Homeschooling, Round 2

As I settle into the first week of June, I am already excited about round 2 of homeschooling.  We had such a great year using a mostly “classical” approach, that now we are ready to add-to and take-away and make it even greater.

I absolutely loved using ancient history as our guiding light throughout the past year.  We started with Story of the World volume 1 and even though my daughters were in grades 4 and 5, it worked beautifully.  Being an avid reader and writer myself, I enjoyed creating my own worksheets, reading comprehension pages, and tests for my girls.  I have recently made some of these page available for download through the Teachers pay Teachers site!  (Please email me if interested!)

We started with the dawn of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, and we didn’t rest until we had memorized the first 15 emperors of the Roman Empire.  Yes, our history spanned 5,000 years and a massive amount of geography, but through it all we stayed focused and streamlined, creating artwork, writing assignments, watching films, and reading books that fit in with our time period and culture.

Our science followed suit: we studied biology with an emphasis on animal life the first semester, anatomy the 3rd quarter, and plant life the final stretch of the year.  We memorized early scientists who made great contributions to biology; we constructed lap books and foldables; we created powerpoint and poster presentations; we read lots of encyclopedia entries and library books.  And above all, we enjoyed learning!

Of course, grammar work, writing, math, Bible, piano lessons, keyboarding and playtime permeated every single day. But the true highlight was our afternoon time spent diving into ancient history and science.  We decided we didn’t really agree with most of Hammurabi’s law code, and we loved Carl Linnaeus for giving us such an organized system for learning animals.  We thought many of the ancient rulers were unusually cruel, but we admired Hatshepsut for her graceful, productive reign.  We discovered frogs that were no bigger than our pencil eraser, witnessed the anger of the kiwi bird, and were frightened by the angler fish’s smile.  We greatly admired Alexander, and we fully respected Julius Caesar.  My girls were particularly sad to hear how his life ended and that Rome wound up ruled by a tyrant after all.

And we’re ready to move on!  We will take a short break this summer, with plans to read Little Women and Bridge to Terabithia together.  The girls will attend a few summer camps and work on crafts to enter in the fall fair. And I, hopefully, will reflect and refuel.  I will nourish my soul so that in just a few short months I will be fully ecstatic to start it all again!

Lammers Farms Academy

So, turns out homeschooling my 2 daughters is a great source of joy and wonderment.  AND, I am learning so much… ancient Pharaohs, components of blood, Hebrew words, converting the metric system, and how to figure elapsed time.  Who knew 4th and 5th grade content is so AMAZING? and useful.

While the big boys are away at high school every day, my home becomes a haven of learning… a den of activities and experiments and inquiries.  There are laughs over failed experiments and tears over Old Yeller.  There are frantic moments of brushing hair just so we can take a picture late in the day and not look like homeschool kids.  There are lunches of hot dogs or last night’s leftovers. There are recesses on the trampoline that might last 20 minutes or 2 hours, depending on the weather.  We’ve spilled paint on the hardwood.  We’ve struggled over origami projects. We’ve started videos that were too boring to finish.  We sketch and read outside.  And we take fields trips…. lots and lots of field trips. We’ve been to the zoo, to an art museum, to a pumpkin patch, and to Disney World. So yeah, our homeschool takes us far away, while keeping us close at home.

And our Principal oversees it all.  Like any good principal, he keeps his distance and doesn’t interfere because when something is working why mess it up?  But he pops in unexpectedly and takes us to lunch or to visit a cotton gin or the bank.  And every once is awhile, he helps with a project or teaches a lesson.  But mostly he is here in spirit.. the one we can’t wait to impress late in the day with our masterpieces, our written stories, and our powerpoint presentations that need to be seen one more time.

As autumn has turned to winter and is now looking forward to spring, our school year is solid.  The routine is familiar and comfortable but the schedule is just flexible enough to allow for spontaneity and surprises.  This homeschooling stint is definitely here to stay.