Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Note

I'm leaving this blog up as a resource since several sites link to the forms and materials on here, but it will no longer be updated since I am trying to consolidate everything that used to go on three blogs to one blog --


So that's where I'll continue to update on planning and record-keeping and that kind of thing. Just so you all know!

Friday, May 29, 2009

What's Left -- Year 7

  • 8 lessons of MEP Year 7.
  • 61 pages of the Boy Scientist.
  • 70 pages of Robinson Crusoe.
  • 100 pages of George Washington's World
  • about 100 pages of Ways of the Wood Folk
  • 10 more chapters of The Reb and the Redcoats.
I estimate this will take 2-3 weeks for the math and about 6 weeks for everything else, though obviously we could zip through faster if we wanted to go at hyperspeed. But I don't think we do. This "slow read" pace is working for us.

We finished the relevant part of This Country of Ours, and we're putting Bulfinch's Mythology on hold because Kieron is spending lots of time reading old Junior Classics and My Book House anthologies, which cover the same ground.

Everything else is basically on inert status till next fall..... Shakespeare, Plutarch, grammar, Latin, art and music study. I will probably have some sort of summer curriculum -- not sure of the details yet. The Year 1 students will continue through the summer because their curriculum is so close to what I want them to do in their regular lives, anyway.

Paddy listens to all of the Year 7 readings except The Boy Scientist. He calls Robinson Crusoe "the savage".

I am really enjoying The Boy Scientist. I have a lot of summer readings for ME planned out. Liam gave me Einstein's "Relativity" to read, I have a bio about Michael Faraday, and an Asimov book about physics. Liam also gave me a book about Aquinas's division of the sciences, which is a commentary on a writing by Boethius. So many books, so little brain power and time ;-).

Monday, April 20, 2009

more planning to plan and catch-up

I wrote a post on prayer and planning over here. Now that I wrote it, I actually want to DO it. So that's next on the list, besides helping Kieron get through the last part of Year 7.

Some more posts on planning, from 2007.

We slowed to a stop on Holy Week and are just picking up again now. .... everyone got sick and I was doing some house-sorting so we didn't stay on much of a schedule.

Kieron has been reading My Book House series, Winds of Light series, and something else I can't remember. Oh, yes, a "time" story by Andre Norton -- can't remember the title.

I read some of Pinocchio to Paddy -- I'm not sure how he liked it except that he kept saying, "Keep Reading!" I had never read the real story before and was surprised by the satiric tone, sort of like Cervantes, it seemed. Good Books always surprise me with their voice.

Paddy's also having me go through Winnie the Pooh again. We also read Dinosaurs before Dark... a Magic Tree House story. That is, he read it to himself and then I read it to him.

Aidan has been "reading" Are you my Mother? and Ten Apples up on Top! to me and then having me read them to him. By looking around the floor I can see the archaeological trail of puzzles he has been doing.

Today I hope to have an actual academic day even if it's somewhat slow.

I have it pretty well decided what we're going to do next year as I wrote here. But I think we are missing out a bit on interests. It's something I don't really know what to do about right now but I'm putting it here for consideration.

Also, since I was just whining about being sick and letting homeschooling slide I thought this was great timing. So how's homeschooling going?.... (you're still doing better than Miss S)

Monday, April 13, 2009


Because I had told Paddy so firmly all the minutiae of good behavior at Easter mass, including a prohibition against asking questions, I thought it would be good to pay attention to preparing him beforehand about what Easter meant. So he wouldn't have any important questions left to ask during the service itself.

So I read him the Good Friday Bible story on Good Friday. It was surprisingly hard to read the story of Our Lord's arrest, trial and crucifixion to a 6 year old. He knows it generally but the actual story is so horrible in the details. Something in me wants to protect him against something so shocking happening to someone he has learned to love through the Christmas stories and the stories of his miracles. Besides, I was afraid I would start to cry, which would embarrass him.

However, it went off all right. He was very interested. And when we got to Easter mass, very early because his older brothers were altar serving, some serendipity came in because the bulletin had a line drawing of Jesus emerging from the tomb. Paddy said with delight "There's Jesus!" and I explained about the stone rolling aside and the angel and the women (reminding him because we have talked about this story before).

Then the bulletin also talked about how we go to mass on Sundays because we are re-celebrating Easter... how the Jews celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday but the custom was changed from the earliest days of the Church. So I paraphrased that for him because one of his recent questions has been "WHY do we have to go to church every Sunday?" I have been telling him about how much God does for us every second of every day and how little he really requires in return so this was another way to present it.

Also, on Friday we finished reading The Law of Authority and Obedience. Parables from Nature has been a stumbling block for me for years. Every time I looked at Ambleside, I would see this book and glance through the text and hesitate. I just couldn't bring myself to read it to my children. However, Paddy's my last (though Aidan will be the last chronologically to go through Year 1, I guess) and so I wanted to give the whole Ambleside curriculum a fair try. To my surprise these stories suit him well. He gets all fired up with enthusiasm -- the Big Questions put his mind in high gear. The older kids were listening sub rosa and after I finished we had an interesting discussion about roles, etc. I'm glad however that there are only a few of these stories for Year 1 because "just a little is enough" -- I can see that it would be a strain on his mind and heart to have a steady diet of these stories, which is probably why I instinctively hesitated in the past.

He was pretty good at Mass. That is the main habit we're working on right now. He tends to get so restless that he almost closes off his mind and senses. I'm thinking of having him practice during the week. At home he CAN sit still for long times when I'm reading to him, but it's harder for him when his mind isn't fully engaged. So I need to teach him to be able to reflect and take in what's around him when there's no "narrative" so to speak. Picture study and composer study might help a bit.... just thinking this through?

We are still on vacation -- resume studies tomorrow. I wanted to use this blog as a place to jot down teaching notes rather than just list what we did. And sometimes learning happens on the off days, too.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A List of Things To Focus On One at a Time

I'm sorry, this blog will probably be even more boring than usual for a little while, unless you like twig by twig details of an ADD homeschooler's planning process.

On my sidebar I have put some of the things I wanted to start developing as habits, or extending:




Century Books

Poetry/Poet Study

Nature Study
Hymns and Folk Songs

Living Geography and Travel

Scripture and other Recitation (Memory)
Sports/Games/ Physical Training

Handicrafts and Practical Life


Plutarch and Shakespeare

Art Study
Composer Study

Domestic Church

Retrospective of Year 7

Looking at last year, I see I was on Week 28 this time last year, too. ... and just starting to plan.

Did I do ANYTHING that I had tentatively planned for Year 7 back then? I don't think so. We did follow a US History chronology and we have worked a bit with KISS Grammar, but that's about all.

Did we still have a good year? Yep, I don't think it went too badly.

Logic We only finished half of Introductory Logic, but if he does the next half next year we will be in good shape to tackle Traditional Logic I and II in high school.

Math He was horribly burned out on math, and so we went to MEP Year 7. This is a year behind where he should be, but because he could use the review and it also extended some things into high school concepts, I think it was appropriate. Math isn't his favorite subject, but he did engage a lot more this year than previously. I think we'll probably go on to Year 8.

Latin -- we did a lateral. We didn't touch Latina Christiana -- instead went to Latin is Fun, which is actually my oldest Latin resource -- I used it with Liam when we were enrolled with Kolbe. I didn't know enough Latin then to use it well and we fizzled out after a few chapters. This year we actually made it through the whole first section -- OK, at that rate we'd take six years to make it through the book but I am still pretty happy since we stuck at it faithfully. Here is a vocabulary database where you can do vocab quizzes related to the book. I don't think there's a homeschooler in the world besides me who uses Latin is Fun which probably means it has something wrong with it -- probably the more inductive approach or perhaps that as I mentioned it seems to require a bit of background knowledge. But he's actually learned more grammar than he learned last year using Latina Christiana 1.

Grammar -- basically once a week he takes one of the KISS worksheets and analyzes. Very lowkey. We talk about it. My goal is for him to work from his own understanding towards the analytic knowledge.

Religion -- Creed in Slow Motion was our core. I think it was very helpful, and am wondering what we will do to replace this next year. He also read pretty much all the Vision Saints books we had in the house -- 20 or more. I think maybe he's ready for some of our apologetic-focused books and for some CS Lewis.

History and Literature. We progressed over the course of the year from the Renaissance to American Revolution. It would make this post too bulky to list all the resources we used, so maybe a separate post. This was probably the core of the year and I think we met expectations at least. Next year is modern history -- Civil War through -- and Story of the World IV will probably be the spine.

Science -- A history of science approach integrated with history and literature, with some nature study readings. Right now he is reading The Boy Scientist and Ways of Wood Folk. I promised my kids I'd never use Apologia Science again, so I'm looking for a replacement. Main resource will probably be MacBeth's High School Science. Kieron votes for some of those cool Discovery Channel science programs that Kevin watches at night. Those could be starters for further research. Also, we never got to Chemical History of a Candle and I loved that book, so it might be a good resource for next year.

Geography -- worked on this during the first term, but have let it drop since.

Things to work on informally during the summer:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Nature Study
  • Composition (story writing)
Dragons in the Flower Bed linked to these TAKS standards tests so maybe I will have him do a bit of that during the last part of the year to see if there are any areas that needed shoring up.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Paddy's Narration

Paddy did his first "formal" narration today. Of course, we've been "talking about books" since he was old enough to talk, and a couple of times since we started Year 1 I've been asking him what he remembers about a story. (he usually says the last thing that happened in the story).

Today I told him to tell me back the story (A Bundle of STicks from Aesop's Fables) and that I would write it down for him. He talked to me too fast for me to write it down exactly but this is what I got down:

The father gave the sons a bundle of sticks, and they tried to break it, but they couldn't.

Then he gave the sticks to them one by one and they broke them easily.

He said, "My sons, if you agree with each other, the enemy won't be able to injure you --

if you're bad and don't agree with each other, then you won't be any stronger than those sticks."
Cute, huh? I really didn't want to mess up narration for this young one. I want to be able to rely on it as a learning tool, since I am commited to literature as a force for education but want to do everything I can to foster attentiveness in dealing with it. I always have had trouble with narration before. IT didn't seem natural to ME. But trying to narrate the books I read to myself (I've actually been trying to narrate Kieron's Year 4 material) made me both more respectful of the way it helps retention AND the difficulty of it. So from that base I have been able to persevere better in asking for narration. Kieron doesn't really like to do it but he is seeing the point in it and does well.

When I asked about starting narration on the Ambleside list with my six year old, several people suggested that we start off slowly with Aesop's Fables and other simple tales, and then build from there.

Aidan's narrations right now are still about events of daily life. I've been working with him on accurate observation. But when he's more ready to listen to stories I think the narration process will help him, too.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Planning to Plan

Brandy at Afterthoughts has a post up about planning for Summer Term. I was just starting to do that a bit in my head, too... but hadn't gotten my thoughts into any kind of order yet, so it was helpful to read her post.

I talked to Kieron today about the things on our weekly schedule (see sidebar) that we haven't been getting to consistently. He is pretty good about getting the "checking-off" things done -- Latin, math, language arts. He's been letting some of the independent readings slide, though, and I have to take the blame for the fall-throughs on the things like Art Study, drawing, piano. When you can't just go on to the next page, I tend to get lost in the details.

Kieron suggested that maybe we should address the more arty-musicy things during the summer. We'll have more time. It won't seem so much like slogging through to get everything done. I thought maybe that was a good idea. I'm hoping that once we build up a habit, it will seem more like a part of normal life and not so much one more thing on the school checklist.

I'll do this with the younger ones, too. By fall it will feel to them like they've always done picture study and music. That's the nice thing about little kids.

I do intend to start informal nature study this spring though -- ie as soon as the snow finishes melting. That's a tradition of ours so it will come easily.

What else? I'd like to get Kieron more off the ground with handwriting. I've written before about his dysgraphia. I have seen progress just since Christmas, though. His older brother was almost exactly that age when he started improving with his writing.

Again, a similar goal with the younger ones. We'll keep working on the handwriting.

One more thing I'd like to start off is a Memory Time.

This summer I'd like to have a loose routine of some sort. This isn't so much for the children as for ME. I drift way too much off into my own world if I don't have temporal anchors. And they suffer from the lack of mom-focus. Today was a bit like that, in fact.

I am not stopping Aidan's reading practice -- we'll keep up with that. And I'll try to find time to make him some more Montessori type games since he enjoys that so much. Recently I have been hands-off and he's been still cycling through the various activities, but I ought to be more involved in the whole thing than I am at present.

That's all I can think of for now. If we start getting ready to move, I vow to try to get them involved. Once again, this is a discipline for ME -- I tend to prefer doing things on my own, but I know they would rather be involved if I would draw them in.