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Cornerstone Lutheran Academy - Week 3

I have to confess... my contact lenses are bugging me and I have a headache and the last thing I want to do right now is blog. BUT... I am going to do it because if I miss a week of recapping our homeschool it is a slippery slope towards abandoning my efforts to keep this record. I don't want to do that. So, here goes.

This past week I took a bit of a leap of faith from just reading educational philosophy to actually applying some of it. Specifically, I chose to start a biography with Aiden as part of our morning routine. This may not sound like a big deal, but I admit that up until we started reading I had my doubts. I chose a biography of John James Audubon, because nature study is something that Aiden has always loved. I did not look for a "children's" book, but instead just checked out a normal biography. The language is lovely, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. However, I wondered if Aiden would really get anything out of it.

I suppressed my urge to stop every few words to define things and "teach" concepts, and instead just let the book flow as the author intended. In keeping with the ideas of Charlotte Mason, I kept our reading to a chapter at a time and followed the chapter with Aiden giving a brief narration of what we read. According to her educational philosophy, if you provide a child with quality material to think about, their brain will continue to be fed long after a chapter is read. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to see that very thing happening. For days, Aiden has been randomly asking questions about different things from previous readings. One thing in particular that has captured his imagination and kept him thinking is being introduced to the idea of quicksand. There were questions for days, with a final resolution of sorts for him that when exploring you should always travel with a buddy and carry a long rope, ha! He has moved on now to other ideas, but that quicksand thing will forever be an important moment for me because it was such a minor part of what we read but his brain took it and ran with it.

While the fact that he grabbed onto an idea like that from the biography we are reading is interesting, I am also increasingly excited by the retention of ideas I am seeing by using this approach to history with Story of the World. I love how much he continues to recall about the nomads we have studied, and I love even more when I see it cross over the boundary from "school" to play when he is digging canals to irrigate like the first farmers did. I love that I don't have to teach as much as simply learn with him. I love seeing him draw connections between things we are learning that might not otherwise come together. Like how the Israelites were also nomads, for example. I know that helping him learn to investigate and really think about things is so valuable, especially in our age of endless information. Google can answer questions of fact in no time, but developing a love of learning and the ability to reason that is grounded in a desire to know the One who created all things is invaluable. What a blessing I have been given to be able to facilitate this journey. And what a huge responsibility.

Another concept I have been sorting out, through the books I am reading and the podcast I have been listening to, is the idea that each child is born a person with a purpose and unique perspective. This does not mean that we bow to the whims of the child, or allow them to overindulge in the mind's equivalent of "junk food". It is my job to provide quality literature, music, art, etc. that allow Aiden to grow in his own way and at his own pace, but there also still needs to be structure and routine in our day. There are skills to be mastered and habits to be developed. Recognizing a child's complete personhood (as opposed to the idea that they are merely vessels to fill or clay to mold) does not mean making them the center of the universe. We do not cater to the every desire of the adults in our life, and so treating a child in that way would be a disservice.

So anyhow, lots of growth for me as a home educator this week for sure. As far as other highlights from the week:

  • Aiden particularly loved a math lesson this week that had him creating a triangle from different combinations of shapes. I know a lesson is good when he wants to do it again later just for fun!
  • I am kind of blown away by how quickly he is picking up chess. Granted, I am way out of practice and to be completely honest I didn't think I needed to try too hard while playing... but he almost beat me in our first game! Ha!
  • I am excited to see him doing well with his piano lessons again. I still need to really focus on being consistent in reminding him to practice... when his success depends partly on my discipline in making something happen it is not always easy for me. 
  • Matt was excited to start reading Ralph S. Mouse with bubs this week. It is fun to share things we loved as kids ourselves with our child!
  • It continues to be a huge blessing to have Grandma around as another adult interested in his education. I love hearing them chat about things, and he is always learning from her!
  • School is going way better this year in general. I really can't quite get over how much so. I keep thinking I must be missing something! No day is perfect, but I am seeing so much more enthusiasm for things overall (instead of just excitement for the parts that are his favorite) and it is a huge encouragement to me.
Considering I didn't really want to blog tonight, that sure is a lot of words! Ha! I am definitely glad I sat down to record some things. Week 3 was a great one! I look forward to seeing what Week 4 brings!

Cornerstone Lutheran Academy - Week 2

This week was our first full week of combining homeschool with providing child care for our little buddy. Overall, it went really well! We are finding a good routine that works well with her nap schedule, and both kiddos are enjoying our "recess" adventures. Monday - Wednesday were definitely solid school days. Thursday is our day to help my mom, so we aren't as scheduled then. Now Friday... Friday was a different story entirely. Friday we were exhausted and school just wasn't going to happen. Which is fine... that is why we school year round!

Highlights from this week:

  • We love, love, love Story of the World! Those lessons were highlights for me, and Aiden retained a lot from them.
  • Aiden continues to do awesome at math. I appreciate the fact that we can stop as we need to when something doesn't click. This week we needed a review of even/odd numbers, and now he is a rockstar at them!
  • Aiden's vocabulary cracks me up. He came in the other day to tell me "Daddy declares he cannot find the sprinkler." Just little word choice things like that amuse me. 
  • Aiden got his medal for finishing the summer reading challenge this week, and we are now officially done! We are excited for the fall programs to start at the library now!
  • I found some of his old stories this week, and it was encouraging to see that his handwriting really has improved greatly! 
Outside of homeschool, we also had a productive week! We are now finally totally moved out of the apartment. We made huge progress on mom's garage this week... although we put the last of our junk from the apartment in there after that so we will have to fix that before we continue work, ha! I cut off 16+ inches of hair this week! I donated 16 inches, but there was still a LOT of hair on the floor after that as well! I got some freezer meals made this weekend, so we can simplify that part of this coming week and maybe not be so exhausted on Friday. Oh, and we had dinner with friends on Friday night and that was delightful. Things have been so hectic that we have had very limited social engagements lately! It was great to catch up. 

In the coming week I look forward to continuing to work out our new schedule. I am also excited to add in more hands-on activities. I get frustrated sometimes because there is so much I want to do, but I have been reminding myself that we will get to that place. I just have to focus on building the foundation right now! We are really just getting started here!! So, bring on the new week and the new chances to learn and have fun! We are ready!

Cornerstone Lutheran Academy - Week 1

I guess technically we started homeschool on July 18th, but with the move things got insane so I am going to say this was week one. Our first (almost) full week is in the books for the 2016-17 school year. And... it was awesome!

Things have been really, really hard since deciding to move. Aiden has struggled a lot over the past few weeks, and I finally really understood what I have heard about so many times before when parents talk about their child regressing during big life changes. He got to the point where he couldn't be away from us at all... not even to spend time with Grandma. So, I was definitely relieved when we started settling into more of a routine this week and he started seeming more like his normal self. Not only that, but I was blown away at how well he jumped into school this week! Clearly he has been craving some sense of structure during this chaos.

In this house, we have a school room as opposed to a school area in the kitchen like we did in the apartment. I think there are definitely both pros and cons to this fact. I miss how easy it was to include cooking in our day for one thing. This kitchen is not nearly as kid-friendly. However, I know we will figure that out as we go. We also have yet to get all of our stuff up on the walls. I have really been missing our magnet board in particular. So there are little things that will continue to help us settle in. I know that really, though, the last thing a good homeschool needs is a classroom. It just helps my particular personality feel more stable in what we are doing.

When I think about how I want to keep a good record of our homeschool here, I always have these visions of polished and uniform weekly wrap-ups... clearly the reality is much more "me" in the rambling nature of this post. I am most definitely out of practice when it comes to blogging, and my brain is still cluttered with remnants of the move. I didn't want to put off posting something about our first week, though.

We have pretty much unpacked and organized everything here at the new house. Now it is just a matter of cleaning at the old place, and continuing to settle into a routine here. It is strange how much different things feel, but I also feel overwhelmingly secure in the fact that this is exactly where we are supposed to be. I know once I have time to just live here I will be able to process more. Today was that final push to really finish setting things up before our little day care honey starts coming again tomorrow. So, tomorrow will start the process of figuring out what the combination of day care and home school look like for the year. I will just be excited to not be sorting through boxes for yet another day, ha!

So I guess I should actually post something about the week of school before I close this post! How about some of my beloved bullet points?

  • I love Saxon math. Aiden does too, thankfully. I am once again glad we chose this curriculum. We are working through chapter 5 of the 1st grade book. We both love the manipulatives, I love the linear and "old math" structure of the lessons, and overall it just all makes sense to both of us. 
  • We started back in on Apologia Astronomy. (I guess I should back up a bit and mention that pretty much all of the curriculum we bought last year is actually being used for this year. Last year I spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that he was only 5 and chose to forego more formal studies. This year, we are both ready for more structure so here we go!) I love the focus on narration, and he is excited about the content. He enjoyed sharing his vocabulary words with Grandma, and by far that is going to be the coolest part of schooling here... having Grandma to share in it with us!
  • We spent a lot of time outside! Recess is good, and so is outdoor learning! My favorite of the outdoor classroom times was tea time, which we plan to do daily. I also loved when my nephew did some watercolor painting out at the picnic table with Aiden. We are just 2 blocks from a park, and having a sidewalk out front for scooting and biking during "play breaks" is the best! 
  • We are finishing up the library summer reading program. I will miss it in some ways... those goals and check-ins are good motivation! However, I am also anxious to return to a more leisurely reading environment. I have been thinking about how I will log his reading... I do still want to keep a log, but I don't want to focus too much on it. I want him to be free to re-read books and also read his magazines and stuff. I know one thing... this little bookworm won't be reading any less, he will just read differently perhaps. 
  • I am super excited to start Story of the World tomorrow. While history was never my thing in school, this curriculum makes me excited to dig in. I am hoping we both love it!
There is a lot more I could write (there is always more for me to ramble on about!!) but for now I need to get to bed and make sure I am up and ready for new adventures tomorrow! I look forward to catching up with some of my fav homeschool mamas on insta and blogs over the coming weeks! I am so thankful for online community when the school year gets going!