Friday, September 18, 2009

Light Week and Week Four

Our aforementioned "light week" ended up being timed quite well, with our DS4 (Ron) going back to preschool that week. I thought things might be easier with one less child around to manage homeschooling, but it actually ended up being the opposite! Even with my DH taking Ron to school in the morning, and even though the school is close by, by the time I put my other two DSs in the car, arrived at the school, took everyone out, waited for the teacher report, waited for Ron to come out, walked back to the car, got everyone in, and came back home, that was 30 minutes of lost schooling time! So that added a wrinkle to our schedule twice a week that I'm still trying to negotiate.

Anyway, our schooling time during the "light week" was basically reviewing and continuing math facts (working on adding and subtracting within 20) and doing our Classical Writing Primer book. We also did a fun project that I found out about through my fellow MFW Adventurers (hooray for Yahoo Groups!), a mini-model of the Jamestown fort. It's amazing what you can find on the Internet! The model was a little time-intensive for me in terms of doing the prep work and assembly, but Harry (DS7) colored all the pieces and participated where he could, and the result was a nice three-dimensional representation of Jamestown that surpassed any pictures we saw in books (photo below).

This week was our Week 4. It felt like a helter-skelter week in some ways, with dealing with the new schedule of losing a half-hour on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and also with a doctor's appointment thrown in one morning. Homeschooling allows flexibility on one hand, but for someone like me who likes sticking to the schedule, it's not easy to manage the disruptions. We moved on from Jamestown and focused on the Native Americans this week, and here I began to experience one of the downsides of homeschooling, which is when you feel a certain lack of knowledge in an area that you are supposed to be teaching. We used a book about Native Americans to provide the main source of information, but even after reading through that book a couple of times, there's very little that I retained about all the different tribes we covered! But I know at this age, it's not necessarily that Harry should remember all the details, and I also know that the additional books he reads to supplement can often have even more impact (such as Naya Nuki, the amazing story of an 11-year-old Shoshoni girl who was captured by a rival Indian tribe and taken 1,000 miles away but somehow found her way back home. I stayed up late one night myself reading this book because I couldn't put it down!) It also goes to show how living history books can have such an impact on kids (and adults!), because who doesn't love a good story? Harry won't remember where the Iroquois lived, but I'm sure he will remember the story of Squanto for quite a while! And he may not remember all the different kinds of housing structures the Native Americans built, but he may remember the two simple representations we made, namely wigwams and tepees, pictured here with the aforementioned Jamestown model. All this is to say that even if I feel somewhat insecure about subjects where I'm less competent, I still think despite my inadequacies he will manage to learn a few things in those very areas!

We also did a couple of fun but very simple activities related to our introduction to stars. Right before bedtime one evening, I took Harry and Ron outside to look at the stars, and their excitement at seeing them was striking to me. I realized how few times they've actually been up late enough to see stars, how much of the universe we live in is still so new to them, and how fun it is to see something that I take for granted through their young eyes. The second activity I did with Harry on Friday afternoon was to illustrate how far away the sun is from the earth. We started on a section of sidewalk and called that "Earth", then walked two seconds to reach "the moon", and then took an 8-minute walk to reach "the sun". He kept wondering, "How long until we reach the sun?" and so I think the exercise did help him to better understand how far the sun is away from the Earth. We talked about how close the sun might seem due to the strength of the its light and heat, but that it is actually 93 million miles away!

Lastly, this week was Harry's second week at his homeschooling co-op. He played badminton and drew a lovely representation of a parrot in his art class, something much better than anything I have ever tried to draw! He was so proud to show it to me and I was really impressed with what he'd done, no matter how much his teacher had helped him! I'm sure he contributed enough to feel as though it was his creation, and I felt quite thankful that he was a part of a co-op that could give him experiences I would not be able to create for him here at home. For our first year of homeschooling thus far, we have really been blessed to live where we do and in a time when homeschooling curriculum options and support systems are so plentiful. Even though not many of my own friends homeschool, I have felt far from alone on this journey and every day that goes by (at least thus far!) I've been glad that we took this leap of faith. Not that I don't have my share of questions; I still often wonder, "Are we doing enough? Are we doing too much? What are we missing? What will the long term impact be on Jason?" But, I remind myself that we are on this journey at the Lord's leading and He will be the one who orchestrates the results. I'll just continue to try to be faithful to my part...and so the journey continues.