Well, we have just finished our first 2 weeks of school. There are lots of GOOD NEWS tidbits to report:
(1) THE BIGGEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: ........... (drum roll please) ......... Cherub 5 is TRULY reading on her own !! After a few years of phonics .... it CLICKED. She is rapidly going through chapter after chapter of McGuffey's Readers. (And she is soooo excited !)
(2) Our CM Organizer (planner) has worked amazingly well - what a major improvement this has made in our homeschool. The children are thrilled to have a detailed Daily To Do list every single day. And I am excited that the lesson plans are DONE ... and that even if a change is needed, it is simple and "finished" in minutes. This is the BEST homeschooling money I think I have ever spent, as the "planning" and "changing plans" were my biggest struggle ... actually it was a "GI-NORMOUS" struggle for me. So ... peace prevails. (and if you are using CM methods, watch the demos of this GREAT program at http://www.simplycharlottemason.com .)
(3) Cherub 1 is REALLY enjoying his Science focus so far - we are doing Apologia's Botany together as a family, and then he is working through Apologia's Physical Science solo. He has already learned quite a lot ... he says it really makes him THINK and WANT to find the answers.
(4) Cherub 2 and Cherub 3 have made great progress with their Penmanship. I know ... Penmanship is not considered a major deal, espicially with strong students who are motivated self-learners. Well, if you had SEEN their penmanship, you too would be thrilled with focused effort and improvement. It was pretty bad !
(5) All 6 children have reported independently that they are LOVING their books this year ... from History (Our Island Story, What Everyone Should Know About The 20th Century, Trial & Triumph, George Washington's World, Poor Richard) to Science (FairyLand of Science, Isaac Newton, Secrets of the Universe, Madam How Lady Why) to Literature (too many to list), to Nature Studies (Secrets of the Woods is a BIG favorite) .... I am sooooo thrilled to hear again and again (and again !) how much they are enjoying their books.
(6) Cherub 4 struggled for years with learning to read, and last year made great progress from barely reading to working through the first 2 books in the Little House series. He has nearly finished this series now. Daily he is practicing his Reading Skills with the McGuffey's series ... and just recently has begun to read Ralph Moody's Little Britches series ... he loves anything remotely related to Farm Life. He is also really enjoying James Herriott's stories.
(7) Cherub 6 is not truly ready for "FULL" school, as I suspected. So we do what he "wants" to do, in preparation for later learning. Skill building really is the focus, as he was not willing to NOT do school. So, of his own will, he works with much dedication daily on math (Singapore Math) and on his PreReading skills (letter sounds, sounding out small words with help, etc). He is also determined to learn to write his name ... the sooner, the better. He also listens with great attention (and great narrations too !) to all of the Read Alouds, no matter who is reading aloud and what the topic is. Too funny !!
(8) And lastly, on Friday we had an emergency visit from the Vet at 9am, and then an unexpected errand to run in Knoxville to do before lunchtime. The children BRAIN STORMED (completely on their own !!) and decided that to "save the day" they would each bring a few "independent" assignments to do in the car on the drive to and from Knoxville - they were thrilled to have a written Daily To Do list to work from. (I figured we had "lost" the morning and would just work through the afternoon and evening, and pick up anything we missed on Saturday. Boy was I wrong - the children had it under control !!). So after the Big Kids finalized their "well thought out plans" for the time in the car ... we listened to our Composer Study on the way up and back, and all of the children managed to complete their Math lessons, Math drills, and a few other subjects during the drive. They read a few stories aloud to the younger 3 cherubs, and then the big kids even took turns listening to the young kids Reading Lessons (Cherub 4 and Cherub 5 each read aloud from McGuffey's) and even reviewed previous lessons. WOW !! The car ride was unbelievably calm and relatively quiet as everyone was busy working ... so I stopped at Baskin Robins for some icecream as a surprise on our way home. HA !! They did not even notice I was stopping until I had parked !! HA !! Anyway, despite a very chaotic morning, the children managed to finish their WHOLE school day by 3pm without rushing through lessons or skipping anything. HOORAY !! When I asked later why they were so "dedicated" to their school work, Cherub 1 said "well, you worked so hard to put it all together for us, and it is working out so well this year ... we did not want to get behind just because we had a hectic morning." HOW SWEET !!
Tonight we prayed: THANK YOU LORD FOR A WONDERFUL BEGINNING TO OUR SCHOOL YEAR !!