Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Back to school

My family is a decidedly relaxed homeschooling family, and I've been even more "relaxed" the last few years - before last year I hadn't had a new student learning to read in about six years, and for the last three years my oldest students have been taking Latin, logic, rhetoric, and world history from a tutor via the internet. But Mr. Roise is on sabbatical this year, and now that we're settling in here in Virginia, I'm feeling up to more structure, academically speaking.

In previous years I've had prayers, hymns, and Bible reading with the little ones after breakfast and morning chores, and read-aloud in the afternoon before naptime, but this year I'm taking a leaf from Cindy and having a more productive Morning Time. (Cindy, don't worry - I'm not obsessing, I'm only using your method to organize what I was already planning to accomplish this year. )

It's been a long time since we did much memory work, so yesterday, after our opening prayer, I had the older kids recite the last thing I remember them working on - Psalm 24. They were rusty, so I told them to work on it on their own, and I started taking the little ones through it, one verse at a time. Then we worked on a new hymn, after which the two oldest were dismissed. Mosey stayed with me to help with a Minimus Latin lesson, then went to her own studies. I read a chapter of the Bible to the four remaining young ones, picking up where we left off last spring, and then read the next chapter or two of The Magician's Nephew. By 11 o'clock, I dismissed all but my beginning math student, only I still can't find my Math-U-See books and blocks. A year in this house and I'm still not unpacked!

Meanwhile, my older students were working on their own studies. My 17yod is still studying math and Latin, but beyond that her work is mostly domestic stuff with plenty of time for her to write and draw, and lots of time spent reading. This year I'm having her read more theology and philosophy than she ever has, and I'm desperate to find a good source for classic literature. Our local library is pathetic, and she's already read all the fiction we own - several times.

#1 Son would have been in World History II this year, covering the period from the New Testament era to modern times, so I'm taking the opportunity this sabbatical affords to put him through a course of English history using Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples for structure, and filling in with primary source material, classic literature, and fun fiction, using books I already own. For an example of the variety of his reading, in the next couple of weeks he'll be reading Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" and "King Lear," and Rosemary Suttclif's The Eagle of the Ninth. I also have Churchill's six volume history of the Second World War, and I hope he'll make it far enough this year to read it, too.

My 13yod is studying math, Latin, and piano, and her required reading will cover American history, which we are studying together as a family.

I bought Clarence Carson's Basic History of the United States, which we are reading at the supper table, now that the days are getting shorter and there's less need for the menfolk to rush off to after supper chores, or more commonly - to eat supper after sunset when we're all too tired to be reading and having conversations.

And we've picked out several books to read together in the long winter evenings, which we're all looking forward to - I love winter evenings.

So there's a basic overview of the way we do school - lots of reading and talking that's fitted in with housework and "farm" work. It doesn't usually look much like school, but it fits well with our family's goals and interests.

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