So, we’ve been ramping school back up over the past few weeks. We took December off, because of Advent and Christmas, and somehow things never really got back on track. Oh, sure, schoolwork got done, but never anything too strenuous or sustained. It was perfectly fine “unschooling” in that the kids learned a lot of stuff, but it wasn’t exactly the type of schooling I like to do. So, a reboot.
Now, most people are probably just winding school down because, you know, summer is a’comin’ in and they have all these great summery games planned. Which is great . . . if you don’t live in the Southwest. Since we, here at the cusp of the great Texican desert, live in a climate that punishes any sort of daytime exertions between the months of March and October, we tend to do a lot more homeschooling when the weather is brutally hot and we’re stuck indoors.
So we’re back to work in the Charlotte Mason style– lots of reading, lots of “telling back” what we just read, short lessons, and lots of time for nature study and exercise. The Tank just turned 6, so he’s officially doing schoolwork for the first time. Before this, it was a “take it or leave it” sort of unstructured thing– I’d toss him a worksheet or some scissors and glue and leave him to it. Now he’s working through the kindergarten stuff that’s left over from the Ninja’s kinder year. My basic goal is to get him through the kinder material by the time summer is over so that he can start doing some 1st grade stuff in the fall. But I’m flexible. We’ll go at his pace and see how it goes.
The Ninja has been finishing up his second grade stuff, which didn’t progress as neatly as I would have liked this year. Since he’s wandered off the curriculum (we’re using Mater Amabilis’ 2nd grade equivalent) things got a little confused. We didn’t study the history that I had intended for us to study, we somehow just skipped most of the settling of the nation and went straight for the juicy wars and rebellions and drama. So we’re spending this week, in honor of Memorial Day, reading a bunch of stuff about the Revolutionary War. Hopefully, we’ll loop back to the Pilgrims and stuff, but it’s not a pressing issue. Obviously, a Catholic family isn’t going to be very gung-ho about studying Pilgrims.
It feels good to be back in the thick of things. It’s a bit difficult with the Adorable Baby being all adorable and needy and whatnot. He’s discovered a taste for crayons, of all things, and kindergarten work uses a LOT of crayons. So we’re constantly rescuing crayons, papers, counting bears, and anything else that he can possibly put in his mouth. He also likes to grab books and make a big show of turning pages. So I’m here, heart in mouth, sure he’s about to shred a page out of a library book . . . whew. I rescue a lot of books over the course of a day.
Probably the most difficult part of our schooling is the competition that ALWAYS comes into play between the boys. If the Tank is working on his phonics, the Ninja is mocking him for not being able to read. If the Ninja is taking forever to finish his math page, the Tank is mocking him for being slow slow SLOOOOOWWWWW. And then there are the fistfights, wrestling matches, refusals to listen to me because they have to HAVE TO get back at their brother for some awful thing he did, and general chaos that comes from having two very hyperactive little boys in the same house.
But, hey, it’s great. We’re studying birds right now, so we’re liable to pull the truck off the road whenever we spot something and spend time just . .. watching the birds be birds. We’ve watched plovers and barn swallows, red-winged blackbirds and mockingbirds, and spotted several hawks. Grackles and sparrows without number, and more vultures than you can count (mostly at the zoo, where they’ve decided to roost year-round.) It’s fun and educational and I love it.
The intense unexpected rain we’ve had this year has put a temporary stop to our star-gazing– if it isn’t raining or cloudy (which it mostly has been), the mosquitoes are deadly and horrible. So bird-watching makes a less mosquitoey experience all-around.
I love my kids. And I love having them home, learning with me. I never have understood why people like sending their perfectly normal kids to school all day. Sure, my handicapped daughter’s school hours are a blessing . . . summers are awful when she can’t go to school. She loves that whole routine. But my “normal” kids? Man, they’re too fun to send away all day.
Here’s to a summer of learning, right?