Saturday, January 11, 2014

First week back is a success!

We are finished with our first week back after Christmas break, and I think it was a success! I scheduled our first day to be Tuesday, because I learned long ago that we shouldn't start lessons back on the same day that we start back to dance! But then Tuesday rolled around and it was 6 degrees with a "feels like" of -13. The local public schools were cancelled because of the cold, and therefore dance was cancelled as well. We were supposed to get some snow as well, but it never materialized. There was a wind advisory that morning as well, so I asked my husband to start a fire for us before he left for work, just in case the power went out. I didn't try to get the kids up early because it was simply too cold for our Georgia bones! And when everyone did wake up, I decided we should start watching our Shakespeare (for last term, that we never got around to) - Henry IV, Part I.

The BBC Hollow Crown series, staring Jeremy Irons, and this young man. That's not why we chose it, though. Really!
The plan was to watch about 30 minutes of it, and then get into our regular lessons. But by the time 30 minutes had ticked by, I felt like I was just starting to really get the flow of the language. So we watched the entire thing! And we all really, really enjoyed it!

Then Riley asked, "Can we watch the next one?" Reece agreed! Austin sort of grumbled. But then I started thinking about it and realized that, without dance in the evening, we would have time to watch the entire series (Henry IV, Part II and Henry V) and we could have our entire Shakespeare done for the year in one day. Now, that's not exactly how Charlotte Mason would have wanted us to do it, but sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do! :)

Thus, Tuesday became Shakespeare Day at the Black Pearl Academy! And it was a blast. Even Austin admitted that evening that it was really well-acted. Shakespeare is meant to be seen performed, and it was so much easier to understand what is going on when you can see the action and see the facial expressions and vocal inflections. And this cast was all British stars! I cannot recommend it highly enough! We laughed, we cried! There are a couple of scenes that may not be family friendly for very young ones, but they are short and easily skipped.

Wednesday was Austin's first day back to class - this semester, it's Debate. Since the van is not yet repaired, I had to drive him. Then he had Youth Praise Band at the church where he plays, in addition to Worship Band rehearsal for Sunday's service. So I had to drive him to that. He really needs a vehicle! I got spoiled not being his taxi!

A new rule for our school year is that the kids need to be up and ready for learning by 9 AM. If they aren't, they don't get their screen time for that day. I hate to have to do that, but we are too busy in the afternoons/evenings for them not to get a relatively early start in the mornings. Austin is almost always up, so I wasn't concerned about him. Riley got up each day and I was really impressed. Reece didn't make it up in time on Thursday or Friday. I was really surprised, too. I think we are getting very, very close to her starting her cycle, both due to her emotional reactions to things and her constant eating and sleeping. She was upset that she couldn't have her screens after lessons were done, and I hated to make her upset, but I had to stick to the consequences.

Friday was the first day back to classes for Riley. This semester she is taking a drawing class instead of the graphic art class she took last semester, which has her staying at class until the afternoon! It's really strange to have her gone for almost 6 hours! She had a blast, though. She has a free period now, and she gets to hang out with a few of her friends who also have a free period! I'm happy for her, because she's been wanting more socializing time!

We actually managed to get all 4 days worth of work done in 3 days, even with all of the busy-ness. Of course, we were all working long hours, but that's OK! I think long hours are just part of the whole experience when you are homeschooling older kids. We had a few really nice discussions, too. I've been wondering if/when this would happen for us - so I was thrilled! One of the discussions stemmed from a chapter Austin had read in his Economics book, Economics in One Lesson. It started with talking about the fact that there is actually a "net zero job loss" with the introduction of machines in manufacturing, but how you may not feel that way if you are the one who lost your job to the machine. From there we went on to discuss how that worker could find a new job. Then we went on to talk about modern education being about starting on a "career path" (they start that in 8th grade now in GA) and what an education geared to a "career path" would mean if that career disappeared. And how my goal for their education is to teach them how to learn, how to express themselves, how to find information and be interested in learning, and how to have a good worth ethic. How those things, I believe, will get them further in life because with those skills, you can be successful in any number of careers in your life. People don't stay in one job, with one company, or in one career field their whole lives anymore. Anyway, it was nice to have that is discussion with Austin and Reece.

When Riley got home, she wanted to talk about the prep work they did in World Lit class for their next book, Night by Ellie Wiesel. I didn't realize that this author is a concentration camp survivor so it's an actual first-person account of the holocaust. Riley gave Reece a "rated PG" overview of the holocaust and we talked about how important it is to learn about these things in history, even the really bad things. Reece was uncomfortable talking about it and she made a couple of jokes. Riley was upset with her for making jokes and Reece replied, "I'm only joking so I don't really have to think about it." Such an honest girl she is!

The last notable thing for this week was that Reece finally learned division. A few months ago, at dance, a younger girl was doing her homework and asked Reece for help since she's older. The homework was long division, which Reece hadn't learned yet, and Reece was very upset and embarrassed. She has been begging me ever since to teach her long division so she wouldn't be behind anymore. I assured her that we would get to division - short division - very soon, and that her math book goes in a different order than others. Still, it bothered her to be behind, in her eyes. She asked me frequently to teach her long division, and I was actually going to break down and do it over the holidays but I forgot. So yesterday was the Big Day. She was feeling very intimidated with the short division using the abacus and asked if she had to do the assignments without the abacus that day. I assured her that we didn't, but I could also tell that she was going to be able to do the work without the abacus. So I asked her to just do one problem without it, to try. And she did. Then I teased her a little bit about needing the abacus 'forever' as she said she did! LOL Then, once I was assured that she had short division down pat, I asked her to pick a problem she had already solved and I would show it to her with long division. After I got done, she exclaimed, "Wow! What is the purpose with all of that?!" Cracked me up completely! I hope she sees now that she was not behind, like she thought. Her math curriculum is teaching her in a sequential manner that works so well with her brain!

So that was our week! I'm worn out from it, but that's OK! I hope next week will be as successful. We have a couple of new things to add to our schedule to prepare for the SAT (Riley) and ACT (Austin) this spring. Fun, fun!?!

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