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 The
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.