We are almost a quarter of the way through our year. It feels like I’m accomplishing a lot just by doing school with the girls during the summer while all the other kids are playing outside and going on vacation. Silly, I know, but I have a great sense of commitment to getting through all that we can while also remaining balanced with swim days and picnic lunches. It’s kind of a new challenge; one that we’ve not had before. There is something very hard about doing school during the winter since you can’t play outside versus doing it in the summer in order to play outside. We spend the cooler parts of our day playing hard in the fresh air, and the hot miserable times where we’d want to be inside anyway are spent in lessons. We had some difficult news about a health struggle with my mom in the past couple of weeks, so staying in a routine has been extremely important just to survive the waiting period. I do not do well with sitting around and doing nothing and school has kept us really focused.
It is so funny how subjects and books that I used to think were essential have become a total waste of time. For example, the book series Developing the Early Learner was a tremendous success with Jaelah and Selah. They loved it and I believe it helped prepare them for formal phonics training. With Chavah, however, I want to dump all four workbooks directly into the recycle bin. It simply isn’t clicking with her. For some reason, having her look at a picture of a steak and a cow and ask her which comes first is completely outside of the way she thinks. This does not tell me she is not intelligent or would not be able to figure it out. I believe she is not ready for that kind of abstract thought process yet. Ask her where her hamburger comes from and she knows! She likes logic and formulas so she adores math time. She begs me to do “math papahs” and does not consider her school day over until we’ve done her lessons. We are flying through the Math U See Primer book. I am curious to see what happens when we start memorizing math facts. It is so fun to see the different learning styles and preferences of the children. Interestingly, Chavah is my most black and white child in other areas as well. Coincidence? Probably not. Phonics for Chavah has been All About Reading – a fantastic program that I will always use in the future. It has been so successful that she will be reading by the end of August.
Another thing I should not even have bothered with this year is copywork books. The purpose of copywork is obviously to develop and perfect handwriting to the point that it is consistently legible. There are many proponents of learning grammar and language arts this way (expose children to great literature by making them copy it every day and they will learn how language works). We are using the Copywork for Little Girls workbooks, which are lovely but have been unnecessary. They have a beautiful verse of prose or poetry for every day of a 180 day school year, which is a nice idea, but when you combine that with the cursive they are learning (and MUCH prefer) as well as IEW writing, science and geography notebooking, and their grammar books, it is a LOT of writing. If I felt that their handwriting really needed help, copywork would be worth it. But they do not, and it adds one more thing to do to our day, which is just another piece of annoying busywork. So I may just let them go by the wayside for now and perhaps let them write the verses in cursive when they are ready. Argh…wasted money is such a bummer!
I have realized, too late unfortunately, that Apologia Botany is extremely heavy on the Latin which makes it a tough level to teach at second grade. My original idea was to teach science in the order of the days of Creation, which would leave us around Day 2* for this year. They recently published the Junior Notebooking Journal for this level, which we love using, but there is no way around the Latin. The girls have been learning Greek and Latin roots in English From the Roots Up, and that has been extremely enjoyable – especially when they try to combine roots to make words (kinesismetron…lol…which would mean ‘to measure movement’ if it was a word). This leaves me no choice but to move extremely slowly and not expect them to memorize large lists of Latin. Another thing I am doing is defining the Latin words on a piece of poster board so they can consistently reference it as they learn new words as well as put words they have already learned together. Fortunately, the experiments have been exciting though extremely detailed and long. We are currently growing herbs in a light hut, which we will then use to make scented soap. Sound involved for a busy mom of five littles? It is! But I don’t mind. The twins had a blast “helping” us glue aluminum foil to the inside of the hut. Lots of chaos and lots of messes and 2 hours later, we have it plugged in and ready to grow. I really hope the seeds we used actually grow. If they do, we’ll have a nice little crop of basil, chamomile, and lemon balm. I have a very strong love for science, and I pray that excitement rubs off on the children.
*If discussing Creation in terms of “days” is bothersome, it is often because there is quite a bit of controversy over the Hebrew word yom (translated day but not necessarily meaning a 24 hour period). I am currently reading a few Hugh Ross books to get myself familiar with the subject since I was consistently taught all through school that the Bible says God created the Earth in seven days so that unequivocally means 7 24-hour time periods and anyone who believes otherwise is considered a total heathen. Since we can trust that God’s Word will never contradict His Creation, if legitimate science adds up to a universe that is much older than 10,000 years, I am inclined to leave the debate open. Perhaps we have misinterpreted Scripture in some ways. There are no definitive answers at this point, so we are letting the discussion remain lively and open to many different perspectives.