Friday, December 28, 2007

just pick up a book and read

I have been hesitating about writing this out because it seems so... well, Captain Obvious, as the kids say. But here goes; maybe it will sound a bit neater when I actually write it! Sometimes that happens, too.

We have played several games of Robo Rally this holiday with Liam and whoever else wants to join in. Liam loves Robo Rally and would love to play the really geeky, complex versions where you put four game boards together, or have one player be a SuperRobot and the others try to take him down... etc. His mom, though, struggles just to keep her robot from falling off the edge. Still, we'll probably try at least one marathon super-game before he leaves. Maybe he'll let my robot have extra lives so I don't get bumped off too soon.

This is all lead-in. While I'm playing RR I'm facing the bookshelf of children's books. There is Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery, and Grasshopper Summer by I think Robert Newton Peck, and Johny Tremain, and so on. While the other players are setting up their next moves, I'm always staring dreamily at the books and thinking: Wouldn't it be fun to just pick one of those up and read it to Kieron and Sean and then go on "context trails" -- this is how I did it with Brendan and Clare when they were that age. It was so much fun; I miss it. It is an older version of the "Golden Thread" I am doing with Paddy.

So far this year we have been wearing a modified Catholic Ambleside/Mater Amabilis garment with classical (Latin Centered/Kolbe type) tailoring and our usual unschooling comfort-fit to it. It is working pretty well. I'm always looking for ways to improve though. One thing I've missed this year is the opportunity to interact through a literary filter. It is one of my favorite homeschooling things. It is not simply reading aloud, or simply discussing, or simply sending them on research projects, but a synthesis of all three plus more. It takes time and energy which is why I don't do it all the time.

January is a good time to try new things or bring old things out of the closet, though; if only to avoid the dreaded February crash and burn. So I think after Liam goes back to college and there is no more Robo Rally for a while (sniffle) I will go and browse through that bookshelf and find a book I would really like to "do" with my children. Doesn't have to be in chronological order, doesn't have to "fit" our academic progression -- just a book to read.

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