Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Monday Homeschooling

It's finals week in the big world out there, or at least in our part of it. This morning Aelred was up and out before seven, in order to plank a twiltin' gurt examination in front of one batch of students at eight, leaving the rest of us to drag ourselves out of bed and off to Mass. Which we did, remarkably. Until I was actually backing out of the driveway with my entire household, minus dog, on board, I'd had my doubts. One soupcon more of resistance, and I'd have caved. But we got there, more or less on time, and afterwards we stopped for bagels. Home by nine-twenty, which gave us forty minutes to drink our coffee, read our email, and goof around before school. I don't know what the kids did all that time.

Ten o'clock:  We'd been to Mass and said Morning Prayer already, so our start-the-day devotional was confined to a lusty singing of "Christ the Lord Is Ris'n Today." And then we:

1. read and narrated about two pages of Saint Patrick's Summer
2. read and narrated a short chapter of Herodotus and the Road to History
3. did, together and orally, the first two exercises of this MEP lesson
4. read a chapter of Padraic Colum's The Adventures of Odysseus

All this took about an hour, maybe a little more. After we'd finished with Odysseus, the kids got out their individual work for the day, as follows:

1. a page of subtraction-with-regrouping word problems
2. about five minutes' worth of cursive practice
3. a page in her grammar worktext, dealing with verbs with singular and plural subjects. We noted that tomorrow she has a writing day, so that she can think ahead of time about what she might like to write.

1. a page of multiplication facts practice
2. about five minutes' worth of cursive practice
-- hmm, need to make sure he writes tomorrow. He has been doing a good bit of independent writing, however, which is good to see.

Both children read to themselves for about ten minutes. All this took maybe half an hour.

The 8th-grader had been upstairs all this time, working on algebra and his history research paper. We all broke for lunch, and then he vanished upstairs again. I went out to sit in the yard to read the draft of his paper which he'd emailed me. Almost immediately, there was a scrunch of running feet on gravel, and our young neighbor, who's also homeschooled, appeared in a state of great excitement. She and her brother had been down at the creek behind the neighborhood gym, where they'd found innumerable salamanders and crawdads. The 2nd- and 3rd-graders took off with her, and I've hardly seen them since. They came back once for a bucket to hold crawdads and salamanders for observation, and then they came back for bathing suits, but that's it. Meanwhile, I read and commented on the 8th-grader's paper and emailed it back to him. It's due Friday, when he also takes the final for that class, so we have time to discuss as needed.

Also, I'm trying to figure out why two of my tomato plants are dying. I've never had that happen before:  perfectly sturdy starter plants (I don't do from seed . . . not yet, anyway) withering . . . on the vine, as it were. Withering before they become actual vines. What's up with my soil? What's up with the plants themselves? What's up?

Tomorrow: The 2nd- and 3rd-graders have an art lesson in the afternoon. This is golden:  it's maybe a 7-minute walk over there, and the lesson lasts for an hour and a half, so there's actually time for me to get something done at home while they're profitably engaged. They get to work on their own projects, which they started last week:  paintings of a horse (the 2nd-grader) and the Titanic (the 3rd-grader). Until very recently, the latter's forays into the realm of artistic endeavor had resulted chiefly in a lot of stick figures wielding light sabers, and he'd been far more reluctant about venturing into this class business than his sister had been. I was all the more surprised, therefore, to discover on picking them up last week that he had managed to reproduce a very credible and detailed Titanic, complete with its four smokestacks, many portholes,  and "not enough lifeboats," all of which bore the ship's name in tiny, clear writing of a sort that I don't see very often from that particular child. In ninety minutes, he had done a study in pencil and paper, then drawn his picture on a canvas and begun painting the sky and water. As he was putting everything away, the teacher -- really she's more of a helpful artist-in-residence -- mentioned casually that next time she'd help him lay in more detail, to show the water reflecting the sky, for example. She said the same thing to the 2nd-grader, who was rushing to finish her horse painting. No, no, the artist said. You don't have to be finished now. Art takes time. 

 Clearly this is a brilliant addition to our life . . .


ADDENDUM:  The week's plans


Willa said...

I really enjoyed reading about your day! Doing MEP together and then some other program separately is a good idea; I have been trying to figure out how to approach the program this year.

Sally Thomas said...

Thanks, Willa. Yeah, I just can't let go of "normal" math. It seems important to me to keep at least one toe in the "math skills" pool, even as we're thinking conceptually, seeing patterns, and all that. My hope is that the two strands will feed each other -- and I like splitting our math lesson, so that we have the "together" MEP time during our Morning Basket, as an oral mental-math exercise, then they settle down to do their own lessons later. Each math segment is fairly short, but this way we get in more on a daily basis.

Sally Thomas said...

I wish they'd have interactives for all the MEP years. We really like this feature -- we can check each answer as we go, and if we can't do something, there's a "show me how" feature (essentially a slightly illustrated correct answer, so you can see how they got it). It's great for two kids together, though my 9-year-old is more tuned in to Y3 than his 8yo sister is. Still, she participates, and I'm hoping it's stretching her in some good ways.