I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year. I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable. You can find week twelve here and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.
Changes in the Air: We took the week of Thanksgiving off, and I used a little bit of time during that week to play with the idea of a schedule with activities for each child in a time slot. I have not been a real “time” person before, but what I have found with having three children doing school this year, our five-year-old wanting more structure and needing more physical activity, both our older children tackling things that are demanding for them and needing me, and me needing some time for self-care, it seemed a schedule with times might be helpful. How many hours are realistically available to us in a day anyway? Could all of this even happen in a day? How long do all these activities and things take anyway? These were the questions I had when I started out. I found, yes, there are enough hours in the day and that assigning times and figuring out what each child was doing when and with whom and for how long actually was a helpful process to go through. I don’t feel like the timed schedule is a noose around my neck at all, and I feel comfortable jumping in if we are running late or things come up, but the older children have surprisingly embraced having a more “time exact” written down schedule and we are actually getting to extra foreign language, handwork , knitting for me and other things much more this week than before when we had a loose rhythm. So, time will tell if it holds!
Kindergarten: One of the days over Thanksgiving break, our five year old walked two miles to play at a nearby park in the morning and then we also hiked in the afternoon. This is the amount of activity he really needs to be happy. Our older children definitely had this and more when they were his age, but the trick has been trying to do this for our youngest whilst our older children need different things. So, having a schedule as mentioned above has helped. One morning I also have penciled in to do a much longer walk with playtime at our local park as well, and a hiking afternoon. We are doing a late autumn circle, the story of “Old Gnome in Advent Time” from the wonderful Suzanne Down’s work, and a lot of baking and crafting. A favorite project this week was to use a bulky yarn with a blunt plastic needle and a needlework star form to make a little ornament. Interestingly enough, our kindergartener has been watching his sisters knit avidly with determined concentration until he finally tried it for himself the other day and found he really could knit. He only did it twice and hasn’t asked again, and to me it is sort of like the four or five year olds who want to write their name – imitating and exploring… Baking and cleaning have been huge hits as well. He loves to run a carpet sweep but also vacuum with a heavy vacuum cleaner (I think because it is heavier and requires more effort) and we have seen big leaps in self-initiation and motivation with self-care and imaginative play. Lots of leaps are happening..
Fourth Grade – This week saw us diving into fractions – we worked mainly with apples. For one whole day we reviewed adding mentally and all the times tables we have covered so far. The first day of fractions we sliced apples and talked about fractions, read a book about apple fractions; the second day our fourth grader made a pie from scratch and we again sliced apples and worked on fractions in making the crust and filling of the pie, talked about the numerator and denominator above and below the fraction line; the third day we deepened that and moved into adding and subtracting fractions. Next week we will work more with baking so we can double and add fractions. Fractions make a lot of sense to our fourth grader, so this has been a pleasure. The times tables are coming along, and we have also circled back around to place value, adding and subtracting. Next week with our fraction work we will also work with adding and subtracting with carrying and borrowing problems, and I hope to introduce long division after Christmas. We are still working on spelling every week – this is part of the learning challenge our fourth grader has with spelling. It is very, very difficult for her. Cross stitching has been at the forefront as well, and knitting. My fourth grader has been working on a bookmark for quite awhile and all of the sudden in the last few days has done more rows on her bookmark in those two days than she has done since the beginning of the school year up to this point! I am hoping to move into having her make a pincushion next semester and also a round mat with a knotted pattern. We are currently reading “Wheel On the School”, a fourth grade favorite.
Seventh Grade – We finished some more perspective drawing work, (drawing and using a grid to make a street scene) and moved into chemistry. We started by talking about chemistry, what chemistry is, and I really laid out what we are studying this block . We looked at a periodic table and talked about common abbreviations, recited poetry about fire, wet on wet painted a painting of fire which will be added to each day and observed and drew a candle flame. We related combustion to things we already know and then delved into experience. We burned natural objects from nature with a blowtorch and honed our observation skills, then burned things of non-organic origin with more observation. One thing we talked about that was interesting and related to this on a practical level was the idea of a fabric burn test.
We closely observed a candle flame, the residual soot (carbon) a candle flame leaves behind, the way a candle flame can be snuffed out by lack of oxygen, and how once a candle is blown out a lighted match can be placed in the flame and the wick re-ignited. It was interesting to relate these processes back to the human body, botany, and mineralogy. I love how the curriculum spirals and circles back and deepens the knowledge the child already has inside! Outside of this, our seventh grader has been busy drawing some more, knitting a cowl and a scarf as a Christmas gift, and practicing math skills. It has been slow going reading aloud this week, so we are still reading our last book from our Colonial/Revolutionary American History block along with “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
Many blessings, looking forward to seeing what week fourteen brings!