Monday, December 3, 2012

Who are you?

`Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Goals for 5th Grade

Short Term:
In 5th grade I would be thrilled to see him become as excited over anything educational as he becomes fairly frequently while playing MMOs, because last year was a dead zone as far as educational joy.

Long Term:
I want my child to be firm in his knowledge of appropriate conduct. I want him to learn the difference between what he wants to do right now and having a strong enough will to do what is appropriate/ right. He must also be taught to be careful not to rationalize something to be right simply because he wants it to be so. Along these lines, there can be no true happiness without first taking care of responsibilities. “…the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them.”

"I am, I can, I ought, I will." is the place from which I instruct, because we achieve through diligence not through intelligence or imagination. I use habit training as a road to success, because I want him to be a responsible, decent, moral person who possesses positive and productive physical and mental habits. I want him to learn to apply these habits to whatever he chooses to do in life whether that is a tinker, a tailor, a soldier, or a sailor.

I exercise habit training alongside the idea that “perhaps the business of teachers is to open as many doors as possible.” I respect that he is born whole and that his mind is naturally designed to learn. I can provide the nourishment of education for his mind to grow healthy through a learning lifestyle where he is trained to be disciplined not in subject matter but in life for "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

However, my child is not a blank slate, but is a whole person complete with his own personality and capacity for good and evil. Neither my self worth nor his hinges upon his going to college. I will for my part try to open doors and windows and widen chinks in the walls, but ultimately he will choose his own path. I hope that he chooses one that is fulfilling.

Mandy, with quotes from Charlotte Mason

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Core Book

We do half our year before winter break and half after winter break. Years that are divided into trimesters stink, because the middle trimester is split in two. So, one thing that I strongly prefer is quarters over trimesters. I would really like eight weeks and an exam week to make a 9 week quarter.

I am very happy with the CM-ish/ classical-ish work that we will be doing this year. I created a lesson plan/ core book that seems to be working well. I turned a word doc to landscape, let my little man pick a background color, typed The Well-Nourished Mind across the top, underneath this I typed Overview of Weekly Topics for Recreation, Recitation, and Reproduction, and inserted 6 text boxes. I like this style of Guide.

Text box 1 is narrow and runs about 2/3 of the page with the words artist, composer, poet, life skills/ handicraft, nature walk, and unstructured play/ masterly inactivity. Text box 2 is wide and also runs 2/3 of the page. It has space for memory work in English grammar, cultural geography, political geography, science, Latin, and Farsi. Running underneath and the length of boxes 1 and 2, box 3 goes to the bottom of the page and is my space for dictation. Box 4 begins at the top runs 3/4 of the way to the bottom and is where I will place the poem that the little man is working to memorize. Box 5 is in the little space below box 4 and has space for the title of the literature book he will be working on with room underneath to check off 2 days of narration and 2 days of reading aloud. Text box 6 is narrow and runs the length of the doc for spelling words.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Week in Review, 7/2-7/6

Duncan is my 9yo and this week we started fourth grade.

Well, here we are again. I had expected to begin our new year next week, but as it turns out there are some days next week when we will not be able to do school. So, we stretched two days scheduled for next week over three days this week. We started memory work and he made index cards, but, since he is expected to have it memorized by next week, I will post the week 1 memory work with next week's week in review. It wasn't a stellar start in attitude, quantity, or quality, but at least the ball is rolling.

In Religious Studies and Mythology this partial week
Selections from The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories by Mary Batchelor

Artist, Composer, Poet Study this partial week
Benjamin Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. We listen to two broadcasts online at Classics for Kids- The Instruments of the Orchestra - Part 1 and Part 2. Then, we listened to the entire piece on youtube. This was definitely a good review and a good start to the year.

The Blue Rider: The Yellow Cow Sees the World in Blue pp. 1-11 focusing on Kandinsky. We are going to cover this book quickly for an overview of the group, but later this quarter we will be covering the works of Franz Marc in detail.

Color Me a Rhyme by Jane Yolen pp.8-17
Duncan memorized Orange.

by Jane Yolen
I want to take a bite
out of that sunset sky,
letting the orange juices
run down my chin,
spitting out the pulp
onto the rocks below.
In Math this partial week
We have not totally stopped doing Kumon Math this summer even though this past month has been more than somewhat inconsistent. This week we managed to squeeze in 2 days- H 181-185 and H 186-190. The plan is to begin Duncan's math text 7/16, his first full week of school.

In Language Arts this partial week
This week Duncan began reading Rascal by Sterling North. He read chapters 1 and 2, so of course now he wants a raccoon as a pet. This book was a huge favorite with my big boys so I am glad to now be sharing it with the little man. As a read-together, we began It's Our World, Too! He completed Harvey's Elementary Grammar and Composition- Lessons 1 and 2 alongside the first two lessons in the coordinating Mott Media's series 4 workbooks and Spectrum Writing 5- Lesson 1. We also began looking at Webster’s 1824 Speller from Don Potter’s site and started Figuratively Speaking Lesson 1: Denotation and Connotation.

In Geography this partial week
In cultural geography Duncan read about the Mound Builders. In physical geography he reviewed the continents and oceans. He also completed the first two days of week 1, the introductory week, from WinterPromise's Children Around the World. We are using the 2008 print edition that uses How People Live as its spine.

In Science this partial week
Duncan completed lesson 1 from Memoria Press's fourth grade science- Insects. This is a beta test book and the reader had a number of typos in lesson 1, so I ended up reading it aloud to him. I didn't notice any errors in the workbook.

In Foreign Language this partial week
Duncan began Lesson 1 in Latin Primer: A First Book of Latin for Boys and Girls and completed the introduction section in Your First 100 Words in Persian.

On the Violin this partial week
On violin this month Duncan is working on mastering song 1 from Suzuki book 2- Chorus from Judas Maccabaeus, William Tell Overture from Essential Elements for Strings book 1, and the Star Wars Theme Song. (Because math comes so naturally for Duncan, I had hoped that this would also be the case with violin. Uhhm- not so. He practices a little and goes to lessons, but unless there is a huge change this is not something that I see being a huge part of his future in any way other than for the fun of it.)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week in Review, 04/09-04/14

Duncan is my third grader. This week he finished reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord and Walking to Freedom by Richard Kelso. He also finished a chapter about the Civil Rights Movement in America's History: Land of Liberty Vol.2. He read some poetry from The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children's Poems and he finished his Spectrum 5th grade Phonics and Word Study.

In Time4Learning he continued working in the grammar section of the grade 4 language arts. He also continued working on the grade 3 language arts extentions and science.

On Tuesday, Duncan began Moving Beyond the Page: Age 8-10, Concept 3: Similarities and Differences. He read a book called Akimbo and the Crocodile Man by Alexander McCall Smith and most of Africa for Kids by Harvey Croze. He researched crocodiles and reptiles. He learned about some unique African animals and wrote a paragraph on crocodiles and a paragraph on the aardwolf. He wrote out food webs for the African rainforest, fynbos, savanna, and desert. He made a construction paper and paper towel tube crocodile. We read and he typed The Crocodile by Lewis Carroll. We discussed onomatopoeia, modifiers, and conflict. He edited a paragraph from Akimbo. He wrote a daily journal entry on Akimbo and the Crocodile Man in the form of a comparison between himself and Akimbo. He learned about the countries, cultures, and geographic regions of Africa. He compared some aspects of African and American culture. We discussed slavery in Africa today and he created an awareness flyer. He looked at the lives of three very different African children, wrote a summary of each, and compared them to his own. He started a report that was supposed to be on an African country, but instead he decided to focus on an African culture. After one week of MBtP, I can say that it is a very full program. It will take a good chunk of time each day to complete.

Outside the house or extras:
He practiced violin and had a lesson this week. He went to his math tutor. He worked on Kumon math and went to the center. He went to art and drama. Next week he has a dress rehearsal for their play. We went on a field trip to a working farm. I had thought that we would be there for perhaps a couple of hours at the most, but we ended up being there in the sun for four hours and I burned. :-( On Sunday my nose peeled.

Mei in black T and Duncan in green tie-dye

Oh, and last weekend my 18yo, Grayson, went to the anime convention.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Week in Review, 4/2-4/6

Duncan is my third grader. This week he finished reading Ultra Hush-Hush and Spying and the Cold War by Michael Burgan. He started reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. He practiced violin, but didn't have a lesson this week. He went to his math tutor. He worked on Kumon math and went to the center. He read some poetry from The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children's Poems, completed some pages in his Spectrum 5th grade Phonics and Word Study, and finished a chapter about the cold war in America's History: Land of Liberty Vol.2. We had our last meeting of Classical Conversations.

Duncan finished his math section of Time4Learning. Previously, he completed language arts and started the next level. Since finishing social studies last week, he has been completing two language arts extensions in a sitting to work on finishing up that section. After he completed math, he began working through two science lessons in a sitting.

Next week Duncan will begin Moving Beyond the Page: Age 8-10, Concept 3: Similarities and Differences. At least this is the plan! I just ordered it on Wednesday and UPS tracking says that it should be here on Monday. I am excited that we will be starting something new! We did a little unit of MBP a number of years ago, but never a full concept. I can't wait to see how it goes.

The game plan is that he will work through the MBtP concept and then, the second week of July, begin a world geography and world cultures study using WinterPromise's Children around the World as a spine. :-)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Week in Review, 3/26-3/30

Duncan is my third grader. This week he read On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck. He had his violin lesson and went to his math tutor. He worked on Kumon math and went to the center. He went to drama and art classes. He completed some pages in his Spectrum 5th grade Phonics and Word Study and read some in his history book. blah, blah, blah 

He finished the third grade social studies section of Time4Learning. He had already finished language arts and started the next level. Now that he is finished with social studies he is completing two language arts extensions in a sitting to work on finishing up that section. Next week will be our last meeting of Classical Conversations. blah, blah, blah

I like that we are wrapping things up, because the wind is blowing. It is time to move on.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Third Quarter is finished- Week 27, 3/12-3/16!

We are moving along. Duncan has finished T4L's 3rd grade LA extentions and is working on the grade 4 grammar. He is sure to be finished with most of the other subjects before we complete the last quarter.

In history this quarter he has finished 10 chapters of America's Story: Land of Liberty and is one week ahead of schedule.

Supporting his history text, he has read When the Circus Came to Town by Lawrence Yep, George Washington Carver by Matt Doeden, Who Was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson, If You Lived 100 Years Ago by Ann McGovern, The Wright Brothers by Quentin Reynolds, Hero Over Here by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, Ticket to the Twenties by Mary Blocksma, and Rose's Journal by Marissa Moss.

In addition to these, we have looked through books together that support his history readings: Tracks Across America by Leonard Everett Fisher, Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman, and Children of the Depression by Russell Freedman.

We dropped the Essentials portion of Classical Conversations and Duncan began working through Scholastic's Success with Writing Grade 3 finishing through page 16.  He also started Killgallon's Sentence Composing for Elementary School and completed the first section that ends on page 17.

We are still going to Classical Conversations- Foundations. There he has continued to do memory work, science experiments, and art history w/ an art project.

This quarter we just did Kumon math alongside T4L, but the upside of this is that Duncan is moving through this level with little resistance.

Duncan is still taking art lessons, drama lessons and violin lessons. He had monologue day not too long ago and delivered Hiccup's monologue from the beginning of the movie How to Train Your Dragon.

I think that this pretty much covers third quarter.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Planning 2012-2013 for Duncan- Grade 4

As sad as it will be to be down to an only, I am also excited to just be looking at curriculum for Duncan. I am planning - neck deep in spreadsheets and surrounded by mountains of books and catalogs. As usually, so much looks so good, but with only one it is all I can do to keep from wanting everything I see!

Duncan’s fourth grade studies will definitely include Religious Studies & Mythology, Math, Language Arts, Political and Cultural Geography, Science, Spanish, and Fine Arts. Within the subject of Fine Arts, I will be including an artist study and a composer study in addition to our violin, drama, and art lessons.

I will definitely be incorporating memory work into his studies. Within the memory work I may attempt to include Latin and Farsi, but I am just not sure that we will have the time. It is difficult to imagine the time stretched before us with just the two of us together every day. I fantasize that it will be easy-peasy with volumes of time to do whatever we can imagine, but you never can tell.

I surfed the net looking at Charlotte Mason schedules, planning sheets, and exams. I designed various schedules attempting to be realistic about how much Duncan could accomplish in a day. In doing this, it quickly became apparent that we could not complete everything Duncan and I wanted and attend Classical Conversations. Although we have enjoyed our time with CC, Duncan and I are both amenable to leaving in order to chase other desires.

We are considering the National Mythology Exam, Lego Robotics, Math Olympiad, Youth Orchestra, and 4-H Shooting Sports. We plan to cover the recommended books for the National Mythology Exam. I have a friend whose dh will be giving Lego Mindstorms a try with their son this summer and has offered to let us join them. If the boys enjoy Mindstorms and work well together, we will then move on to considering forming a team. If there were a Math Olympiad team in place, Duncan would immediately join- alas I do not know of one. I am not keen on starting a team myself, but it is something else to consider. I think that Duncan is not quite ready for junior orchestra and he has never played with a group, so I have contacted the person over the reading orchestra that feeds into junior orchestra to help us decide if that might be a good fit. I am already on the 4-H e-mail loop and I don’t think I need to do anything until fall, but I guess I should check on that. So many choices, so many decisions!

If you have started planning, I hope you are having fun!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What is great art and how can I go about teaching my child art appreciation?

"It is beginning to dawn upon us that Art is great only in proportion to the greatness of the idea that it expresses; while what we ask of the execution, the technique, is that it shall be adequate to the inspiring idea." Charlotte Mason

Guernica by Picasso

"We recognise that the power of appreciating art and of producing to some extent an interpretation of what one sees is as universal as intelligence, imagination, nay, speech, the power of producing words. But there must be knowledge and, in the first place, not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced; that is, children should learn pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading, not books, but pictures themselves. A friendly picture-dealer supplies us with half a dozen beautiful little reproductions of the work of some single artist, term by term. After a short story of the artist's life and a few sympathetic words about his trees or his skies, his river-paths or his figures, the little pictures are studied one at a time; that is, children learn, not merely to see a picture but to look at it, taking in every detail. Then the picture is turned over and the children tell what they have seen,––a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road but nobody with the dog. Ah, there is a boy lying down by the stream drinking. It is morning as you can see by the light so the sheep are being driven to pasture, and so on; nothing is left out, the discarded plough, the crooked birch, the clouds beautiful in form and threatening rain, there is enough for half an hour's talk and memory in this little reproduction of a great picture and the children will know it wherever they see it, whether a signed proof, a copy in oils, or the original itself in one of our galleries." Charlotte Mason

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

Let me begin by stating that we love Hayao Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli here. My oldest has thought Miyazaki was fabulous since the release of of Princess Mononoke. Both my big boys still say that Princess Mononoke is their favorite Miyazaki film. Duncan says his favorite is Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. Mei likes The Cat Returns. Today, I think that I would have to say my favorite is Howl's Moving Castle, but that is subject to change without notice.

Even though he didn't direct Arrietty, the film really has quite a bit to it that feels like Miyazaki. After all it is a Studio Ghibli film with Miyazaki as a co-writer of the script and as an executive producer. The credits also list him as the planner. The animation feels like Miyazaki. Of course, the story is what Miyazaki took away from The Borrowers. Also, although he didn't take on the full responsibility of directing Arrietty, I think the director and crew must have respected his planning.

But, in addition to all this, something about David Henri's narration (sad, wistful, hopeful, but at the same time somehow just stating how it is) really felt like Miyazaki. I was concerned about David Henri narrating, because I identify him as the oldest child on Wizards of Waverly Place and because when I think of Miyazaki I think of story lines revolving around a female character, but David Henri nailed it. David Henri's narration that had me so concerned initially was so genuine and touching that by the end of the film it won Arrietty a spot as one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films.

(spoiler- Even though the film is titled The Secret World of Arrietty, the story is about the collision of Arrietty and Shawn's worlds and the impact it has on them both, but it is narrated by Shawn and really the ending ties up his story not hers.)

We saw Arrietty last night at the 11:30 show and had the theater to ourselves. The movie was fabulous- very touching. I liked it and definitely plan to purchase it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

General Thoughts about our Homeschool

I read The Charlotte Mason Companion back when I was considering homeschooling in the winter of 2002. I have no memory of why I purchased it, so I can't honestly say what drew me to CM philosophy initially.

However, I also bought The Well-Trained Mind and Charlotte Mason was pretty much relegated to habit training. Then, in the summer of 2008 I felt that our homeschool journey had taken a wrong turn. In 2008-2009, I used WinterPromise with both my middle son and little son and began to read and re-read CM. I tried to incorporate more CM not only into my parenting but into our homeschool as well. 2009-2010 and fall 2010 we had a more CM year.

Unfortunately, in the spring of 2011 and this school year my educational choices have gotten lost again. Honestly, I haven't done a very good job of resisting the urge to add more and more to our lives. I want to take a step back and find CM again. I want the educational confidence that CM projects rather than some sense of urgency that my child should perform.

It's funny, but when it comes to parenting I have no problem with habit training or seeing my child as having been born a person. When it comes to education, I get caught in the trap that if my child doesn't meet some imagined goal (higher test scores, the best college whatever) that my homeschool is a failure.

I know that if a family uses the "best" products and spends hours pushing and prodding a child to achieve academically, it doesn't mean they will end up with an self-teaching, academic genius in high school or a homeschool graduate at an Ivy League college. I totally get this. In our homeschool I still get caught up in the urgency of achievement rather than having that peaceful confidence that is CM.

Looking forward to next school year!