Austin was eating fries as part of his lunch yesterday. We taught him how to use the Fry Daddy (a small deep fryer) last week and he is excited and proud of himself for being able to use such a "grown-up" appliance. Such a task would not have been possible a year ago, because he would not have been able to maintain his attention on the various details that using a hot oil appliance require.
Anyway, while he was eating his fries, he came into where I was working on lessons for next week and said, "Mom we have Sir Walter Raleigh to thank for these french fries!" I sort of chuckled and agreed with him. I noticed dh's confused expression and said to Austin, "Daddy looks confused!"
Austin began, "Sir Walter Raleigh was a great explorer, but he didn't have much luck in keeping a colony going in America. Really it was Virginia, you know, where the Chesapeake Bay is?" Austin waited for daddy to confirm with a nod that he understood what Austin was talking about, then he went on. "But when Sir Walter Raleigh went back to England he took 2 things with him: tobacco, and potatoes! And that's how they probably got to France and we have french fries today."
Everything except for the part about the potato going to France so they could make them into french fries came from one of our history readings from the week before last: This Country of Ours, Chapter 12, About Sir Walter Raleigh's Adventures in the Golden West.
This is the stuff of dreams for this homeschooling mom! It makes me so happy to see him taking the stories we are reading and getting meaning from them. That is something that I have been waiting so long for him to start developing! Without him getting meaning from what he reads or from what I read to him, our lessons are really very empty. I feel strongly that our switch to a CM philosophy, along with the progress we have made in RDI, have allowed him to construct meaning and see the importance of understanding what you are reading. It has allowed him to not be worried about being 'right or wrong'. He doesn't have to spend his energy and focus trying to figure out dates, names, and details and instead he can focus on the story and the meaning behind it. And in the process, he is recalling the dates, names, and details that eluded him before!
I really needed to have this confirmation of the value of this new educational path. It is the time of year when my brain naturally starts thinking about the new school year coming in August, even though we probably won't be finished with Year 3 of Ambleside until September at the earliest (we began it in October 2007). I was starting to wonder if we should start over with history using the Story of the World books which I own and used, unsuccessfully, when Austin was in 1st grade. I know that he would be able to get so much out of them now, and Reece will be a 1st grader next year and that is the target audience. I would still use the CM philosophy, just not the AO curriculum.
I kept coming back in my head to AO, and the notion of "Don't try to fix something that ain't broken!" I tend to do that too much, and experience has shown me that changing it never, ever helps. In fact, since I have found something that seems to be working so well, I really need to just stick with it and let it continue to work! After all, if it's working this well now, how much better will it be when we've used it longer and we're all more comfortable with the methods and expectations?! Having Austin come to me like he did really served to reinforce all of those thoughts.
I decided to start a list of reasons I am using CM and AO in particular, that way I can read them and reinforce what I know in times when I'm feeling unsettled. I also actually found a post I wrote on the Ambleside yahoogroup to a mom with a son who is 11 and has Aspergers trying to encourage her. I cut and pasted that to my list as well, to remind me when I need encouraging! I also included reasons on my list why CM/AO is a good choice for Riley as well, even though I know she would be quite capable of managing a WTM-inspired classical approach. CM/AO is not a substandard education in the least!!
I may have to revisit this topic another day. There are so many things I'm trying to express but my brain is not cooperating. Reece was up again last night, despite having had melatonin before bed. I just do not think well when I'm moderately sleep-deprived! LOL If I've not been clear, leave a comment and I will try to address it when my brain is able to work again. :)