Even though we punted for our first week of school, I’m calling this Week 0. We needed this time to get our head in the game. It’s not easy for a 5-year-old to go from “no-school” to “school” when she’s still at home and her teacher is Mom.
We had some successes. We dropped some balls. And I continued to read/ponder/obsess/tweak in an effort to make this work (the only thing I didn’t question is my own stubbornness).
Since I already switched phonics materials (without giving the other a try), I had to wait for that and the handwriting guides to come in the mail. So, next week will be an official Week 1 to encompass the Three R’s: Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic. Or something like that.
I’ve designed my lesson plans similar to my Liturgical Celebrations checklists. Lessons plans meticulously laid out in a Monday-through-Friday fashion make me drool…and then panic. If one day goes awry, I’m tempted to throw the whole week out the window (because I haven’t achieved a perfect execution…gasp!). With that tendency (and with the refractory ages of my kids), a checklist works better. Who says we have to do Art Study during “school hours?” If we read about Monet on Saturday afternoon, I consider the box checked! And as you can see by how many boxes I’ve checked, I’m not feeling particularly enslaved to getting it all done, either.
Here’s what went well:
♥ Starting our day- We light a candle, sing the doxology and say the Morning Offering. I like to sing. I want the liturgy to surround our family. My kids like fire. So, this was all good…until they got obsessed with blowing out the candle. Now, we light, sing, pray and collectively blow it out so we can move on. So much for ambience.
♥ Memory work- I expected push-back on this. Apparently, IEW’s Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is the key to happy memorizers (is that a word?). Georgiana had the first poem (Ooey Gooey) memorized by day 3 and was shushing me as I tried to help her along. Memorizing John 14:15 is coming along, but a verse about obedience is not nearly as attention-grabbing as a poem about a misfortunate worm.
♥ Celebrating Feast Days-Although the Feast of the Assumption was last week (August 15th), we opted for a delayed celebration by making Assumption parfaits.
This started as a cooking lesson (measuring, using heavy equipment)
We talked about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and culminated with a sensory experience in which my kids discovered they don’t like squishing jell-o…or even eating it. Oh well.
We read about St. Louis of France from Catholic Saints for Children. I love St. Louis of France. So many of our saints were monastic, which is so different from my own life (ahh…silence!). Of course, St. Louis of France was a king (also different from my life), but he was a parent, a spouse, and a soldier. He could have easily used his position for his own gain. Instead he served God by loving his subjects.
♥ Art Study- I am a fan of Impressionist art. Sure, when I was in college (in the early 90s), every girl had a Monet print on her wall. But my true devotion to the style came when I stood in front of a lesser-known Van Gogh at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich (Orchard in Blossom with View of Arles).
We’re starting with Monet, and I had in mind that we would rotate through an artist a week (or maybe a month). But there are so many good children’s books on Monet, I think we’ll camp out here for a while.
I really enjoyed this story about a little girl meeting Monet in his garden. It made his paintings come alive even more for me.
And while the Mini Masters books are board books and marketed to the toddler crowd, the images are beautiful. And I can never resist a sweet, rhyming story.
♥ Music- Ordo Amoris (or ordering of affections) is one of the principles of Classical Education. We are to teach them to love what is true, good, and beautiful. This is not easy, as our culture saturates our senses with some pretty mediocre stuff. But since Georgiana would rather listen to Charlie Puth than Prokofiev (yes, that’s my fault!), I have to take this slowly. This week, it was a ½ hour car ride where Mama hijacked the tunes. We learned about the instrument sounds and Prokofiev, and no one was permanently scarred. I dream of the day my kids will prefer the good stuff, but baby steps folks.
♥ Nature Lore- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is a lovely volume. The artwork by Ruth Brown and Peter Barrett is enchanting, which holds Georgiana’s interest while I get the story in. We’re working on listening to longer tales, and this is proving the perfect balance. We fell in love with Moses the Kitten who thought he was a piglet.
♥ Lauri Magnetic Pattern Blocks- Without a doubt our biggest success were these pattern blocks. I have Critical Thinking Company’s Hands On Thinking Skills, which uses a lot of pattern blocks. We have a plastic set, but I notice Fitzwilliam gets irritated when they slide around as he’s attempting a masterpiece. I found these magnetic ones from Rainbow Resource and tons of math, art and even science happened spontaneously. I printed out these patterns and gave one to Fitzwilliam on a cookie sheet (so the magnets would adhere…and he would be occupied). But they caught G’s attention too, and this followed:
But I was blown away when Georgiana approached me with this masterpiece, saying “Look, mama! A caterpillar turns into pupa and then into a butterfly!”
On a side note, we were *supposed* to be reading about the Night Sky for nature study. This really didn’t happen with me, but they read a few Gail Gibbons books (and others) with Daddy for “homework.” Like I said, it doesn’t matter when it happens…it still counts.
♥ Fitzwilliam was busy too (aside from his primary role as Chief Disrupter). Our biggest success in the boy arena was Ninja Math! I bought Ninja counters (somewhere…I can’t remember where!), and we counted and added and sorted and did greater than and less than. It was pretty impressive. Apparently math is better with an element of danger.
So, next week is new again! Pray for us!