This week marked our first official week of homeschool! While we've been ramping up slowly for several weeks, and even though I thing we are always learning, last Monday was the start of all our remaining classes, and the tight schedule we need to stay on to keep it all going seamlessly. Here is how we did it:
IN THE CAR THIS WEEK
We spend A LOT of time driving around town all week and so to keep them interested (and, quite honestly, quiet) we always have a stack of audio books in the passanger seat. I swap out different ones depending on what combo of family members are present.
How To Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Crowell. I checked this one out for Tiny Buns but we were all happily surprised to find we ALL loved it. Beautifully narrated by Scottish actor, David Tennant. This one was in preparation for our Renaissance block and the upcoming fair (a stretch, I know. But remember - I got it originally for the 4yo.)
Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson. This one was for me, and my prepping for the Renaissance Faire. But like so many adult books I read or listen to, I feel there is a lot of wonderful information that is perfect for curious young minds too. Typically I listen to these while alone in the car to make sure the content is OK for young ears, and then I play it again while they are with me, driving here and there. They always tune in, and I just love that. I don't believe our society as a whole gives our kids enough credit for what they can take in. Here is another adult audio book we enjoyed together in the car.
9:30 – 3:00 Homeschool in the Forest
I drop the boys off for their first day in *the forest* this fall. It's the (now) 10yos second year with the program, and absolutely his favorite time of the week. Today was Tiny Buns' first time ever and he was so, so excited. He'll be in the Pup Pack for 4-5 yos. (Beanie is in DC this week playing tourist with her grandma. Their Monday plans include a tour of the presidential monuments.)
An emailed summary of Homeschool in the Forest read:
“On Monday we went over main hazards and safety protocols in a few rambunctious skits and then split into our groups by age. Each group went and explored a different place on the land to check in on the plants and animals there.
My group, which is the middle ages 8-10 group, ventured to *the lake* following a magical map that got a new point marked on it every time the group completed a challenge. The challenges ranged from listening for different types of birds to finding plants suitable for fire making to finding signs of animals. Along the way we played monkey fist, a game teaching awareness and coordination which the group quite enjoyed.
We are already starting to get ready for our harvest festival. So if you have any large, non-pointy acorns or see any, please collect them in a bag and send them with your child to dirt time. We will process them :)"
3:00 - 5:00 Pick-up boys and grab a friend's child from middle school for our weekly trip to the library. We spend about an hour there researching topics of interest, reading to ourselves, as well as to Tiny Buns.
9:00 - 12:00 The 10yo (and usually Beanie) attend homeschool courses Drawing out Arithmetic and Language Arts. Their math class is perfect for both of them:
"By playing with the ancient tools of compass and straight edge, children will discover the skills and methods employed by the Ancient Greeks to uncover enduring mathematical truths. Students will learn addition and multiplication and even some division and fractions by drawing lines, polygons and circles. A playful and experimental approach seeds young minds with mathematical ideas that will serve them for life."
12:00 - 2:00 Open studio art class for homeschoolers. Imagine a fully stocked open room and the freedom to create whatever you want. My kids love to spin clay on the wheel, as well as build terrariums and doll houses.
1:00 - 4:00 Play-based PreK for Tiny Buns. I'm just driving all over the place at this point.
2:15 - 3:15 Music for the 10yo. Last year he started classical piano and continued through the year with little passion other than the for the desire to be able to play well. He now studies with a great musician, in an open studio, exploring any instrument he wants, learning any song he desires. It works much better for him and he is now engaged and enthusiastic to learn. This week it was Elenor Rigby on the guitar.
After music the 10yo is beyond tired, and it's hot out, so I let him skip soccer practice. He comes home, jumps in the pool and craps out on the couch listening to his audio book, Rick Riordan's The Battle of the Labyrinth
10yo wakes and listens to audio book in bed before chores and breakfast.
8:00 - 9:30 10yo and I watch and interesting documentary, Manufactured Landscapes. (Tiny Buns entertains himself with crafty stuff.)
"Jennifer Baichwal's cameras follow Edward Burtynsky (1955- ) as he visits what he calls manufactured landscapes: slag heaps, e-waste dumps, huge factories in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces of China, and a place in Bangladesh where ships are taken apart for recycling. In China, workers gather outside the factory, exhorted by their team leader to produce more and make fewer errors. A woman assembles a circuit breaker, and women and children are seen picking through debris or playing in it. Burtynsky concludes with a visit to Shanghai, the world's fastest growing city, where wealth and poverty, high-rises and old neighborhoods are side by side."
Movie sparks conversation about consumption, waste and recycling. 10yo vows to never buy another thing. ;)
10:00 - 11:00 @home science block to prepare kid for afternoon (homeschool) class – anatomy/brain refresher, constructing 3D models, watchTed Talk, illustration labeled.
1:00-2:30 Science with J - great homeschool class organized by a fellow mom, and taught at her house to a group of four by a UC graduate student. Lots of great content for these kids - unlike anything they'd be offered at this age in public school.
"We reviewed the parts of the brain while looking at the preserved brain sample. We identified the following parts.
- Dura mater - tough outer covering of the brain
- Cerebrum - the uppermost parts of the brain split into two sections the right and the left
- Gyri - the large folds of tissue on the cerebrum
- Sulci - grooves in between the gyri
- Cerebellum - the rounded structure at the back of the brain
- Corpus callosum - connects the left and right side of the cerebrum
- Frontal lobe - judgement, decision making, reasoning, memory, emotions, motor skills, language skills
- Parietal lobe - senses of touch, pain and temperature, storing data, spatial relationships
- Temporal lobe - auditory processing, smell, emotion, memory, speech
- Occipital lobe - vision
8:15 - 9:15 10yo has private math tutor. Today was first day, although we did have two trial meetings over the summer. He is terribly reluctant to go. He's certain he will not like it. She opens up the year with a little geometry, and in the hour, teaches him a card trick that helps drive home the lesson. He comes out saying, "Mom, it was actually fun!"
9:30 – 3:00 Homeschool 4-wheel drive - the 10yo's second day a week in nature. Run by the same organization as Monday's class, this group happens to be boys only which I love. It's great to see them just go off to be themselves with a great male leader.
10yo comes home absolutely exhausted and veges out for hours on the couch listening to his audio book.
7:00PM - After dinner the 10yo and I watch the first episode of the first season of BBC's Robin Hood. I checked the first season out at the library in preparation for our visit to the Renaissance Fair next month. Technically, it's a story told in the 12th century, but whatever. I figure I'm setting the flavor.
I drive to the airport late to pick-up my mom and Beanie. Weeeee!!!
9:00 -10:00 First day of Spanish tutor, although we had one trial class. Today was tough...really tough. The two younger kids gave it a great effort, focusing on the written alphabet and noting the Spanish pronunciation of each letter, per tutor's request. 10yo - not so much. The plan is to bake cookies in the kitchen with tutor and to learn some related Spanish, starting on numbers as well. It all starts to unravel around 9:35 and I wonder if he isn't going to quit us. After he leaves, I have a serious talk with the kids about what happened. I make the 10yo re-write the in-class assignment three more times. He takes about two hours to do it. I'm guessing the lesson has been learned and that he will put more effort forward on Wednesday. He's a great kid, but starting a new school year always take a bit more effort.
While the big kid works on his Spanish, I find Beanie and Tiny Buns playing with all the anatomy models left out from Wednesday. I bought these last year when the then 9yo said he wanted to learn more about the body. After investing in all this blood and guts, he decided he didn't have the stomach for it and instead wanted to focus on nutrition, which we did, starting with this great read. I wondered if and when we'd ever use these again and sure enough, I got to pull them out when his science focus moved to anatomy. I would have never guessed that these would then be so interesting to the others as well. Who knew Beans would gravitate to all this, and yet, she does! I let her run with it and for over three hours (!!!), she assembled and disassembled models, set-up a whole hospital ward, cared for all the sick, skinless patients, she even took *notes* while doing her *rounds*. One of the many reasons I love homeschooling - you just never know what bonuses are about to surprise you.
6:45 - 9:00 PM Beanie is too tired to join us, but the 10yo and I take in a little music/American history block by catching the movie Take Me To The River. :)
"A documentary about the soul of American music. The film follows the recording of a new album featuring legends from Stax records and Memphis mentoring and passing on their musical magic to stars and artists of today."