homeschooling :: on we go

I'd had the best intentions of putting together a homeschool post every few weeks to keep track of our progress, our projects, our process, and then...... well.... there were things.  National event things, processing of national event things, holiday things (I much prefer the holiday things to the other things), and so on and so forth.  And here we are, a good bit on the other side of a few weeks since the last homeschool post.

We took our first break last week (the entire week), and that felt really good.  We are plugging along and I am realizing that we are not in fact going to cover every subject every day, and that is totally acceptable.  It's funny, we went from pretty solidly 'unschooling' last year (granted, it was kindergarten) to being quite a bit more organized and scheduled than I'd anticipated being this year.  I think somewhere along the way the part of me that really likes lists and organizing (it is a small and not often exercised part...) hitched a ride and starting steering the homeschool show a bit.  And mostly, it works.  Claire seems to need that, seems to thrive on it, so on we go.

So what have we actually been doing these last six weeks or so?

Well, what with the glory that is autumn, we did a lot with leaves.  We dipped them in beeswax, we did rubbings of them, we identified them both individually by species and into different categories by shape.  We read about why and how they change color.  She illustrated and labeled an oak tree life cycle, she observed and wrote about her garden spider friend until she spun and filled her beautiful egg sac and disappeared.  We signed up for Cornell Ornithology Lab's Project Feederwatch and have been having lots of fun with that, and it is allowing her to add to her bird species list (she is now up to 20 different species of birds that she has observed in and around our yard- well, 19 if you remove 'chickens' from her list, but I wouldn't dare).

She draws pictures with chalk onto felt and then embroiders the pictures.  She finger knits until the chains reach from the front door all the way out the back door.

We play games to help her get her mind around place value, and there's a bit of practicing looking at a number and knowing what is one less and one more, ten less and ten more.  She continues to love workbooks and we finished one today that mostly dealt with money, time, and fractions.  She is pretty accurate with reading a clock and she seems to have a thing for fractions.  I am reminded often that they are ready for things when they are ready for them.  Counting money was really tricky a few weeks ago and when we came back to it this week, it was quite a bit easier for her.  I remind myself to go slow, to put things away when it gets to be too much........ you'd think it'd be obvious to do so, but I don't automatically get there without that reminder.

Our continent studies seemed to have turned into US History ever since we got to the US.  We started with North America and worked our way through Greenland and Canada, and then once we got to our country (oh, about 6 or 8 weeks ago!) I guess I felt I needed to cover so much that we basically started reading about, researching, and discussing big events from the 1400s on.  Considering the beginnings of our country, there were some pretty grim things being discussed, though I think I kept it at a reasonable place.  We made it all the way to the end of the Revolutionary War, Washington's presidency, Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, and Lewis and Clark before I realized that our continent studies had become something else altogether.  It only just occurred to me that I could and probably should separate the two, and so we are now going to highlight a few more things about our country more in line with what we focused on with the other countries (animals, food, music, demographics, landmarks, interesting geographical features, traditions, art and culture, etc) and take the US History bit in bits and pieces from here on out.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that she is in first grade, and it isn't really necessary or appropriate for me to focus in depth on everything.  With history this seems to be the case, as well as with science.  We read about and listened to our hearts the other day and I nearly printed out a somewhat detailed drawing of the heart for her to color and label and then I thought..... maybe the reading and listening and discussing is actually more age appropriate for right now.  Maybe, at six, you don't have to memorize the way the blood flows in and out of the heart and be able to name the different arteries and veins and chambers.

I think sometimes it's more that I get excited myself and I want to dive deeper.  Plus papa has been studying for his advanced EMT certification, so the anatomy discussions can easily get more in depth than need be.  There is, after all, a difference between 36 and 6.

Language continues to be, I think, her favorite (well maybe they are neck and neck with art and books on cd, but academically anyway, it's a favorite).  She has gotten a bit less enthused about working her way through the Explode the Code workbooks now that they have gotten more difficult and are more at her level.  She still enjoys them, she just isn't plowing through them.  Slow and steady seems to me a better pace than the racing through, so I am glad for that.  We are starting to work with all the different ways to make long vowel sounds, and I've just decided to introduce a somewhat regular 'spelling test', though somewhat covertly and casually.  One day a week her language work is to write a letter to a friend or family member, and that has been a hit.  She reads aloud to us often, and I continue to read to her at night (and often throughout the day).  We very much enjoy our chapter books at bedtime, and we're happily working our way through Anne of Green Gables now.

There have been other things of course~  discussions about migration and pollution and elections (back to those pesky national event things), art, plenty of playing and trips to the library.  We've had a couple homeschool mornings at the coffee shop and tea shop, which are novel and fun and we don't get much done but I'll count tasty treats and laughs with my girl as a win every time.

And oh!  We grew popcorn this year and we just today removed the kernels and popped some and it is delicious.  Delicious.  I think backyard popcorn is one of my new favorite things and it has won itself a place on the list of things to plant regularly in the garden.  So hurrah for that.

I think that is as tidy an account as I can give for our last several weeks at it.  Please feel free to ask and share and recommend as you see fit as part of this homeschooling conversation.



thanks for taking the time to read and comment~