Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mama Goes Back To School

Yes, this mama is going ‘back to school’ this fall too. J   Not in a literal sense – last year’s stint in French language school was enough to show me that going to school even part time while juggling little kids and homeschooling is not for me.   But I have officially started Ambleside Online Year 4 (self-study, paced at the speed of life around here).
All of my Y4 goodies...nearly all the books are on my Kindle. :)

Here’s my plan:  Basically, I am reading through the basic weekly reading list.  I’m not doing Bible or any of the more formal subjects – math, grammar, languages, etc.   (I do want to do some self-study of Latin eventually, as Brandy suggests, but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew so I’m saving this for a little closer to when I will have a student actually starting to study Latin. We’re a good 2-3 years away from that still.)   I will read through a term’s worth of the reading list, and then take a break and study a Shakespeare play and/or a Plutarch life.  The only modification I have made thus far to the reading list as laid out on the AO website is for geography, since I am planning to do the Holling books as family read-alouds during our next furlough year in the States, freeing up more space in our schedule for world geography.  For now I am trying a biography of Captain Cook for term 1, followed by starting The Complete Book of Marvels.  (This is scheduled in Year 5, but since it has 60 chapters my thought is to spread it over Years 4 and 5).     I have also made myself a *very* simple timeline book that I will try to keep up with so I can keep myself straight historically.  (I am also planning on adding the dates that my Year 1 student is adding to her timeline book.)
Told you it was simple.  Basically two pages for each century, with three columns on each page: one for famous people, one for events, and one for 'culture' (art, music, inventions, etc.)

Why?  Well, I admit part of it is practical.  Year 4 is a big transition year for students using AO – a step up in terms of challenge, as well as in expected independence.  I figure I will get lots of exposure walking through Years 1-3 with 3 three separate students since much of that will be done together, but I want to be prepared ahead of time for Year 4.  This gives me a chance to read through the books, consider any changes or substitutions I may want to make, and take note of some of the ideas I notice in these books that may be worth bringing up for discussion when my children get there.  (I also admit that the high-school level booklists intimidate me just a wee little bit, and I feel like I need to build up to that level gradually.)
But more than the practical “preparing myself to do Year 4 well with my kids” aspect of it, I also just want to LEARN.   I was a ‘good student’ growing up in public schools, but in retrospect it was all a game to me.  Figure out what the teacher wants and give that to them.   I didn’t have a love of learning or a thirst for knowledge for its own sake…I just wanted to win the game.   After graduating near the top of my class in high school, I had a chance to be a part of the Great Books based honors program at my university, but silly 17-year-old me declined that opportunity because I was ready to shed my ‘honor student’ label and have some fun in college.   This is one of my greatest regrets now – why on earth didn’t I take advantage of an opportunity like that when it was there for the taking?   And for many years I thought it was too late.   I had missed my chance, and now I couldn’t go back and start over.  
Until I started homeschooling.   Until I discovered Charlotte Mason and classical education and AO.   Now I have the wonderful opportunity to go back and study those great books I missed out on before, using AO’s reading lists as my guide.  I have the chance to re-learn (and learn to love) history and science and literature with a goal other than passing a test in mind.  I may have missed out on the opportunity to discuss these ideas with my peers, but instead I get to discuss them with my kids.   We can all learn and grow in virtue and wisdom together.  What greater gift can I give them?
So, that’s why this Mama is going back to school this fall.   Anyone else out there want to join me? 

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