January School Days

We unintentionally took most of the month of December off from scheduled school, due to my grandfather’s death, our unplanned trip to up my folks’ for the calling hours and burial, and then, of course, CHRISTMAS. We’d planned to take the first two weeks of January off because of traveling, which did indeed happen. All told, though, it’s been somewhere between four to six weeks since we sat down at the table and actually did a day’s worth of schoolwork. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Joy and I sat down with her math book this morning and she couldn’t even remember how to add up to ten without counting on her fingers.

We’re plugging away at it, though, and I trust that we’ll be back in the swing of things by the end of the week. I hope so, because I want to add “project time” to our school day soon – a time set aside for the girls to work on a specific self-directed project, with me available to assist and talk if they need it, but not in charge. I think first those will be finishing up some previously started and then abandoned projects, but then we will be starting from scratch. Much of our apartment rearranging right after the New Year was to give the girls a space dedicated to their project work – we have their little table and a desk set aside just for them now, right by the big window in the living room.

Gracie is almost finished with her Kumon preschool books. She can read “cat” “dog” “kitten” “woof” “meow” and “Biscuit.” (Can you guess what her favorite stories are?) With help, she can sound out most other basic words. It is just as thrilling to see her start to unlock the joys of reading as it was her sister. Never, ever gets old.

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Joy and I have learned about the desert and the woods as habitats; the difference between mammals and invertebrates; tackled bacteria briefly before deciding it was too advanced for first grade; and are now learning about birds. Science is her favorite subject right now. We’re partway through her Singapore Math 1A book. It’s a slow process, but since these are basic and crucial skills, I want to make sure she’s grasped them before moving on to the next level. We’ve made it up to Moses and the Exodus from Egypt in our Story of the World social studies book, and will be reading about the Phoenicians next. She’s almost finished with her handwriting book, which means it will be time to start grammar soon (she’s actually excited about this, because she’s started writing stories and wants to know how to use punctuation properly). We’d been reading through Little House in the Big Woods for school, but she reads enough – and at a high enough level – on her own free time that I’ve not been pushing that recently.

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Drawing, ballet, figure skating, knitting, weaving, winter walks, cooking … we try to keep up with all these “extra-curricular” activities, too. As well as getting together with friends outside of scheduled activities on a regular basis!

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We’re still mostly following a classical model, but we eased the pressure off of ourselves to adhere too strictly to the curriculum – aside from math, she’s already well ahead of most public schooled first graders, so I don’t think I need to panic quite so much about us being told she’s not receiving a proper education at the end of the year. Which was, honestly, my main reason for trying to do SO much. Our main goal, for both girls, is that they learn how to learn, how to think, how to figure something out if they don’t know how to do it, and how to take charge of their own education (eventually). Carl and I spent a lot of time over “winter break” discussing goals, methods, plans, curriculum, etc, and I think we’re both really excited for laying the groundwork over these next few years for the kids to grow into enthusiastic and independent learners.

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6 thoughts on “January School Days

  1. Oh, I miss homeschooling! Those early years are so much fun. And I love how you say “Joy and I have learned about…” – that’s exactly it. The parent learns more in the process than the kid!

    • Carl came and peeked over our shoulders while we were studying birds today. “I didn’t know how large flocks of flamingoes could be! Wow!” he said. We’re both getting so much out of this teaching-our-kids business.

    • I’ve heard only good from all other parents who use Singapore. I was the kid who cried every time the math book came out, so I was super careful in choosing our curriculum. I’m not sure how much Joy is actually getting out of it right now, but at least she isn’t traumatized at the thought of math, so that’s a good thing.

  2. I haven’t visited here in a while, but so glad I saved a list of favorite blogs to visit. I love your philosophy with homeschooling. I’m now 5 months into homeschooling my 4th and 6th grader, and I’m loving it (well, most days!) I love how I can incorporate pretty much anything that’s fascinating me at the moment with them…

    • Thanks, Margo! It definitely has its moments that make me want to give up, send them to school, and crawl into bed with the covers over my head, but overall it is so worthwhile that I don’t think I could give it up.

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