Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weekly Report - Weeks 21&22 - Our First Attempt at a CM Schedule!

I intended to get this report up last weekend but then life happened. ;) Dh threw out his back and I have been taking care of him and attending to all home and kiddo duties while he has been on the mend. Happy to say, he's doing much better now!

Well, I am thrilled that our first two Charlotte Mason inspired weeks went very well. We are still on a huge learning curve but so far, all the changes we've instituted have been very positive!

I am going to "walk" through our schedule and share a tad about each portion of our day.

First, I have been diligent to get up earlier each morning so when I wake the boys promptly at 7:00, I am dressed, have teeth brushed and a bit of makeup on. Miss Mason is huge on habit training, and for this first six weeks our habit training is focused on getting us all in a good solid morning routine...and that includes greeting the day with a joyful and positive spirit. After waking them, we immediately make beds, get dressed, brush teeth and then come downstairs and each do about 15 minutes of morning chores. The boys feed the dog and fish, help unload the dishwasher and set the table. I start a load of laundry, make breakfast and help put away all the breakable dishes. I must say that the hardest part of establishing this morning routine for my boys has been the joyful part! I am a morning person but two of my boys, not so. I am trying to coach them through how to "choose joy" even in the moments when life doesn't go our way. Hmmmm, that's a hard one for grown ups too. (Okay, okay I'll speak for myself...hard for this grown up for sure!) Here are two inspiring quotes on habit training from Miss Mason:

The habits of the child produce the character of the man, because certain mental habitudes once set up, their nature is to go on forever unless they should be displaced by other habits. Here is an end to the easy philosophy of, 'It doesn't matter,' 'Oh, he'll grow out of it,' "He'll know better by and by,' 'He's so young, what can we expect?' and so on. Every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.
(Vol.I, p.118 - emphasis mine)

We are not unwilling to make efforts in the beginning with the assurance that by-and-by things will go smoothly...The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children.
(Vol.I, p.136)
During breakfast we work on Scripture memory. The Bible verses they are learning come from their AWANA books so I don't have a say in that aspect. I love the AWANA program but if it were up to me, we would learn fewer verses but learn them more thoroughly. We would also work on longer passages. I am wondering if we will continue AWANA next year solely based on the fact that I would like to determine the Bible verses they are commiting to memory in these tender and impressionable years. I would pick verses that would help most with each child's character development in addition to ones that teach the attributes of God that we most want our children to know at this age. It is not possible for us to do both AWANA and our own Scripture memory plan. Too many verses, too little time.

For our daily Bible story we are reading Egermeier's Bible Story Book. The boys have enjoyed it so far and have already learned several stories they have not previously learned in the other story Bibles we've read. We also talk each day about our "Virtue of the Week". We are working though the Fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.
~Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Each week we are choosing one fruit to mediate upon and consider ways to produce more of that in each of our lives, myself included! The first week we focused on love and had some really great conversations when I explained that one definition of love (and probably my favorite) is "intentionally discovering another person's needs and choosing to meet them." They thought showing love was just giving physical affection. We talked about how Jesus loved us by meeting our greatest need, the need for a Savior to rescue us from our sin and the punishment that a holy and just God would have to inflict. We then too should show our love by serving one another. Big truths for little minds, to be sure. :)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.
~Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Math ~ We have taken our math time from 90 minutes a day to 30 minutes. For our first CM week we simply worked with Base 10 blocks each day, adding w/carrying, subtracting w/borrowing, multiplying and dividing. I really want to be certain he understands things like when you carry a "4" in addition or multiplication that you are really are bringing over "4 tens". We had lots of fun. For week two we went back to our Horizons 3 book but are only completing one side of a page each day (rather than a complete lesson, which is front and back) but staying wholly focused for those 15 minutes (with me right them training him to stay on task!). Then when we finish we are reviewing skip counting and doing one or two problems with the Base 10 blocks again.

Reading ~ Thatcher is reading aloud from the Pathway Readers that a sweet friend gave me now that her children are grown. " These stories of family life on an Amish farm are wholesome and delightful and encourage Godly character and moral values." We started back in the first grade books so we could get to know the characters as well as work on all those pesky reading habits of Thatch's I mentioned in my last post. We have already finished the first two and will begin the second grade readers Monday. I am really enjoying these stories. They remind me of the Miller Family Stories that we enjoyed so much last year.

Handwriting ~ not much to report other than I decreased the number of times I required Thatcher to write each letter a la Miss Mason's recommendations. We focused on making a few perfect letters rather than several mediocre ones. My only struggle was knowing that in order to form these new letters automatcially "muscle memory" must be developed and this happens only with repitition. I wondered on Monday of CM Week 2 if he would remember how to form the letters from the previous week or if he would have forgotten. He remembered! He takes great pride in writing carefully to get those three or four perfect letters. The pride on his face shows that Miss Mason was correct.

History ~ We are doing history again! We are still using SOTW as our spine but focusing on the great literature that goes along with each chapter rather than the SOTW reading itself. Previously we were reading the chapter on Monday and doing a narration according to how I learned in The Well Trained Mind. (The way WTM recommends doing narrations is quite distinct from a CM style narration.) Tuesday we would listen to the chapter again on audio CD while completing the corresponding color page and hopefully squeezing in the mapwork. Now we are doing history four days a week. I did start each week reading SOTW and doing a CM style narration. I also had Thatch listen to the audio version in his room at rest-time another day. The rest of the week we spent curled up with my favorite blanket in our reading chair reading Michael Morpurgo's version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Picture Study ~ We are studying Leonardo Da Vinci using prints we got from Ambleside. I will describe more about this in a later post because it deserves a space of it's own! :)

Geography ~ Recently I had a great conversation with Darcy from Life with my 3 Boybarians about her learnings from a CM seminar. The following idea is a direct result of something she shared with me. We are using a magnetic USA puzzle my mom gave Thatch a few years ago. Each day we do geography (2x a week) we set the timer for 10 minutes and see how much of the puzzle he can complete. Each puzzle piece has the name of the state on it and the puzzle base has the outline of each state with the capital but no state name. Now that he can do the entire puzzle in less than five minutes, we are playing, "Name that State Game". After removing all puzzle pieces I point to the outline of a state and he has to tell me what state goes there. Then we'll move on to learning the capitals. I cannot believe how much he has learned in only four geography lessons. Thanks, Darcy. She was right, it doesn't have to be hard! ;)

Science ~ We are finally studying the human body! Currently we are using the My Body book as our spine. In addition I pulled every book we had on the subject and checked out another 20 at the library. The first week we learned all about the brain and the second week was the heart. A few years ago I picked up The Human Body Jigsaw Book in Border's clearance section for just a few dollars. It has five puzzles each focusing on a different part of the human body. I also like this Melissa and Doug two-sided human body puzzle but we haven't added that to our collection yet (any granparents or aunts reading this? ;)

Spanish ~ We are continuing video-based lessons on Discovery Streaming every T, Th. Monday and Wednesday we play games. Under the Christmas tree were a few new Spanish learning games and we've had a ball with those! That will be another blog post, too. :)

Spelling ~ We have only done one lesson each week and my goal is two. Even though Spelling takes just few moments of time each day we keep forgetting it! We will do better next week.

Poetry ~ I don't have my own copy of A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson so we checked one out from the library and have enjoyed reading his poems most days at lunch.

Me Reading to Thatch ~ This has been another area that hasn't happened consistently. I may need to tweak our schedule because by this point in the day Beckett is getting tired and not wanting to play by himself. That would be fine if he would cuddle up with us, but he is too much of a talker and a wiggle-worm to allow us any reading time of value. I'll have to noodle on this one....

PE ~ nothing formal yet. Just getting in the habit of setting this time aside to be physical. Many plans to come!

Rest time ~ Oh rest beautiful sanity. ;) The boys are listening to lots of audio books we own (several of Jim Weiss's readings), others we borrowed from the library and Classical Kids' CD's during this time.

We also did our first nature hike of the year but I will save that for another post since this one is already so long!



Brittney said...

Way to Go, Jennefer! Sounds like things are moving right along! I am so glad to hear CM's ideas are working for you!

And thanks for posting Darcy's idea with the states puzzle. I am going to have to borrow that one!

Looking forward to hearing more about your picture study! :o)

Sheryl said...

Too much to say but I will comment on the Awana issue is the same here. (although there are other aspects besides the amount of scripture and lack of depth that I don't like)But how will you phase it out being a pastor's wife, just curious. Steven adn I are considering replacing Wed. night awana with a family ministry project etc. Also, we just finished reading the same Sir Gawain and the green Knight. Hope loved it!!! She is a fairy tale kinda girl and likes a little "blood and gore" mixed in. I hope to post about our days soon as well. We have made some subtle changes and they are going well. I am excited for ya'll.

Alycia in Va. said...

Wow- what a productive week. We are also reading Egermeier's Bible and love it. I think it's more thorough than children's Bibles we've read in the past. Congrats on starting CM this week- I would find the 7am wake up to be the most difficult. Alex (DD4.5) loves the Green Knight story, we are also SOTW followers but mostly listen to it in the car. I look forward to following your journey.

Michelle said...

I am trying right now to move back to a more CM style in our home school. It was encouraging to read your great post.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I loved reading about your morning routine. Thanks for sharing. It sounds alot like ours!

Laughing Lioness said...

What a neat report! I love the routine focus. Have a great new week!

Kristiana said...

What a great report! I just love those quotes on habit training you shared. I need to copy those down for myself. The biggest problem at our house right now is our bad habits or in some cases, no habits or routines. I'm the opposite of you though, I'm not a morning person at all, and 2 of my 3 boys are. It's a struggle to get going for me every day, but I'm realizing that's the key to having a good day. I have so much work to do!

I'm so glad your CM schedule is working out. I'm taking a few notes as we still haven't hit our stride since Christmas break and I need to change things around a bit.

Best of luck for another great week!

Stacy said...

Jennefer this was a great post!! Wanted to mention that I have a difficult time doing read-alouds with my ds for the same reason as you...a wiggly sibling! It's one reason I gave up on Winter Promise. I just couldn't seem to stay on schedule with all of the readings b/c my dd is no longer taking regular daily naps. Anyway, you mentioned audio books and I'll have to remember to check a couple out of the library this week. We haven't done audio books since ds was a really little guy (he's 11yo now). So I'm curious, did you completely ditch all WTM methods? Your homeschool sounds wonderful!
Stacy :-)

Linda Johnson said...

What a great week, Jennefer!

Could you share how a WTM-style narration and a CM-style narration have looked different to you? We do WTM-style right now and it seems so...artificial, or forced, or something.



ByHISgoodGrace said...

Hi Jennefer,
I was wondering how you got through all the CM reading--did you read the revised/modern one on-line? Each time I want to, I start and it is just so much information to consume. Would you mind sharing?