Well, last week we were "on vacation." Although we decided not to travel anywhere, we had big plans for a few days of fun. Pete took off Wednesday through Friday and we started with a day trip to Michigan. We like to get there atleast once each summer so the kids can fish in my grandparents pond and maybe even have a tractor ride. I was able to attend a baby shower for my sister that evening which was really great. However, in the afternoon we spent some time at an urgent care clinic with Kate due to a nasty case of strep. The slight sore throat she had the day before, which we attributed to allergies, quickly progressed to a miserable episode of strep throat. So our big plans to go to the zoo on Thursday and the beach on Friday got canned. Instead we stayed home where the healthy kids played outside, Pete mowed the lawn, and everybody got to just relax. While it was disappointing not to be able to enjoy the zoo and the beach, it was really nice to have no schedule for a few days and be together as a family. We did take the kids swimming for an hour on Friday- some people from church with a beautiful in ground pool have graciously invited us to use it often! And then we went out for dinner at Cracker Barrel on Friday night because Peter's vacation request was to have their grilled cheese. Isn't that funny? We love to go there for breakfast, but he made it very clear that he wanted to go there for supper not breakfast. Saturday Pete went out for breakfast with a friend, got groceries, and worked on getting the computer hooked up in our school room. I took Peter to the library while the girls all napped. Then we took a meal to a family from church that just had a baby and we used the free kids meals certificates that Peter, Kate, and Maddie earned from summer reading at the library to go out to eat at Culver's.
Well, vacation is over and this morning it was back to real life! It was great while it lasted- I loved getting out of bed a little later and having a big breakfast together. Still, it's kind of a relief to get back into a routine. In fact, we "started school" today. I put that in quotation marks because if you've ever talked to me about homeshooling you know that it's our lifestyle and school happens all the time- like at the store when I try to get Peter to figure out how much change we'll get back from a purchase before the cashier tells him or when I have him write down his own summer reading list or when we are reading a story and I stop to ask them if they know what a certain word means. Today we went from our casual summer approach of two days a week working on phonics and geography to digging in a little deeper. It's so exciting to me to have a fresh start and begin some fun new things.
I've had trouble in the past keeping Maddie focused and quiet so I'm trying something new with her. I have a cabinet full of preschool activities, but I think it was too overwhelming for her to have free reign and choose for herself. She would do one thing for about two minutes and then want something else. So this morning I told her I had 4 activities for her and she was going to do each until the bell rang (15 minutes). She started with something new which, as expected, was a big hit. I gave her a large container full of rice along with some funnels, measuring cups, and containers so she could scoop and poor and measure. The other things she did include wood puzzles, lacing cards, and coloring. I made a list of 8 "stations" so she can alternate which 4 activities she'll do each day. So far, so good.
I've been doing a lot of reading trying to figure out how to combine the Classical Method (the Trivium) with the Charlotte Mason approach. These are the subjects and curriculum that Peter and Kate will be using this year:
*Saxon Math 2
*Veritas Press Phonics (finishing 1st grade this year)
*Science as suggested in the Well Trained Mind (using encyclopedias to study animals for 20 weeks, the human body for 10 weeks and plants for 6 weeks). This is going to be really fun because he got to choose which 20 animals he wanted to study and we will explore different resources including the internet to learn about the animals. He will do written narrations about our readings. We'll also do experiments when possible.
*History- The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer
*Lanuguage Arts- First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise. This is a great resource that includes instruction in grammar, poetry memorization, and oral and written narrations
*Bible- reading the scriptures listed in The Big Picture Bible Timeline and then coloring the corresponding picture
*Geography- Legends and Leagues by Veritas Press
*Saxon Math 1
*Veritas Press Phonics (hopefully finishing K and 1st grade this year)
*Language Arts- same as Peter
*Bible- same as Peter
*Geography- same as Peter
We will also begin listening to our cd's from the Classical Kids Collection and doing various craft projects.
If you're wondering why we started already- I hope to take a break from most of our formal school work when the baby is born. Now we can do that without feeling like we're "getting behind."
Sorry if I've bored you, but I assume if you're still reading, then you must be a homeschooler or possible future homeschooler (I know I always enjoy hearing what other homeschoolers are using).
This morning in my Devotions for Homeschool Moms book I read some very encouraging words that I'd like to share with you. Jackie Wellwood writes, "It is humorous to me that so many women think I have some special gifting that makes me able to homeschool. No way! There are so many times that I feel completely inadequate for the task and wonder what to do next... Many days I question whether I have what it takes. This is just where God wants me to be. How can God work in my life when I feel I can handle everything by myself?...It is only by the grace of God that I am able to do what I do. Are you sure you can handle homeschooling? Me neither." She points to 2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." I start to doubt my abilities as soon as people I meet say things like, "wow, you must have a lot of patience." Or, "you must really have it together to be able to homeschool." Those words overwhelm me because I know they aren't true! I don't have a special amount of patience or anything like that. I am a sinner and I get weary from this work and frustrated with my children. I just know that at this time in my life God has called me to homeschool. And He will not leave me, but will strengthen me and provide for me in this task. It is a huge blessing to have the freedom to educate our children at home. It is a huge blessing that Pete and I together feel called to do so. It is a a huge blessing to know that the Lord, in His grace, will equip us each day!!