Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Tempests and Frogs and Ceasars, Oh My!

Our family is 11 weeks into our homeschool school year, and it's only October. I rightfully anticipated a crazy August and September due to moving and a long road trip, so we got an early start. Although we missed a few details here and there, we kept chugging through our main readings and activities through it all. It has provided a nice constant, and on top of that I think everyone is learning and enjoying themselves.

This year Tobias is in 1st grade and we are using Ambleside Online. It is a freely provided curriculum plan built by a volunteer committee based on the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason. She was a British educator whose principles included a belief that children are not just receptacles for intellectual facts, but they have a God-given ability and desire to learn ideas and digest a high-quality feast of knowledge. People following her philosophy generally try to follow her ideals of cultivating good habits (especially the habit of attention), relatively short lessons, time in nature, "living books" (not watered down or summarized already for the child, written by people who care about the subject), and having students narrate back a summary or response to what was read rather than worksheets or quiz-type questioning about details.

A typical day for us includes:
  • 9:00 Singing time: Hymn and folk song or Spanish song
  • Math: We use Miquon math worksheets with some blocks/rods that go with them, or Khan Academy on the computer
  • Independent reading. Tobias just finished the My Father's Dragon series and Because of Winn-Dixie.
  • A Poem a day: Today we read October's Party
  • Handwriting
  • Spanish video
  • Piano practice
  • Bible memory work, or sometimes work on memorizing something else like a poem
  • Once or twice a week: Nature study with journals, a craft or useful skill (currently origami), drawing
  • Readings from the Ambleside "chart". Readings are assigned by the week, and can be divided into whatever days we want. They cover history, literature, geography, Bible, and more. This week we're on Week 10, so today we read "The Frogs who Wished for a King" from Aesop's fables, and "Prince Darling" from the Blue Fairy book.
  • We are also supposed to focus on one composer and artist every 12-week term, and for right now we have just listened to a Brahms playlist and haven't done the artist study yet (oops)
Believe it or not, that takes 2-3 hours depending on the length of the readings and how many interruptions we have. Play, errands, chores, and meals fill up the rest of the day for him.

There are of course lows ("I don't remember anything." and "NO. 3 - 4 has to equal ZERO!" being among them), and those lovely braggable moments where your child declares that Shakespeare's Tempest was even better than A Midsummer Night's Dream (we read children's adaptations), and everything in between. Overall, very happy with how it is going so far!

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”  -Charlotte Mason