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

Peanut was back to school this week, after a very good break and exams week. One thing I learned that I needed to focus more on with Peanut was ensuring that she is filling out her timeline and plotting things out on maps. I made sure to print off plenty of blank maps for the geographic areas we’re reading about and constantly remind her to use them.

I’ve also been working on honing my discussion questions for after narrations. These questions aren’t the standard ones you’d get in a brick and mortar school (no questions like “when was Paul Revere’s ride?”) but more open-ended, thinking questions. Some questions I asked Peanut was about why women being educated was considered “unladylike” during Abigail Adams’ time and how did Abigail become so passionate about women’s education? What was John Adams’ reaction to his wife’s concerns? Anything to draw her into a conversation that involves her thinking – really thinking – about what she’s reading and not just dumping information.

In the biography of Albert Einstein that I’m reading, I came across a quote that I want to put on my wall. It sums up practically every reason why I’m homeschooling in the first place. The context is that the news media was trying to give Einstein “the Edison questionnaire” and one reporter asked him what the speed of sound was. He reported that he didn’t keep information like that in his head. He then criticized Edison’s educational views with this quote:

“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”

I don’t think that training a mind to think is reserved solely for the college years. In this day and age where we have a plethora of information available to us in our phones and other devices, training minds to think is of a much higher importance than memorizing facts and events. One needs some level of familiarity, of course; but the standard view of “drill and kill” just doesn’t work.

For Moose, I decided to remove the biography of St. Ignatius and move it into the free reads pile. Having the biography of St. Joan of Arc and Robin Hood going – both books are very much “stretching” books for Moose – I felt that having the St. Ignatius biography was just overloading us all. I think this coming week will be much less intense for Moose and will be at a pace that he can handle without feeling like nothing is making sense to him.

We continued to make good progress in math this week, which is wonderful. I’m noticing less of a need for IXL supplementation, so we’ll probably drop that entirely in the next few weeks. It was great that it gave him a much needed confidence boost.

Both kids also were assessed for reading, both kids are comprehending well beyond their grades. Moose is reading at a 4th grade level, Peanut a 6th grade level.

This term seems to be flying by; with a couple weeks before Moose goes on break week again. Hopefully it’ll stop snowing at some point and they can have a proper vacation before we move on to the next school year!

AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 3

This week was quite a fun week! The weather is finally taking a turn towards SPRING and therefore everyone is getting excited.

Peanut was on break/exams week, of which she did quite well. I made some notes on my exam questions list of what to focus on for term 3, so when we get going on Monday I will be well-prepared to make some adjustments.

Moose had a hard week, which was probably due to Peanut being on break week. We ended up scrapping Wednesday and will finish up everything that we missed tomorrow. Sometimes it’s better to take a break and regroup ourselves than force getting something done so we can stay “on schedule”.

We tried an audiobook of Robin Hood but Moose didn’t like it, and wanted me to read it. So we’re just going reallllly slow and taking as much time as we need.

His narrations for other books are on the upswing, especially the books I mentioned last week. He is getting quite good at discussing the virtues and vices of the people we read about. I’m quite happy with that, although he still tries to have me do a Q&A session (as in “what year did the Battle of Agincourt take place?”). When that happens I’ll give him a narration, or try and give him some prompts so he feels less overwhelmed (“Did we read about King Tut? Moses? Henry V?”). He’s the kind of kid where too much open-endedness can really disorient him, so I try to give him some extra scaffolding.

He is coming along really well in copywork, and in math. Science is a favorite, and he especially likes hearing all the calls and screams on Youtube of the Big Cats that we are reading about. I think we’re getting into a new Term 3 rhythm, which means we should do pretty well for the remainder of the term (and the school year!).

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 2

We reached the end of Peanut’s term 2 last week! Hooray! This week means BREAK WEEK and exams for Peanut.

We fell behind in reading Kidnapped, which means it’s been moved to audiobook status. I think I may need to just put all the literature selections on audiobook status, as I remember having the same thing happen to us when we were reading Robinson Crusoe.  Or I may reduce how many chapters we read each week and carry it on into the summer.

Peanut is definitely getting more and more independent, and while I still read a couple of her books for her; the rest she reads on her own. She also holds her narrations if I’m working with Moose (or kid-wrangling) and gives them to me when I’m actually ready to hear them. I am very much impressed with her and she should have an easy transition to reading all of her books at some point in the future.

I’ve decided not to do written narrations with her until next school year, just because we have a good rhythm going on right now and I’d hate to upset the apple cart. I’ve told her they’re coming down the pipes, so it won’t be a massive shock when it shows up on her schedule.

We’re having some adjustments with Moose and his Term 3 books. Robin Hood, which he so desperately wanted to start has been the hardest book for both him and I to read of the whole school year. He was up to the point of being able to listen to an entire page of reading before narrating; but with Robin Hood we’re stopping at almost every paragraph. I’ve noticed a slight drop in his quality and length of his narrations in other books, which I think is due to some level of nervousness about “getting it right”. He really wants me to just ask him questions, which misses the point of narration. We’ve done things like use dinosaurs to act out the easier books, and sometimes we read Robin Hood and I give a narration to him. He does follow the story and enjoys it but it’s quite a ride.

Two books I’m subbing in are also proving to be challenging – the Vision books of St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola. The book about St. Ignatius mentioned the Saint breaking his leg and that really upset Moose, as it reminded him of when he broke his leg. LOTS of treading lightly in that chapter and extra time to decompress. He’s capable of narrating quite well on them, but the “Robin Hood effect” as mentioned above is impacting him in these books as well.

I need to focus this term on making sure that we really hit “the riches” on a regular basis. The artist is Michelangelo and the composer is Beethoven; I have prints of the artwork and Spotify playlist of Beethoven; so there’s no reason for missing it (except that I forget to put it in the schedules). The kids are feeling rather blah thanks to the endless snow we’ve had (and of course, it’s snowing right now as I type this), and I’m sure that putting in more of the riches would help their spirits.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 11 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 1

What a wild week! Nugget, my 19 month old; has been transitioning out of the coveted double nap times into seemingly no nap times and has decided to become a force to be reckoned with. Climbing up chairs into cabinets, going up and down the stairs, climbing on the table – things have been very hectic around here lately. We’ve learned to take whatever time we can get – so some days he takes one nap – lots of school happens in that one nap time! When he simply has decided that napping is not happening; we do our best to keep him contained in the room we’re in so that we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

We also purchased a new oven so there was some Serious Excitement when it was put in. Okay, the Serious Excitement was from me – the oven we replaced we had for almost a decade and just couldn’t keep on going. Good job, oven!

Peanut is coasting into the end of Term 2 and has been highly motivated towards finishing up strong. Dropping out the high frequency words for spelling practice was a great idea, as was giving her control of the Latin schedule. We have been more diligent about keeping timelines, which is helping to cement in some knowledge.

Some highlights from Peanut’s week:

  • Multi-part multiplication is not nearly as intimidating as Peanut thought it was going to be.
  • Olympic bobsledding is her favorite sport.
  • She took part in the live Mary Pope Osborne event that Read-Aloud Revival held (and was completely spellbound)
  • Age of Fable is still really not impressive to her

I’ve tried to scaffold the lessons better also, which has helped her in terms of being interested. It’s very easy to slip into a checklist mentality, especially with a mostly independent kid like Peanut.  As Charlotte Mason writes, the goal isn’t JUST to produce educated people. If that’s the answer to the question, we’re asking the wrong question:

“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170-171).

Moose has been waiting for this term since the beginning of the school year, when he saw Robin Hood in his bookstack. We finally broke into it, and Moose has spent the whole week pretending to be Robin Hood. I’ve split up Robin Hood into a five-day reading – we need to stop a lot for narrations and the like. But that’s okay. I found this great map of the locations of Robin Hood that we reference as we come to places in the book. And all the other times we look at maps of Europe, Robin Hood is used as the reference point!

Moose had another big leap up, in that he can now be content with sitting down and working on Math Mammoth without major drama. Using IXL to supplement really helped boost his confidence (although he seems to be over IXL now, haha). We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s math for explaining concepts, Math Mammoth to drill them, and IXL to supplement. It’s working out well until the next big thing happens that would make us change things up.

I’m hoping that my little toddler tornado will give me some time to write up my “what I’m reading” post – it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do one of those! Thankfully I’ve been able to post bits and pieces of that on Instagram – you can find me here if you’re so inclined!

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 10

While Moose had his break/exams week this week, Peanut continued on with her lessons.

She and Moose have informed me that next school year, they want to be able to have break week at the same time. Fair enough. I really like the staggered beginnings because I feel like it gives me a nice ease-in to things, but I know it has been sometimes distracting for the non-break week student.

Anyways, we made it through yet another week of back to back to back snowstorms, cabin fever, and the beginning of Lent.

We made progress in Phonetic Zoo and I decided to drop using high frequency words as Peanut has been improving considerably with her spelling.

She had a math test and moved on to the next chapter in Math Mammoth.

We read more about Abigail Adams, and compared John Adams to Benjamin Franklin.

We also discussed whether or not Robert Louis Stevenson uses drinking (of alcohol) as a way of signaling about the character of the characters in the book Kidnapped.

She’s reading more and more books, her favorite authors are Mary Pope Osborne and Caryll Houselander.

She made two needle-felt cats and gave one to her friend. She continues to learn valuable drawing skills from her friend.

We’re in the final stretch for Moose and soon we’ll be wrapping up term 2 for Peanut. Books for the next school year are starting to arrive, they’re being shelved until this year is done. But both kids are getting excited, seeing what is waiting for them in the future.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 12

This week has been a week of excitement – from the Tesla in space to the Olympics, having Greg work from home due to severe weather conditions; it’s just been one thing after the other.

We didn’t watch Elon Musk’s massive rocket launch his Tesla into space as it happened; but we did watch the videos on Youtube and were Way Too Impressed by the pictures of Starman headed off to new places. Moose was a little bummed that Starman probably won’t be back from his adventure any time soon; but we assured him that it was OK for Starman to be the first one to go on a great “drive” in the solar system; paving the way for the more sentient beings of Earth to do something similar.

Moose is thrilled because he finished up his 24th week of second grade a couple days early; allowing for an even longer break “week”. Next week is when we will do exams. I’ll be using some of the Ambleside Exams, but write up some questions that reflects what he did, as we add/remove AO books from time to time.

He happened to see that the next chapter in the Burgess Animal Book has to do with coyotes and wolves; which has really interested him. He’s torn between enjoying his break week or moving onto the next term’s books during Exams week. Luckily for him, he’ll wait until the week after next to start, since he works better just focusing on one thing (exams) and not adding in new material on top of it.

In addition to the Burgess book, he’s also really excited to finally start Robin Hood, as well as the Vision biographies about St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

He was beyond ready to be done with this week. Lots of resistance to do almost anything, which is why we went ahead and finished early. When he realized he just had two more readings to do (finish up our biography about King David and our chapter of Burgess) he just decided to get it over and done with. I think the cabin fever is taking a toll on him, most of his days are spent outside but it’s been too cold for him to do so as much as he wants to. He needed a break and I was happy to finish his school ahead of time. We’ll pick up the rest of his math, handwriting, and reading next term.

Peanut is just a few weeks behind Moose, which means she’ll have the same process as Moose when she gets to break week – Ambleside Exams with some of our own questions. I’m noticing that we’re having more and more spontaneous, in-depth discussions about anything and everything – no subject is exempt. I can see how she really is grasping a lot of these concepts and is beginning to see how to apply them in real life.

I’m debating about whether or not to begin written narration next term for her or start it in fifth grade. I read all of Karen Glass’ Know and Tell book about narration (which was absolutely fabulous, a must-have in my opinion) which provided me with a lot of food for thought about when to start written narrations. Peanut is right at the age for doing so and I feel that she is an extremely competent oral narrator. I just wonder if we should spend the third term learning to touch-type, so she has the option of handwriting or typing a narration; as well as make sure that she really is solid on oral narrating. But then again, she can learn to touch-type alongside beginning to do written narrations, as her written narrations aren’t going to be the small epics she tells me right off the bat. Decisions, decisions.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 11

We’re done with another week! And it’s February which means March is soon which means SPRING is going to arrive. We’ve had several days of warmer weather, warm enough to melt some ice or let me go out and whack it apart to clear it off my driveway. I am completely ready for spring to be here, not needing tire chains anymore or being unable to open the windows.

As you can tell from the title, Moose is almost finished with Term 2, which is quite exciting! I need to put an eye towards examinations and see what questions to ask. I noticed that Moose cruised through his phonics workbook much quicker than I anticipated, as he will finish it up next Friday – a perfect way to wrap up the term.

I made a video of Moose narrating a selection from the Burgess Animal Book for Instagram. You can find the chapter I read to him here, he’s just narrating the part of the fisher (we did the narration for the marten off camera).  As Instagram has a one minute limit, I had to trim it down in order to upload it. His narrations are quite amazing given that he was more of the “repeat the last sentence I read” kind of narrator when we started narrating.

(I tried to embed the video but it didn’t work for who knows why, sorry about that!)

You can tell I tried to throw him for a loop towards the end, as sometimes he gets stuck in this “uhhhhhhhhh” land and he can’t seem to get out unless I do something outlandish. Sometimes it works and in this case, it didn’t really work. 😉

Next week is our final week, then exams and break week for Moose!

Peanut is really impressing me. Last week I wrote about her self-motivation in terms of getting her school done, setting her daily schedule, and more. I discovered this week that she if she has a large reading assignment and doesn’t get it done in the time allotted, she will read it at night before she goes to bed (or spread it out over a couple of nights if needed). Neither Greg nor I have been on her case about “homework”, the plan is to roll assignments over as needed, even if it takes a couple IRL weeks to do one Ambleside week. I guess Peanut prefers to stick with the one IRL week to one Ambleside week, which is fine by me!

Peanut is making great leaps with her spelling, and is continuing well through math. She’s reading more and more and branching out into books she wasn’t sure she would like (the total “judge a book by it’s cover” thing).

I noticed that Mary Pope Osborne is the featured author for February over at Read-Aloud Revival, so we had to get a membership so Peanut and Moose can be able to do the author Q&A. Peanut’s Magic Tree House books are Moose’s new favorite books to read, and it’s been so endearing watching them discuss the books after Moose finishes one. They’re busy thinking up questions to submit – maybe one of them (or both!) will have their questions answered. 🙂

I really do feel like we are at the perfect sweet spot for homeschooling. Everything is working absolutely perfectly. Time is managed well and we get things done with minimal drama and theatrics. Things are actually fun vs a drag. I don’t know how it happened or what; but I realized that today this is where I hoped to be when I started homeschooling. For years I have felt like Johnny Appleseed, throwing seeds seemingly everywhere and not knowing which ones would take root and flower and which ones would wither. There’s been a good share of wrong turns and adjustments that we’ve had to make; but I am just blown away at what is beginning to bloom.