We finished the second of our “back to school” weeks last week. As I’ve said (ad nauseum) we school year round, so how can we be going “back to school?”
For us school does look different during different times of the year. This summer, during what was not always a relaxing summer, we focused on maintenance. It was more about honing math skills, reading some great books and some very light piano practice. There was a lot of dance. A lot. There were a few lazy days of floating in the pool, but not near enough. But, now, ready or not, we are back at it more intensely.
The goal these last two weeks has been: tie up loose ends, refresh and strengthen language arts studies, begin new math concepts, build on reading comprehension skills, concentrate on spelling and phonics, read, read, read.
The boys have also intensified piano practices. They will return to violin and guitar today. Over the summer I’ve been able to collect some piano music and books that we all love. Building a music library has been a goal of mine. It is helpful to have a wide variety so we can connect music to other areas, especially history and geography. Slowly, piece by piece, we are seeing this become a reality.
Also in the works for next week, is a unit study on the human body: senses and anatomy. There are so many good resources out there it is overwhelming and very hard not to purchase something, just because it looks so “cool.” I’ve accumulated some wonderful material already, so we are set—it’s just been hard not to be greedy!
In past years we have studied history with geography as the backdrop. We are going to reverse direction this year and focus more on geography and look at history through that lens. We’ve always incorporated the “Living Book” approach and my plan is to continue with that path. I’ve found that the boys retain more when they can relate to a character, either real or fictional, and have no problem sifting the realities from the stories.
To my great joy, this house is home to readers! It’s been harder with Boo, but we’ve found some subjects and authors that make him want to read, and sometimes even say, “Just one more chapter, please, Mom?” Music to my ears. I have a planned framework of readers and read alouds with room to add more from bunny trails and new interests.
One thing I’ve realized though, is that, while I love to write and they like to create stories and maps and their own comics, I’ve not pushed writing as much as I have reading. It’s evolved quite naturally and the benefit of that is that they don’t see writing as a chore. They do not sigh, groan, moan or fuss when asked to write.
But what I would like is for them to be aware of more tools that will allow their creativity to expand. So we are going to write. A lot. Letters, e-mails, stories, reports, plans—any good ideas of what else we can write? I’m considering, very tentatively, giving the boys their own (locked) blog space where they can practice some publishing skills and possibly be able to share their work with appreciative friends and family.
So for at least the next four months, school is going to be about the basics: “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic,” as the song says; but also about geography, basic anatomy and more music. There are some art projects, I’ve not talked about and some foreign language study we’ve been inching along with, too. I was also gifted with a Bible and faith study program from the mom of the little girl who rides with us to dance. It was something I would never have looked at. But it turned out to be just the right thing for just the right time.
We are going to use, books, text books, workbooks, videos, field trips, games and hopefully some other tools. My hope is to occasionalliy share and highlight curricula and tools we are using, offering more book reviews and offering some reviews of other things that have worked for us.
That's were we are, and what I've been consumed with the last few weeks. It looks to be a year full of wonderful opportunities. We're looking forward to it!