Monday, September 07, 2009

so far, so good

We started back to school last week. We hadn't planned to begin until this week, but we all were feeling the need start up. The kids asked me on Sunday if they could start school the next day and I immediately agreed.

I think we were all in the need of a bit more structure and purpose in our lives. I believe that they had their fill of seashell searching, bug chasing, rope swinging, wave catching and bike riding to their heart's content. You see, this had become their full-time job.

Now, these activities can become their leisure activities for afternoons and weekends. Their little minds were growing desperate for some new challenges!

And as for me, my full-time job has become tracking down- and either buying or borrowing- old and out-of-print books, organizing weekly schedules and reading, reading and more reading.

We use living books for all of our subjects- other than math and handwriting- and this translates into lots and lots of reading. Learning about science, history, nature through narrative stories has my children captivated, so it is no chore at all "getting it all done".

I can say that there are new piles of books lying on nearly every surface of my home that were not there two weeks ago and although we only read a little bit each day, we still have several books going at once. Here is a peek at what we'll be reading from this term:

The Bible- Old Testament stories
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula

An Island Story by H.E. Marshall

Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D'Aulaire

James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot

The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty

This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall

A Child's History of the World by Hillyer

Michelangelo by Diane Stanley

Marco Polo by various authors

The Handbook of Nature Study

Science Lab in a Supermarket Robert Friedhoffer

Great Inventors and their Inventions by Frank Bachman
American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenburg
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

The Heroes by Charles Kingsley
Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake

This seems like an overwhelming list, I know, but we only read a bit each day or week. In addition to all this reading we also have artist study, handicrafts and nature study.

The children are also encouraged to read other books during the afternoons and evenings that are not listed above. Currently Sophia is reading through a darling series by Elizabeth Enright and just finished the first book, The Saturdays.

We are trying to focus on school during the first part of the day and have our afternoons free. We used to rely on the time when Elias took his naps for focused times of reading, but now that he is old enough to join in or play/work independently while we read, it is not an issue.

In fact, Elias has been asking for his school work lately. I have been trying to keep him challenged with a combination of play and work- counting objects (like all of the stones and shells we collected this summer), puzzles, coloring, his hammer and tack set (a Montessori preschool activity), his indoor sandbox and of course, reading.

Each day is different and has a feel all of its own. It takes tremendous patience and energy on my part to both stay committed to our plans and also to allow room for spontaneous learning and unplanned experiences.

So far, so good.

I traditionally take a photo of the first day of school. It's usually pretty tame and involves the children sitting nicely on a bench. They can usually manage to maintain this pose for about thirty seconds, so my time is limited. Here you have it.


barefootrooster said...

i love the back-to-school picture. (and that the kids really wanted to start school. so good to be excited by learning.)

Anonymous said...

what cuties!! :) that looks like a great book list. thanks for sharing.

Amanda L. said...

Incredible book list..I'll have to take an insider look next time I'm at your house!

Love that they are asking for school...

You are so patient and nurturing with them, much more than I would be.

Posey just finished reading The Penderwicks and adored it - Sophia would love it. Add it to your list when she finishes her current series.

Donna ~Blessed Nest said...

Your school days seem similar to ours..we love living books! I love your book list!We started a week early too because Tabi was asking for it. Have a wonderful school year.