Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Starting over for the first time

on March 11, 2010
This is a new space, a new blog, and a new phase in our lives. Before it was my space, it was under a different name, and it was full of unpleasant rantings. We are in a new place as a family, and I’m in a new place as a mom, so I wanted to just let go of those old blogs. Rest assured–or be forwarned–that when issues that mean something to me, especially those dealing with decency, personal responsibility, and truth, come up, I will most likely sound off. But I’m trying to do so in a more controlled manner. So you still may not like it . . . but at least then it’s all a matter of opinion.
 
I also wanted to start blogging seriously because . . .drum roll . . .WE’VE STARTED HOMESCHOOLING!! Sort of. Caleb is still in the preschool on base until June, so really this is trial and error, experimentation time. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t, working out kinks, getting a routine that’ll work when it “counts”, etc. I’m also learning how I want to organize our days, what planning system to use, what curriculum (if any . . .I’ll explain) will work best, etc. I almost waited until the fall but then I got excited and wanted to dive right in. I’m so glad I did simply because things didn’t work right away. If that had happened while trying to school Caleb for real in the fall–because he’s the only one who would possibly need formula curriculum, being in kindergarten–I would’ve thrown in the towel. As it is, I see my strengths and weaknesses and can work on both in the both in the next few months. And since it seems to be quite the “thing” to blog when you homeschool, I figured I’d give it a try.
 
I’ve also had time to get familiar with the Charlotte Mason method. I’m not versed enough to explain it, so if you’re curious there are many websites out there, including Ambleside Online, that can give you an idea. It doesn’t rely on textbooks and workbooks. You can go there for the facts, but the “real” learning comes through what are termed “living books”, or books written by someone with a passion for the subject, instead of a dry compilation of dates and data. This lack of formality at first frightened and irritated me. But then I found it attractive, because it really fits my current situation, and I felt a burden lifted once I realized this. Basically, until the age of 6, formal bookwork is not encouraged. Instead, interactive learning is. Meaning? Go for nature walks, collect plants and bugs and things, describe them, and find out more by looking it up. Reading stories with rich vocabulary that stimulate the child’s imagination. Manipulatives that encourage hands on learning (making bead patterns on a shoelace, building with blocks, etc) for math purposes. Encourage the child to notice things and listen for things and memorize things (Bible verses, poems, songs, etc). Really it means being 100% interactive with the kids, making it all a learning experience.
 
Example:
 
  • Tuesday, walking Caleb to his bus, I stopped and directed the kids’ attention to paw prints that were frozen in the mud. I had them count the toe pads. I explained that an animal, most likely a dog, made those prints.  A few steps later Isaac said, “Wait, mommy, wait! There’s more! I want to count!” He was finding tracks–accurately–all the way to the bus and back home.
  • I’ve been reading poems from their book “Baby Einstein: Let’s Explore . . . Poetry”. I spend a whole week on one poem, reading it three times during circle time (in the morning, I have them drag their large puppy dog pillows out to the living room, give them things to color, then we pray, sing a couple songs, and I read). They already know “Mix a Pancake”. This week we’re doing “Spring Rain”, which is a cute little poem that, the first time I read it, I realized lends itself very well to learning tempo and beat. So I have them beat the time out on their knees while I read in sync with them.
  • When we walk to his bus, I make Caleb lead the way. I’m doing the same with Isaac, and we talk about compass point directions. We also talk about respecting property (don’t play with those rocks, that’s not your house).

I was trying to do actually schooling, using a different letter each week to teach Isaac recognition. But I decided to stop until I have everything worked out. Yet I’m still, by the Charlotte Mason method, still schooling. Earlier today I was writing down what we did today, and I discovered that, though there was no formal lesson plan, we still had school:

  • I read Genesis 1-2 in the Bible and we talked about the creation story; I also tied it to John 1. So we did: Bible
  • We did our poem, and I read “Little Bear”: Language Arts
  • The “Let’s Explore . . ” series has art books, and we’re observing the letter B piece, which is called “Roter Balloon”: Art appreciation
  • I’m teaching Caleb how to help me with laundry by unloading the dryer: Home Ec
  • Makenzie helped me make pumpkin muffins and I told her what we were doing and why each step: Home Ec (maybe science?)
  • While I played with a planner, to see if it’ll suit me, I gave Isaac beads to string, Caleb buttons to lace, and Makenzie beanbags to toss: Math (the beads come with cards showing patterns to copy, and Isaac knows how to do it) and motor skills (we also practiced toss and catch with the beanbags)
  • During snack time, I took 5 Teddy Graham pieces, laid them on top of an applesauce box, and did “5 Bears in the Bed”, and as each bear fell out of the “bed”, I asked, “So how many are left?”: Math

You see, by the Charlotte Mason method,I had a full day of school! This really takes so much pressure off of me. Also, with the kids so close in age, and Caleb only 5 and still having some comprehension issues, this is perfect for schooling all of them on the same level, throwing in slightly more advanced learning opportunities for Caleb where I know he can handle it.  I do have a guide telling me what he should be learning as a kindergartener. But I can still use this method to teach him what he needs to know. I’m finding so many resources online, I almost can’t wait! But I have to, with him in school three days a week it’s just too hard to keep up. So meanwhile we’ll stick with circle time and calendar station (I have a felt chart hanging in the hall, it has the days of the week, the date, a clock, and even pieces to tell the weather for the day and the season we’re in). Just by living, they’ll be learning.

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