Madelyn's last visit to school was a year ago, on the Monday before Thanksgiving.
Our first month was pretty much a free-for-all. In January, she began math one year back--1st grade-- and she is now five math assignments away from finishing 2nd grade. That's two years of math in eleven months. She will be starting 3rd grade and finished with that before her "4th grade year" begins next fall.
The work in 3rd and 4th grade is more dense. Nate is due to be half done with 4th grade by Wednesday. He, too, started a year behind. If his rate stays the same, he'll be done with 4th grade by mid-April and can start 5th grade. He'll have to do double math assignments from May through August to be "on track" for 6th grade by fall.
The newest items in our curriculum are from the Critical Thinking Co.: Vocabulary Smarts and Reading Detective . The appeal of Vocab. Smarts is that it presents words (vocab) and asks the student to see how two words (out of four) are related: synonyms, antonyms, past/present verbs, or singular/plural nouns. Then they have to write a sentence with at least two of the given words.
Even Nate needed review on synonym/antonym. On the white board, I illustrated two ants walking opposite directions.
Reading Detective takes a page of text and asks the student to answer questions about the passage while citing the pertinent sentence/paragraph that supports the answer. This takes more work; you must find exactly where the evidence is given. I have to check over the answers and work with each separately (one is using grades 3-4, the other is in 5-6).
Our Body (Unit 2) is almost done. We're discussed the taste buds and experimented with where-on-the-tongue certain tastes are best detected.
We discussed stress-what it is, how to manage it--and the importance of sleep.
A bonus to learning about digestion is that I can correct Nate's "cram and chew" style of eating with a scientifically-based argument. Digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth, so to chew thoroughly is a part of proper absorption. There are enzymes in saliva that begin breaking down carbs before they reach the stomach.
One Friday, we went to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. They were doing an exhibit on fractals--something we explored during alternative ed. week in October. It turned out to be the same video we had watched at home with several prints showing examples of fractals. Eh. It was not as much a expected.
|Mom? We've seen this one.|
When the kids were smaller and did not read to themselves, we read on the couch every night. Now that Dad's home in the evening after a long day's work, the living room is usually loud with the sounds of television. Our night reading ritual has lapsed.
I miss it. I love being read to and I love reading aloud. It's good for them to hear stories, so we began reading in the morning instead, after breakfast and before schoolwork. We read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in one week.
A bit of self-directed learning came from PBS. We got home around 3PM one day, and Madelyn turned on the TV to a drawing show. Before I realized it, a half hour had gone by, and she had drawn two pictures--both with shading, depth, and confident lines. We made a point to watch it together the next week, and it's on the calendar. Unfortunately, it's on Thursdays, so the holiday programming this week has ousted our drawing show.
When I left a decent part-time job (with benefits) to resume self-employment and, eventually, homeschooling, I felt a bit daft. It felt right, for me, but I could not understand why more women continued balancing corporate life with a demanding home life.
Was it me? Was it them? Society?
A book that has buoyed me is The Radical Homemaker, by Shannon Hayes. She left a job in academia to raise food and a family. Her blog this week, about re-thinking unschooling, is worth a look for those in this "business."
She explains--from experience--the reasons I do use a curriculum and why I cannot dive into unschooling. She also steers clear of the "life-as-college-prep" model in which kids are put through the rigors of a "classical" education for as many hours as they would spend in public school. I think she's marvelous. She is what helped me accept my yearning to bake bread and keep house even if it doesn't pay anything.