We haven’t fallen off the blogging bus, so to speak… we are back in school and as we all struggle and strain under the new constraints of school days, as opposed to long lazy days… my days are suddenly incredibly busy and for a couple of weeks their will be no sneaking off and quietly writing a blog post while everyone is busy elsewhere. We will adjust and our students will discover what I do and don’t expect of them, they will push the boundaries – just to check if I really meant them to do something and I have to keep an unusually vigilant eye on what is actually getting done as opposed to what they say is getting done. Soon enough we will adjust and find our rhythm… we always do. There is just the initial prickly time, where we all see what we can and can’t get away with.
This post is really for all those folk that want to be a fly on the wall and see exactly what our kids are studying for school this year. Most of our days have a very particular rhythm… rise and shine, breakfast and reading and family school around the kitchen table. Then if it is during school time everyone heads for their own core and if we aren’t on an official school day then folk tend to their own projects. At lunchtime we meet around the table to read some more and after lunch we rest and read for a while (depending on just how long I need). Later in the afternoon the kids play and I am available to spend time helping with any teens that still requires some help in the afternoon. Then the usual end of the day chores and an amble before supper and bed.
This is the heart of our school and takes an hour or two each morning. We cover a little bible reading together. We may do creative writing or drawing. We will do art together… We are usually reading a series of books as a family… and I will pick something from the library and work through it. Books like the Scout handbook are met with a lot of approval (!) and we are reading a fabulous history book together that is just quite unbelievable and deserves it’s own post. We fit any art or creative writing/journaling. During this time we will learn some local skills… South African history, geography and right now we are discovering map work and loving it. My go-to resource for these books is the library, I look specifically for books that will appeal to my hands on students and books that will appeal to my word lovers. I have also introduced a Mental Math challenge and a grammar challenge to this part of school. I thought I would meet all sorts of resistance, but they are actually enjoying it… it appeals to their competitive edge. Honestly, with a mindful exercise like mental math, it has nothing to do with age as to who will be the champion and all to do with who is paying the most attention. My older kids have some very eager competitors chomping at their heels.
One on One Meetings
From Family School we move on to our Sonlight Schooling and this is really all about books. We are avid Sonlighters… always have been. They each have a pile of reading to get through each day and pretty much wander through their instructors guides. I know some folks have this idea of homeschooling, that you spend hours of one-on-one time with your kids, this might be true for some but for us, the truth of the matter is that most of my kids don’t want to have me hanging around their work… firstly I am far to full of ideas of things they could add, or might want to do and secondly this is their path to discovery and they are actually enjoying the adventure themselves.
That being said… I do spend at least half an hour and often an hour with each child, depending on their needs on a given school day. Little folk tend to wake up earliest and when they are up, then I do all their school reading to them for the day… their bible, history and science books as well as any read-alouds are pretty much conquered before breakfast. I usually start with the smallest scholar and working up through the ranks. The older children need to tackle their work without me so that by the time I spend time with them they have something to show me.
All my kids have one or two aspects of school that they will not tackle on their own and would like me to sit alongside them. Usually it is math, in which case I check and admire any good work they have done and enquire (though I never ever get a response) regarding the work they promised, but haven’t done. It is just not the most loved subject around here… but they find their way through it: Singapore and in the lowest grades they do a but of Miquon as well. The middle grades do “Key to…” math with their Singapore… we love it, the books are fast and snappy and change.Usually they are not stuck they just want me alongside them. So I sit with them and check that they understand what is required of them in the next few exercises and leave them to it. The other section of work they often want help with is language arts. Any creative writing project that is listed in their language arts instructor’s guide requires time and attention. They do not love it and it shows: for example write a friendly letter, or write a comparative essay. These assignments are simply there to teach them how to write a particular form of writing and they are not as “creative” as one might think. To be honest we treat it as a bit of mental exercise and they do do their best creative writing during family school.
Our Se7en+1 School Goals
This may sound lofty and airy-fairy, but I am far more concerned that my children learn and grow and develop towards the person they will eventually grow up to be, over the period of the school year than they tick off every box in their Instructor’s Guide. I don’t expect thirty million book reports and I am far more interested in our kids pursuing matters of the heart and things that intrigue them and inspire them to learn more. To this end I have goals for our Sonlight years and I have written about them before as well.
- Hood #1 (16) – Two Years-ish from the End:
- Hood #2 (14) – Middle High School:
- Hood #3 – Junior High School:
- Hood #4 – Upper Primary:
- Hood #5 – Primary:
- Hood #6 – Junior Primary:
- Hood #7 – Beginner School:
- Hood #8 – Pre-Pre School:
Core 300 – 20th Century World History; Science 350 – Chemistry; British Literature (over two years); Psychology; French.
The end is actually in sight, and I cannot believe it… while he is still trying new things and has no idea what he wants to do after school… the focus has become one of creating a great looking portfolio. Finally all the years of practising presentation are coming into their own. He is also starting to work outside of home and volunteer and has to get used to keeping school deadlines and up to date with a college course or two, all the while being busy with real life responsibilities and tasks… way beyond the level of domestic chores. Busy, interesting times and the work is pretty relentless, but lots of new and different things to look forward too.
Core 100 – American History; Science 150 – Physical Science; British Literature (over two years); Economics; French.
This is a student that likes to rush on, the goal is to try lots of new things – he loves anything to do with electronics and computers… and recently discovered online courses. We may have lost him!!! There will be a lot more putting work on actual paper, and following through and finishing assignments that have been begun. The thinking is that while he is welcome to fly and follow his heart, he still has to be able to demonstrate what he is learning along the way. So we are going to figure out ways for him to present the work he is doing in an acceptable way.
Core G – World History Part 1; Science G – Geology, Physics and Origins.
This is a student that likes to tick all the boxes and announce done… but at this stage I am requiring a little more depth. So a book may be read and the box ticked… but what is to be learnt from it… is their a spark of a project, is there a something that the reading inspires – a new hobby to try or a pastime to explore. This is a child that loves and adores cooking and food and we are thinking about expanding horizons with these courses. In the meantime we have plenty of cookbooks that nobody will mind if they are cooked through… this may be a good year for feasting.
Core E: Introduction to American History – Part 2; Science E: Electricity, Magnetism and Astronomy.
This is a hands on learner if ever there was one. I really need to introduce tons of hands on projects and scatter books with potential projects in his path. He is not the biggest reader in the world and while he loves dipping into non-fiction for a couple of facts… this is the year I would like to see him getting into reading more fiction. He loves a good story and has listened to hours and hours of audio books so I am not concerned about cultural literacy, but rather I would like him to discover the joy of reading for it’s own sake.
Core D: Introduction to American History – Part 1; Science D: Biology; Taxonomy and Human Anatomy.
Well this is a student that loves what everyone else is doing and likes to tag along on a number of projects that his siblings are doing. Because of this he is used to lots of guidance and endless advice (!), but he is actually really capable at anything he tries. I would really like for him to discover projects of his own and that will require rather more strewing on my part. Otherwise he is getting the hang of reading and this is the year that he will most likely dive into fat chapter books and get lost in the reading of them. This is also the year that he will discover “finding things” in a major way… words in a dictionary, places in a atlas and so on.
Core B: Introduction to World History – Part 1; Science B: Animals, Astronomy and Physics.
While this little one knows how to read, she is not yet comfortable with reading ion her own. She will read if I am alongside her, but not if I move away. This is the year to get her confident with reading because after that all her school will become so much easier for her. This is a student who needs to start learning to do little bits of school work on her own and I plan to teach her about working independently by strewing copious amounts of crafty inspiration, and she l=…
Core A: Introduction to World Cultures; Science A: Biology, Botany and Physics.
This is a student who loves and adores school and may quite outstrip everyone in her gallop to the end. This is the year we do “100 Lessons” and learn how to read… all of my kids have taken months and wandered through this book slowly. Well we have literally covered half the book in three weeks. So this is going to be the year of hundreds of easy – readers… I am looking forward to that.
Core P3/4/5: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Exploring god’s World;
Our youngest really likes to be part of our school day and his time slot is immediately after lunch when we lie on the bed together and we are steadily reading our way through our entire collection of picture books.