Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sixty-Fourth Step - Start Homeschooling

Wow, we made it through our first day. I have been nervous leading up to this, which seemed silly, but it was a feeling I couldn't just shake by rationalizing it away. Like telling myself, "It's just kindergarten, just relax." Or "You can add things in along the way, or tweak things, or decide that doing Latin is too much..." (Yes, Latin hit a shelf on the "do later" bookshelf. I figured I shouldn't be teaching her weird Latin phonics until she gets English phonics).

Here's how the day went. All the girls slept until 8:30 or so (weird!). I had some breakfast in the office, but then finished it downstairs as I nursed baby because I couldn't wait to see everyone's reaction to the clean, picked-up, organized school spaces downstairs. It really looked pretty sweet. I had been sick for four days, of course unexpectedly, but it was right in the middle of several projects. Making a nursing cover for my sister-in-law, rearranging the downstairs, putting in bookshelves and Montessori-like reading spaces, deciding VHS tapes don't need to be in the living room when our VCR is broken, etc. It was torture to be DOWN for 4 days and looking at all this stuff to do! So last night I tackled it, since I am eating more solid foods again now and have a little energy.

After straightening (and, unfortunately, barking at DH to carry some things down to the basement, who was only trying to go to bed), until 12:30 a.m. (DH went to bed at 11--I'm not that cruel), projects had been finished and papers cleared and everything had a place in some cute basket or new bin. The *only* thing with clutter/papers on it (OK, and under it) was, sigh, my desk. We have a new, super cool, sleek desk with matching filing cabinet to match our new bookshelves though--think that will help??? Repeat after me, "I am a vertical filer, not a horizontal one, I am a vertical filer..." The desk isn't put together yet, but will be SOON. Because the other desk is going in the garage sale.

Anyway, Clarissa did say thank you for everything looking so nice downstairs for Sagar School. DH brought up the easel for me, so this was a source of excitement, since it hadn't been seen for a while because of babyproofing (so yes, baby has now eaten chalk, and turned her rice cake blue). I wrote a welcome sign on it, and we took everyone's picture by it, and baby was, of course, crying. Then after the kids had breakfast and got dressed, we attempted another picture. Baby was crying in that one too. She is getting some molars, although that's not the right word, probably bicuspids or something. And another tooth next to her front big teeth. But I hoped it wasn't a foreshadowing of our homeschooling days to come...

I did get a roast in the oven and cleaned the kitchen before we started, hoodledeedoo! We started out with a short Bible story, because at this point it was 10:30. Then I prayed for us, and we did the "100 days of school" chart I had printed out that morning (thanks for the idea, JS and MLL). Charlie was sad he didn't get to write a number, so I will have him do the tallymark one I just printed out now, since he doesn't know how to write numbers anyway, except 1, and 5 somewhat.

Then I was trying to read our Five-in-a-Row book, Storm in the Night. It's a good book, about a sweet relationship between grandfather and grandson, who are talking about being afraid during a thunderstorm. Baby is literally crying and kids are having a hard time hearing. I am holding her, not sure what she wants, and finally I took her into the kitchen and told her this behavior was unacceptable and we weren't going to be able to do school if she is acting this way. I think that was really effective (pshah--of course it wasn't the water and rice cake I got her), because we were able to get through the book and talk about it a bit (the "social studies" section of FIAR). The concepts were a bit abstract or open-ended, and I pretty much gave the answers after Clare said, "Um, I don't know what you mean." Ah well, no biggie.

I feel caught between the "narration" idea of Charlotte Mason, classical education's "don't ask them to analyze too much while in Grammar stage" and traditional school's "reflection" questions (which Five-in-a-Row seems to gravitate toward, but with more subjects and practical applications). I don't know, I'm new. We need to find a groove that works for us, because they got kind of tired of it. I think only one subject area at a time with FIAR is good for us, keeping it short. And maybe some narration where I write it down, and she can copy it later. But I'm not sure if they can narrate a whole picture book, or if it's just supposed to be a paragraph, or if that's only in a history living book, or what Charlotte Mason really means. Charlotte? Can you hear me??

Then we read some of Story of the World, after I helped the baby with something and Charlie went off to play with his helicopter. It doesn't seem like these lessons will be very long, both because my throat is sore from reading (need to keep a *huge* waterbottle with me!) and they can't really last more than 2 or 3 pages. We all had snack at the table and I read Apologia science at the table, and part of Bennie's Animals (a storybook about animal classification). I decided we should take a walk after snack and see the real world.

We did a very "homeschooling" thing on our walk--looked for animals with backbones. And by default, talked about animals without backbones too. We saw a dog, cat, and bird with backbones, and a butterfly without. Clearly not many animals out and about at noon on a 90-degree day. They were smarter than us!

When we got back, I started them on math workbooks and helped intermittently as I started lunch. Yelling out, "Does it have 6 squares? Then circle it!" from the kitchen worked pretty well. Charlie is good with numbers, makes me feel like we can click somehows (him not being a "word" person like me and Clare). At least until he gets to about 4th grade, if I'm lucky.

I love science though, I hope we can manage to make it not too boring. We'll see about this Apologia textbook business, since it is making things a bit dry for my taste. Science can be the most exciting subject ever!! I was thinking of ideas for the coop class I'm helping with; we'll see.

It gets a little fuzzy here...I did some playdough forms (cube/cylinder/cone etc.). I say etcetera because I do not know the term for the rectangular one. And I say "one" because I do not remember what the 3D term is for all those. So maybe I won't make it to 4th grade math after all. Then we tried some dominoes, but they were kind of fried at that point and just playing with them. Baby was getting into playdough and dominoes, so I left them with it all and put the baby down while the noodles were boiling. Very risky if she took a while to get to sleep, which she didn't, thankfully.

During lunch we read the Health, Safety and Manners workbook, and I measured them (one of the activities). Clare had grown 3 inches in a year, and Charlie grew 3.5! Charlie grew an inch in the past 5 months, actually. She's 45 and he's 40 inches. I thought they were closer in height now, but they are growing pretty much the same rate, obviously. The more they grow, the more Disney rides they can go on! (I don't really know if they measure there or not, actually, seems kind of anti-dreams-come-true).

OK, after cleaning up lunch we read a page in this cute French book from interlibrary loan Play and Learn French (CD included). I am very impressed with my French accent after all these years, but even more impressed with Clare's new one! I videotaped a bit of it because it is so cute. She would get mixed up sometimes and go "je ve de le muh muh muh" or something that sounded very French but not right and it was so funny.

Last thing, finally: Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, aka phonics. We recorded this vowel rhyme on tape, and will continue to record I think because it's nice to have and also for her to listen to. The other thing I want to do is a video log of the poems she has memorized (maybe once a month or less). I'll probably record on tape more consistently too, for the cute and listening factor. I need to order that poetry memorization book (Linguistic Development and Poetry Memorization) from Amazon today. So we also don't have our calendar/weather chart etc. But we had plenty to do--with the walk and lunch and snacks in there, we weren't done until 3!

They both just fell into bed afterward and so did I. Baby slept another hour, thankfully. And is happily spreading her rice cake crumbs all over the office, now called "the playroom." We're having a garage sale this weekend, so need to see about an ad for that. Ordered protein powder, and about to do the Amazon order. Keeping up with regular life will be the hard part! Like the roast in the oven...

So far, I think spending more time together will be awesome. I think when the kids are happy, I tend to "leave them be" too long. So this will really create good time together pretty naturally. I can't imagine sending her to a stranger for 4 hours a day! I'm very thankful to be able to do this!! But wow, it took a lot of energy and brainpower for this tired mama. :)
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