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Get this. Our homeschool life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Nor is it always a grand adventure.

Especially when in the midst of a busy season (is there any other kind of season?) I tell myself that we’re doing great (which was true) and that we can just roll with sickness and projects taking up break week and move into a new term without resting on the pillars of review–weekly or otherwise (all of which was not true).

Spurn the rhythms of life and you will find them scowling back at you–or in less personified and more metaphorical terms: you might just regret your choice to skip all the rests in the score of life when you find you have rushed ahead and are now out of step with the music, not knowing where to jump back in again.

Those are my melodramatic thoughts for you anyway.

At any rate, here I am on the other side of that break week that didn’t happen, crashing and burning after an insanely busy weekend where my weekly review didn’t happen.

Lessons are being learned, friends. And not just by the kids.

My body can’t really handle running hard two days in a row without a break in between. I could attempt to will through it, but I might just land myself in bed for a week.

Neither can I power through two terms without a real break in between.

On the plus side, I’m recovering now from that crash-and-burn. And fall is here for real, which makes me happy.  🙂

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See? FALL!!!!!!!!!  😀

And, as it turns out, we have had a pretty good past few months of school (there has been some sunshine and roses even if they haven’t been all over the place). Here are the highlights (or perhaps I could say rose petals):

My firstborn turned 9 and my baby turned 7. We enjoyed celebrating them on their special days: my husband took off work for each and we enjoyed one day at home playing Legos and another trapsing around Little Rock. Nope, no school on birthdays around here. Since there are only two of them, we can get away with this without our attendance record suffering.

We continued schooling through the summer following an interval schedule. For our family that looks like schooling six weeks out of an eight week period year-round (with a four-week term for Advent). I try to allow five of our days off to float on the calendar (to be used where needed) and keep the other five reserved for “Break Week” at the end of the term. That has worked pretty well, though the reason “Break Week” didn’t really happen last term is because it coincided with sickness and me preparing for my first-ever three-hour presentation.

Yeah, I should time those kinds of things better.

Math and Language

C-age-9 continued working through Right Start Math Level D (finishing up with a lot of fun drawing lessons!) and has recently begun Level E.

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We’ve switched to the second edition for this level, and I’m quite pleased with the new layout and organization! It’s also gradually working toward more independence for the student, so our lessons are consistently shorter than in past levels, making it easy to just jump right into them without balking at how long it might take (an issue I had previously).

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D-age-7 is making his way through Level C. He thoroughly enjoyed the drawing section (where the T-square and traingle tools were giddily introduced to him for the first time), and now we are getting into the section of the book that I found the toughest for my oldest son. I’m prepared to supplement if necessary as we tackle adding SEVERAL three- and four-digit numbers and then move into mentally subtracting two-digit numbers (with borrowing, no less).

It’s agressive, but I’m going to let D-age-7 attempt these “jumps” and see how he does. This second time around I’m just better armed with the expectation that it is difficult and meant to stretch him. My expectation is that he won’t master it right away. It’s taken some time to realize that trying and failing is ok in the learning process. The goal isn’t to get a good grade on every worksheet. Our goal is to learn. So in these difficult lessons, our focus is on trying, correcting, and practicing some more.

Math is character-building for sure.

UPDATE: Adding several numbers has been a successful learning process spread over about three days (kind of like my writing this post is getting spread out over about three weeks). Not without struggle, mind you, but with much more patience from me as a teacher than the first time around. Win!

We recently took a break from our First Language Lessons to prepare for the local spelling bee. D-age-7 won third place in his age group!

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In other language news, we’ve been working through Foreign Languages for Kids‘ Spanish courses online. The videos are fun and the quizzes are a great way to review. We paid for a one-year subscription last year on Black Friday, so we’re working to get the most out of it before it expires. This program is quite expensive if you want to purchase it complete with DVDs, workbooks, and all. So subscribing to it for a year has been a great, affordable option for us (though I have looked longingly at the printed workbooks–they’d be much easier to work with than the online version!).

Books, Books, Books

What have we been reading lately? Well, in Morning Time we recently finished Story of the World Volume 2 (covering the Middle Ages) and have just begun Volume 3. We’ve also enjoyed Archimedes and the Door of Science (just finished it today!) and Trial and Triumph (so far a great read on church history).

In the evenings, my husband has read aloud The Bronze Bow (a story taking place in the time of Christ), which we finished last month, and most recently On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson (the first book in his Wingfeather Saga). I can’t express how much our family has enjoyed both of these books. Check them out, though be aware they each contain some scary or violent elements that very young children (younger than 6, perhaps) might not be ready for.

The boys are each doing some of their own bible reading, and we go over the Proverbs of the day at breakfast (my husband usually shares a couple verses and thoughts related to them before he goes to his office/room for work). When we can, my husband also reads the bible to us after dinner.

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C-age-9 is a voratious reader–hard to keep in books! Some of what he’s read lately includes: By the Shores of Silver Lake, Heidi, Treasure Island, The Long Winter, The Story of Dr. Doolittle, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, This Country of Ours, Our Island Story, Otto of the Silver Hand, The Sugar Creek Gang series, The New Way Things Work (a big one to slow him down a bit! muahahaha!), and a book on Marco Polo. Whew!

D-age-7 has happily read through Sammy and His Shepherd (a story book study of Psalm 23) as well as some Boxcar Children books. He’s currently in Paddle to the Sea, Our Island Story, Fifty Famous Stories Retold, The House and Pooh Corner, and James Harriot’s Treasury for Children. Most of these selections come from Ambleside Online’s Year One curriculum. I have found Year One to be a great starting point for my boys once they are pretty solid readers, though I am by no means following it in its entirety or even as scheduled. I did this with C when he was 7 and found he could do the readings independently, and they were the right length for training his narration skills (which were non-existent if I let him just sit and read a whole book in a day).

We of course read many things from AO’s list (among others) out loud to our children, but in terms of things assigned particularly for them, I prefer to have them read independently as soon as able. After Year One, we kind of spring into our own book list which we are building as we go with my oldest and in reference to several lists out there: AO, Robinson (which my husband grew up with), Honey for a Child’s Heart, and the Clarkson’s Whole-Hearted book list (which we are referencing here), to name a few.

My husband likes the boys to write reports on the books they finish, so that is a part of our routine as well. Having narrated to me orally about the smaller sections of the book over the course of several days or weeks, and seeing as how we do their first book reports orally with my writing out their narrations, the boys are doing pretty well with the process of learning to summarize a story at the meta-level. C-age-9 has now graduated from using a book report form to simply writing his thoughts out on blank lined paper (complete with fancy lettering for the book titles!).

All the Other Stuff (Including some Adventures)

We’ve also dabbled more in playing our bells, poetry, composer study, hymns, folk songs, geography, health, nature study (our luna moth finally hatched! and observing and drawing changes in the trees), art study, scripture memorization, US presidents, science experiments, etc. I say “dabbled” because we haven’t been particularly consistent with any of these, but they HAVE been happening. Exposure breeds taste, right? So this is at least accomplishing something even if it’s not all I have idealized in my head. 😉

Our Archeology and Plant Use History Class continued to meet once a month through the summer and we enjoyed our last day on the mountain in September. My favorite moment from that last day was getting to throw atlatls.

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You better believe this mama got in on the action! Even if there isn’t any photo evidence…

The boys have also taken a cooking and culture class with our local co-op. They aren’t meeting more than once a month, but it’s still been fun to make Ratatouille while learning about France and then lassagna in a class dedicated to Italy.

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Socialization is totally a thing among homeschoolers (just in case anyone needed a reminder). We’ve attended park days, skate days, gymnastics, and birthday parties.

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And a lovely fall nature hike.

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In my homeschool-mom world, I had the pleasure of giving an intensive on Homeschooling the Early Years (yep, that three-hour thing I mentioned above), and our local Schole Sisters group has recently begun reading through Charlotte Mason’s Volume 6: Toward a Philosophy of Education, gathering at a coffee shop to discuss. Both of these have been fun oportunities for me to dig deeper in study and produce more in writing–with the amazing blessing of getting to hash-out ideas among sharp, godly mommy-friends.

Really, that’s the best part.

I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful it is to connect with other ladies in your area. Meet in person. It doesn’t have to be very often–for us it’s once a month with kids in tow and once a month with books and no kids. 🙂 It’s such a blessing to have this fellowship–around homeschooling/education, yes, but also in the Lord.

Heart = Full

Now that fall weather has pretty well settled in and the amazing colors along with it, our family is venturing out a bit more to enjoy it. We’ve done a bit of hiking already and hope to do some backpacking in the near future. You know I’ll report on that next time.  😉

I’ll sign off with a scenic view we enjoyed at the end of October (fall colors just setting in).

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And since we’re a week into November now when I’m actually publishing this, here’s an updated picture from that same location (and at a way more interesting angle, right?).

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What’s going on in your homeschool world? Enjoying the colors? Gearing up for the holidays?