AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 3+4 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 2 + Week 6

We are at the end of another week, and this week has been loads better than last week. We were able to finish off last week’s work and get through this week’s work (and actually enjoy it).

Greg informed me that he absolutely loved The Wind in the Willows when he read it as a kid, and has volunteered to read it to Moose each night. Moose and I are of the “ehhh” mindset regarding Wind in the Willows, so it’s nice to have someone more enthusiastic take over. I remember trying to read it as a child and was ??? the entire time.

We are making headway in a variety of subjects. Peanut cleared an entire Phonetic Zoo level in two days (new record for her) and she’s blowing through the high frequency words. Math is taking off for both kids. Peanut’s narrations are incredible, and the discussions we have are really interesting. Even Moose is bringing up his own connections with the material and it’s absolutely amazing to watch.

It’s as if adjusting the schedule gave everyone a shot in the arm, and they have renewed their vigor and excitement for learning.

Moose is in break week next week, and we’ll take some time off for Christmas. Next week is Filling Party for some of the kids, (please hold me) which should be a HIGHLY interesting experience. I also get to see my new doctor (the one who figured out the iron issues) for a follow-up.

Today my parents may be making a visit (it’s hard to say with the weather) but the kids already have finished their schoolwork and are busy playing. Moose and Peanut made an elaborate Lego town, and the little girls are busy with the Playmobil. An idyllic morning for sure, one I’ll have to keep in my mind to reflect on when the kids are swinging off the proverbial chandelier!

Happy Schedule Time

Our break last week was rather short-lived, thankfully.

We stopped midweek to celebrate some liturgical holidays but also to work on some scheduling issues. Through some minor miracle, I had a realization that the problem was with the schedule. When we started this school year, I broke the weekly readings up into daily chunks. We read the daily readings and continued on. It worked really, really well. Until it didn’t.

I ended up going through the schedule and condensing the readings back into weekly readings. Rather than doing (for example) The Little Duke over four or five days; we can do it in one reading (most of the time). When I reconfigured the schedules I left gaps in Moose’s schedule so that we could carry readings across a week if we need to (looking at you, Wind in the Willows). The problem with stretching the readings out over the week is that everything felt like it just d-r-a-g-g-e-d on (even if we were still only spending less than three hours of school for Peanut). Things go much quicker now and there’s a less draggy feeling.

We spent yesterday and today finishing up the last week (Weeks 5 for Moose and 3 for Peanut). This week we’ll continue on with Weeks 6 and 4, and see where we end up on Friday. I’m anticipating we will get through most if not all of Weeks 6 and 4 by then which means Moose has Break Week next week.

Another thing I did was make a Master Schedule that we (mostly) stick to. I made a column for each kid and scheduled out their entire day, marking naps, food, snacks, chores, play, quiet times, school, etc. For Nugget, his is rather fluid since he’s a little guy but for the big kids it’s quite structured. Everyone is less frenetic because I can say for certainty that Netflix time is in the afternoon (and has a definite end time) vs kids wearing me down and next thing you know they’ve watched a lot of Curious George or something. I also took commenter Flos Carmeli’s advice and went off to the dollar store for some fun “school book” things for Little Miss Sunshine, which seems to have scratched that “I want to do school!” itch nicely.

“Teachers must in this, as in all other matters, mix their work with brains…”
~ Charlotte Mason, as quoted by Elsie Kitching

Just a handy little pro-tip from Miss Charlottte. 😉

 

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 3 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 1

This week was the Great Slowdown Week. We had no school on St. Nicholas Day, and no school today for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Thursday we turned into a Game Day, playing the new game St. Nicholas brought for the kids and other games we have around the house.

The kids don’t know it but school is canceled until further notice. Nothing too drastic, but an early and possibly long Christmas break.

There is a lot of things going on behind the scenes in my life: we had a death in the extended family last month and there’s a possibility of another death in the extended family this month. There’s health issues with members of my family. Our schedule has broken down because both Wok and Little Miss Sunshine want in on the schooltime – and while Wok can handle a level of Kindergarten; LMS definitely can’t. A couple kids need fillings done (SIGH) and all the kids need flouride treatments at home. One of my kids is so ridiculously hard right now and my stress is high.

I need to sit down and figure out the following:
– what can LMS do that will scratch the itch of “doing school” but is still developmentally appropriate for her age?
– how can I incorporate both LMS and Wok into schooltime in a way that makes sense, flows well, and everyone can be taught appropriately?
– how can we rearrange the schedule to include school but also playtime (usually outside), chore time, and quiet time?

I mentioned all my drama to a friend who had some wonderful advice and this part from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

[6] Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.
[7] And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
[8] For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.
[9] The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.
[10] Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, as you did also think; but you were busied.
[11] I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.
[12] I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: (everywhere, and in all things I am instructed) both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.
[13] I can do all these things in him who strengtheneth me.

So that’s where I’m at right now. The time we have “off” from school will still be filled with home ec, games, nature study, read-alouds, and more. But I think we need to shelve the books while I tweak the schedule, and enjoy this time of waiting and preparation.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 2 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 4

This week, we’re back into our regular schedule of AO readings. I’m not totally sure on what our Christmas schedule will turn into; but I think we’ll just be playing it by ear and taking our time through the month of December.

Over on my Instagram, I posted about how I had a great idea to help Moose stay focused on getting school done, but also respecting his needs as a boy and be moving around a lot. It has helped so much (even if we have only been doing it for a couple of days, haha).

Speaking of Moose, we are getting through The Little Duke {aff link} with rapt attention. This is one of those books that I see mentioned a lot on Facebook and in the forums. It starts out so … dense, but about halfway through everything changes and it becomes quite seamless in terms of what’s happening and why. I absolutely love the self-realizations that the Little Duke learns during some of the more pivotal parts of the book. It is really a great book, and it’s definitely making Moose think a lot about governing yourself, friends vs foes, chivalry, devotion to a cause greater than yourself, and more.

I am really pleased with how well Moose is taking Year 2. I wasn’t sure if how everything would work out given compulsory age, his rough start to 2017 (that broken leg, which should have been a good indication about how 2017 would progress), and his general shutting down for anything smelling like “education”. Alas, we have done some adjustments and I can see him actually getting excited for all his schoolbooks.

I’ve started to look at Year 3 and begin tracking down books we will need. I also had a realization I need to get some books for Year 1 for Wok!

* * *
Peanut and I had a great conversation tonight about World War II, Pearl Harbor, A-bombs and more since she saw me reading A Song for Nagasaki and was curious about what Nagasaki was. We had some very good questions – who was at fault for the bombing of Japan? Could you put someone at fault for that? Was the pilot right in bombing? Did the Emperor think we were bluffing? What was the motivation for the attack on Pearl Harbor? Why even learn about this stuff, anyways?

It’s those unscheduled conversations that pop up seemingly randomly that make this all worthwhile. All the hard and frustrating days, the days where it seems like nothing is sinking in; totally worth it. All the stuff we’re learning currently (American Revolution) sets a foundation for when we do talk about WWII. It all builds on itself and relates into everything else. We’re all connected, and she’s starting to see that.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 1 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 3

Peanut was excited as this week we started the second term of Year 4. Right out of the gate, Abigail Adams is the new favorite with George Washington’s World as a close second. I’m reading A.A. aloud, which is both fun for Peanut and myself (and educational as well).

We’re working on a timeline together (Moose is also keeping one this term), which is something I wanted to add in and finally was able to do so. I found a wonderful template for one on the AO Forums, printed off a couple copies, and put it in the kids’ binders for easy reference.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not to use AO For Groups with the kids and discussed it on the forums. I’ve decided that it probably wouldn’t work, simply because the kids coming and going in the forms and that there would be not a lot of kids in one form at a time (they’re pretty well spread out, even if they are all two years apart). I’m going to keep on trucking and combining what we can and working through the readings for each kid. Right now it’s not too big of a deal, but it should be very interesting as more and more kids are added into the mix.

I did finally have another paradigm shift, in that it doesn’t really matter if it takes 42, 46, or 52 weeks to do the 36-weeks of AO work. It won’t be the end of the world if things need to slow down, if readings need to be even more spread out than just a 4-5 day week. I feel like a lot of pressure is off of me now and I won’t be forcing the kids through their work. I want them to want to learn vs have to learn.

Moose is getting into The Wind in the Willows well (it helps that our copy has a great map in the front, so we plot the travels of the book on it). Other books are also getting really interesting, and the connections are popping up left and right. It’s really, really cool to watch them make their connections and see what is going on in their minds.

AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 2

Last week was pretty low-key around here. Peanut was on break and exam week, and Moose and I continued to travel through our many books for Year 2, Term 2.

I’m finding him really engrossed now with The Little Duke and Our Island Story. For those using AO in Year 2, hang in there regarding The Little Duke. It does start off very dense and heavy and it feels like you’re slogging, but about halfway through everything makes sense and it comes together nicely.  Now, TLD is one that is asked for and provides some of the best narrations. OIS is also captivating, as long as we manage to keep the people straight and stay on top geography. Otherwise it can get pretty overwhelming. We do our mapwork with OIS – before we read, we plot everything on a map and keep refreshing our minds as we go along.

I really think that the concept of break week is really helping everyone. Six weeks isn’t too terribly long, the break week doesn’t interfere with the overall rhythm, it’s predictable; and the kids know now that after 36 weeks of work, the next “grade level” starts. They get two breaks a term, with one week having exams.

One thing I’m thinking of doing in the future is transitioning to AO For Groups. Essentially I’ll be adding a Year 1 every two years for the next six years; and so I wonder if maybe AO For Groups would be easier in the long run. I’m not sure yet, but it’s one of the things swirling around in my mind as of late. Right now the kids have a lot of individual work, and “the riches” are mostly combined (Artist Study, Composer Study, Shakespeare, Nature Study, Art Lessons, etc).

Tomorrow Peanut gets back into the swing of things with the beginning of her Term 2. I pulled out all of the “new” term books and will be doing my pre-reading today. As with Moose, I found her exams highly interesting and really doing a wonderful job of showing what’s working, and what needs to be adjusted. 🙂

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 1

This week was all about endings and beginnings. The ending of one term and the beginning of a new one. Peanut wrapped up her first term and Moose dove into the second term.

Year 4
Peanut was highly disappointed that we finished Poor Richard. I think that was probably her favorite book of the entire term. I’m going to find some other Benjamin Franklin books for her to read and go deeper with, should she decide to.

She finally got over her repulsion about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, “it’s about mice and RATS, Mom”. I think she’s really enjoying the storyline and was expecting something rather disgusting and gross (think Templeton from Charlotte’s Web).

She’s read two Saint biographies by Mary Fabyan Windeatt – the story of St. Catherine of Siena and of Blessed Imelda. She’s working through Blessed Marie of New France, after she spotted it in the parish library. We observe the liturgical year and have daily Catechism lessons from the Our Holy Faith series, based on the Baltimore Catechism.  I am really quite thrilled with the series.

She thoroughly enjoys each subject (although I think she’s not totally interested in the founding of the country, oh well). We did a nature study on the pumpkin we had purchased for All Hallow’s Eve, which was probably the favorite part of her week. 😛

Year 2
Term 2 started with most of the same books carrying on, but The Wind in the Willows for literature instead of Understood Betsy. Moose isn’t so sure about The Wind in the Willows – talking animals aren’t exactly his forte. But he listens well and narrates well, and especially likes the map in the front of our copy of the book.

His copywork and math are both coming along nicely, with math moving at his own pace. I’m super glad that we can move at the kids’ pace, especially in something like math. We just keep moving forward, even if it’s at an extremely slow pace. At least I know the kids are really, truly understanding it.

We read about the Crusades, the jumping mouse, what The Little Duke did in the face of someone wanting to harm an animal, and had fantastic discussions along the way; and talked about what he would do if he were in The Little Duke’s position.


The kids finished up homeschool swim class for the year, and they’ll resume next year. As much as they love swimming, it’s nice to have a break (mainly for me as I kid-wrangle the non-swimmers). I’m not sure what level Peanut is at but I know that she’s in the advanced levels based on what she does in her lessons (diving, butterfly stroke, etc) and her swimming classmates (teenagers). Moose is in the intermediate levels and absolutely adores it and gets along well with everyone, and is pretty brave about everything they ask him to do. He discovered that water polo is played right before swim class, so he quickly gets out on the deck and acts as the ball fetcher when the ball goes out of bounds. The polo players have taken a liking to him and they let him splash around with them and make goals and give him pointers when their game is over (and joke that Moose and Peanut are the next generation of polo players).

Wok just started this year, and she went from “THE WATER IS LAVA” to getting basic strokes under control. Her teacher is a homeschooled young lady who is taking college classes at the local college since she exhausted homeschool curriculum (at age 16). She’s so good with the kids and each kid has worked with her for a while before they move on up to a different class. It’s such a great environment for everyone to be in.

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