I always feel like I am trying this or that new thing, but really, after almost two decades of homeschooling, nothing is new. Looking back at old blog posts reminds me of that. There is a cyclical and circumstantial element to homeschooling (as with any long term creative endeavor, I suppose).
So I think I probably have tried this “structure time and content” approach before. In fact, I am sure of it. Even so, I am happy at how well it is working right now. In fact, today was a really good day, one of the first we’ve had for quite a while — maybe almost a year, indeed.
I have a daily Plan for Kieron (my high schooler) which I put on a private blog for him. After a few days of the schedule, it looks like it only takes a fraction of the time set aside for school for him to work his way through the Plan, so whenever he has time left over he is supposed to read, write, draw, or work out. I am going to start expanding his work load. Twice a week we are supposed to meet to see where he is and discuss any concerns/goals/ changes etc. And I might need to help him more than I am presently doing with geometry, physics and Latin.
Still, this leaves the bulk of my day to work with Paddy and Aidan, which is nice.
Aidan has been reading out of a handmade reader I made for him. It has this Reading-Literature Primer and some of My Book House: In the Nursery. Today he was reading some of the repetitive stories from the Primer. He is fluent enough to need help with only a few of the words, and more importantly, he has broken through to the stage where he can read and comprehend what he is reading. So he would stop after a page of the adventures of the rebellious pancake, for instance, and burst into laughter.
With Paddy, I read chapter 8 of Wind in the Willows. What fun to read this fine English aloud! And when you think about it, how accurately the Toad’s persona comes across and how easily and affectionately can a child of 9 pick up the nuances of grandiloquence and irresponsibility!
Then we spent some time with the times 8 flashcards. Paddy has been trying to memorize these for almost 2 years. I have not figured out how a boy who independently learned to read at age four can have such trouble with a bare couple of dozen math facts. He can calculate them just fine by adding in his head, but it’s like moving from decoding phonetically to just READING the word — he needs to consign them to his instant associative recall.
We did a few other things as well. When we were in Eugene, I found a grade 4 science textbook at the thrift store, and I bought it as sort of a detailed outline. Today I had Paddy look through the table of contents and choose a topic he was interested in (he chose geologic changes). Then I can look for library books on the topic, and maybe some experiments or videos, and use my Design a Study Science Scope to fill out the details. Serendipitously, earth formation fits in great with Madam How and Lady Why which I wanted to read to him.
His personal project, for which he has been recruiting my help, is a card battle game. He is using some of the game play mechanics we have been absorbing through our recent board-game adventures.
We also drew some “cute animals” using Bruce McIntyre’s book.
He did some grammar, working with compound sentences and conjunctions.
I really enjoyed this free-flowing way of putting educational things into our day, and the boys have seemed actually more contented when there is a flow of things going on. It would be easy to import the same general rhythm to Oregon when we are up there, too.
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