Our second week back, though despite my plans it turned out not to be an ordinary week, but then is there such a thing as an ordinary week with a houseful of children and a homeschooling lifestyle, I think not. One morning I spent a couple of hours with one child as they talked and talked about D&M topics (remember D&M? - deep and meaningful, 80s code word), always a precious gift to share a child's heart and time must always be made to listen. Unexpectedly the School Dental Clinic rang with appointments (no cost!) for the younger children on Wednesday morning and the older children shopped and packed for their trip, so there went one day. On Thursday the four older children set off on their adventure South, ten days away, attending a Ball and then the Christus Rex pilgrimage, a 130km walk over three days.
Friday I settled down with just the younger children, determined to 'hit the books hard' when an unknown car drove up, with shock I realised I had mixed up my weeks and it must be our local AP, approved person Greg, from the Board of Studies coming to approve my study plans for Jem (who has just turned 6). Fortunately I had written up his plans back in January when I wrote plans for the older children and was able to settle Greg down in front of the computer where I had posted them, even more fortunately PC was home for the day so was able to entertain the children. Thankfully the house was halfway decent as we had put in some solid time cleaning the afternoon before. An hour chat with Greg, he is a lovely chap who is sadly retiring next year, approval for Jem granted and we went back to lessons.
In amongst these interruptions Einstein spent time registering and applying to attend a Summer Study program at our local (80km away) University. As a homeschooled student he doesn't have a HSC so we are looking at alternative pathways to gain entry to University. The University of his choice won't consider the STAT test (some Uni's do) as he is under 20, however they have suggested he enroll in Tafe and undertake Certificate 4 (6 month course) which will be sufficient to gain entry. We'd decided on that path when the thought of entry through a Summer Study program occurred to us. This would mean an intensive study period of 13 weeks, but he could then enter university at the beginning of 2015 with his peers. So we spent hours over a couple of days, filling out forms to only be knocked back on the grounds that he didn't have a HSC and was under 18. Grrr, whilst we could take it further and pursue it, a University that doesn't think 'outside the box' probably isn't a good fit and we're feeling Peace, He has it under control. Lots of learning occurring, just different to 'my plans'.
Due to the unexpected, the older children and I didn't do any writing/grammar together, and though I know they were busy working on their independent work, the truth is I don't know what they actually achieved as we didn't get to discuss it. However I do know they set off on their trip with a copy of Beowulf to read and a huge tome of The Count of Monte Cristo, plus untold they packed their lesson books. Even if they achieve none of their academic goals in the next week they'll be learning other lessons; not only Australian geography but cooperativeness, adaptability, social skills, spirituality and endurance to name some.
The younger children did achieve more this week than last despite the interruptions so that was heartening. Solid maths learning is continuing, it does work much better when I am in the Study with them whilst they work on the computer. Had an interesting chat with Greg regards Jem's ability with maths (Kindy toggling between Grades 1 & 2 Maths) he suggested to be certain Jem's knowledge it is not all theory but practical too, some children are brilliant but can't always apply their knowledge practically. Tossing around plans to have a day away from the more formal and to be more hands on, which would be beneficial for all the younger children anyhow.
Fell in love with All About Spelling all over again, the children aren't always so thrilled but I can see the depth of learning in this program. Most of our learning this week centered around our Leaping into Literature time. Hours and hours of reading towering piles of picture books, longer texts and shorter, books on art, libraries, upcycling, Venice, Australia and lots more. We found some keepers and duds, way too many duds, most had come from online reservations, so Friday I headed into the library and browsed the shelves in person, hoping next week will be more a keeper week.
Still focusing on strengthening reading skills for Jelly Bean and Jack Jack. JB is consistent in reading an hour a day!! JJ manages 15-20 minutes a day. The biggest issue with JB is finding reading material for her, she has only one Mercy Watson book to finish, so what to read next? She has definite ideas of what she will read or rather won't read, sigh. So to find early chapter readers for a 'selective' child. Currently she is reading a variety of picture books, some harder than others, so a good solution. I've reserved several early chapter readers from the library and frankly 99% of them are utter rubbish with attitude! I'm very particular about allowing attitude in books.
Bass continues to astound us with his total focus, he has continued this week to be all consumed with scissor cutting for hours and hours, though broadened his horizon to include colouring and drawing. He is most particular about holding his pencil correctly and comes each time to ask me if he has it correctly, at the beginning of the week he didn't, but he more often than not he does now. Today he has progressed to a fascination with letters and puzzles. He bought a letter puzzle piece to me and wanted to find the letters on the keyboard, he sat there and kept 'matching' the letters on the puzzle to the keyboard. Contemplating whether I should begin to teach him sounds, whilst I've usually begun around five, I'm wondering about the benefits of teaching a younger child. Bass would possibly be rather quick to pick it up.
So not really an ordinary week but then again the unexpected is probably our ordinary these days/years.