Wednesday, April 28, 2010

State of the Homeschooling Address

It's really not as bad as it seemed, i've reckoned. Couldn't be in any way worse than public school in our neck of the woods anyway. Taking a break from the blog during Lent, i took a break from auditing our texts and just tried to focus day by day. Heck, at one point, Lil' Bit got to head to ID with her grandparents and they learned her some schoolin'. Boy, she loved that! Especially because Grandpa required an apple for the teacher before he gave his lessons. :o)

Now, as the "1st year mark" approaches (we started this gig back in June '09, as Cookie Monster was bored with summer break after just a couple weeks and I broke down and bought her a math text), i feel it is time to take these next couple months to reflect on where i feel we need to go, what we've accomplished, and what we've still to complete so we can work on our academic goals of an 8 year old student.

First, what we've accomplished.

We have finished 1st grade grammar (punctuation, types of sentences, covered nouns & verbs, and memorised 6 poems.) We have 90 lessons of 2nd grade math down, with 42 to go--C. monster is getting into multiplication now! We are only 14 lessons in on history's 42: bring on the Israelites fleeing Egypt, the Greeks and Romans overtaking the pharaohs, and the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.

We are rockin' the science and religion...only a few body parts left to go in human related science and the botany portion will be in our summer classroom: the garden. The religious ed class has been fantastic! Our deacon was quizzing Cookie Monster last time we saw him at Mass, and he was impressed with what she could answer. He was testing his test questions on her, i think, so now he has to make all new ones. :o) Yeah, can you believe it? A Catholic church giving a test to it's "Sunday schoolers." And my bro-in-law and the deacon aren't foolin' when they say that if the kids can't answer the questions, then they get to repeat the year! It's refreshing!! A far cry from the R.C.I.A. meetings i had 10 years ago where they were recommending we read the Left Behind series instead of the catechism or for that matter the actual Bible.

For the next couple months, I need to figure out a plan. We are severely lacking in the arts. Granted, helps me cook a lot, which is good, but drawing and music need their equal time too. We also need to purchase about a library's worth of books for reading time and copywork. I've picked up some E.B. White and C.S. Lewis along the way, but most of our texts are in storage that could really be helping her now.

So i am delving into books on the great artists like Renoir, Rembrant, Degas, Pollack, and Monet. I've come to a road block as i have maxed out my holds list at the library. Oh! to live in a big city (instead of a crappy suburb) where 1 library was big enough to hold it all. :o) We've also invested Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes. It looks wonderful--basic principles of drawing have been broken down into 5 elements of shapes. We're both very excited about this book.

We're also looking at piano theory. As a former grade school violinist myself, i would love to have take that up, but since we have a piano right now, we might as well make good use of it.

Another place we've been lacking in is writing and copywork. When we first started school, she was less than enthused to use a pencil, so i didn't push it. If it's one thing i know about my kid, it's that you can't push her to do something she doesn't want to do--you can't even guilt her into it. When you try, she whines....and whining is about my #1 peeve, so we just didn't do it. Today, i started her on copying an excerpt from The Trumpet of the Swan. Since i am stuck on our spelling program too, i've decided to start having her write the rules of grammar to place in her folder--today was "q always needs a u" and "c makes the /s/ sound before E, I, & Y". After we finish the rest, i think we should go over the phonetic alphabet and then start the program. The trouble is that the program is so full of minutia regarding markings that i am getting too overwhelmed. But the program (and suffering) will be totally worth it when my kid has a college freshman level vocabulary when she is 10 years old.

The biggest thing i need to work out is a schedule. Here i thought it would be practical to stick to a typical American school system schedule, when really, it's ridiculous to push that hard for three months off in a row and you're going to have to review most of the final lessons from the year before. So, we are going to spread out our time off...i just have to figure out how to do it. And as long as C. monster still gets bored after 2 or 3 days of taking a break from school, there is no way we'll ever take off too much time. :o) It would be nice to have a good break in the fall and no school after the first week of December, and maybe a few breaks scattered between March, June and August. All things that need to be considered over the next couple months.

Then, it will just be the big hit to the pocket book when we acquire next year's texts. Oy! But much cheaper than a private school education or a stupid kid who can barely hold a job at Starbucks because they need someone to physically explain to them which end of the cup the sleeve will fit over, especially once the coffee is in the cup. No foolin'.

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Thanks for taking the time to read my silly lil musings. Hope you have a wonderful day!