Friday, December 18, 2009

Weeks 15 and 16! Christmas Break Begins!

Technically, we aren't quite halfway through the year, as we have a 34-week curriculum, but it still feels monumental to have made it this far in our first year of homeschooling. I remember back to this past spring when I let the principal of our local elementary school know about our decision, and his initial response was, "It's your choice, of course, but most of the people who try it send their kids back to us within a week." Well, we have made it past a week and now to nearly a semester of studying together. We've had our challenges, but one thing I can say for certain is that I've enjoyed the overall experiences much more than I was expecting!

Parenting, especially motherhood, is so full of the mundane experiences of life (cooking, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry!) and I am not one who particularly enjoys the drudgery of housekeeping. But homeschooling engages my mind and soul in ways that has previously been missing in my parenting experience. It has stretched me and my faith, as I have had to trust that God is in this process and is ultimately in control of the education of my children, even as he has asked me to participate. It has been humbling on so many levels, and it feels as though my flaws as a teacher and parent are even more pronounced, given that I'm surrounded by my kids all throughout the day. But yet, I feel as though the Lord has given much grace to us all, as we have stumbled together in getting used to this new lifestyle. So I'm quite thankful for all we've learned as a family through this experience.

OK, onto the summary of the past two weeks! Here are some highlights:
  • Harry finished his brief units on division and telling time; nearing the end of Singapore Math 1B! We are working on a brief unit on numbers within 100 and should be moving on to book 2A in January.
  • Ron started Singapore Earlybird, which we have begun to use in lieu of RightStart A. I felt as though RS was jumping quickly into operations without setting the a foundation of understanding numeracy, so I am glad to back up a little bit and use Earlybird. With its colorful books and more age-appropriate approach, I think Ron will be better off in the long run.
  • We continued our state studies and also touched upon Daniel Boone in history; I never quite understood this man's significance in American history until now, I'm ashamed to say! Never even heard about the Wilderness Road before, sadly, or if I did, I completely forgot about it. (I don't know that my kids will remember Daniel Boone's significance, but hopefully they will remember that I was excited to learn about him and one day reflect a similar passion for learning.)
  • We also did a unit on air in science; the boys enjoyed learning that warm air expands and rises, and cold air contracts. They did a couple of simple experiments demonstrating these concepts: 1) putting a dented plastic golf ball in warm water (the warmed air in the ball pushes the dent back out); 2) shaking a plastic bottle with ice in it and watching the sides contract, and 3) floating a feather in warmed air (like magic, they thought!)

  • Both boys have been working on their handwriting, with Harry having started cursive this fall. He is getting better at forming words and wanted to share a recent sample.
A challenge of homeschooling is that I don't have any experience in knowing what is appropriate for this age! But I am thankful to have a neighbor whose daughter was in 2nd grade last year and who has lent me her materials to help give me a point of reference. Her penmanship was quite lovely and gives Harry a measure to shoot for as well.
  • We also have continued to track birds at our feeder and see a good number of our summer and fall feathered friends still with us. One of our recent visitors, the downy woodpecker:

We've also had our share of musical celebrations this year, with both Harry and Ron performing in winter concerts. Unfortunately, our camera wasn't functioning for Sean's concert, but Harry poses here with his wonderful teacher, Cheryl Lim of the Betty Haag Academy and Wheaton Community School of the Arts:

And of course we continued with our usual subjects such as First Language Lessons, Classical Writing Primer, spelling, Latin, and Mandarin. Slow and steady progress on all fronts. =) Ron also has made great strides in his reading, and we are onto long-vowel E sounds in all their different forms. I never learned phonetic reading so I feel like I'm learning the basics alongside Ron!

Lastly, although this has nothing to do with school, we are trying to put less emphasis on receiving gifts this Christmas and putting more focus on giving to others. To that end, we took the boys to Toys 'R Us to select gifts for needy children, which was initially a little difficult for them--what child finds it easy to enter a toy store and not think about things they might want? But, they were troopers by the end and as we affirmed them for doing a wonderful thing for other kids this Christmas, their spirits lifted significantly. We hope to make an annual tradition of this activity in the future!

Thanks for visiting our blog; we'll be back to school in January! We wish you and yours a wonderful Christmastime! May it be full of love, laughter, and Glee!!!

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