Thinking about school again

Last summer I remember not wanting to think about school until well into August. This summer I wonder if some schooltime might improve my kids’ behavior by giving them some good things to do. At the same time, I don’t like to deprive them of their summer vacation. I’m not really ready for school. I don’t have Ambleside’s suggested schedule printed out. I have a list of books I need to download or purchase, but I haven’t checked off half of them yet. I’m not ready to get serious about school, but I am ready to think about it.

Math is one thing I’m doing differently this year. I heard about The Life of Fred math books, and after some research and a sale, I decided to purchase one book for each child. They are somewhat expensive, but not consumable, so they can be reused. The Life of Fred combines math and reading and other subjects. It’s a story, and glancing through them, they look fun. The author dislikes the “drill and kill” method of teaching math. I do see benefits to repetition, so I’m not dumping my Math-U-See books from last year. Instead, I’m going to try doing both. Not really double the math work, just a varied approach. Make math interesting and unpredictable. We’ll see how it goes.

Spelling is something I’m thinking about. My seven-year-old is bad at spelling (as is his father, but there’s nothing to be done about that). Charlotte Mason does not think spelling needs to be taught as a separate subject; she thinks it will come naturally as kids read more. I’ve seen a lot of people disagree with her on that, and I am leaning toward disagreeing as well. However, I may give it one more year before I buy a spelling curriculum. The ones I like best include dictation, and they are more advanced than second grade. Maybe I’ll buy a Junior Scrabble game and be content with that this year.

I look forward to all our history readings. I feel a little uneasy following Ambleside’s history schedule because almost everyone I know uses a history spine book, and Ambleside Online does not. I think, though, that my children will still get a good history education. I just need to trust those wise people who put together AO.

Bible will probably be conducted in much the same way as last year: read Bible stories, read interesting Bible story books, glance through other homeschoolers’ Bible book lists, get ideas, make impulse purchases, and go with it. It seems as if I get just as bored as the kids doing a subject the same way all year long.

Nature study is something I need to think about, too. I need help to make it more formal. I have that big black Handbook of Nature Study, but it hasn’t been enough. Or it hasn’t been convenient. Or it’s not Midwestern enough. I’ll have to do some searching and find out what others are doing for nature study in the early years.

I haven’t listed every subject here, but it’s enough thinking for tonight. Time to go to bed. My bedtime book is really good: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. Charley is a dog. Steinbeck is an author I used to dislike, but not anymore. I’m sure I’ll be posting about that book when I finish it.

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8 thoughts on “Thinking about school again”

  1. Strictly for comparison sake, AJ spells at a 6th grade level, does 4th grade math, and is on book 4 of Harry Potter. This is in addition to being involved in scouting, soccer, the local arboretum, and church activities. He has not had any formal spelling curriculum (he will this year although the words he will be given will be too easy) and the math he learned when his sister studied it or he picked up on his own. What I’m trying to say is that they will get it one way or another if they are motivated and want to learn. I wouldn’t push the spelling yet either. Just have him read more. πŸ™‚ And come visit!!! πŸ˜‰

    1. Wow! Way to go, AJ:) Eddie is just starting to read books without me telling him to. He skipped the whole easy-reader phase. Dove right into the unabridged version of Pinocchio. The “wanting to learn” seems to be the tricky part of homeschooling. I’ll talk to Dean about visiting:)

    1. That is an interesting article, and I think the author of the Life of Fred math books would be on board with Finland’s changes. Charlotte Mason is not quite so radical as that, but there is something about her theories of education that support learning for the sake of “something” not just for the sake of “just because that’s what we’ve always done.”

  2. I loved Travels with Charley. I read it when I was young. I haven’t read Steinbeck in years but may revisit some of his books as we approach the high school years.
    I personally don’t think a spelling curriculum is necessary, most of the time good readers are good spellers. And you have plenty of time for your kids to develop those skills.

    1. It’s good to hear that. I suppose I was a bit exasperated when my son drew a picture of a milk truck and put “Milck” on the side of it. We are dairy farmers after all! πŸ™‚

      1. I have met a few people who say that good spelling doesn’t come naturally to them or their kids, despite liking to read. So I wouldn’t rule out the necessity of working specifically on spelling at some point with an older child that continues to struggle. But I think phonetic spelling is really normal for younger kids and that it’s more important to focus on a love or words and a good story, and let the mechanics come later. Just my opinion of course πŸ˜‰

  3. Forgot to mention that I just played scrabble for the first time today with my youngest (almost 10). There are lots of ways to integrate spelling without making it a separate lesson.

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