Monday, March 13, 2006

"Mommy, the whole backyard is a field of flowers!"

Spring is here. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and when the rain isn't pouring down it's really nice. We're taking more days off. Sunshine seems determined to pick the flowers off every weed in the backyard, and I'm not inclined to stop her.

If you're new to homeschooling, you might be surprised at the number of days we take off. We don't stop during the summer or when the weather is bad, we stop when the weather is good or when family matters intervene. I wonder what effect this will have on the future, when more formerly homeschooled adults are out in the workplace who know in their bones that good weather means "go outside and enjoy it"? I imagine it will have a good effect in the long run.

The homeschooling method we're using, the classical a la The Well-Trained Mind is very intense. The authors advise taking frequent breaks, such as one day off a week or one week off a month. Our breaks aren't as regularly scheduled as that, but we still take them.

In addition, both girls are working above their grade level so I'm not inclined to push them. Sunshine turns 5 this week, and she's already halfway through a kindergarten curriculum. Brighteyes has already completed at least one first grade curriculum in all subjects. She is working on the second grade level in most subjects and in some cases is working on her second sets of second grade curriculum. We've used two different sets of first and second grade curriculums with her. I suppose we could just let her race ahead to third and fourth grade curriculums after she finished the first set of first and second grade curriculums, but we felt she was at a very fragile age where it was more important to make sure she had a solid foundation of the basics under her than to race ahead as fast as she could. She tried the "racing ahead" bit last year. She got to the point where she was reading fourth grade material at five years of age and she could sort of understand it, but she didn't have the background to fully "get it." That dichotomy led to some major temper tantrums. Ever since then we've been studying at a slower but broader pace.

In yoga, at the end of every session you're supposed to lay down, relax, and give what you just learned time to "settle in" to your body. Sounds like a good rule to use in homeschooling as well, especially with younger children.

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