to have one child studying an entirely different course from my younger child. I wanted to be able to study the same topics with them, at different levels.

In Part 2 of "A Change of Seasons" I will discuss the ways in which Tapestry of Grace has satisfied the very things that I found to be either lacking or challenging in the CC method, as well as a review of the curriculum up to this point.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Week 3: Lessons in Flexibility

On Wednesday my neighbor needed help. I mean really. needed. help. The kind that involves taking a sick kid to the e.r. and could you watch the baby and the 3-year-old for me? Husband is away and won't be home for several days. Again on Thursday, too...but this time it was she who really needed to go to the e.r...I pulled some strings and found a babysitter for her (thank GOD for that dear woman!) and she and I went to the e.r. to get her some help.

I was so happy to help, but needless to say, Thursday I was just a little tired and the best-laid plans for school were a bit disheveled. We did get a lot done, just not in the way I would have expected. But that is life, isn't it? God is faithful when we are faithful, and the next morning when my son came in to greet me I told him I missed him and was sorry I was out so late the previous night, and his response was, "But you were helping someone else, Mom--that's more important." Right. Sometimes as homeschoolers we get so focused on the fact that we are doing this so that we can keep our families close-knit, etc., that we forget that the time we choose to spend away also teaches. Where do we focus our energy? Do we serve others, pray for others, build up the church? Do we feed the poor, care for the sick, and practice the "pure religion" that the Bible talks about?

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

So yes, I suppose I'm tired in body, but the lessons that came from helping and serving will not soon be forgotten. They are life lessons--lessons in flexibility.

In lessons this week we covered quite a bit. I am excited for the things we are getting done, in spite of the hiccups along the way.

On Monday we had a wonderful Tapestry of Grace meeting with our group. We painted salt dough maps that we had formed the previous week, had lively discussions about the week's readings and had a Napoleonic relay, which involved loading kids down with gear and making them "cross the Alps" (sorry no photos!) as a relay race. They loved it, and it was quite hilarious to watch! I am finding that the group experience along with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum is exactly what I have been looking for. The accountability to keep up with the work combined with the relationships that we have with these families make it a rich and wonderful experience.

At home we covered math, science, a read-aloud, grammar, phonics, and writing. All in all it was a busy, productive week, and flexibility was the primary lesson!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Leaves in Rain

DSC_0018

Homeschooling is a Bad Idea

School...now that makes sense. I mean, I have things that must get done in order to live a sanitary life. Dishes, clothes, bathrooms, floors, on occasion must be cleaned. Air conditioner filters need to be changed, the cats need their shots, dinner must be prepared...At the moment my lawn looks like the boogey-man could rise up from the grass and weeds at any moment because there has been no time to mow or weed back there. Once in a while I need to sleep. and shower.

So I hear that it works like this--in the morning the kids walk down to the corner, jump on the bus and go to school. The teacher gets all her plans for the day done. The lunch ladies serve food.  The principle  manages disorderly conduct, and the secretary deals with all the interruptions. The kids come home relatively clean, supposedly better educated, and richer for their experiences. I know, right? Sounds like a great deal. I mean, we did it and turned out okay (don't laugh). (Oops...I meant principal. I would edit the error, but the comment below from a kind anonymous reader who felt the need to correct my spelling deserves to be noticed)

This homeschooling life is balanced on a very thin thread, I find. Whether we start math at 8:30 or 9:00 can affect the entire outcome of the day. If something comes up that cuts into lessons for too long on any given day it can throw off the whole week. I get so sick of thinking what we're going to eat for lunch that I could scream sometimes. I look in the laundry room and realize that the wet clothes have been in that washer for days--so much for my water-saving washer--how do you get rid of that smell again?

But there is this thing that I find I am so addicted to that I can't consider the alternative. It is the time that we spend face-to-face, side-by-side, heart-to-heart reading, looking up, cutting and pasting, discussing, watching...praying. Today my kids and I started our day by talking seriously about 9/11, an opportunity that I would not trade for anything. It was not on my "agenda." Later they jumped into their science lesson with both feet, and while I read they made collages of swimming creatures to put on their science notebook covers. One of them learned how to receive a compliment from the other without boasting, and how to ask forgiveness for careless words when they were done. They learned how to be ready to serve when the neighbor had to take her sick son to the e.r. and we watched her two other little ones. A blogger I follow has a title description on her front page which reads "living. lovely." And I think "of course." It just makes sense.

And while all the little frustrations seem to add up at times, there is just nowhere else that a kid can do his physical geography lesson outside in the sun with good friends, wearing an army helmet for no apparent reason without someone noticing. Really, not one person even mentioned it...

Maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering

On September 11, 2001, I received a call from my husband at Coast Guard HQ, Washinginton, DC, telling me something had happened in New York. Could I turn on the TV and see what exactly was going on?

Oh, it was no small plane. Watching in horror, the second one hit. Then a bit later the attack on the Pentagon shook the ground. I could see the smoke from my upstairs window. I could no longer reach my husband by phone...or anyone. For some reason people could call me but I could not call them, and so I asked family to call about every 30 minutes to check in. At the moment I wasn't sure we wouldn't need to evacuate.

Four weeks and two days earlier I had given birth to our son. I held him in my arms all day. I cried, and panicked privately that this was the day that his small life could be cut short. I didn't want to put him down for even a second. Standing in my kitchen with tears streaming down my face I stared into his tiny face and wondered--should I try to get out of town to safety? Should I stay and wait for his dad to get home? What on earth has fate brought you to? What world awaits you, small boy? Amidst those swirling thoughts--he smiled at me. It was only his second smile, the first had come just a morning or two earlier when we awoke--he had wrinkled his nose and lit up his eyes at me. A strange sense of calm washed over me and I knew that no matter what was coming, for that day, we would be okay.

Today, ten years later I sat in church with that boy beside me. I remembered that beautiful, horrible day, that moment, every thought that had surged through my head. We prayed the litany of remembrance for 9/11. I am caught by grief every time I remember that day, but I thank God for this--it changed my perspective forever. I cannot, and will not take the moments of loving and holding my children and my husband for granted. I cannot, and will not expect that we have a right for things to go as we hope and imagine they will. I cannot, and will not place myself as judge and jury over the sins of my friend, my neighbor, my countryman, a foreigner, or my enemies. I will make no claim to know what God has in store, but will walk by faith every day, trusting that I am his and he will never leave me nor forsake me.

My boy does not fully comprehend the tears I shed. He does not understand how to me he can be so big when in my memory, especially on this day, he is so tiny and frail and innocent. All that he is, and all that he is becoming amazes me every day. I thank God for the opportunity to share that experience with him, to be bonded together in that moment. I thank God for the gift of life.

We grieve those who were lost. We must not forget to humbly embrace those who remain, and steward each day with great care.



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week 2: It happens...

Every school year, it happens. Labor Day weekend we try to eek out that last bit of summer, exhaust ourselves, then catch a cold. On Tuesday morning we began our Tapestry of Grace group, and by the afternoon the black circles under the eyes, the whining, and the complaints of strange pains and miseries of various types had begun. By Wednesday we were cancelling piano lessons and watching documentaries on the sofa with lots of fluids being taken in. On Thursday there was boredom, bickering, and minimal school work accomplished. By Friday there was a delayed school day, but stuffy noses and general malaise still prevailed, causing there to be a need for schoolwork to be done on (gasp!) Saturday.

On top of it all, the monsoon also named Tropical Storm Lee dumped about 12 inches of rain on Thursday. There had been rain in significant amounts every day since Monday, and local flooding closed the schools for two days.

In spite of it all, we made the best of our situation. We watched a delightful documentary on the Lewis and Clark expedition which I highly recommend, especially for kids. They do an excellent job of combining the action and adventure aspect of the journey (which my kids loved) and the voices and first-hand experiences of the members of the Corps. I also highly recommend this video, done by Ken Burns, and is appropriate for all ages but will not likely hold the interest of the youngest viewers due to its length. I enjoyed it so immensely that I even shed a tear or two near the end of it.

Even though we did not do the daily stuff of math and grammar this week, we did focus on getting the "fun stuff" done. Matty and Molly completed their first presidents book pages, and we started our science. It has been a difficult decision for me as science does not factor into my normal mode of thinking. (I tend to be a humanities gal when it comes to what excites me in teaching.) Even so, I have long known that my kids adore fish, as do I. We were blessed with some free fish, and so we put together our old fish tank and were off and running. The first ones died, but a few days later were given more! One of these lived, and a week later we decided to go to the pet store and add a few more fish. The lady at Petco handed me a bag of fish that someone had brought in to exchange, which they don't do. Ta Da! We had a bag full of about fish valued at about $40! Suddenly the kids were all about studying fish, so we decided to do a study on the biology, chemistry, and physics involved with underwater creatures, keep a log of our own fish tank's daily statistics. I already had the Apologia Swimming Creatures book, and so we pulled that out and started reading. The kids were completely thrilled with the idea. (Phew! I love when school happens naturally!)

Apple seeds were sprouting in the Pink Lady apple
Later in the year, I had hoped to cover botany, particularly in the spring when we plant our garden. Serendipitously, Molly was eating an apple the other day that she complained tasted "moldier and moldier" as she got further in. Daddy, who is not so picky (think of the rat dad in Ratatouille), ate the strange-tasting apple down to the core, and this is what he found (which could also explain the weird taste.)

We popped the seeds in a pot and today, I found them sprouting. It would be so exciting to see them to maturity! Even better, they were from "pink lady" apples, our favorite!

Apple seeds two days later
*Faith builder moment* I have to pause here and reflect. In the spring when I was considering what to cover this term, I once again felt as if I was selling my kids short on science. I prayed earnestly that the Lord would show me how to approach science with them and give me a plan for it. I really didn't know how to continue. All summer I pondered it, but decided not to worry (imagine that!) and here in these two situations, I have my answer. Do I believe that God cares about the smallest details and concerns of our lives? Absolutely!

Psalm 139:16, 17
"...In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I could count them, they outnumber the sand. I awake, and I am still with you."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Summer's End: The Threshold of a New Season

I wish I had pictures of last night to share, but on the other hand, there are times when I just don't want to stop and fuss, but would rather enjoy the moment...

I think we can call our summer break officially ended as of last night. Our good friends came over and we grilled salmon and chicken, baked sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli glazed with butter, garlic and balsamic vinegar, made a huge salad with feta, pecans, craisins and champagne vinaigrette, and enjoyed some very nice wine with it all. The kids played wonderfully together, watched a movie, chased each other around with marshmallow guns, and gave us a spontaneous fireworks display that was left over from Matty's 10th birthday (when we actually forgot to set them off). This lasted for quite a while, as he had amassed quite a stockpile of explosives!

Tired and full of fun, we flopped into bed, and now today I will put together the week's lesson plans, wrap up the weekend laundry, and put kids to bed early tonight. The cooler fall weather and rain is already in the air. I could not have asked for a more perfect end to a great summer, which began just as nicely with a week-long beach vacation at the Outer Banks on Memorial Day weekend.

Tomorrow we begin week two of our Tapestry of Grace curriculum and meet for the first time with our group. We are all excited to step out on this journey with some friends to help make it fun.

But as I read this over I have to consider a Facebook conversation this morning amongst a few of my mom friends, one of whom said she almost wants to shut down her account to protect herself from all the rosy reports of other moms who seem to have it all together. Of course, I am one who is more than willing to post a "rosy report" of children's behavior or a perfect summer evening on facebook or my blog.  Why am I writing about this in the first place? It is because last night was nearly a perfect evening that I want to record and share it because such times are rare. Perfect behavior from my children is even more rare--you'd better believe I'm going to write that down. The average evening involves tired parents, rowdy kids, needling to get chores done, discipline for crummy attitudes, stress over the plans for the next day's lessons, the occasional headache, the plans that didn't work out just right, the argument over what was supposed to be a good dinner...These I don't share--who wants to? But this I want to share, because when the average evening is present in all its daily-ness, I want to remind myself that great days happen, too. 

This summer has felt very long, and at times I felt I was taking on too much. Planning the new fall schedule seemed overwhelming, and I wondered if I was hearing God correctly when I felt called to continue taking part in a ministry that takes me far away from home weekly, for a whole evening. Surely he couldn't mean for me to do that on top of the new homeschool group that we were forming! But as each element was surrendered in prayer to his management, I watched him remove things from the calendar to give me time to rest, rearrange the fall schedule to give me breaks between each thing, bring wonderful friends alongside to help, and even enjoy date-night swaps. Every detail has been tended to by the Best Manager of all.

Proverbs 16:9
   In his heart a man plans his course,
   but the LORD determines his steps.

How grateful I am that I have witnessed His hand at work in this way all summer long, and it builds my faith to trust even more that I don't have to worry about details when I know He knows them all, and will manage them to His glory.  It all began with surrender...and now I am excited to cross the threshold of summer into fall and see how it will all come about. I will continue call for help and rejoice with others when they are victorious.


Psalm 20    
For the director of music. A psalm of David

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
   may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
   and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
   and accept your burnt offerings.
                         Selah

4 May he give you the desire of your heart
   and make all your plans succeed.
5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious
   and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
   May the LORD grant all your requests.
 6 Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
   he answers him from his holy heaven
   with the saving power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
   but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
   but we rise up and stand firm.
 9 O LORD, save the king!
   Answer us when we call!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Week 1: The Launch!

We are off and running with our new school year and our new curriculum. If I were to grade the start to this school year based on other starts, I would give it a solid A! We all enjoyed it, and I made some solid scheduling discoveries along the way.

Every year I have struggled with morning routine with the kids largely because I am a night owl, and most certainly not a morning person. Last week (before we started school) both kids were in a day camp which forced me into a morning routine of getting up at 6:30 a.m. and getting them out the door by 8:30. It was the best thing that could have happened to us. This week I kept that routine, and the simple fact that I was up before both kids, even by half an hour, made all the difference in our days.  The two secrets I discovered on our best days of school this week were that I had gone to bed by 10:30 the night before, and breakfast was finished and we were downstairs for school by 8:30. Last year we normally started at 9:00, and I was always struggling to get everything done in a day. This week I discovered that the 8:30 start made a huge difference, and we were able to fit everything in! The two days that I was dragging were the days I had stayed up too late the night before. It is a very delicate balance, really.

We finished the goals we set out for the week, minus just a couple of little things that we can easily fit in Monday morning of the Labor Day holiday before setting out, and I was amazed at how well DS 10 managed to complete the reading assignments in TOG week 1. Both children loved the geography work and both did very well with their Phonics Road and Bridge to the Latin Road work.

Next week we will be adding in spelling to the schedule, and the week following that, French. Since we seem to be on a routine, it should not be too tough to add these in, but we will see...I repeat, it is a very delicate balance.