Since I know “fly on the wall” homeschooling posts are my most popular, I’ve prepared another for you.
I have to apologise in advance for the lack of ‘interesting’, ‘people-centred’ photos. But I’ve discovered that I’m getting slack on the work-in-action photos. Mostly because the boys tend to take their work off to their ‘office’ to complete it and also because I’m usually involved in all of the other work. I promise to rectify this for my next ‘fly on the wall’ post.
But until then this post will have to suffice.
Monday: 18th March, 2013
The day started with Bible in the boys’ beds. A morning routine. I found a space on one of their beds and started reading aloud to them. We’ve just started back at the beginning of the Bible again. In our reading I spotted yet another thing I had never noticed (reading the Bible out loud is a great exercise!). We were reading about Noah after he’d come out of the ark and God was saying that from that point on the animals would be fearful of man. So that must mean that the animals pre-flood were friendly like in the Garden of Eden. I enjoy sharing these discoveries with my boys.
We also read another couple of sections from “Who is God?” This is a new book we’ve just started. There’s a fair bit of controversy about this text. The series supposedly contributed to Dr Jay Wile’s resignation at Apologia…or so I hear on the grapevine (you know how reliable that vine often is). So I feel like a bit of a heretic using it, since I love Dr Jay texts so much and greatly admire his teaching. But I’m the kind of person who never takes anything and just accepts it as truth…unless it’s the Bible of course. If we stumble upon anything objectionable it will just lead to an interesting discussion and also teaches the boys to test everything against Scripture. Interestingly enough the first chapters in “Who is God?” have been all about Truth – knowing where to find it. In Monday’s reading we read about how our senses can’t always be relied upon to tell us the truth, and we looked at several optical illusions. The boys really enjoyed these and even climbed out from under their covers to have a closer look at the images.
Our third bedside read aloud item was our current Biblical-inspired novel, “The Ark, The Reed and The Fire-Cloud”. This book has been sitting on my shelves for years now and it finally made it’s way to the head of the read-aloud queue. The boys convinced me to read two chapters. It’s hard to know if they really couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen or whether they just wanted to stay in bed longer. But after two chapters we had to stop as growling stomachs were making it hard to hear the story.
Finally we got to eat breakfast. Toast for some and warm Hot Cross Buns for others. We always eat breakfast together at the table. We used to do a stack of memorisation tasks at this time but this year we’ve been enjoying a ‘chill’ time with brekkie, good company and a Seeds of Worship cd. Plus these cds double as Bible memorisation. (Highly, highly recommends these cds!)
After brekkie we do a few morning chores. Quick stuff. The boys put their dishes in the sink, do their teeth and tidy their room. I usually hang out the washing, collect the mail, and tidy the kitchen. If I can catch a boy or two, I get them to review their Geography before we sit down together to read. Every morning the boys chant through the countries in two continents while pointing to each country as they go. South America is the new continent we are working on so they do that every day at the moment. They’ve already learned Europe and Asia so we just pick one of these and review it all week. This week we’re reviewing Europe. This only takes a few minutes. We just chant and point. Consistent practise and review is vital.
At the point in the morning we usually gather on the couch for reading aloud. I never have the chase the boys to get them to join me for reading. In fact, if they are trying to get out of doing school (they are human and children and little boys…so it’s to be expected) they will say, “We only want to do reading”. Yep. They love it that much. They’ll even happily listen to read alouds on the weekends, evenings and holidays. To them it’s not school. But as soon as they have to pick up a pencil…well that’s school! 🙂
However, on Monday I didn’t start with reading aloud. I started with our multiplication review. Those pesky things are still slip-sliding in and out of the boys’ brains so we’ve returned to a trusted friend, “TimesTables the Fun Way” and flashcards. Quick, simple and the boys’ enjoy the silly stories that help their facts get cemented into their brains. This only takes a few minutes per boy.
Then we read through a few more pages of “Grammar Island”. We read about adverbs ‘modifying’ verbs. Sounds tricky doesn’t it but when Michael Clay Thompson explains it you are guaranteed an ‘ah-ha’ moment. We are loving this book so far. We just read a little at a time, stopping to discuss things and delighting in the silly stories. No pencils required. So it doesn’t rate as “school” to my men.
We’re reading about the Middle East for Geography this year in “A Child’s Geography: Volume 2”. We’ve just finished reading about Turkey and last week we began reading about Israel. So we continued on with the next Israeli section. We don’t use the exercises in the text (Do I ever use any curriculum just as the author intended?!). Instead, later in the week, we’ll create our travel journal pages. We pretend that what we’ve read were actually things we saw on our ‘Middle Eastern holiday’ and we’ll add information beneath our ‘photos’.
Next we read a glorious new picture book, “Joha Makes a Wish”. I bought this to go with our Middle Eastern study but it was such a brilliant book that we had an impromptu literature discussion about it, using the skills I’ve gained from “Teaching the Classics”. My boys are getting really good at identifying the climax of a story, building a story chart and identifying the theme or message the book wants to impart.. And it’s just nice to sit and discuss literature with my men. This is what I imagined homeschooling to be. And the good thing….still no pencils!
Yes, all this reading aloud does take a good chunk of our morning but Andrew Pudewa says that the most important part of our school day is reading aloud and since it’s the most enjoyable part of the day as well, we don’t mind indulging a little…or a lot.
In History we’re learning about World War 1 so I read another story from this ‘delightful’ looking title. It’s not as hideous as it looks. Each story is about animals and their experiences during the war. Yesterday we read about a pack of rats who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in France in The Somme. The rats described life in the trenches as wet, noisy and incredibly dangerous. Poor Rudolph the Rat lost a leg and part of his tail! The horror of it. The boys cuddle up extra close as I read these. You can always tell when they absolutely love a story as they virtually climb on your head!!
Our current History read aloud is “The Silver Donkey”. (We don’t use a curriculum for History anymore as living books are soooo much better…that Charlotte Mason woman may have been onto something good). If you are reading about the Wars you simple must get a copy of this book. The language this book uses is superb. We sat and read three chapters as it’s just so beautiful to read, despite the nature of setting.
Well that brings us to the end of our read aloud session for the day. It might seem like a lot to some but it really isn’t. There is so much value in reading aloud. Can you believe that I added another novel to our repertoire today? Yep, I did!
Before I send boys in different directions to work on their individual work schedules I quickly run through any short tasks or new teaching that is required. On Monday I ran through both boys spelling tasks first. Ethan does his spelling orally and Brayden writes his on the whiteboard. Often I can multitask and do both quizzes at the same. But I didn’t on Monday as I had a phonic task I wanted Brayden to do while I did Ethan’s spelling. I often juggle things this way, looking at what needs to be covered and how best to do it.
With the quizzes done. Ethan headed off to his ‘office’ to work on his writing piece. He had to do a quick research task last week to answer a lack of knowledge we had on a topical issue. The news is attempting to build fear in people in order to portray the seriousness of the Lyssavirus. It’s working too! However we were curious to know more so we wrote down some questions and Ethan’s researched the answers for us. His task on Monday was to put his answers in a well structured paragraph and ‘dress up’ the paragraph. I was very pleased with his final piece. It also lead to a discussion. I expressed my displeasure in the media’s fear mongering. Ethan rebutted my opinion stating that the news can’t present all the facts and just needed to present the most important details at the time – in this case, “Stay away from bats”. I was impressed with his observation. But we to-ed and fro-ed a little and concluded that it’s up to the viewer to make sure they seek out all of the facts before forming an opinion. Once again, another glimmer of my ideal homeschool environment.
While Ethan was off writing his report, Brayden was working with me on dictation and reading aloud. He also completed a Singapore Math exercise on multiples. Yes, Ethan still reads aloud as well but he now reads aloud to Daddy in the evenings. His focus is more on writing during school hours.
By this point in the day we were starving. You don’t want to know what the hour was…you probably do though, don’t you. I hope you’re sitting down. It was a little after 2pm. Oh well. Time is irrelevant in the homeschool if you don’t need to be anywhere at a certain time.
Anyway, we stopped for lunch. I generally give the boys an hour to do with as they please. On Monday they chose to watch their taped episode of Backyard Science, which was brilliant as I got to tick off Science for the day too!
One hour stretched to an hour and a half though as the boys were happily playing and I was busy reading the new issue of “Practical Homeschooling” which arrived in my letterbox that morning. So we’ll call it a “Staff Meeting” or an “inservice” shall we?! Hehehe.
Anyway, to finish off the day, we did some Math. Both boys learned new skills…well really they were just extensions of old skills. Ethan learned long division with two digit divisors and Brayden learned to multiply with two digit multipliers. Each boy worked with me individually to learn the new skill. I watched them do several examples and once I was confident they knew the procedure they headed to their desks and completed a page independently. Since the concepts were new I wandered between the two boys (who had chosen totally different rooms to work in!) to watch their progress. Daddy arrived home during this time and also sat with each boy to see what they were doing. He played ‘dumb’ and wanted them to explain what they were doing, which of course they did. Hubby doesn’t teach long division the way I do so it probably was double dutch to him. But that’s okay because my eyes glaze over when he explain his way to me. Eventually the page was completed…it went a lot slower than I had anticipated. Perhaps because it was later in the day, perhaps because it was new ground or perhaps because of their aversion to anything to do with a pencil.
To finish off the day the boys completed a few critical thinking tasks that have been sitting on my desks for weeks waiting to be finished. The boys spied them earlier in the day and wanted to do them. They enjoy these sorts of tasks, plus they were super easy ones. Wait until I step up the pace! Hehehe.
By 4.30ish the boys were finally finished. Yes, a late finished isn’t uncommon around here. You see, we don’t like early starts. The thought is hideous.
Both boys headed in different directions. Ethan of course chose to do some computer programming on Scratch and Brayden pulled out his Star Wars figures and engaged in some sort of battle…a noisy battle. That’s boys for you.
In the evening, however, a little more school was squeezed into our day…but in disguise. After tea we sat as a family and watch the first episode of the Holy Lands’ “Drive Thru History” series.
After showers and before bed, Hubby put on his teacher hat, or is it just his Daddy hat, and read aloud a couple of chapters of “The Dolphins of Laurentem” (from the Roman Mysteries series they are reading together). During their reading I heard them quizzing each other on Roman numerals. They also shared with me a brief summary of the story (as I don’t usually listen in on their stories with Daddy) and suggested that perhaps Aria’s name was inspired by “Arion”. We googled it though and Aria’s name is Hebrew and means “Lioness”
After bedtime stories, Ethan read aloud to Hubby, and both boys were supposed to go to sleep. But they are kids, specifically ‘our’ kids and nothing this side of midnight is an acceptable bedtime hour…which of course explains the late mornings.
So there you have it, our school day in full. Nothing totally thrilling. No spiffy art project, no dramatic Science experiment (still waiting on a full sunny day to do our next lesson!!) and nothing very hands on or thrilling at all. Just a good solid school day. Yes, we could have used a pencil a bit more, ah but that doesn’t worry me so much. The boys are learning and progressing…and I couldn’t imagine a better way of doing it.