Friday, April 10, 2015

A Semi-Hysterical Overview of Education Since September

Which is probably a terrible thing to write right now because I'm going on the umpteenth night of awful broken sleep, and besides my tonsils are roughly the size of baseballs. But hey, I guess if I can't talk, I can still type! Incoherently!

It's the time of year when I start to get excited about planning next year's school. I don't feel the normal extreme enthusiasm because I'm sick, and also because this year everything was changed hugely by Mum's decline and death, but I was looking over my year plans and noticing that, unbelievably, we did most of it. So I will get a cup of tea and try to think about what worked, and what didn't.
Iron Man does copywork

My basic goals were to get Nat reading and writing, get him up to reading at least short books, and do a lot of reading aloud. I also wanted to do a lot of history, using Story of the World as the spine. We succeeded brilliantly with the reading. Nat has taken off- he can sight read and read silently, and he's fast enough to be looking over my shoulder and saying, "Mommy, what does 'NRA bans guns at national convention' mean?" before I close the tab. So that's really good, and now I have Elizabeth on my lap assisting me with the typing. She's really helpful, and she loves the space bar.  I had a tentative list of read-aloud books, mostly my childhood favourites, but what actually happened is The Magician's Nephew, and then The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe again, and then the whole Little House series, which Nat is absolutely in love with. We've used it as a springboard for all sorts of things to talk about- American history, machines, the progress of technology in general. Self-sufficiency.

We read the first half of Story aloud, and covered up to the New Kingdom in Egypt, although I don't know how much the boys have retained. I know none of us will ever, ever forget the names of the kings of Mesopotamia, and neither will I. Ever. Because of They Might Be Giants, which Thomas loves loves loves.

We've practically lived at the Royal Ontario Museum for stretches, and they've seen cuneiform and Persian armour and we read aloud a short version of the Epic of Gilgamesh and watched Egyptian creation myths. We're doing history and science by saturation right now instead of dates, and it's so much fun.

I just remembered that Nat spent a month reading and watching everything he could find about Anansi the Spider.

I haven't really worked on memorization at all yet. We got The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, on my friend Melanie's suggestion, and I've found a lot of  secondhand poetry anthologies for children. When I've got some of them sitting down I read some of them aloud, but in general the kids are more impatient with poetry than with picture books. Still, they're hearing it, and we watched the Branagh Much Ado back in the winter and the children all spontaneously pointed out the bad guy and chatted about what they thought would happen and occasionally quoted from it after, so that's pretty awesome for Rich Learning Environment.
Thomas really, really loves They Might Be Giants, as I said above, so we've watched and talked about their songs about the spectrum of light, and the way the circulatory system works. Also their very weird song about the death of Caesar, which I've tried to explain, although I don't know why they made it about robots. We've also done a lot of conversation with both boys about general science, spurred by intensive Magic School Bus watching. 

For Thomas, I've got him counting, and he's gotten very good at narration of familiar books and telling stories with beginning, middle, and ends. We're going to start working on copywork in the next few days. My dream of lots of math manipulatives hit the familiar problem of everyone carrying away math manipulatives and scattering them. I'll probably begin formal math with Thomas next year, after he's got the hang of written numbers, and give up on manipulatives until I have the patience to corral little pieces.

Over all, I'm satisfied, especially for what we've been dealing with. I have the boys on a daily schedule of schoolwork, Nat and Thomas have both made good progress, we take lots of trips, and I'm sure we'll be able to use the library again soon after I pay our thirty five thousand dollars' worth of library fines. Hey, we took out books, and then things got intense with Mum, and then we were snowed in for three months. It's completely understandable, and that's how I'm going to explain it to the nice librarians so they don't kill me.

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