Well, we got into our routine this week, and so far so good. My worries at the beginning of the week that we'd never get finished were of course unfounded. Friday we were able to take it easy because we worked hard in the first four days. We even kept up with chores, had daily bike rides, play time, and found time for a picnic with friends at the zoo on Wednesday. Plus we took a walk on the beach for Julia and Ben's science lessons, and baited a tree with "bug bait" (beer mixed with sugar and flour and painted on the tree) so we could go out after dark and see moths, beetles and --ew--- earwigs up close and personal.
The kids are really enjoying notebooking. They have been reading about Ancient China and then making scrapbook-type pages in their history notebooks with various interesting reports and pictures. Various ones were about farming, clothing, burials and tombs, calligraphy and paper making. Julia and Ben notebooked their science lessons too. They had fun using different paper to make water and sand, then drew animals we'd seen, shells and seaweed and pebbles we'd brought home, etc. Even Emma got in on that one.
Speaking of Emma--the girl is an animal! She worked no less than two hours every day, and completed three entire workbooks! She paid attention in the science lessons, and did art with the kids as well. We made egg tempera paints (ground chalk mixed with egg yolks) and she painted right along with the big kids. We also did circle art--I never knew this but Boticelli made it popular to paint in a circular frame...so we traced white paper circles from bowls, cut them out and glued them to white paper, then the kids were able to use markers, pencils, paint or crayons to make pictures that would work in a round frame. Emma was the only one who made three!
Rachel's math and science lessons seem to be going very well. She and Matt worked every evening after the others were in bed. It seems that biology and algebra aren't as difficult when you have a Ph.D. explaining them! Who knew? (Though Rachel did confide that Dad gets a bit...wordy...in his explanations!) She is also enjoying the French lessons on the computer---last year our library had free subscriptions to Rosetta Stone, and we were crushed that they didn't this year. I always thought that was the best language program around, and it's so expensive that it was great to get it for free. However, this year they have free subscriptions to Mango Languages--which I'd never heard of but we're finding to be far superior to Rosetta!
She also read "The Call of the Wild" and "A Night to Remember" (about the sinking of the Titanic) for language arts this week, which she enjoyed. Next week she'll read "Born Free" and "Never Cry Wolf"--plus we are beginning our Shakespeare lessons and so will read aloud together from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and then she'll do various projects. However, we'll only cover one act per week because otherwise I'd never have the time to sit and read it with her!
Ben has done some complaining that his work is too easy--specifically what we do in workbook format (language arts and math) though he does enjoy his reading comprehension book, which tells a story that gives the answer to a question such as why don't fish sink? how do birds chew their food? or why do bats hang upside down? He also likes a crossoword puzzle workbook I found, which is designed to help their logical thinking develop as they not only figure out the answer to a clue, but how it fits into the puzzle, and what to do if you don't know an answer. I agreed with him that some of his work is very easy (mostly because they assume a 6 year old doesn't read very well....) but pointed out that it's good to review and it would also show me if there was something we'd missed covering last year. He seemed satisfied with that. He likes the notebooking (science and history), he likes health--I found a book that uses science experiment-type activities to teach concepts, he likes music and art and reading.
Julia is the one who likes the notebooking the best. As our family artist, she spent hours this week getting everything just so. I was proud of how she worked till she was satisfied, rather than doing the bare minimum to "be finished". She, as usual, finds her language arts/writing/reading to be easy, easy, easy. She loved the beach walk and the big hunt, too, and of course the art projects. She also did music with Rachel--piano DVDs and then playing the piano. And I was happy to see her take a more serious interest in math this year--in the past she has been good at math till she doesn't understand a concept--then we get to have a big to-do with me explaining that it's OK, I'll help her, she'll get it, etc. This year, when her book mentioned decimals, it didn't send her into a tailspin of worry--she just listened to my explanation and then said with a big grin-- "OH! I get it!" and did the rest of the problems.
I don't expect the year to run as smoothly as this every day, believe me! But the fact that our first week was so pleasant is really nice. We all got up and dressed early (for us!) and sat together without much snarking, and got our work done in a timely manner, and then had fun the rest of the day. Pretty much everything homeschooling is supposed to be!
Only 37 weeks to go!