Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A new school year

The adventure of school is underway. Kindergarten for Gwennan; preschool for Afton. Their enthusiasm is more than I ever hoped for. Gwennan is eager to practice. My fears for getting the school year kicked off well are assuaged. 

Paper doll from the book study

Practicing numbers on the sidewalk

Nature study

 This post could be a montage and make us look like a super-schooling family. That would not be a fair depiction. We started school a month ago. Do not be intimidated - I feel accomplished if I plan one interesting event a week.

Here’s what we’ve done:

Homemade worksheets.

Printed off worksheets.

More homemade worksheets.

Because school is work. The year started out rote and routine. Page after page of copy work and math skills, reviewing the alphabet and numbers, correcting mistakes in letter formation, introducing diphthongs and silent e. Setting a foundation for the three R’s.

Our first year homeschooling, we started the year hatching butterflies from cocoons. It was a perfect unit study, tying in the letter B with hands-on science and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Charlotte Mason couldn’t have done any better. After that first week, our expectation for school was sky high. I couldn’t keep up with the energy or excitement. The year faded into monotony that soon felt like failure after the hype of the first week. That’s why we started out with the difficult daily grind. The new school year momentum carried us through building the practice of school. Now that we’re in a good habit, we’ve introduced the fun stuff.

1. Nature study
We took a day at the park to examine different leaves, count lobes, identify veins, take rubbings. By sorting pinecones, sweet gum balls, and acorns, we explored odd and even sets. Our fearless kindergartener led us on a Milne-esque “expotition.”

2. Book study - Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I’ve anticipated sharing this book with Gwennan since the doctor told me she was a girl. Reading the Ingalls’ story as a family is one of my favorite childhood memories. Every afternoon, we cuddle up after lunch and dive into a new chapter, only to have them beg to hear two. The new favorite game at our house: lock Abby (cast as Jack) in the room, huddle in the bed, and squeal over the wolves outside the “cabin.” So far, it’s been everything I hoped for. 

Funny side story: We were practicing predictions during the Christmas chapter. I asked the girls how many presents they thought Mary and Laura would receive: lots and lots or just a couple. Gwennan voted just a couple. When I asked why, she reasoned that they lived way out in the big woods without other people, so there wasn’t a Target.

3. Missionary social studies
Each week (starting yesterday), we learn the story of a missionary, where they came from, where they traveled to, who they helped, and most importantly, why they helped. We investigate the culture they moved to, including food from that region (as Tim pointed out, I never pass up an opportunity for curry or any other unusual fare).
Amy Carmichael was our first subject. A single woman who became a mother to thousands of abused children. Such an amazing testimony. Her story is told briefly here. Elisabeth Elliot (who will be a subject later in the year) might be her greatest champion and wrote a beautiful article about her mission and writing here.

I can’t believe how this year has started. Where I feared stubborn refusal from students and blustering impatience from teacher, school has been none of those things. If I expected things to go so poorly, why did I ever agree to homeschool? My own experience. I remember neglecting my work, hiding skipped homework, fighting with my mom. some. More I recall amazing field trips, extra time on more interesting subjects, weekly trips to the library, hours reading what I loved, extra time with my mom and sisters, extra time playing, moving school outside on days too lovely to stay inside. Flexibility and time. What I want for my kids too. And so far, exactly what we have.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful start to your school year! I wanted to add that we have been so inspired by Amy Carmichael and Elisabeth Elliot that we named our only daughter after these women (but used the traditional Biblical spelling for Elizabeth.) As it turns out, a friend noticed later that Amy was actually born on Amy Carmichael's birthday! How cool is that?


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