Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blessings of the Year

I usually call this a Ta-Da List, but I have decided to change it to the Blessings List, because whatever good things happen at our house are by the grace of God. This list is one of several ways I have of talking myself down from trees where homeschooling is concerned. Whistling in the dark, so to speak. The Lord always provides for us, and I know He will continue in the future, but He only shows one step at a time and I have an inordinate love of control. (I'm working on it.) So this is my See-He-Did-Too-Bless-Your-Efforts list. (Disclaimer: I'm sure it isn't a complete list, either.)

First off, I Relaxed this year. I am told that this was the crowning achievement of the year. This means I hit the snooze button more often, didn't set the timer as much, and occasionally took the day off from school for things like May Flowers or Needing To Take A Walk Day. Unfortunately, in my relaxation I seem to have misplaced some of my proper care for details of daily living, so the pendulum does need to swing back a smidge.

Cornflower blossomed into a real reader. Yay! I love that part. She is reading small chapter books.

Triss competed in a speech tournament-- she did an Open Interpretation which was taken from the story of how Tigger and Roo Got Stuck, and also competed in the Impromptu category.

Triss wrote affirmative and negative cases for her debate class, and also had the opportunity of presenting one of them to our homeschool support group, and submitted to cross-examination by another speech and debate club member.

Triss, Mariel and Cornflower all completed their first round of ice skating lessons, and participated in a program at the end.

Mariel had another violin recital. Her teacher moved to Bolivia the first of this month, so we are in between violin teachers, and are very sad.

On Saturday, Triss bridged from Junior Girl Scout to Cadet with her troop and, after a bit of a mad scramble to meet requirements the other girls had accomplished in previous years, received the Bronze Award.

Triss and I read three Shakespeares and three Plutarchs this year. It is the first year we have done that-- before, we were managing one per year. Plutarch and Shakespeare are two areas where I can see real growth over the last couple of years. Used to be we had to decipher Plutarch one sentence at a time, but now we can read and (somewhat) understand an entire section without stopping.

Mariel joined us in our Shakespeare this term. It is the first time she has participated in reading an actual play. We did A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The children had a job this year. They cleaned their grandparents' home every couple of weeks or so, under the training and supervision of their Goggy. This opportunity has been quite enlightening to both the girls and their mother. The work has illuminated areas of strength and weakness for each child, and this valuable information has helped me focus my planning efforts for the next year where their education is concerned-- life skills and otherwise. Our house is staying a little tidier lately as well, now that they have been trained with brooms, mops, vacuums, etc. I have adapted the "zone" cleaning of a friend to fit our household, and each girl, in addition to keeping her own room tidy, is responsible for one-third of the house each week. I run around helping my "cleaning ladies" when it is chore time, or do some of the paperwork that seems to pile up needing my attention whenever my back is turned.

We had another music class, and got to share our love of do-re-mis and hymnsinging with friends. This time, Triss was my ablebodied assistant, doing such things as Sol-fa Hand Signs and Holding Posterboards and Leading The Alto Section. Cornflower was helpful entertaining the small siblings of students so the mommies could watch the class, and all three girls helped lead when we sang rounds. (They also kept their zones extra clean all week so the class would be comfortable!)

Next year I would like to be more organized in the type of music we sing. Since Mariel is beginning to be able to sing in harmony, we can do some ladies' three-part singing, and I plan to go to the local music store and see if I can dig out some girls' chorus-type music. The girls auditioned for and were invited to join a local children's chorus, but after considering the high level of commitment necessary to participating, Mr. Honey and I decided it would not benefit our family at this time. (Yes, I am dying inside about this decision, but I know it is right.) I would really like to work on this with them myself, since I have the skills to do it, and perhaps sing in retirement homes or something. Perhaps we won't be ready for that for another couple years, but it is an idea I have for the future.

In the third term, Triss branched out from straight summaries to more focused written narrations (compare/contrast, character sketch, poetry, note-taking, etc.). I plan to do a lot more of this in the next year, and begin to teach her more about essay writing. I am still exploring how to do this. I have been eyeing Brave Writer, and also plan to attend an IEW seminar in June. I think I might just be able to wing it using a couple of writer's guides we have around the house, but I want to see what these writing programs have to offer-- is it something I can figure out on my own, or would it be better to follow a program? A question to answer this summer.

All three girls did science projects this year. It was Mariel's first experience with the scientific method, and we have a foundation to build on now. Triss and Mariel participated in the local science fair, and all three girls participated in Science Night in our homeschool group. Next year, Triss will need to compete in a different fair in order to be eligible to go on to the regional fair. We have found a science class for her for next year and are working on finding a fair within our county.

They all trucked along in math, and we are going to continue with their books through the summer. This is necessary in order for them to be in their next books by September. Because this isn't customary (or reasonable, lol) in our family, I have made it a little more fun by offering ice cream cones for every five lessons completed. We just have to do the math slowly in order to understand it sometimes, and that means it will be extending into the summer this year.

We were dedicated to our Books of the Centuries this term, but our Memory Work fell off the radar. Our mapwork is still a little sketchy as well. I may have to break down and buy some kind of curriculum or workbook for the mapwork. Or maybe I should plan all the mapwork for the year in advance, and print everything out so it's just like a curriculum/workbook, only I didn't have to pay for it (except ink, which is a bit expensive, so maybe I will just buy some blackline masters and make copies at Kinko's...).

And today is the first day of there-really-isn't-a-whole-lot-to-do-in-the-day summer for me. Which, of course, translates into cleaning the garage, going through clothing, taking a look at the school/game closet, etc., etc. Things just might get into shape this summer. (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

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