Saturday, August 29, 2015

Getting the ball rolling

    The teens added math full force this week. The middles and littles did math and literature daily. Little Valor worked in Sing, Spell, Read, & Write and Rod and Staff math 1 daily, along with practicing the Writing Road to Reading phonogram cards. He's doing great. Counting to HUGE numbers like 50 during the teaching portion of Rod and Staff math is his favorite. 

    Joy didn't get as far in geometry as she hoped for last year. It just didn't get the time commitment it should have. So it's top dog this year. She intends to go strong on geometry alone to start with, and then fold in algebra 2 on top of it. 

    Justice worked with a math tutor all last year. This year his tutor isn't available for daily lessons, but he'll gladly be on call. He and I have been doing the math together on boogie boards, which gives him the interaction he needs to be successful, and lets mistakes get corrected right away. Well, hypothetically. Accepting correction is not his strong suit. We're working on that. ;) 

      I have printed out a TON of paper this week! I've printed, 3-hole punched, and stuffed all this paper into the appropriately labeled and divided binders.
  • The Fun Spanish (Faith)
  • 50 States student pages (Faith and Grace to do together)
  • Draw Around the World: USA (Grace)
  • Jump into Cursive Handwriting (Faith)
  • The Elements by McHenry (Grace and Honor)
  • Carbon Chemistry by McHenry (Grace and Honor)
  • CKE Chemistry student pages (Grace and Honor)
    I still have a bunch of syllabi, quizzes, tests, and such to go. 
   Next week each student will add a handful of subjects, but not the whole list. We usually do every subject at once, just slowly the first week or two. This year we're all feeling like a gradual incline is best.  Valor is already at full speed for kindergarten. Faith wants to add science and cursive penmanship. Grace will add Art of Problem Solving prealgebra and chemistry. Honor will go back into the same prealgebra book where he left off earlier this summer, and also chemistry. The teens haven't officially decided. I think Joy will go for composition and world geography, and Justice will  go for history and literature.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kindergarten Fun, Galadriel, Books

     Valor has started kindergarten work in spite of the rest of us not being ready to start the new grades. He finished two of the preschool Star Wars workbooks we bought him this summer, Shapes & Colors and Numbers. When he finishes Letters he'll start Sing, Spell, Read, & Write level K. He's two lessons into Rod and Staff's Beginning Arithmetic now, and loved the felt duck pond instantly. Yesterday he slowly sounded his way through his first BOB Book.

     Galadriel is the newest member of our family. She's a four month old "boxer mix," whose family was moving two states away and couldn't take her with them. Apparently they just kept her outside and didn't work on training. House and leash manners were completely foreign to her. She has *such* a sweet disposition, and she's picking up basic commands and expectations by leaps and bounds.  As sweet as she is, it's rather like having a toddler in the house again. Fear of having one's toys chewed on has done more to keep my floors clean than anything else I've ever tried though. ;)

     The shelves are getting fatter. I've been bringing down all the books for this year, which build up across the top of our large entertainment center over the summer. The old ones go back up there until I get around to sorting them and putting away the books we'll keep. This is the overflow shelf for this coming year. American Girl unit study, American history, and world geography books that aren't used regularly are going to live here.

Friday, August 14, 2015



The school area

  • Honor and I finished staining the dark wood paneling in our school area. It's a medium/light blue now, which brightens up the room considerably! I'm still going to fatigue it to soften the BLUE effect.
  • The sturdy lab/work table MhoncaiDad built is also stained and back in the house. 
  • The curriculum shelf that's been in that spot since we brought it home went to the other wall. Just because. 
  • The small desk that's always in the way where it was went where the little bookshelf was.

 School books

  • There is a mound of books on that new table that were pulled from the curriculum shelf. They need filed into completed work in the utility closet, stuffed back in the school closet somehow, or rehomed. 
  • New books for this year are filling the shelves.
  • I am super behind on lesson planning this year! 

The Mom

Valor finished his first numbers book.




The Mhoncai

  • The teens just got back from a delightful two week romp on the western slope of Colorado. They stayed on a ranch with old family friends. 
  • The little ones are having to readjust. A house with just little kids just has a different flavor.
  • The younger ones all did literature, math on the computer, practiced geography on Sheppard Software, and Honor and Grace worked on Uzinggo's middle school science. That's it. When that load and a house chore were completed they played, and played, and played.
  • They're all pretty much in summer mode, and enjoying it that way.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Little Bites vs Meaty

    There are so many homeschooling methods out there. Most of them have parts that sound good, and parts that would be a horrible fit with my family. Thankfully no one is required to buy into one 100%.

Eowyn trying to stowaway (Or, how many shoes
does one teen girl need for two weeks??!)
    A few years ago the Charlotte Mason (CM) approach was really interesting to me. Their materials seemed so wholesome, and all those subjects those CM moms were accomplishing on their gorgeous blogs really appealed to me. If you're not familiar with Charlotte Mason, a hallmark is doing small bites of many subjects daily. There really is so very much worthwhile material out there we could learn, and they were certainly getting a broader variety into their children than I was.

    So we tried it. I made sure our core subjects were strong, and piled on the little extras that would only be done in small bites, and not even daily! We could totally do this! Look at how fat that curricula list is! We're going to rock it. Just watch.

    Did you buy that?

     It flopped. Like really, really flopped.

    A couple of those subjects we never even touched the whole year. The rest of them kept us so busy looking at trees it felt like we weren't ever going to know deeply, that we had no idea what the forest looked like, or even its name. But this geography reader is important. And so is that Constitution primer. And math drills on top of math time. And classical kids MUST write daily! Memory time! Hymn time! And.... it took me awhile to admit defeat. Full stop. Which of these subjects is MOST important? None of us are going to get it all. I surely didn't in my elementary education.

    We slowly worked our way over to something more closely resembling multum non multa. Much, not many. (Here's a great video of Chris Perrin of Classical Academic Press explaining this better than I can.)  Now, our core subjects are kept rather meaty. We wade deep into subjects and learn them so much better. We know exactly what forest we're in, we know the trails and the natives like the back of our hand, and we are free to explore every little corner our heart desires. We are doing less subjects. We are learning HOW to learn so, so much better. There is joy in the discovery that cannot be found in daily morsels.

Grace and a cousin
    Another change in the last couple years is my kids' educations have become more and more child led. We are still digging as deep as we can into the forest. The kids just have considerable sway into which forest they're clambering through.  Studying English, Math, Science, History, and Language every year is non-negotiable. That leaves a mile of leeway though! Last year Honor studied history through the development of ships, aircraft, and spacecraft. His science was ocean life, weather, and astronomy respectively. He helped handpick the curriculum. We looked at samples and booklists together. He *loved* that set. Even the highschoolers have more leeway than you'd think, while still keeping college's incoming freshman requirements in mind.

    Rather than being tempted to fill up our year with interesting and worthwhile electives, and those fun little additions that seem so lightweight they surely can't hurt the schedule, we're filling up those core subjects and keeping them meaty. The kids are excited (most of the time...) and engaged. They're interested. They want to learn more about the topics they're studying, and it's not because of some lecture from mom telling them while geography is so important to their lives. (Oh yes, I did.)

Slight confession: Those are palm trees and saguaro cacti.
There is no real forest around these here parts....

    For me and my house, we're skipping the many morsels and digging our teeth into the meat.