Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Back to School


We have been back in school for two weeks now! The first week of school was tough, as all transitions are, but this past week went a lot more smoothly.

Here is what's going well, so far...

Our day is split up into two parts, morning lessons and afternoon lessons. During morning lessons, we cover the bulk of our subjects: Reading, Math, Science, Geography, French, History, etc. In the afternoon, usually when Esme goes down for her afternoon nap, we have our afternoon "lessons", which are a lot less structured. Typically, the girls have a snack and make an entry in their Nature Journals while I read aloud to them. We always read some poetry and then rotate classic literature (Monday, Wednesday), historical fiction (Tuesday, Thursday), and Biography / Nonfiction (Fridays). Currently, we are reading The Wizard of Oz as our classic lit. selection and Little House on the Prairie for historical fiction. Our biography / nonfiction selection this week was a Robert McClung book called Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake, as we are currently studying snakes in science. 

We also managed to squeeze in a field trip last week. We went to our local Nature Center to observe some snakes and other reptiles. Esme was also along for the ride, and she was thrilled about it.

Lucy's memory drawing of "The Thankful Poor", a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner

We are using a curriculum called Charlotte Mason Alveary. Originally, I was hesitant to use a curriculum because they are expensive, and also, I am a control freak. But, since this is our first year of "official" school, I wanted to make sure I was covering everything that needs to be covered. And man, I'm so happy with this decision. There are some cool subjects - like Art Study - that our curriculum covers that I would otherwise have no idea how to teach. 

So, what's not going well?

I've had to make some adjustments along the way. Originally, I had planned to include Alice more in school. With a July birthday, Alice would be on the young end of the spectrum if she were in PreK at a traditional school. One of the reasons we have chosen to homeschool is because we want our children to enjoy their early childhood and have more time to play independently. That being said, at age 4, Lucy was asking me for more structure - she wanted to read all the books and learn to write letters, etc. Alice at age 4 does not seem interested in "school". She knows her letters and she loves to listen to picture books (and chapter books), but she does not need structure in the way that Lucy did / does. This is just further proof that all children are born persons, and each one is so unique. I am so thankful that homeschooling will allow Alice the freedom to have so much unstructured play time, while at the same time giving Lucy the structure she craves. I had originally created some structured activities for Alice during school hours, but I have since decided to hold off on those indefinitely. 

Another hard thing is that homeschooling is a big time investment. Between breakfast, morning lessons, lunch, afternoon lessons, ballet, piano, nursing Esme... there is not a lot of extra time. Housework, Nature Study, and Lucy's piano practice are usually the first casualties of this time deficit. I have been trying to think of creative ways to get the kids involved with housework. As far as Nature Study goes, we have been squeezing it in where we can. Thankfully, we live in a great, wooded neighborhood with abundant wildlife. Some days, the most we can do is go out in the yard and observe a spider spinning its web. And that's OK. 

In spite of these challenges, I am still so thankful for the privilege and freedom to home educate. Our days are crazy, but they are also filled with so much adventure and curiosity and wonder. And it's only the third week of school!

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