I have been given a gift this afternoon – the gift of three hours of quiet. PJ is going to be away all weekend so he graciously offered to take the kids out for a bit today. So here I sit…no sound except the humming of the dishwasher, the spinning of the washing machine, and the click clack of Lance’s prancing up and down the hall. What will I do with three hours? I will recline in my comfy bed and comfy covers with a little chocolate snack and some books and maybe even squeeze in a nap. But I’m too giddy in the glory of it to nap right now!
We will be wrapping up our fifth week of our homeschool year tomorrow, but I know I won’t have time to get any reflections typed up this weekend. So here is this week’s wrap-up a few hours early. It has been a busy week with all of our extracurriculars in full swing. C-Bear and Boo started French classes with a group of homeschoolers this week. It’s an arrangement with Collège Acadie, and the instructor is superb. There are seven students in the beginner class. And I am told when they complete level 1 they will have learned the equivalent of what students in core French have learned by grade 9. It’s a two hour long class on Tuesday afternoons, and so far it is getting both thumbs up and huge grins from the girls. So excited for this! Wednesday was gymnastics again, during which I enjoyed a great chat with a fellow homeschool mom. It’s going to take some adjusting on my part to cope with those two afternoons in a row midweek where I have to be on the go though. I am used to having time in the afternoons to prepare our work for the following day and just enjoy a few minutes of down time.
So I already mentioned that PJ is going to be away this weekend. He is making a flying trip across the country for his uncle’s funeral. We received the sad news on Sunday. This was a man, a pastor, a spiritual leader who was very influential in PJ’s life, and I know my husband is looking forward to being together with his extended family this weekend (albeit for only 24 hours or so). I know it has been a sacrifice for him to live so, so far from his family these last eleven years.
We were excited to make a stop at Costco on our way home from family camp last weekend. The nearest one for us is a two hour drive (and a $46 bridge toll) away so, needless to say, Costco runs are few and far between for us. So we stopped at Costco and blew this month’s budget. Is it possible to enter that store and not say good-bye to all your good budgeting intentions? I mean, how do groceries, toiletries, a pair of pants, and a package of underwear add up to $523.25 anyway?
I am coming up empty trying to think of “stand out” moments in our lessons this week. It was a pretty normal week…except for this amazing double rainbow we were graced with on Sunday morning as we arrived for worship.
Belle (AO year 1): We are still working our way through Pinocchio which she is loving. We also started an audiobook of Peter Pan…just listened to one chapter so far.
Boo (AO year 3): She is still finishing up Little House on the Prairie from last year and also has King of the Wind on the go from this year’s free read list. I have also been pulling mostly from her free read list for our audiobooks we listen to on the go, specifically English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs and Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (turning out to be more of a hit with the kids than I expected, based on what I read about it myself).
C-Bear (AO year 4/5): She is currently bopping back and forth between Lassie and The Reb and the Redcoats. She’s already crossed off Calico Captive and Amos Fortune, Free Man from her free reads list so far this year.
How do I handle Ambleside Online‘s free read options? What do I even mean by the term “free read”? Well, these are classic stories that no child should miss. They are not part of our school books for our core subjects, but rather books for the kids to read for pleasure and not have to worry about narrating (telling back to me) what they have read. I have struggled with this over the past few years but am finally working out what seems to be a good plan of attack. I used to load them all on our kindle and just hope for the best with my oldest, most independent reader; but she was much more likely to look for a hard copy of a book to take to bed with her than the kindle. So this year I invested in the actual books for all of her year 4 free reads (used copies of course). Here they are on the shelf (all the ones with the green stickers):
I also made up a list for her binder with the titles of all the books, a picture of each front cover, and a brief summary. I include “20 minutes of free reading” each school day on her daily checklist. She can choose which book to read and when and does not have to narrate these free reads. I don’t know if this will get her through the whole list in the course of the year or not, but I know she’ll have read a lot more of the free reads than she did last year!
I also include 20 minutes of free reading on my year 3’s daily checklist. I am trying to steer her towards books that are at her reading level (there are a few on the year 3 list) so as not to discourage her. The more challenging ones we will listen to as audiobooks in the car. This seems to work really well for us, and we all get to enjoy the stories as a family.
For my non-reader in year one this year I am trying to remember to pick up a free read with her when it’s time for a bedtime story. A few of hers we can also listen to as audiobooks, but most of them I am hoping to sit down and read hard copies of with her, especially the illustrated ones!
I am curious to see how much progress we make with these free reads this year since I am really making an effort to be more intentional with fitting them in and making them a priority. I have a page in my binder with a list of all three years’ free reads and have it colour coded according to where the book is (whether we plan to check it out of the library, have a copy in our own home library, own the audible and/or kindle version of it, use a librivox version, etc.). As we finish one, I’ll cross it off the list and be able to see the progress we’re making.
From my journal of thanks this week:
- Ladies’ lunch at family camp – time to share and time for prayer
- Rest, sweet rest after a busy weekend
- The story of Pilgrim’s Progress and the truths it’s teaching our kids
- An afternoon off with other homeschool moms – giggles and tea and good conversation
- A grrrrrrreat first French class – written in their ear-to-ear grins!
- Flocks of honking, southbound geese – ah, those sounds of autumn!
As a little aside, for those of you who know Pilgrim’s Progress…
A couple of weeks ago C-Bear had the following quote from Seneca for her prepared dictation exercise:
No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.
This was a quote that I was a bit uncomfortable with so I remember asking her what she thought of it. I’m not sure she totally even understood what it was trying to say. Anyway, after reading about Mister Legality in Pilgrim’s Progress this week I thought perhaps I would revisit this quote. When she had her notebook out for dictation this week I pointed back to this Seneca quote and said, “You know what? To me, that sounds a lot like something Mr. Legality would say.” And you know, I think it was a lightbulb moment. I think she finally understood what I didn’t like about that quote in the first place. I do want to be mindful not to be making connections for my kids. I want them to learn to do the work of learning for themselves; but this I had to point out somehow, and I used it as a springboard for a discussion about how I want to teach her how to process the ideas she is faced with. All her life long she will be faced with ideas, ideas she will need to process and either accept or reject. So I’ll probably continue to include quotes I might not agree with 100% because they are good training ground for thinking through ideas!
Here are a few pictures from our nature walk at dusk on Monday evening. We were bound and determined to get into the outdoors and squeeze a nature walk in even if it meant doing so after supper. It was beautiful. This is one of our favourite close to home walking trails.
There were a bunch of sailboats in the distance that I was unfortunately not able to capture in this shot.
C-Bear was so excited to see this moss as she was just learning about the life cycle of mosses this week. If it had been brighter I think I could have zoomed in even more to see the individual sporophytes.
Still wondering what these pretty pink flowers were growing by the creek. Any ideas? (Update: Solved the mystery. Apparently this is a species of Impatiens called Indian Touch-Me-Not. It might be pretty, but it is extremely invasive and can cause eroding in riparian zones. This website actually advises either burning it or bagging it and sending it to a landfill site. Yowch!)
Keeping company today at Joyous Lessons and linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly wrap up.