Homeschool Dad: Adjustments

These first few days are all about adjustments, and reflections on adjustments.

My nerdy persona requires that our curriculum be heavily reading based, ingesting books of the living variety*. I spent a great deal of last year committed to carrying out a plan, all the while observing what adjustments might benefit these precious students as we enter year two.

In the realm of literature, year one consisted of two components: We read numerous books at the table. Most often, I would read aloud and the children would narrate back to me the content of each chapter. The goal was simply to expose them to wonderful stories, teach them to identify and highlight important details, and then get them in the habit of talking about what they read. We read a dozen or so wonderful books in this fashion.

The second component came in their reading aloud a chapter each week from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. We would then very briefly discuss – individually and then together – the story, once everyone had caught up. Occasionally, we would spend a week reading the Baudelaire traumas aloud at the table in place of our typical Literature time.

They loved Literature. It was often stated as the favorite course. They each read another dozen or more chapter books on their own throughout the year. We are a reading family, so perhaps this wouldn’t fit everyone.

Getting More Out of Reading

I wondered this summer if I should change these habits. Why mess with a beloved thing? I suppose if there is something to be gained in the mess, it’s worthwhile. We made a few simple changes:

For our daily literature time (we’ve begun, as I stated in my previous post, with The Magician’s Nephew), I’ve decided that Monday and Friday will look much like last year. I read. They narrate. For the middle portion of the week, though, each kiddo will take the reins on reading aloud at the table. Their siblings will then respond.

Why the subtle change? I want my children to find a voice in reading aloud. I want them to learn to enunciate, to inflect, to emote, and to carry an audience by their interest in the story. This only comes by passion and by practice.

We’re continuing the Snicket saga with a change as well. Last year, I heard each chapter three times. I loved the time with my kiddos, but I felt there might be a better approach. This year, I will read the chapter quietly on Monday, and each evening one of the kiddos is assigned the same silent reading. Having squatted on the passage for 12-18hrs, I then have them narrate the chapter to me, and we take a few minutes to talk about it.

I chose this approach because I want to check out their short-term retention with silent reading, and I hope to teach them by experience how to have a discussion about a story. I’m hoping to encourage their thoughts and develop their ability to connect the smaller bits to the larger arcs. Plus, since it’s Snicket, I can follow up on and celebrate all the snark and vocabulary which I hold so dear.

Thursday having passed, we’ve read four chapters of Lewis and one of Snicket (we’re currently in The Austere Academy). I’ve enjoyed their voices at the table. Yes, I can table read fiction better than my children. But I have a feeling and a hope that one day, they’ll outshine me. And isn’t that the point of this whole endeavor?

 

* This is no news to a seasoned homeschooler, but a living book is defined by what it is and what it is not. It is not a textbook. It is a book that you might read for leisure, because it is a book written by an interested author – often in narrative form – that teaches through engaging writing. Such books “live” because they inspire** study. They teach both by what they intend to say and by what leaks out through the language, personality, and passion of the author. Rather than convey listed information which happens to be organized in paragraphs, these books invite interaction on numerous levels and give life to the exploration of creation. Textbooks are necessary and good, but I do love those living books.

** Because I also enjoy the finer points of locution, I believe it is worth noting that – like many words in good ‘ol English – the definition of inspire has shifted over the years. Definitions 1 & 3 have swapped in recent generations. In 1828, the primary definition involved breathing. More specifically, breathing life into an object or subject. (the opposite being expire) As I said, books live because they inspire. They give life to their subject. (On a biblical note, Scripture lives because it has been inspired – breathed upon in life-giving power – by the divine Author.)

Noah Webster’s 3rd definition involved the notion of encouragement, but only as a corollary of the 1st definition. Encouragement comes through the breathing of life. More recent times have seen the idea of encouragement eclipse it’s origin. Such vocabulary madness happens all the time, and I find an odd pleasure in discovering such an instance.

Homeschool Dad: Another Day One

Six weeks ago, I had the privilege of officiating a wedding on the shore of New Jersey, a trip that included a day exploring the boulder field of Hickory Run State Park. The morning after the wedding, we drove 8.5hrs to deliver a few of our little ones to kids camp, where I spent the week serving as the cook.

Two weeks later, we were back in New Jersey for another wedding, a trip that included a day exploring Manhattan in the rain, sealed with garlic rolls from John’s Pizzeria.

Last week, my wife and I enjoyed 24hrs alone in Chautauqa, NY with 4000 friends listening to the Avett Brothers. We stayed at a fantastic B&B in Sherman (randomly with two other couples who had attended the concert), explored an antique bookstore and then came home.

Today we started school, and it was a breath of fresh air. I love weddings, and I have a deep place in my heart for those who see fit to welcome us into such a wonderful day. I love driving, and spending time with my family where the only screen we see is the windshield. I love exploring, especially a city like the Big Apple! And man, I love the Avett Brothers. But today has been a breath of fresh air.

The Beauty of Structure

It was fresh because I also enjoy structure. We are blessed to travel from western PA to the east coast multiple times and just wait to see what happens. But as I sit here with a bit of french pressed goodness and a little background music (you’ll never guess who), a day of school in the rearview and hours until dinner, I am equally blessed.

I sat in the dining room greeting #1, #2, and #3 with catechism, a hymn, and prayer. We opened the door of Greek history. We held our breath as Polly and Digory opened the wrong door in the Magician’s Nephew. We met the Sassafras twins and Bobby Fischer. Honestly, this stuff is exciting, people!

#4 started kindergarten at the public school, complete with a ride on a short bus from the front door. #5 laughed, played, squealed, screamed, and eventually went down for a nap. Is this not every bit as much a dream as a walk through Strawberry Fields in the rain? I would argue yes.

I have four and a half hours until dinner. There’s a bit of house wiring waiting for me in the kiddos bedrooms. (gutted since May) There’s probably a bit of a daily harvest in the garden. I know there’s laundry. (There’s always laundry) I have a handful of design work waiting for the church. Luther’s Lectures on Romans are calling my name, among 8 or 12 other books active on the shelf. None of this happens without structure.

I even knocked out a blog post.

I’m excited for the school year. I get strange looks when I say I have way more time once school starts, but it’s true. In the chaos of summer, some other project or opportunity shines brighter than what is necessary or good. After three months with distraction as a way of life, there is a lot of joy waiting in the regularity of this homeschooling life.

Homeschool Dad: The 2018-2019 Curriculum

Homeschool Dad confession: I enjoy curriculum shopping.

Homeschool Dad clarification: I enjoy curriculum building. 

As I began my rookie year, I explored box curriculum options. But I have reached a point in life where my frugal side exerts unflinching dominance over my lavish and extravagant side. At the end of the day, curriculum building seems more budget friendly, and budget-friendly curriculum building makes for a satisfying online morning.

There are thousands of great books out there just begging to be implemented in an educational capacity. There are tens of thousands of average books that will get the job done in the hands of an excitable mom or dad and a motivated child. There are millions of not-so-great books that, while they contain words, are not particularly helpful for teaching anything of worth.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I feel like I know more at the outset of year two than I did at the launch of year one. I am hoping that I properly recognized areas of deficiency and that my course corrections are warranted. Regardless, I am excited for the stack of books that arrived last week. Some of these resources are still running from last year:

History: Greece
The Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber
Herodotus and the Road to History by J. Bendick
Archimedes and the Door of Science by J. Bendick
Our Little Spartan Cousin by J.D. Cowles
Our Little Athenian Cousin by J.D. Cowles
Treasury of Greek Mythology by D. Napoli

Geography: The Middle East & PA
Visits to the Middle East by J. Schafer
Hungry Planet by P. Menzel
Material World by P. Menzel
What’s Great About PA by K. Jerome

Literature (a start, anyhow)
The Chronicles of Narnia 
by C.S. Lewis
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by K. Yan Glaser
Bridge to Terabithia by K. Paterson
A Forest, A Flood, and an Unlikely Star by J.A. Myhre
Ben & Me by R. Lawson
The Austere Academy by L. Snicket

Science: Geology 
Sassafras Science Adventures, Vol. 5 by J. Congo

Language Arts
Writers in Residence by D. Bell
Spelling Wisdom by S. Schafer
Cursive Penmanship by M. Sull

Mathematics
Ray’s Arithmetic by J. Ray

Christian Formation
New City Catechism by K. Keller
Christian History Made Easy by T. Jones

Chess, Art, & Music
Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
 by B. Fischer
Drawing Lab by C. Sonheim
The Story of the Orchestra by R. Levine
Music Lab: We Rock! by J. Hanley

Two fifth graders and a third grader. 180 days. The pages are many, and the passion is high. I’m beyond excited to see how some of these titles will challenge and bless the kiddos… and their teacher.

In Brief: The Underwater Welder

Sometimes, you log in to Amazon for the one moment a graphic novel on your wish list has dropped 75% in price. And in that moment, you buy The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire. Though Lemire dwells often in the superhero realm, Welder is the story of an ordinary man facing his past in order to face his future. It is an exploration of pressure crystallized on the black and white page.

The Artwork

The Underwater Welder is a story in ink mixed with grayscale watercolor. Damon Lindelof compares the story to an episode of the Twilight Zone in his introduction. The gray palette certainly helps, and enables some of the artistic effects, many of which are designed to nearly freeze a moment in time and allow the reader to think:

There are instances in the book where Lemire breaks a still shot into six panels. As a reader, I loved this effect as it forced me to survey the scene with particular interest. Creative application of such simple concepts add depth to a moment.

There are recurring “liquid” moments – perhaps a necessity in an underwater novel. Among these, there are plip panels which feature a drop falling into a puddle. They are distributed throughout, but they unify the storytelling voice and highlight moments within the broader context.

What often moves a story from quaint to profound, and what is perhaps my favorite overall feature of the art, is the author’s apparent trust in the moment he created. Beautiful visual stories let the human intellect do a little bit of the work. Storytellers who leave nothing to the imagination often steal from their own work because they remove their readers/viewers from the process. Lemire lets seconds linger in simplicity in such a way that invite engagement. He brings numerous moments to a standstill without telling the reader what to think.

The Story

The Underwater Welder tells the story of Jack Joseph, a father-to-be who works beneath an offshore oil rig as a welder. His father Pete, also a diver, died on Halloween when Jack was only 10. Jack is wrestling with generational chains, working to reconcile the past as he faces his own future.

The story, like the art, is simple enough as to be broadly appealing and applicable. Jack Joseph is utterly ordinary, which makes him accessible. But in the details, Lemire establishes a reason to care for his characters, to invest in their circumstance, and to anticipate the resolution.

Early on, Jack has something of a supernatural underwater encounter that stuns and confuses him at first, nearly killing him. With each passing hour, the encounter entrances him and compels him to return to the water.
Where the story goes all Twilight Zone is in the third and fourth episodes. Jack lives out an eerie extended moment derived especially as a revelation for his life. The noise is removed and he is alone with himself. Without spoiling too much, Jack is trapped by the gift of exploring the his father’s death and his present pain. It is marvelously drawn and presented. It was worth the full price of admission… which makes the 75% off even more celebratory!

In the back half, as Jack fights the generational pull to become his perception of his father, the story and artwork move seamlessly in circuit from young Jack to old Jack to old Pete. Lives are intertwined and in the knotted mess, Jack is figuring out what went wrong, what is still yet right, and where his future lies.

The second half of the story rolls downhill at a lively pace. I loved the conclusion, not because it was unforeseeable, but because it had heart. It had gravity and lent itself to contemplation. Jack Joseph’s life was colored by the complicated life and death of his father. Jack Joseph’s life was about to become the brush that would color his own child’s beginning. This is the tapestry of humanity, and it is worth exploring in all its ordinary glory.

Ultimately, The Underwater Welder is a story about the revelatory power of pressure. Pressure can crush things, leaving only pieces. Pressure can also chip away the brokenness to reveal integrity. Jack’s story, and the destiny of his family, lie in the human response to immense pressure.

A Worthwhile Read

Even as a graphic novel, The Underwater Welder is a welcome moment apart from the noise of life to explore and ponder the complexities of the human soul, a chance to consider the effect of sin that lingers from one generation to the next, an opportunity to weigh the significance of the father/son relationship, and an entertaining and visually engaging read to boot.

Jeff Lemire has set the table for a number of interesting conversations. Grab a cup of coffee and jump in.

In Brief: The Road

As I’ve read various everyman reviews for Cormac McCarthy’s celebrated novel, The Road, I’ve realized that it can be a polarizing story. There are those who see it as a marvelous tale of sacrificial love and hope. There are others who can’t stand the abandonment of punctuation and the repetitively repetitive nature of it all.

The Road is a post-apocalyptic story of survival featuring a nameless man and his nameless son in an ashen and dreary world. Without crops, animals, or even the sun, the world is on the brink of extinction. The two travel the road in search of life and survivors, though trust is also in short supply as many have turned to crime and cannibalism.

The Road won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 2007, so it must get something right. But to be honest, I can sympathize with the detractors. Since I finished it this weekend, I’ve come to call it the best worst book I’ve read in a long time. My thoughts are all over the map here, and I could write for days… but since the title says In Brief…

The Best

Cormac McCarthy drew me in deep with his mastery of English vocabulary. In a world that is gray and barren, he unearths a great variety of words to communicate grayness and barrenness. He draws on language to reveal depths of despair and courage, and for that I am in awe. His prose is elegant.

The dialogue between the man and his son is often cold and distant like the world they traverse – serving a thematic purpose – and is apparently drawn from McCarthy’s own personal relationships.

Given the dire situation, there is no shortage of suspense as they come upon decrepit dwelling after dwelling. The man’s deliberate drive to find sustenance in sketchy places alongside the boy’s hesitation and fear at what else they might find create a fantastic tension both in the story and in their relationship.

Providing contrast and complexity in the characters, the man looks upon every surviving human with skepticism, the boy with compassion. This creates an internal/emotional tension that nicely expands the situational elements.

The Road contains the elements of greatness… which is why it is the best worst book that I’ve read in some time.

The Worst

The artist in me wants to believe that McCarthy left out the punctuation used in the top half of the line (quotations & apostrophes) in order to highlight the glass being half. Half full? Half empty? I suppose that’s a matter of perspective.

The writer in me wants to believe that he left it out in order to blur the lines between the man, his son, and anyone or anything else they happen to encounter. Why attribute words to particular persons when all are simply seeking survival in a blurry world?

The reader in me thinks his prose is strong enough that the lack of punctuation is annoying. McCarthy’s writing doesn’t require tricks. If a device must be overlooked in order to enjoy the book, it’s not worth including.

The characters, while complex, are also quite flat. Just like the world they inhabit, the characters encounter little growth or change (which, I know, is probably the point). I might have enjoyed this aspect more if McCarthy had explored the past a little more or further utilized their dialogue/dreams/flashbacks/thoughts to a greater extent.

I was losing heart in the middle of the book. I really didn’t want to finish. But I read a few reviews (without spoilers) that said, I’m so glad I stuck with it to the end. And so I persisted.

Love and Courage Without Hope

McCarthy’s man embodies sacrifice and survival. He lives for the boy’s wellness. The barren world places them in a situation where flight is not a viable option (from the situation or the accompanying suffering), and so the beauty of his love is that it gives all in the face of insurmountable odds.

McCarthy’s boy is the image of cautious trust, wanting to see goodness yet painfully aware of the reality of evil. He possesses an appropriate and surprising childlike faith, both in his father as protector and provider, and in an uninformed notion of God as a grounded source of black and white amid the world presented as eternally gray.

But while I applaud the complicated relationship of father and son, I diverge from the multitudes in the misguided notion that there is any lasting hope on The Road. McCarthy gives no room for ultimate hope. There is no food. No sunshine. No possibility of growing or cultivating livelihood. Mentions of an eternal reality are hollow at best. Everyone will die, and soon. The only revealed mission of every living human is to consume what remains.

The Road is hopeless. The man’s love has no ultimate relevance because it serves only to prolong both his and the boy’s pain in a world which boasts not even the slightest glimpse of light. The boy’s trust is charming but McCarthy gives no reason to believe he’s accomplished anything but finding a bigger family to die alongside.

Through his apocalypse, McCarthy lifts the veil of worldly distraction and comfort, and exposes the emaciated core of a materialistic worldview. On The Road, it doesn’t matter where we came from or how we got here, because ultimately we’re not going anywhere and so it doesn’t matter which way we go. Love merely serves to make the hopeless tolerable.

If the story meant to convey hope, the least the man could have done was tell the boy about love, beauty, and the colorful world he once knew. Instead, he suppressed it all as dangerous. He prepared the boy for an eternally ashen existence of militant survival.

I might like to ask Cormac McCarthy why he would bother to compose such aesthetic prose to tell the story of a man who refused to allow his son to even imagine color.

There is a journey. But without an anchor upon which to rest questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny, The Road leaves us only to eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

Best worst book.

Homeschool Dad: On Chess

Having finished the first year, I’ve been preparing our portfolios for review and giving thought to next year’s curriculum and objectives. It makes sense, then, that I’ve also been reflecting on the year’s highs and lows and evaluating potential changes.

One last-minute subject that I never would have intended to teach were it not for a couple of well-timed blog reads is chess. I’ve long appreciated the game, even if I’ve never spent intentional time considering strategies. I can honestly say I learned alongside the kiddos, and that at this point it is only a matter of time before they far exceed my capabilities.

Resources & Schedule

For a text, I chose two books. The Batsford Book of Chess for Children (book links to Amazon) by Sabrina Chevannes was the favorite. Chevannes introduces the game using the framework of a conversation between a comic brother and sister, top-notch color graphics, and enough humor to engage the kiddos. (Star Wars references are helpful!) Our students (age 9, 9, and 7 at the outset) loved it, understood it, and looked forward to it weekly.

Chess for Children by Murray Chandler became our supplementary text. This bare-boned presentation rests on the same level as Batsford. Though a little cluttered and monochrome, there are tremendous paper exercises throughout this book that proved useful.

For a schedule, we chose Mondays for lessons, and three days throughout the week for individual games. While one of the kiddos would read aloud to me, the other two would face off. As the year rolled on, we added notation to their games so that they could practice writing, reading, and reliving games.

Once we finished the text, we began reviewing tournament matches as a way of introducing opening strategies. Thanks to chessgames.com and our favorite Croatian chess channel on YouTube (agadmator), we were able to visit a number of classic master matches and see how a variety of players utilized particular opening moves. The kiddos particularly enjoyed meeting Bobby Fischer and his King’s Indian.

Perhaps the nerdy dad highlight of the year was the first time the kiddos responded to an aggressive bishop capture with a boisterous OH!, or a queen sacrifice with a loud WHAT?!? as if they had just watched Randy Johnson blow up a bird.

To sum up, teach them chess. Teach them to think abstractly and strategically. Rejoice when they work together as a team to defeat you. Be afraid when you realize your 8yr old daughter traps your queen – on purpose. Celebrate when they challenge random college students to games and win. Delight in the development of a wholly different portion of their amazing brains!

In Brief: Pinocchio

Our literary quest through the homeschool year ended with a massive flourish as we enjoyed Carlo Lorenzini’s (better known as Collodi, his adopted surname which doubles as the name of his hometown) classic Pinocchio.

From a schooling perspective, our typical approach with any classic is to read the book, view the most popular version on film, and then write a reflection piece detailing the similarities, differences, and our personal preferences. In the case of Pinocchio, my children and I unanimously preferred the Collodi version.

My daughter preferred the suspense of the 1883 classic. My sons preferred the broader variety in the story and the detail with which Collodi brought the puppet and secondary characters to life. Personally, I preferred the depth of Pinocchio’s transformation which was utterly (and regrettably) absent in the mammoth Disney offering.

The Page vs. The Silver Screen

If there are complaints about the original tale of the beloved puppet, typically they revolve around his biting and nasty character, or the lethal peril which he faces after every increasingly disappointing decision. In all honesty, Pinocchio is as much the villain of the novel as any other. But it is the depth of the marionette’s depravity that makes his repentance all the more glorious.

The movie presents Pinocchio as the whimsical boy whose one bad decision leads to a series of unfortunate events. The viewer is led to sympathize with Pinocchio as a victim. His brokenness is shallow. So, then, is his eventual transformation into a real boy. What was the point of it all? I guess when you wish upon a star, your mild misadventure will end in all your dreams coming true?

Collodi’s Pinocchio makes repeated willfully disobedient decisions, each a slap in the face to those who have loved him most. He abuses the sacrificial gifts of his father who fashioned him from a talking piece of wood. He rejects the redemptive efforts of the blue fairy who repeatedly comes to his aid. At every turn, he laments his situation, pleading for help and half-heartedly feigning sadness. He loves complaining and being the recipient of the world’s pity. It’s easy to dislike Gepetto’s puppet.

Even when he turns completely into an ass (the most egregious omission from the movie), he doesn’t break. Even when he is then sold into the big top to perform tricks, he does not repent. Even when he’s lamed after failing at the tricks and sold to a trader who intends to kill him, skin him, and turn him into a drum, he’s not ready to change.

It’s only when that trader throws him into the sea with a millstone around his neck that the Pinocchio of the page changes. Critics of the book complain that Pinocchio so vividly describes the fifty-minute ordeal under the sea where fish consume his donkey flesh, leaving only the wooden skeleton behind. But it is this death that leads to Pinocchio’s true repentance.

Upon being pulled from the sea by the man (who then realized he wasn’t getting his drum!), Pinocchio repents. He changes. He seeks after his father Gepetto who had been swallowed by a great fish while searching for his son. He cares for the ailing blue fairy, sacrificing every earthly penny to restore her to health.

And it is at the end of this journey that Pinocchio becomes a real boy.
Sometimes the best part of good news is first knowing the bad news. Where Disney, sadly, offers cheap grace and a couple of catchy songs, Collodi walked his main character through the valley of the shadow of death. My children and I both appreciated the depth of Collodi’s story, which only left us wanting more from the film.

The Takeaway

More than a morality tale, Pinocchio tells the story of a living creature who was little more than dust, who was crafted into the image of his maker, destroyed his own conscience (yes, Collodi’s Pinocchio kills the cricket at the first suggestion that his actions were foolish), swallowed the most dastardly lies, and discarded the most valuable treasures, believing that his way would be more fruitful.

The real Pinocchio shows the consequence of foolishness as the main character chases fleeting pleasures and transforms fully into a donkey, just as it was promised he would.

The real Pinocchio shows that a cheap turn will not suffice. Talk is cheap if the heart remains darkened. Only the death of wicked selfishness can lead to the kind of change that would satisfy his heart’s greatest desire.
Pinocchio then shows the power of a transformed life as it radiates with true love, self-sacrifice, generosity, and joy.

Personally, I believe my children preferred Collodi’s story because it echoes the greatest story. Likewise, I think many dislike the original because it provides an all-too-familiar look into the depths of our own souls and makes clear that the road to true transformation comes through death to self.

The cost of becoming what we were created to be is quite severe. More than we would, or could, pay on our own. Am I allowed to say that Collodi’s Pinocchio made me praise my Savior?

Homeschool Dad: Year One

To think I commented at having taken two weeks in between posts in October. Our school year was complete yesterday – year one is in the books. I cannot state in a sentence the magnitude of the blessing I’ve received this year in exercising the privilege of educating my children. I loved it.

A friend asked recently how we’ve enjoyed the year. After sharing some of my joy, I shared that I only blew up a few times. That is, I could only recall a few instances where frustration reached a boiling point. To be sure of this, I asked #2 how many times dad exploded this year, to which he replied, “I don’t know, maybe three times?” Whew.

A year that began with uncertainty ended with assurance. I can do this. They can survive this. We can grow together. We can build fruitful rhythms into our lives and enjoy an inordinate amount of time together. I can still get my work done.

There is no doubt that these home rhythms have infringed on the other rhythms of life – work in particular. However, they’ve brought deep contemplation and consideration to bear on my views of family, work, and life. There are scores of topics to discuss in this realm. Perhaps with the summer hours I’ll get to a few of them.

In the meantime, I am encouraged. I am thankful. I am excited to see how we’ll adapt our summer rhythms and celebrate the break from formal education. I’m hoping we still play chess all summer, read fabulous books (and maybe even a bad one…), and explore the all-too-curious past, present, and future of this precious life we’ve been granted.

Homeschool Dad: Friday

Two weeks. I’ve taken a break of two weeks from posting. And yes, that was enough time for me to make yet another adjustment to what is now “normal.” Thankfully, I enjoy change and exploration, so I’ve relished the variety.

Perhaps the most exciting change is a new bit of furniture in our reading room. Three boys share one bedroom, two girls another. My wife and I have decided to use the attic as a bedroom, which leaves our smallest bedroom vacant. This has become our reading room… just another space to allow for learning.

07:45am – Wake kiddos
08:20am – Stretch
08:25am – Catechism & Prayer
08:35am – Family Walk
09:00am – History
09:30am – Music
10:00am – Literature
10:30am – Language Arts
11:20am – Lunch
12:15pm – Take #4 to preschool
12:45pm – Twenty Questions
01:15pm – Math #1
01:35pm – Math #2
02:00pm – Math #3
03:00pm – Pick up #4 from preschool

I love Fridays. A Top 5 decision this year was to stand in opposition to many homeschool advocates by foregoing classical music in favor of the history of rock ‘n roll. I’ll speak on that decision in a later post, but it has given Fridays a certain enjoyable edge, and also allowed for a particular connection with my kiddos that extends well beyond our studies. (Besides, I can’t lose them to pop music without their knowing what they’re missing…)

Twenty Questions is our version of a weekly review. The questions range all subjects except for math. The front side is typically 17 quite varied inquiries, but nothing so detailed as to be outrageous or unfair. If they’ve paid attention all week, they survive without difficulty. The back side is a specific review for language arts with careful attention to spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc. We tend to get pretty fired up reviewing 20Q. It’s a highlight of the week. We celebrate what we know!

Each of these five days has become a time to cherish with my kiddos. Fifty-two days in, I am loving the homeschool experience. I am excited to share more on the curriculum choices in the coming weeks.