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Spring Fever

I’m still trying to figure the direction in which this blog is moving. I just can’t bring myself to do weekly round up-type posts. Although I enjoy reading them at other blogs, I find them boring to write. I already do something similar for my records, albeit in a very abbreviated format, and cannot get myself to do another, more detailed version here. I prefer to have something interesting and stimulating to write about; witty if I can manage it. But lately our homeschooling just isn’t providing adequate material for posts. We have a routine, and to be honest our homeschooling is a bit like an old married couple: comfortable, unexciting (usually), and a little dull. You might even say we’re in a little bit of a rut.

We’re really enjoying spelling (cause it’s new) and science, but everything else is just a little stale. Even history isn’t thrilling us anymore. Esa’s disappointed with the colouring pages in the Story of the World Volume 2 activity book, and I have to agree that they’re not that great. (The ones in activity book 3 are even worse; the drawing is terrible.) Math is going well, but we’re not doing much supplementing with stories or activities. We’ve not done art or poetry in weeks. He really dislikes Writing with Ease, in particular dictation. I think it’s a fantastic curriculum, but it can be a little dull. Okay, very dull. He enjoys the narration, and the reading selections have provided us with introductions to books that we otherwise might not have discovered, which is great. Handwriting is a boring but necessary evil. We’ll be starting cursive writing soon, which will liven things up a bit.

I think the real problem is that we’re feeling a little burnt out. If I made a little more effort to supplement, or take him on educational visit somewhere, we might be able to inject some life into our homeschool. But I just don’t have the “umph” for it right now. Spring is here, the garden is blooming, we’re planning to go to the US in a few days, and my mind is just elsewhere. Maybe what we need is to just unschool for a while. Lots of read alouds (also lacking right now), lots of time in the garden (if only it would stop RAINING!), read about herbs using A Kid’s Herb Book, maybe do some nature journaling, and just have an overall relaxed approach for now.

In other news, I have started yet another blog. 🙂 My interest in veganism is providing me with a lot of material to write about, and since I don’t want to bore my readers, who mainly come here to read about homeschooling, I thought a separate blog was a good idea. If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://spillinthebeans.wordpress.com/

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A New Year…Time for Me to Focus

I love January.

Oh…I’ve just had a strong feeling of deja-vu; I know I’ve talked about liking January before, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives.

Anyway, I love it when January rolls around. The days slowly begin to lengthen and I can see the light at the end of the long, cold wintry tunnel; spring doesn’t seem as far away as it did on the other side of the calendar. And my birthday is close and I love birthdays.

For my birthday, I’ve asked my husband for a Kindle. I really, really want one of these things. For a book lover with very limited space, an e-reader is a dream come true.

If I do get a Kindle, here are some of the books I plan to get for it:

  1. All of the Twilight books
  2. The Well-Educated Mind
  3. As many classics as I can fit onto it
  4. The History of the Ancient World
  5. Sequential Spelling 2

No, those are not in random order; Twilight is #1. I’m addicted.

Another great thing about the Kindle is that you can download pdf files onto it, so I can download the SOTW activity book and other homeschooling pdf’s and not be so reliant on the computer.

The official story that I’m putting out for why I want a Kindle is that I’ve recently set a few goals for myself. After reading the article Stop Cleaning the Kitchen and Read a Book by Susan Wise Bauer, I was inspired to expand my horizons regarding self-education. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to draw and paint (which I plan to continue), but I also want to do several other things…I want to read at least 6 classics this year, and most classics are available free for the Kindle. I can have a huge library of classics at my fingertips and not have to worry about returning books to the library before I’m done.

Always the list-maker, I decided to compile my goals into a list of New Year’s resolutions.

  • Lose 24 pounds.

Ok, I’m going to be open and honest here. I feel fat and my smaller-sized clothes don’t fit. I’m 5’2″ and I weigh 134 pounds (9.5 stones). That’s borderline overweight. I have a small frame, so for me, 134 pounds is just too much. In my teens and 20’s I was quite slim…well, I was too slim in my teens (98 pounds). I tried to put on weight,  but I was quite anaemic and I couldn’t get much past 100 pounds. In my 20’s I hovered between 110-120. I’m hoping, through healthier eating and exercise, to get down to 110-115, which is a healthy weight and one at which I feel comfortable.

I’ve got a nice set of girlie weights and this Cindy Crawford DVD set, which is excellent. Despite being gorgeous and having a perfect body, Cindy Crawford has a great personality and just seems like one of the gals. She’s not annoyingly smiley and perky. By the end of the workout, she’s just as sweaty and tired as you are…and just as relieved that it’s done. I look forward to my workouts and love it when I get up the next morning and all of my muscles are so sore I can barely move.

  • The Big One: Start writing.

My first foray into creative writing was in first grade. I hated going outside for recess in the winter. Hated it. I decided to do something about it. Students were allowed to stay indoors if a parent wrote a letter stating that said child was ill. And that’s just what I did. Lacking real stationary, I used the back of a little alphabet card, about 2″x2″ in size and crafted the missive in pencil. My teacher was not impressed. She gave me a stern look and sent me outside.

Thus began my illustrious career in writing (at school, that is). Thankfully, I improved with time. So much so, that by 9th grade my teachers were telling me I had the makings of a professional writer. I took AP English classes and wrote endlessly in my spare time: journals galore, poems, stories, and I always had a novel in the works. At 14 I actually did write a novel: 400 pages hand-written on loose-leaf paper…in pencil.

Unsure as to how to launch a career in writing, I gave up writing for Psychology (which I didn’t finish), and then nursing (again, unfinished). Now, I’d like to get back into writing. I don’t think I have what it takes to make it professionally, but I’d love to write a novel anyway. For me, writing is compulsive…just as an artist must make marks, I must put words on paper. And although I’ll probably rely on the computer for the bulk of my writing, my notes will be in my favoured pencil. 🙂

This is to be my main focus. Art is a much-enjoyed hobby and is refreshing after spending lots of time writing, but writing is what I do.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, but a few days ago, as I was lying in bed, a few lines came to me. It wasn’t an idea of a book as such, but a few good lines and a good start. I’ll see where it takes me.

I’m also planning to work alongside Esa with Classical Writing.

  • Learn Latin.

Song School Latin is great for Esa, but I’d like to work ahead. I’m thinking of using Galore Park’s So You Really Want to Learn Latin. This is designed for teens, but I think it will be perfect for me.

  • Read (at least) 6 classics, 4 of which should be new.

I remember someone in one of my Yahoo! Groups saying that she was looking for something to read because she’d read all the classics, and I thought to myself, Really? ALL of them? And then I thought, What? Just ONCE? I can’t imagine anyone reading everything that’s considered a classic, and even if one had, classics are meant to be read over and over.

I’ve read a few classics, but not many. I love my Jane Austen, I’ve read a few books from the Brontes, and one or two others, so I really need to work on this.

I’ve already made a start on this one. I’m re-reading Great Expectations, which is a favourite of mine. I read this in 9th grade and absolutely loved it. I’m loving it even more the second time around.

Here’s my tentative reading list:

  • —Great Expectations
  • David Copperfield
  • —Sense and Sensibility
  • —Animal Farm
  • —Wuthering Heights
  • —1 Shakespeare Play
  • —Sherlock Holmes

These, of course, are to aid my self-education. Although I’m a pretty good reader, I want to get more from my reading. I’m also a forgetter; I read something from a non-fiction book and then I forget it. I often take notes, which helps, but I want to really own the information. I’m hoping How to Read a Book will help with this. I also plan to start narrating what I read.

  • Improve my grammar.

I love grammar. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the orderliness…who knows, but I really like to see good grammar. When a writer has good grammar, it tells me that the person cares about his writing and sees it as a part of himself…a bit like good grooming and careful dressing. I think good grammar is like cleanliness: a grammatically correct piece of writing is clean and tidy, whereas a piece of writing full of errors is sloppy and has a lazy feel to it.

My grammar isn’t horrendous, but I’ve forgotten a lot. So, I’m working my way through Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition. This is a very thorough and very (!) challenging book and I’m relearning lots of things, such as predicates and participles. However, it does use some out of date words, such as copula for linking verbs, but I can easily work around this. Going through the material myself will make it easier when it comes time for Esa to use it. Although, I’m now starting to think that we may need to preface this text with something easier first, so we may use FLL 3 & 4.

Every day, I sit for about 20 minutes and do a lesson or two. I’ve also ordered the book Woe is I, which looks not only informative, but entertaining. Once I’m finished with my grammar study (or mostly finished), I’ll start on Latin.

  • Delve into history. SOTW is great, but I’d like to read a bit more deeply. The following three books are what I’m hoping to read this year:
  • Get rid of many possessions.

I’m planning a project. I want to go through my entire house, room-by-room, and clean it from top to bottom. My house isn’t a mess, but there are things that need attention and due to our limited space, I want to clear out the things we don’t need and organise the rest. I’m going to empty every drawer, every cupboard, and every shelf; go through each and every item we own; clean, scrub, and dust every surface; wash all the curtains…I’m going to go through the house with a fine-tooth comb and get rid of all the stuff we don’t need, and thoroughly clean every inch of our home. I’m both excited about this and dreading it. I’m worried that I’m going to run out steam part-way through.

Where on earth am I going to find the time to do everything? Really, I should be finding ways to cut back on what I have to do, not add in more stuff. Well, Esa is becoming more independent with his school work. There are many times when I can duck out of the room for short periods to wash up the dishes, or start a load of laundry, or do some quick vacuuming in another room. The result of this is that once lessons are finished for the day, I have less housework to do, which gives me a little extra time in the afternoons (most days, anyway).

I’m not intending to tackle everything at once. I’ll work slowly through my list. The reading I will do alongside the more academic pursuits.

Here’s the plan:

  • Exercising: This is the easy one (in terms of scheduling). Whenever I exercise, it has to be done in the morning, otherwise it just won’t happen. I’ve given up a little computer time 3 days a week to pump iron with Cindy before everyone else is up.
  • Project Winter Power Clean: I’m either going to take a full week to do this, or do a room here and there on bank holidays. I’ve got to be in the mood to do this.
  • Art: I get some time for art during our homeschooling art lessons and when we’re on holiday. We tend to take one week off every 5th week, so I do get some time for my art. It is going to have to take a bit of a backseat for now. Once Esa is older and more independent with his work I’m hoping to pursue art more in depth. For now, my academic enrichment is more important to me and will improve our homeschooling.
  • History and other non-fiction reading: I’m going to designate 20 minutes each afternoon for this.
  • Latin: If I can’t find time on the weekdays, I may do this on the weekends, with little bits of review on the weekdays.
  • Writing: I haven’t quite figured this one out yet. Instead of checking email and reading blogs in the morning, I may devote that time to writing and do the other stuff in the evening. I’m very much a morning person, so I need to do the writing while my mind is fresh. I’ll also try to do a little writing here and there when I can squeeze it in, and on the weekends.
  • Follow the advice in The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. This is a gem of a book and the advice presented can be applied to any discipline.

I’ll keep you posted with progress on my resolutions.

What about you? Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Happy New Year!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Latin, Michelle, Resolutions: 2011

 

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Focus (Part II) (Or: I’ve Always Gotta Be Tinkering…)

I’ve been thinking a lot about where we’re headed as well as Classical Writing and Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition (which I hadn’t heard of until recently…Harvey’s, that is) which we plan on using later, and realised that we’re leaning more towards a Latin-Centred approach, which I’m quite happy with. I strongly believe in the concept of multum non multa– not many, but much…in other words, quality, not quantity.

Although our homeschooling is going well, I think it could be better. We’re doing a lot, and sometimes we’re digging in deeply…but not as often, and not as deeply, as I’d like us to.

I was looking through the curriculum presented in The Latin-Centered Curriculum (refered to here as The LCC, which is different from LCC, which just means a Latin-centred curriculum) and I found myself, eyebrows furrowed, frown in place, searching the table of contents and index for any mention of spelling. There’s no spelling! I hissed. No grammar, either, from what I can see!

No, there’s no spelling or grammar curriculum in The LCC, because those things aren’t needed when you’re using Classical Writing, although the authors of CW recommend Harvey’s and the use of a spelling programme…so I’ll have to take a closer look and evaluate as we go.

Could we really drop spelling and grammar?

Well, we’ve dropped grammar (First Language Lessons) for now, until Homer, then we’ll begin using Harvey’s, which is supposed to be the best, most thorough grammar programme ever written.

Spelling? Yes. We are going to drop spelling when we begin CW. Sequential Spelling is fantastic, but I think with CW it’s just going to be overkill. Plus, spelling takes about 30 minutes each day. That’s a lot of time in a homeschooler’s day. If I see a need for a separate spelling programme, we can always add Sequential Spelling back in. But with all the writing and Latin he’ll be doing, I don’t think we will need it. CW takes a total of an hour a day, plus we’ll be spending about 30-45 minutes each day using Lively Latin and Minimus. Plus we’ll have handwriting practice and reading. That’s around 2.5 hours each day of English and Latin, and we’ll still need to do science, history, and math. Something’s gotta give, and it’s going to have to be spelling.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, what I’m about to say may come as quite a shock, but here it is: I don’t think studying grammar at this age is necessary. We’ve spent over a year doing grammar, and Esa pretty much knows what a noun is, but he’s still shaky with verbs and shakier still with pronouns.  I’ve been taking a close look at Harvey’s, and it starts from the very beginning with nouns, what a sentence is, and the different types of sentences. What is point of doing it now and doing it later, when we can just do it later? I’m not going to teach him to read twice, so why should I have to teach grammar twice? When he’s a little older, it’ll all make much more sense and the information will stick, because he’ll be able to practice the concepts more. The time previously spent on grammar will be much more wisely spent on something like math or reading.

I’m also thinking of making some changes to our history studies. Well, more so when we begin our studies of the ancients again, in fifth grade. I like some of the resources recommended in The LCC, and I’d like to take a slower, more in-depth study of the great books. The Well-Trained Mind recommends a dizzying number of books to read each year. I know they don’t intend for the student to read all of them, but when I look at that list, it suddenly becomes a necessity and I feel I’m leaving something vital out if I don’t.

I really like the idea of taking our time and going slowly through the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths. I also want to learn more about Greek and Roman history, and  from next year make Latin our main focus, now that phonics instruction is complete. The following passage from The LCC really struck a chord with me:

Classical language study increases our knowledge of the past and of our own history. It’s quite impossible to study classical languages without delving into classical history. What is a ‘gladiator’? (If you know the meaning of the common second-declension noun gladius, you’ll have an important clue.) Who was Caesar? What is an aqueduct and why were they built? What is the meaning of ‘democracy,’ and where was it first practiced? This history is our history, the history of the West. We cannot understand the roots of our own government, legal system, or religious traditions without reference to Greece and Rome. (emphasis my own)

Many of the resources recommended in The LCC are Christian, so inappropriate for us, and the study of science isn’t seen as important and is fact-based in the early grades, so The Latin-Centered Curriculum won’t be our homeschooling bible, as such, but we will probably follow it more than we do WTM (which I still love).

The changes I’d like to make aren’t huge, really. We’ve already begun leaning towards a Latin-centred approach without really trying. I’m just going to give it a little nudge. To sum up, here’s what I’m planning:

  • Math: Continue with Singapore. This programme really instils and promotes mathematical thinking and mental math skills. This curriculum comes highly recommended in The LCC.
  • Writing: Continue with Writing with Ease for now. Re-evaluate at the end of second grade. Move on to WWE level 3, or progress to Classical Writing.
  • Poetry: Continue enjoying and memorising poems. Begin Poetry for Beginners in fifth grade.
  • Handwriting: Continue as we are with Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting. We have just begun book C.
  • Grammar: Stop FLL. Restart grammar in fifth grade using Harvey’s.
  • Spelling: Stop spelling when we begin CW. If spelling becomes an issue, resume Sequential Spelling and omit the spelling element of CW.
  • Latin:
  • Science: Continue with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, having one lesson per week, or every two weeks and one day of science reading.
  • History: Continue as we are with SOTW, cutting back on the supplementary reading. Instead, we will read Greek and Norse myths, medieval tales, and fairy tales this year. We will also continue working through British history, very slowly, using Our Island Story audio book, The Usborne History of Britain, and Britannia: 100 Great Stories from British History
  • Reading: Phonics instruction is complete. We are going to make a phonics chart to help cement learning. I allow Esa to choose his own reading material, but he often goes for the same books over and over, so I occasionally choose for him.
  • Art & Music: Weekly art lesson from Artistic Pursuits, plus plenty of self-initiated art projects. Esa’s recently expressed an interest in learning to draw realistically, so we may pick up Drawing with Children again. We play classical music during art times. For picture study, we’ll be using the Page-a-Day Art calendar.
 

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Week 2 or, The Template of all Future Weeks

(Dictation exercise from last week; forgot to post this)

Wow, what a week! We did everything I’d planned for the week…everything. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. All the extra work hasn’t phased Esa one bit. He’s enjoying it and asking for more…I’m very happy to oblige. Here’s a snapshot of some of what we did and a few tweaks I’ve made.

  • Reading

On Fridays Esa has IRT (independent reading time). During IRT, he’s to choose a book that he’s not yet read, go away and read, then tell me what the book (or chapter, or whatever) is about. This was fabulous. Esa chose a Hot Wheels annual (not exactly Newberry material, but it does have lots of big words). He was happy to be finished, but later in the day I saw him reading from it again.

  • Spelling

Last year I purchased Sequential Spelling. It was great, but it was just too much handwriting for Esa and since he wasn’t doing a lot of writing I felt it was pointless to worry about spelling. I also knew there was a real risk of him forgetting everything he learned, so I shelved it. We’ve picked this back up and it’s working beautifully. Esa is loving it and he’s learning a lot.

However…I’ve been really tempted to try All About Spelling. This programme looks great and I like that it teaches the spelling rules. Sequential Spelling teaches patterns, but you aren’t told the rule behind it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or if you know me at all, you’ll know that I need to know the rules behind spelling (and everything else).

The problem is, AAS is only available from the AAS website. It can be shipped here, but it’s very expensive to do so. They do have a very generous guarantee, but I wouldn’t get that shipping charge back. I was also a little put off by all the cards- word cards, phonogram cards, and whatever else. It’s just too fiddly for us.

Since Sequential Spelling is working for us and it’s really the rules that I’m after (and it’s now available as a Kindle download, so I can view it on my computer or a Kindle if I buy one), I thought it made more sense to buy a book with the spelling rules in it. I’ve ordered the  Handy English Encoder Decoder: All the Spelling and Phonics Rules You Could Ever Want to Know which I’m hoping will live up to its title. We can do Sequential Spelling and learn the rules alongside it. Problem solved. Hopefully.

  • Latin

Sometimes when we begin a new curriculum I’m not always sure what I’m doing. I read through it and try to plan, but inevitably the best thing to do is just get it out and make a start. Within a few days things fall into place and we develop a routine. This happened with Story of the World and Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. When I got Minimus I saw quite quickly that this was one of those I-can’t-figure-out-what-to-do-with-this-so-I-won’t-try-we’ll-just-wing-it programmes. But after a week I was still just as mystified as when we began. We listened to the CD, followed along with the book, translated the passage (well, I translated it for him)…and then I just didn’t know where to go from there. So we did it again. And again. And again. And on Monday, Esa and I looked at each other with mirrored expressions that said, ‘what the blazes are we supposed to do with this?’ Even the teacher’s manual wasn’t shedding any light on things.

I needed something more scripted, something that would hold my hand. Something parts-to-whole.

Enter Lively Latin.

I’d planned on using this for third grade, but after having another look at it, I thought Esa might be ready for it. Esa and I spent a good hour on the Lively Latin website having a look and decided to take the plunge. We were both giggling and giddy when I clicked ‘pay now.’ We purchased the PDF version, so we were excited to be getting it right away.

But that didn’t happen. I never received the password to get the materials. I sent an email to the Magistra, Catherine Drown, who replied within a few hours, and then we were on our way! I printed out the introductory material, the notebook cover and dividers and the first lesson.

After spending a few hours printing, organising, and planning, the little cheeky rascal picked up Minimus and proceeded to read the first passage, in Latin, with near-perfect pronunciation. You can watch him here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBfhpYt9Dig

Oh, for the love of all things holy!

Never mind; I was going to get Lively Latin anyway, so if we do go back to Minimus, it’s not wasted, it’s just one less thing I have to buy for next year.

Lively Latin is fantastic. I think Esa is a little bored because it’s parts-to-whole so the beginning is a bit slow and tedious, but I know things will take off once he’s got a little vocabulary under his belt.

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel by telling you all about Lively Latin; the website has all the info you need, but I just want to mention what I love about this programme.

  • Holds my hand. I know exactly what I’m doing and how to teach with this. It’s not scripted and you can adapt it, but there is a sense of direction and I know what I need to do.
  • Parts-to-whole. This is how I learned French, German, and Spanish so I’m very comfortable with this.
  • The added bits. This programme has some art appreciation, Roman history with templates for making a My History of Rome book, activities, online games, flash cards, chant sheets, teacher’s notes, and more.
  • The introductory material. There’s some interesting stuff here, with a language family tree, an article on why we should study Latin, the origins of English, and why English is so messed up. There’s also a choose a Latin name section and tips on staying organised and how to teach. I love it.
  • It’s secular. That’s a big one for us. So many of the Latin curricula are religious and I don’t want to have to work around all that.

So, which are we using, Minimus or Lively Latin?

Well, I don’t know. We’re going to keep going with Lively Latin and see how it goes and use Minimus as a supplement. If it’s too much for him, we’ll switch back to Minimus and make the most of it.

  • British History

This is back on. I’ve nicked a great idea from Neo: instead of reading from Our Island Story, listen to the audio book. I bought this book last year, but we didn’t have time for it. To fit it in and make it easier, we’ll listen to the audio book, which I got free when I joined Audible. (You can also listen for free here.) We’re doing British history on Fridays. We’re also using :

  • Poetry

Happily, we’re back to reading poetry each day. Hat tip to Suji and her fantastic poetry recommendations. We’ve added

to our poetry library. These are fantastic additions and have spiced up our poetry reading.

Science

We’re continuing with BFSU, which is just the greatest science curriculum ever, in my opinion. It really can stand alone, but my little guy loves science and could do science all day, every day, and sadly we’re only doing science once a week at the moment. I’m going to try to add a little nature study and some fun activities to our week. More on that later.

 

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Blah

It’s been an odd first week. Esa developed a cold last weekend and I nearly postponed lessons for another week, but he seemed ok-ish on Monday, so we ploughed ahead, omitting a few things. As the week wore on, his health improved and we did more work each day.

All in all it went quite well. Esa seems to be handling the increased writing remarkably well; he even seems to be enjoying it. He’s not grumbling (yet) and even asked to do his spelling work one day.

So far, the curriculum I’m most impressed with is Writing with Ease. The workbook is fantastic and easy to use. The programme itself is so simple, yet effective. I really think Esa’s going to gain a lot from this.

Esa was disappointed with Story of the World this week, proclaiming that chapter 1 was “boring.” I think he was expecting something with castles in it, but it was merely a tie-in to Ancient times. I’d warned him of this ahead of time, but still he had a long face. Next week should be better.

Math went well. We hadn’t done much math for several months, but I think some things clicked into place during that hiatus. Well, I’m sure they did, because I saw Esa doing some calculations on his own, sporadically, during that break. We’re doing some review using Singapore practice workbooks and work that was once a challenge for him is now a breeze. I feel much better about letting our math work slide for so long. We’ll continue with the review for a while, then get back to Singapore 1B.

As for me, well, I’m just plain worn out. Ramadan was exhausting (even though I wasn’t fasting; I’m on a long-term antibiotic for a sty that won’t go away), but I found the routine tiring. Eid was last Friday, then we had to scoot down to Gloucester for a wedding, then head home Sunday, and then lessons on Monday. I’ve also not been sleeping well. Needless to say, my house was a wreck, I had piles of laundry, Esa wasn’t very well, and I was just plain beat. A week to recuperate would probably  have been a good idea, but I just couldn’t. I was determined to be disciplined and forge ahead. It just felt too indulgent to take more time off.

But by Thursday I was feeling very…blah. You know, the kind of blah where you sit, sigh, let your shoulders slump, and stare off into space, with eyes a little out of focus, mouth slack, and the mere thought of moving makes your hair hurt. I gathered what little strength I had left, heaved myself into an upright position, and shuffled to the bookshelf to get the books. Once we got going, I was ok; I even felt pretty good by midday because we’d accomplished so much and my house was beginning to look like the authorities just might remove the “condemned” sign from my door.

But the shuffling returned again in the evening and it continued on into Friday (today). I looked at our schedule this morning  and decided that spelling wasn’t the most important thing in the world. The sun was shining and I wanted to look at some books and baking equipment and a Zara gift certificate was burning a hole in my purse. I decided we should ditch lessons and go to town.

The retail therapy fresh air and sunshine perked me right up. And although I came home with aching legs and a headache, mentally I felt better. And we’ve got the weekend for more lollygagging. I plan to read (I’m reading Breaking Dawn [again], a few novels from the library [can’t remember the titles and I can’t be bothered to get up and have a look], and The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp), do some drawing, baking, watch a movie, sleep, and on Sunday make sure my house is clean and tidy. I find my week runs a lot more smoothly if my house is in order at the beginning of the week; it’s much easier to maintain it than sort it on the weekdays.

And in 3 weeks, we will have a week off.

I feel ready for Monday.

Next week we’ll be adding First Language Lessons, the list of spelling words will increase, and we’ll have 2 pages of handwriting, instead of just 1. I wonder if Esa will still be enjoying the writing by the end of next week…

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Michelle, Second Grade, Writing

 

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Two and a Half Weeks Left and Counting

Lately I’ve been casting wistful glances at our mountain stack of books for second grade, wishing it was time to get them out and flood the room with new-book smell. Sometimes I allow myself a few minutes with one of them…I’ll sit down with one and leaf through, relishing the crispness of the clean, unmarked pages, sighing with anticipation at the delights that await us…even the paper cuts I accumulate are all part of the fun.

That Writing with Ease workbook is particularly captivating…it’s 3 centimetres thick. I’ve covered it with book-covering film so the cover is oh-so-glossy and sturdy and hopefully with stand up to Esa’s attempts to destroy the book once he realises it’s really an instrument of torture.

I’m even more thrilled about second grade now that I’ve managed to save the SOTW Volume 2 Activity Book to my computer. If I’d bothered to read the downloading instructions, I wouldn’t have wasted 4 of my 5 downloads. But I thought I Knew What I Was Doing, so didn’t read the instructions. That’s not really like me at all, but vanity doth cloud my judgement at times…

I’ve also been perusing some of the audio books and lectures on Peace Hill Press. I bought a few (download versions…the ability to save files went to my head) and I’ve really enjoyed The Joy of Classical Education (only $.99!) This is definitely one I’ll listen to again and again, particularly if I need a little homeschooling pick-me-up.

I’m also thrilled I found the audio stories which supplement SOTW. These CD’s are pretty expensive to buy in the UK, and I prefer downloaded versions in order to save space AND you get them immediately. We’ll definitely buy a few of these as we go along. And next year I’ll buy the SOTW 3 audio book download from them as well; far cheaper than buying the CD’s. It crossed my mind that I won’t be able to resell them since they’re MP3’s and not CD’s, but then I realised I probably won’t want to resell them anyway; I can see us using these for a long time, so downloaded versions are perfect.

Esa’s getting really excited about second grade, too. Poor boy…he has no idea how much torture work awaits him this year.

I am a little concerned with the workload. We may need to cut something out if it proves to be too much. Oh well, tweaking is a specialty of mine.

Speaking of tweaking…

I’ve recently done some tweaking to our second grade schedule. It dawned on me that I’d only worked in a total of 8 weeks’ holiday. Now, if it were a year ago, I’d be finding a way to reduce that (silly, homeschooling-crazed mother that I was am was am was…oh, who am I kidding…?), but I found myself looking at that schedule and nearly hyperventilating at the lack of lines on the spreadsheet reading ****HOLIDAY****. It now has many more holidays worked into it (and my defibrillator can get a  much-needed rest.)

One more week (after this week) of prehistory/phonics review/math facts memorisation, then a week off, then we shall begin second grade.

Speaking of memorising math facts…

Ugh. This just isn’t going anywhere. I knew it was going to be hard work, I knew it was going to take time…but what I didn’t know is that after memorising 12 facts, as new ones went in, old ones would fall out, despite the repetitive drill. I thought if we did one set a week, introducing 3 new ones each day for 3 days, reviewing them all each day,  that he’d have them down. It started out well, but then our little house of flash cards came crashing down. He’s getting them confused and we’re only on 3’s. There’s just no way we’ll make it to the 9’s the way we’re going about it. I’m not really sure what to do. Not knowing his math facts is slowing him up when he does his work. Not sure if we should just persevere, try something else, or leave it for a while.

Maybe I should have him write a set out 10 times each day. That’s what one of my teachers did. (Ok, it was 4th grade and for multiplication tables, but it did work.) I do think a multi-sensory approach may be better, though. Will have to do some googling.

 
 

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