This year the boys are in 7th, 5th and 3rd grades. It’s a “testing year” for Sam and Caleb, so the pressure is on for Mom, I mean them, to test well by August. Though the month has been full and busy already (did I mention the grandparents are living with us now?!) we are suddenly several weeks into the academic year and yet things are going well. (Partly because said grandparents are SO respectful of our school day!) If you are curious as to “What do you DO all day?” You might enjoy hearing about Red Barn Academy’s loosely knit program. Although I am always adding new twists and fine-tuning our system, we are now (I am still in shock) on our 7th year of the homeschool lifestyle. I feel like I am finally learning what works best for our family.
Structure-but not too much! Flexibility-but not too much! Books, in abundance. Character training, above all. Social activities, as a reward. Housework, in moderation. Laughter, curiosity and lots of “time around the edges” for unexpected learning. Lots of smiles and “you can do its” and “quality not quantity” reminders…Caleb gets to compose the final sentence in his daily handwriting practice. The other day it was this one, “Barbies are ugly.” Sam and Caleb share an intense hatred for Mattel’s Barbie products. I think it is interesting, however, the way my sons react to girls themselves. It seems most boys start that vocal dislike of girls around the ages of 6 to 12, yet mine never have. Our social circle has a lot of female children, of all ages, and all three of our boys play with them with no hesitation whatsoever! Friends have pointed out that my boys never tease or even just avoid their daughters as other boys might. I think it may be because, as homeschoolers, they haven’t caught the common playground “girl cooty” phobia. I also think it could be just that they don’t live with sisters (and Mom doesn’t even register as a girl-she’s always just Mom) Girls, therefore, have this “other-world” quality. Girls are different, and Sam has expressed immense relief “that God did not make me a girl” but they still tend to think of them as interesting people, with souls, and worthy of respect. Therefore all that fierce “I am ME, not YOU” identity gets turned with vengeance onto a fake plastic doll. Barbies are EVIL. I have found drawings in notebooks, depicting that exact sentiment. Caleb even requested we get a few at the thrift store “So’s I can decapitate ’em”
Caleb enjoys his “readers”. The boys are reading constantly by choice, but each week I assign a school-specific book to read and narrate back to me. Last week Caleb LOVED the biography of author Roald Dahl, (called The Boy). I think it is because Dahl and Caleb have very similar personalities! This week he is reading “Skippack School” to go along with our American History year. He is only on Ch. 3 but says “So far, not too boring!”
A stack of our Read-Alouds. In the morning the boys do their workbook and independent learning which includes Math, Lang Arts, Handwriting and Bible. In between these, they are doing various household chores (Home economics is important too, you know! We are a well-rounded institution here) After lunch we get cozy in the living room and they list 5 new things to be grateful about that day, in their gratitude journal (just a cheap spiral notebook) while I start in on the stack of Read-alouds. This is the boys favorite part of school, and always has been. We do 1-3 books, a chapter or 2 in each, from American History. Although we are not following Sonlight curriculum this year, we still read several books from their recommended American History list. Then we read 1 chapter each in the other subjects. These are various books on being a Godly young man (Bob Schultz, Created for Work), Nature (Bird book by Burgess, Asimov-electricity) Logic (Fallacy Detective) and Art (Sister Wendy’s guide to American Art) Then we usually end up at the computer, googling for Images and more info on things we just read that are interesting. Googled this week, so far? Lightning rods. Rodin. Franklin stove. Washington at Valley Forge. Bunker Hill. Wrens.