Friday, December 13, 2013

What We've Learned - October through the first week of December 2013

Education is an Atmosphere
Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit me known to all men.  The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on those things.  The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Moving Morning Tea Time and Nature Journaling outside for a change!

Education is a Discipline
I’ll be honest, we’ve REALLY fallen off the habits bandwagon these last two months.   My husband was gone for 10 days, we had a houseguest for 3.5 weeks (albeit a really lovely one!), and have had back to back minor illnesses ever since.  And quite honestly, I am weary and struggling a bit with motivation. Sometimes it’s just tiring to be constantly vigilant over our children’s habits (and our own!), you know?  Anyhow, we are on a 4 week break from our normal routine now…2 weeks of co-op and swimming lessons and 2 weeks for the holidays (which we anticipate being quiet – no big plans or travels)….so I’m hoping we will be able to reboot in this category.  
Education is a Life
Michelle – Age 8 – Grade 2
Since I last checked in with a what we’ve learned post, we completed AO Year 1 Term 2 and did exams for the first time.   We’ve since completed the first 6 weeks of Term 3.  (After break, I’m planning to speed up the remaining 6 weeks of Year 1 so we are finished by the end of January and ready to start Year 2!)  We are enjoying our new history read, Viking Tales, but she misses Fifty Famous Stories which isn’t scheduled this term.  After struggling with Parables from Nature for the first 2 terms, we have finally hit a stride with that book as well and really enjoyed our last assigned reading from this book.  Taking the time to define a couple of key vocabulary words before we started and spreading it over the whole week rather than only one or two sections helped a lot!
In Math U See Beta, we have completed through Lesson 16.   We’ve covered addition with regrouping through the thousands, addition with money (use of the decimal point), measuring with inches, perimeter, and place value out to hundred-thousands.  I’m pleased with the progress we are making.  We are using Calculadder (written speed drills) and The Verbal Math Lesson (oral drills) for facts review and practice and occasionally playing one of the RightStart money games.  (Since we live outside the United States, she doesn’t have the same type of practical experience working with American money as your average American does, and the money here works much differently since 500 CFA is only about $1 – so  working with money here involves much larger numbers.  Hence the extra practice.)
In our group time we have particularly enjoyed the addition of folksongs (following the AO rotation here – we’ve covered “The Three Ravens” and “On Ikla Moor Bah’tat” thus far).   We finished Dangerous Journey and have moved on to Little Pilgrim’s Progress, and Shakespeare continues to be a highlight all around.   We completed the first unit of Science in the Beginning which covered the properties of light.
She does a lot of her schoolwork standing up - probably a good thing that she's not in a traditional classroom most of the time.

James – Age 5.5 – “Unofficial” Kindergarten
I haven’t done much in the way of formal lessons with James over the past few weeks, which is fine.   Part of the reason we decided to wait until he was 6 to really start school was to avoid some of the pushing and fighting that happened because I started Michelle on formal lessons when she was too young.  That said, however, he has really taken off with reading on his own – he is easily reading Dr Seuss type books on his own.  He’s also taken to drawing after I pulled out a couple of how-to-draw books.   He’s even starting to offer (voluntarily!) some simple narrations and opinions about things that we’ve read.   So there’s lots still happening in that mind of his, even if formal lessons have been on hold for the last little bit. J
Watercolor painting has been a favorite table-time activity for my little ones lately.

Elizabeth – Age 3.5 – Tagging Along
She has made big progress in being able to join in our group time without being too disruptive, which is huge.  I need to rethink how to include her more in other aspects of our morning though…she’s often asking me to do a puzzle or a workbook page with her and this has sort of wormed its way out of our schedule.   More reasons why we need a break to regroup. J
Not sure what's up with the cheesy grin...

Mama – AO Year 4
I’m partway through Week 9 and although it’s been a bit slower going that I would like, I’m still really enjoying my study.  I’m beginning to understand even more what a true living books education looks like – it goes far deeper than covering various subject matters in a literary form. (Perhaps this is part of what separates Charlotte Mason from other forms of literature-based schooling?)  It is the ideas – the wisdom and truth – that lay below the surface.  Robinson Crusoe has given me lots to think about gratitude and how God works in our lives.  This is far more than just an adventure story about a guy that gets shipwrecked on a desert island.  While the older science books like The Storybook of Science and Madam How and Lady Why might need a bit of supplementation with updated information, they offer a way of looking at the world with wonder and curiosity that you don’t find in a modern textbook.  It’s a beautiful thing to see and to experience.
Michelle snagged my camera the other day, so you get a rare photo of me too. :)


  1. Had to laugh at your comment about your daughter doing most of her schoolwork standing up--my 7yo son is the same way. He would never last in a regular classroom! :)

  2. I love that you too are working your way through Ambleside Online yourself! Mother culture at its finest!