I am gearing up for school to get a bit more defined again. Little do the children know, but we've been having school all summer - though not on a schedule - cleverly disguised as Mommy Reading to You and Doing Crafts Together. The only thing they've really seen as school is when we pull out the Latin books or I play the PE Flashcard game. The flashcard game is played in the pool. I bring out the subtraction and multiplication cards poolside, and the girls take turns answering them until they have each tried ten. (Little Girl uses the subtraction, and Big Girl, the multiplication.) If they get the answer correct, they get to do a trick jump into the pool (or a trick in the pool). If the answer is incorrect, whoever got it wrong must take a kickboard and swim across and back in the pool. This isn't that easy, especially if one girl gets several wrong in a row. Our pool is a generous 15' x30', and I make them swim the long way across and back. I had a really clever name for this, but since I was poolside when I thought it up, I didn't write it down. Now the name is lost! (Oh, well!)
But I've just ordered Math-U-See for the girls to start up soon. And I ordered some books to help with our upcoming unit on Greek and Roman mythology, which we'll do when Hubby has a lighter travel schedule (looks to be September).
What I've discovered is that the girls have a really good time when we read together, especially if I read to them, and we do projects related to the book. And if I manage to work in the science, history, or social studies stuff while we work, all the better. Of course, they hardly notice this. For example, the first thing we did this way was a unit study using The Trumpet of the Swan. As we read the book, we looked for information on swans with special attention to Trumpters. We learned about the near-extinction of the beautiful birds, their migration patterns, and where they are being released in the repopulation efforts. We learned that the birds who are released in these efforts often don't migrate. After reading that Sam used a compass, we talked about directions on a compass and would make use of it in the car. (My minivan has a compass, and the girls would locate different directions based on which way we were driving.) We used Google Earth to create trip journals for Louis and his father. We read about chicken embryology and made booklets that illustrate the stages of a chicken growing in an egg. And we went to the duck pond and learned how to feed the ducks so that they would approach us for food. (We had ducks get as close as 3 to 4 feet from us! And let me tell you, this is not an easy exercise with children who are 5 and 8. Ask any parent.) We also searched YouTube for videos of swans so we could see them and hear their calls.
Did the children realize they were "having school?" Nope. Someone asked if they had school over the summer or if Mommy took time off. Katy answered, "We have not had school in two months!" She said this after we'd spent about a month working on this unit.
Right now, I'm working on teaching them about exaggeration, hyperbole, and embellishment. We started by reading Dr. Seuss' And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and have moved on to various American tall tales. We'll probably make little posters and booklets with exaggerations and the main characters from the tall tales (Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, etc.).
This year, we'll also start a new activity called the Reading-Writing Workshop, which is a program based on the girls reading and making creative writing projects on their own with weekly conferences with me. Of course, we start out with specific lessons where I teach them how to do things and what I expect of them. But I think this will provide them with a chance to write more often, and maybe they'll even be able to make books to share with family members.
I'm hoping, too, that my new format - theme- and literature-based units - will also help me to be more creative with what we do, as well as help me to work in more field trips. Getting out of the house more is one of things we ought to be able to do as homeschoolers! But I'm such a homebody that I sometimes just stay here instead.
Since Little Girl is beginning first grade, she also begins her two-year journey towards her First Holy Communion. In addition to the Seton Home Study program I use for religious education at home, she is also going to participate in our parish's Sunday School program. I know that it isn't necessary (and so does our DRE, by the way), but I think it's good for the girls to (a) get to know the children at our parish and (b) hear a bit about the Faith from someone aside from Mommy once in a while. I will admit that my girls are quite a bit more advanced than a lot of the children in their classes at church, but I consider it a bit of a review. And, as I said, it's good for them to hear someone else once in a while. It drives home what I've already said to them, and it makes things just stick a bit when they have been struggling with a concept. Plus, we have a really good DRE for elementary who is quite conscientious about mataining a faithful program. (It's not like the Seton program, but it's at least not disssenting!)
It's really hard to believe that I'm starting fourth and first grade with them, to be honest. That means that this is my fifth year of homeschooling. It seems like a much shorter period of time to me. Plus, I have a hard time thinking about the girls being 6 and 9. (Big Girl will turn 9 in October.) It feels like it was only yesterday that I was starting Big Girl's studies for First Communion! And now Little Girl is starting that two-year journey. *sigh*
I pray that our family will be able to be successful in our homeschooling, not just in academics, but most of all in our spiritual well-being. May we always faithfully follow Christ and His Church, and may we always desire for ourselves what God desires for us. May I provide a good example to my children at all times, and may I always be able to meet the needs of my family.
Blessed Virgin, please intercede and attain for me a strong desire from the Holy Spirit to always fulfill my duties as a wife and mother, and may God grant me the grace necessary to fulfill my vocations.
PRAYER OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.
PRAYER FOR THE HOME
We beseech You, O Lord,
visit this home,
and drive far from it all the snares of the enemy;
let Your holy angels dwell therein
so as to preserve us in peace;
and let Your blessing be always upon us.
Through Christ our Lord.
BLESSING OF SEVERAL CHILDREN
Heavenly Father, lover of all,
we praise you for giving us Jesus as our Saviour:
He blessed the children who came to Him,
and welcomes those who come to Him now.
Look with love upon these children.
and protect them with Your love.
May they grow in wisdom and age and strength
in Your presence and in the sight of all.
We ask this blessing, Father,
through Your beloved Son, Christ our Lord.