I used to do “Homeschool State of the Union” posts in which I wrote about all of the resources we were using, and evaluated how things were going. The longer I’ve schooled, the less I’ve written. Part of it is that our educational efforts become a way of life, along with what we had for supper or what appointments are on the schedule for the week or what we wear. None of these seem like blog post fodder. And part of it is that the book work is within an increasingly detailed learning context. I could “review” our materials till the cows come home (if we had any cows), but it would comprise only a part of the total educational picture. There are academic skills to master and content to learn, but there are also study skills and character goals and “extracurricular” activities and field trips and spiritual growth and family relationships and friends… You get the picture. It’s very hard to evaluate the whole thing. I did want to note a few reflections here though — bits of the big picture that I’m able to take account of.
The first is my thankfulness for our school space. Last summer we moved the piano out of our walk-out basement, and its spaciousness was all the more noticeable. Initially we moved our two desks out as well, into storage, but a few weeks ago we brought mine back, and it’s so good to have a space for paperwork and a writing/computing surface designated for me. Our walk-out basement is kind of a hodge-podge of furniture that doesn’t match perfectly, but it’s all comfortable, bright, and well stocked with evidence of everyone’s hobbies. There are couches for reading, several writing surfaces, and many bookshelves. There is a fireplace we’re excited about using more, now that we don’t have to worry about the piano soundboard. I am really enjoying having such a pleasant space to locate our materials and book work!
I posted recently about a change in my 4th grader’s spelling curriculum. We’ve used Apples and Pears for about two weeks now, and I’m feeling very optimistic about using this different approach. It’s very different from Spelling Workout, but so far the results are good in several ways. It’s scripted, very open-and-go for me, and the lessons include several components each day that don’t demand a long attention span, but that do require concentration. All the books are available to view online at the Sound Foundations shop, for anyone who might be interested.
I begin to feel anxious about my 7th grader’s schooling. I’m entering the phase in which I wonder if I’m challenging her enough. The material in her texts — Saxon math and Rod and Staff English, as examples — is certainly difficult enough, but I wonder if I require enough reading, research, and writing for her level in subjects like history. Noeo science is nicely laid out, but on the whole I enjoyed the combination of The Elements and Real Science 4 Kids better the last time we focused on chemistry. So I struggle with really building in more substance and depth, rather than merely repeating emphases, in science and history for her.
Their independent reading, assigned and for pleasure, seems to be going well, though they are not the book geeks their mother is. Reading aloud, we finished Pinocchio last week and I’ve wondered what to pick up next. For some reason, I grabbed Great Expectations off the shelf and read them the first chapter last night — rather a dark but exciting chapter! — in an effort to introduce them to some unabridged Dickens. I think it’s going to work for us — it’s certainly fun to read aloud!
In the extracurricular realm, we’re enjoying co-op as well as riding lessons at a local morgan farm, 4-H horse club activity, and some limited piano lessons with Yours Truly as the teacher. I love hearing the piano but am not nearly disciplined enough at reminding them to practice.
What a hodge podge of homeschool notes. I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another day — except to say that all of this happens under two clouds. One is our sense of being without a church. I feel so disillusioned and guarded and adrift. I’ll probably write more about that eventually, if I can find a way to do it.
The second is our dear dog’s cancer. This is my first experience with the day-to-day awareness of a fatal illness. Every day she seems to struggle a little more to breathe, and every day I pray more urgently that the Lord will take her quietly rather than leaving it up to us. He could do it; he could simply stop her heart quietly in her sleep, a mercy to her and to us. It weighs on me so much.