Friday, August 31, 2018

first six weeks and the importance of community

My east coast friends are getting ready to start their school year on Tuesday, and we are about to take a break. We finished the first six weeks of our 2018-2019 school year today around lunchtime. I can honestly say this has been the best start of our school year so far. There have been exhausting moments and re-arranging of subjects, even eliminating some tasks to do  or moving them over to our scheduled breaks.  Homeschooling can take mental, physical, and emotional energy. But one evening this week I sat around a table drinking coffee with my local Charlotte Mason friends, and I felt encouraged and excited about the year.

Since C is in year four, new things have been added to the schedule. Latin, actual Shakespeare, more intentional focus on studied dictation and a weekly written narration. We also had to remove a book (the one I mentioned he liked on a previous post) because the copy we had included some things that did not line up with our worldview. Apparently there are edited copies out there, but I just wanted an entirely different book, and that led to a beneficial discussion about why we should not stereotype people based on the color of their skin. One does not need a prescribed curriculum on diversity discussions, they can happen organically as we open our eyes to the beautiful and the damaging literature that we come across.

We had our first poetry in the park of the year, which included a lot of time to play in the splash pad before and after the recitations. Poetry in the park might be my favorite thing I organize because I love giving my children and their friends a chance to read or recite, to listen, an to appreciate. I also love that there is a ton of free play after and often that allows me a chance to talk with other moms. G has developed more endurance for our outings, both for poetry and for nature meet-ups, and I am praying that he will connect with a handful of kids this year. He always recites a  little something, and our group is always encouraging and supportive of him.

The exciting part of our week was yesterday when something went wrong in our laundry room/kitchen plumbing, and water started running down behind the washing machine into our hallway. It is fixed now, but it made me thankful that while some household chores are difficult for me to want to keep up with (dusting, yard work, de-cluttering our bedroom), I usually do a load of laundry everyday, so I knew we would be okay on clothing for awhile. I did not even cry when the disaster happened, which is usually how I respond to stressful situations. I think because I was not running on empty yesterday. I have been around others the last few weeks, having actual conversations with other women in a coffee shop, at a park, in a car, or in a living room. There were so many years, especially when my boys were very small, that I lacked the kind of community I am beginning to experience here, and it really does make a difference. To not feel alone in parenting, in homeschooling, in following Jesus, makes the difficult days manageable.

So even with some interruptions this week and the weeks prior, we have had a great start to the year. I am ready for a week off from teaching to do some housework, re-examine a couple of aspects of our school, take a field trip, and rest up for September.  

working on studied dictation

Switched how I was teaching reading to BOB books because the print on the page is not overwhelming to G
and therefore it is easier for him to focus and learn. We are still using our AAR letter magnets with these books.

Fun field trip to the local planetarium and science center.

First local CM nature meet-up of the school year.
We went to a place with shade, a pond, and grass because it is still hot in the desert.

Working on OT skills of focus, hand strength, and coordination.

a science experiment about Jupiter's red spot

I wrote down G's narration yesterday.
Narration can be a struggle for a child with autism and other disabilities,
but we are seeing progress and glimpses of what G understands.