"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." ~Emilie Buchwald
Nutmeg finished St. Thomas More of London this week and wrote a literary narration a la the Well-Trained Mind. I was apprehensive about this exercise. Tuesday, I fortified myself with the WTM, questions from a lecture, and an audio of the lecture itself. Thursday, I took a deep breath and discussed the story with my child, then asked her to write about 2 or 3 of the things we had discussed. Susan Wise Bauer was exactly right about the parent needing to remain firm and extract the answers from the child! Whew! Nutmeg is now reading The Shakespeare Stealer, and we will follow the same pattern of discussing and writing.
I am using one of my favorite grammar resources with Buttercup: Oral Language Exercises It is simple, yet effective for practicing good speaking habits. Buttercup is also enjoying 101 Dalmations as a read aloud. There are so many interesting little details not in the movie!
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."~Winston Churchill
History is a driving force in our learning style. At the top of my history syllabus I have this quotation from The Well-Trained Mind, "History is the training ground where the student learns to organize and evaluate information." That strikes me every time I read it. In high school I took an AP history course; I received my college credits, but I cannot claim to have organized and evaluated anything in particular. On the one hand, I am frustrated that I did not learn "enough" in middle and high school. On the other hand, I am relieved to think that my children will, Deo volente, have many years of learning and discovery after their formal schooling as I have had.
As I prepare to teach American history this year, I am rediscovering my text books from that long ago AP course. I detested them. I always relished the story of history, the narrative, not the documents and letters from which the narrative is derived. The Well-Trained Mind puts greater and greater emphasis on primary source documents; in high school, the readings are almost exclusively primary sources. I understand now that children need to be taught gradually what to do with primary sources and also why one should do anything with them at all. It is a disservice to the student to spend 8 or 10 years reading regurgitations in a history textbook, and then to be handed a book of the letters of the Founding Fathers.
With all that in mind we will be using primary sources this year. We also have begun looking at history books critically and discovering the bias of the author. This week we looked at several different books and their treatment of Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots. We specifically analyzed the wording used to describe Mary I's imprisonment of Elizabeth I vs. Elizabeth I's imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots. The bias is astounding and often subtle. I consider this a critical exercise. We also explored truth vs. whole truth as we looked at the motivations for the epithet "Bloody Mary." She alone is held accountable to history for her actions, without putting her actions in the context of what was going on in all parts if Europe. (She wasn't the only Tudor to execute religious dissidents - that doesn't make her executions good, but she shouldn't be the only monarch branded with such a grisly sobriquet.)
Arts & Crafts
I purchased Kids Knitting, and Nutmeg is revisiting yarn and needles. I hope that this time both she and I can progress beyond one-stitch scarves! Several years ago I bought Catch the Sewing Bug! I am going through it again in preparation for starting it next week. Sewing machines stress me out - probably because I hate reading instruction manuals! Now I have a Cunning Plan - I will train my girls to use the sewing machine. Then they will be able to thread it for their mommie and make all of her needlework into pillows! Ha Ha!
Filling in the Gaps
We use our state's library system to the full; I frequently request books from all corners of Georgia. I teach the girls how to find things and encourage a wide range of interests. Lately I have been discouraged that Nutmeg has checked and rechecked out stacks of Emily Rhodda books and Stars Wars Enyclopedias to the exclusion of anything else! I am finally putting the library suggestions in the WTM into practice. This week the girls were required to check out a book about any science topic, one art/artist book, one biography, and one history or geography book. I have also subscribed to Nature Friend magazine. The library books and nature magazine are my two new strategies to "fill in the gaps." There are many benefits from studying one period of history or one branch of science per year. The downside is, of course, the long periods of time before (formally) revisiting the information. I am renewing my efforts to compensate for this downside with these additional readings.
The Joy of Numbers?
Math is not my favorite subject. Since the beginning of our homeschool journey, I have tried not to pass on that intense dislike to my children. Unfortunately, Nutmeg has it in spades! She is still struggling through Saxon 6/5. We lost our DIVE dvd last year during the move; I have finally forked over the big bucks to replace it. I am not a math teacher. I really, really hope this new dvd will help Nutmeg power through math!This weekend I will be putting the finishing touches on my learning plans for next week. I would love to plan further, but every time I try to plan more than a couple of weeks in advance, something happens. A unexpected appointment, errand, or visit is sure to present itself! :)