Friday, October 05, 2007

How It's Going

It is the halfway point of our school term, and the time when I begin saying of things that have fallen off the list, "We'll add that back in next term."

I thought I would say it here because it is more fun than contemplating it by my ownty-donty self. But I must warn you: this post is awfully long and detailed, and most likely only interesting to myself.

First, the things that have taken and flourished this term:

1. Bible. We have done Old Testament History twice a week, New Testament History twice a week and Proverbs on Wednesday with only a little variation. (Our variation has been to periodically switch to a character study on Determination or to do some catechism questions that I plan to work in regularly next term for Mariel and Cornflower. And we have skipped it completely a few times.)

2. Memory Work. This hasn't been done every single day, but we do it more often than not. We have hit on the clever (and fun) device of having each child take a turn being the teacher and reading out the memory work for others to follow. It enforces the teacher's learning as well as the students'! I have only rotated in one new mnemonic so far because we needed refreshing on our old work.

3. Home Ec. This has fallen into more of the cleaning and less of the life skills. I kind of thought that might happen. But it sure has been a relief to know each day has an hour in which all we do is think about the house. Yesterday morning we cleared the old plantings in our flowerbeds and it looks so nice. (I haven't given up on the general life skills as part of this hour; I am going to think them through a little more thoroughly before next term.)

4. Artist Study. We have made it through two Da Vincis in five weeks, and I'm pleased with that. We only played the picture game and read a very little about Da Vinci. Mariel read his biography last year, and Triss has it to read for free reading this term, so I think we're doing well in the Da Vinci department. (The two paintings we studied were The Last Supper and Ginevra da Benci.)

5. Composer Study. We are finishing up Rimsky-Korsakov, and I think his music has been one of our favorite parts of this term. We are loathe to leave him, but next week will move on to Borodin. We are comforted in the knowledge that we have Scheherazade in its entirety on CD.

6. Grammar/Phonics. This is going swimmingly, in fact, I think we will be able to discontinue phonics for Cornflower in the next few weeks to months; she just has a few more combinations to be sure of. And I am using Grammar Songs with Mariel and having her do the exercises in the book, which is a very nice fit for her. We almost lost Triss' Grammar of Poetry lessons through a miscommunication (she thought I was going to do it with her and I thought she was doing it on her own), but we got on track a couple of weeks ago and are doing a combination of independent/together work. (I really need to know that stuff-- I had never even heard of a trope.) I am not having her do a separate grammar book, although I do want her to finish Winston Grammar. I'm just not sure where to fit it. Perhaps next term.

7. Math. It's getting done. We are applying a little creativity to it, as well. Who knew Elvis could help with multiplication tables? (I am planning to blog about that but I want to post pictures first.)

8. Reading practice. Mariel and Cornflower have been reading aloud to me! Sometimes we sneak it in while we are doing an Ambleside reading and kill two birds with one stone, but occasionally we practice reading fluently by reading (from a non-school book) the same (interesting) paragraph over in turns. With expression. It's kind of fun.

9. Nature Study. Yay! Look at us doing nature study! Mariel has an early violin lesson one morning per week and we just spend the rest of the morning at the park. We adopted a lovely one that has a wooded nature trail, a pond and an extensive towered and turreted wooden play area. To make it more enchanting, there is a church nearby that rings bells (actually, I think it is a recording) to sound each hour. If you close your eyes slightly, you can imagine you are in a country shire. But I digress. I have to mention here that Triss and I have only missed nature journaling one time, and I just can't believe we have been consistent with it. This is The First Time it has happened.

10. Musical instrument practice. I had the bright idea of scheduling actual practice *times* this term so there isn't any discussion about whose turn it is to delight the rest of us with music. We have four people practicing piano and one practicing violin, and our house is basically a great room with bedrooms tacked on, so when one person is practicing, everyone else gets to enjoy it. The schedule has helped immensely. They are doing well in their piano. I am pleased to see progress. Mariel's violin teacher says she is doing well also.

11. Ambleside readings. These are going fine, for the most part. I have a few glitches to work out in Mariel's schedule, and I don't know how long it is going to take Triss to get all of her reading done this year, but the kids are reading and narrating at least two to three Ambleside selections each school day. Triss is doing Apologia General Science on her own as part of her Ambleside reading, and that has been a little intense, but she did fine on the first module and is into the second. Mariel and I had a sudden realization a couple of weeks ago that Robinson Crusoe is not someone she easily sympathizes with, so we decided to read that one aloud and have her do Abigail Adams on her own. I had a lot of fun this week demonstrating to her what a thirty foot wave would do to a person when she mentioned that she thought Mr. Crusoe must not be a very good seaman to have so much trouble getting to the island when he is shipwrecked. I even entertained Cornflower. (I can't really describe what I did except to say, "pkwsheahhh, spsssshhhhh, glurguhlurg, whoa-whoa, Argghhh!!! And just picture me running and tumbling back and forth in front of the bookcases in the dining area with my hands raised and falling to imitate waves. Our ceiling is one-third the height of a thirty foot wave, by the way. Hahaha, snuck some math in and they Didn't Even Notice.)

12. Weekly sketch. This is only happening because Barbara at Heart of Harmony blog has been encouraging us all with Sketch Tuesdays. We have only missed one Tuesday since we started our term. Thanks, Barb!

13. Home Geography. On violin-and-nature-study day (which also happens to contain an afternoon of piano lessons), we have a little time after lunch and chores, and before piano lessons, to do some family geography. We have studied the use of the compass and mapped the schoolroom. Triss even laid out the entire house on four sheets of graph paper. Next term I'm planning on making things a little more challenging for Triss by using Be Expert With a Map and Compass and the US Army Map Reading and Navigation Handbook to spice up her geography study a little. I've also insisted that they put down their books occasionally when they are in the car so they can figure out which direction we are going and what city we are in and where we should turn next. Turns out this is a big challenge for them-- it ought to be, as the girls generally have their noses in books, envisioning some parallel universe, whenever I am driving them someplace.

14. Spanish. Yay! Javamom is teaching the children Spanish! She arrives without fail once a week and teaches my kids Spanish while I work with her son on piano. It is so wonderful. I'm afraid the kids are having trouble remembering to practice their flashcards during the week, though, and I need to remind them to write that into their independent work.

The things that are getting done sometimes:

1. Singing. We forget to do this a lot of mornings, but when we remember, we have a really good time. We are learning some hymns, and some songs out of a funny little book called "A Singing Bee". Their favorite seems to be Katie the Kangaroo. My goal for the term is to have them sing two or three new songs in harmony for their grandparents at Thanksgiving, which is six weeks away. I think we can still do it if we remember to get our singing done each day!

2. Poetry. This started out getting lost in the shuffle, but then I realized we could have Poetry Tea once a week. We have done that twice, and really enjoyed it, so I am going to make an effort to continue. We did forget about it this week. There is so much good stuff to learn in this life, it just gets squished out the edges!!

3. Latin. We have done Latin at least three weeks this term, but are only on the second lesson. We haven't found the groove where practicing flashcards is concerned, and this makes it more difficult for the kids to learn the material. I'm thinking of using some of our car time for flashcards. We drive to regular activities two days per week.

4. Dictation and copywork. We have done this three weeks out of the five, but are only getting it done two to three days per week. We have been using pencil grips and being very strict about holding the pencil correctly during dictation and copywork. Because of this I have scheduled the kids to do these assignments all together rather than part of their independent work. The time of day is not convenient and that is why it falls off a couple of days a week.

5. Recitation. Each of the girls has memorized one to two poems (well, Mariel has memorized two portions of a long poem) this term, but we keep forgetting to practice. Practice is supposed to take place in the half hour when we do dictation and copywork, but that is just not the happiest hour of our day (those interfering pencil grips, you know) and by the end of it sometimes all we want is a little run outside, or a hug, or a cup of hot tea. I think it would be better for them to each practice on their own and recite their poems once a week at the Poetry Tea. (Ooh, yay-- an idea! I'll take it, thanks.)

6. Time Books. These come out whenever necessary at history, so it's not super consistent, but it is getting done.

7. Current Events. We got a late start on Student News Daily, but Triss is doing these daily now. Or would be if she were here. :sniff: (She's coming home tomorrow.)

And the winners for Absolutely Fell Off The Radar:

1. Shakespeare. We have done exactly one session of reading. It just got lost in the shuffle. It's scheduled on Fridays at the very end, and we only made it an Event that once. Next term.

2. Plutarch. We have not done one bit of Plutarch because I keep forgetting that I mistakenly scheduled it during ice skating lessons. This will have to take place next term also, I guess.

So there you have it.


G.L.H. said...

I'm trying to envision what this generation of public-schooled children would be like if they had the opportunity to live with you. I dare to say that the lack of Shakespeare and Plutarch wouldn't even show...

Thanks for sharing your term with us!

Mother Auma said...

Thanks for your kind comment, Barbie!

athenainaminivan said...

I think you are doing splendedly!! I am quite impressed. Just keep focusing on the balls you are keeping in the air instead of the ones you are dropping. Your girls are just darling.