Hit the Books!

August 30, 2013

Around here, we usually do school until we take tests in mid-April and then we take a break. We might do a little schoolwork every once in a while during the break, but as long as the weather is nice, we try to get outside, go to the beach, go to parks, go camping, keep up with our garden, and just play. Then, in June, July and August, when it is usually too hot to be outside much, we pick up our studies again. As soon as public schools start back up again, we stop and go have more fun. The beaches are usually nearly empty. The park rangers have nobody to talk to. It's too early for schools to take field trips. It's a great time to go places with my kids.

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This year we somehow ended up not schooling the entire summer. It never seemed to get so hot that we couldn't go outside this year. There were a few uncomfortable days, but not the extended weeks of life-sapping heat we usually get. Hubby and I got absorbed by taking care of my in-laws' house and all of their unending associated business, and my dad has been in the hospital since May. I guess between all that, the homeschool convention and a couple camping trips, we just got busy. I looked at the calendar last week and realized that we had not done any formal school work in three months, maybe longer.

So, I was wondering how my kids would handle getting back to the books. Would they be ready because they had spent so much time imagining and playing all summer? After three months of a very lax schedule, were they feeling the need for more structure? Or, would they have been spoiled by such a long break? Would they rebel against the implementation of a schedule?

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As it turns out, I didn't even have to ask Polar Bear to start schoolwork. He was complaining that all of our play dates this summer have included mostly little kids. This was in the midst of yet another "little kid play date." He just didn't want to hang with the littles anymore. I get it. I suggested that he go work on his Gaelic and he disappeared. Every morning since then he has done a lesson after breakfast. Yesterday, I handed him his stack of assignments for the week in history, literature and art along with the book our Teen Book Club is reading for September. That's good enough for this week. I will add math and science in next week and he will be all set. No complaints from him so far, but I know when I get him started on his science he will gripe a little.

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Cookie Monster is a different story. When I said this was our first day back at school, he groaned and whined. He has been struggling with reading. He has all the tools he needs, he just isn't practiced enough to be smooth at it, so he doesn't enjoy it. When I told him that we aren't doing any more phonics lessons, but instead will be reading Black Beauty together, he decided that was somewhat acceptable. He will still gripe from time to time about math, and I know he won't much like his copy work, but that's okay. I know he is going to enjoy reading with me, and it will improve his comprehension.

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Strawberry and I will read through The Secret Garden and then we will read the Little Women series. These are some of my favorite books and I am so happy that I get to use them as tools to unlock this world of knowledge with my oldest daughter. She is excited because she has been trying to read The Secret Garden all summer, but the vocabulary is challenging. That has to be one of the best parts of homeschooling, sitting with a new reader, listening to them read, talking about a great book and hearing what they think about it. She will fuss a tiny bit about math too, but I think she was ready to start school again.

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Dinosaur was the funniest. Yesterday, he came into my room and said, "Mommy, can I have a banana please?!" Bananas are his cup of coffee. He went down and, after scarfing down a banana, he came into my bedroom with his school work. Dinosaur smiled sweetly and said, "Mama, can we start now?" However, when I had a chance to eat breakfast and called him to the table for schoolwork, he groaned and stomped a little. I reminded him that he cannot learn to read if he doesn't do his lessons. He perked up and said, "Oh, yeah, that's right. I'm gonna do math too, right?" Okay. So, is he ready or not? We'll have to see how it goes.

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Apple Blossom and Ducky, at 4 and not quite 2 years of age, won't be doing much in the way of schoolwork this year. I need to do a toy rotation and clear the living room out. They will have a few toys that are available only during school time. They will be tickled to have access to these like-new toys and they will enjoy sitting at the table and coloring during some of our lessons. That's what I'm telling myself.

I wasn't really concerned, mostly curious. I think it is funny that most of them fought me a little, but mostly they were ready to get back to the schoolbooks. It helps that they all have new books to look forward to and a new era of history to learn about. So, the question really becomes, am I ready?

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Well, whether I am ready or not, the show must go on. Oh, and yes, even though we slacked off a bit this summer, I will still manage to squeeze in a couple beach days in the early fall. Yes, indeed.

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