I realize that I haven't posted about the homeschool year in some time. The reason for this is simply that we have been very busy! Even before my return to work for the holidays, there was just a huge amount of stuff going on.
Norm continues to attend a nature program at the local Audubon sanctuary. Right now they are studying mammals. Every other week the class is four hours long. On the alternate weeks it is two hours. This has been a good experience. There is a good group of kids and Norm gets homework, which we work up into short essays for his folder. Subjects like science, art, and history give us excuses to work on writing and typing, which is a good thing.
The Art program at the Museum of Fine Arts is on hiatus until December. The museum is re-opening its "Wing of the Americas" and right now the Homeschool time slot is for entertaining dignitaries and such. That's OK, we will get our chance to see everything in December. Here again we have found some interdisciplinary connections. Art discussions naturally lead to discussions about history, politics and religion. These, too, become short entries and essays for his folder.
The lone wolf of the curriculum--math--is going OK, too. We are just soldiering through it as best as we can. Worksheets and memorization is no one's favorite thing. However, now that I am at work and the holidays are upon us, this is the subject that fills most of his day. We are taking breaks, however, to talk Transcendentalism. I don't know how one could not discuss it. Metrowest Boston--right here--is where it all began. It is the easiest and cheapest field trip option. Again...it goes in the folder.
So here is a bit of what I have learned about homeschooling:
1) Get a folder and make sure you fill it with stuff!
The first month, for example, we learned a great deal, but we didn't record it well (my fault). Now we are catching up. A folder lets Norm see how far he has progressed and also provides Dad with concrete evidence for meeting with the Superintendent's Office.
2) Having other children is a challenge.
Not a bad thing, of course! But it makes it hard to teach and to stay on schedule. Norm probably spends more actual designated time studying than the other kids. However, when an "early release day" or a day-off for one of his brothers occurs, it is hard to keep Norm on task.
We have compensated for this a bit, however. The boys have a healthy and growing Dungeons and Dragons group (I am the Dungeon Master. Geeks know what I mean). On Veteran's Day we played a rousing game for most of the afternoon. For Norm, this is part of his curriculum (math, maps, sociology, history, creative writing, etc). For all of them, it was fun! Sometimes it is harder to find an educational connection. Like today when we went to the hospital to see if Son #3 had passed the penny he ate last week. Still, it may be something for the folder...
3) Socialization does take effort.
I am not sure that I need to say much more here. It just does. It is true as much for parents and for the kids, who--at this age--are starting to take charge of their own social schedules.
4) Working and teaching at the same time is hard, but not impossible.
I will be honest with you. It was easier during sabbatical. There is a part of me that pines for the leisurely days before going back to work. There are advantages, however. One is that we have time for math and few temptations to distract us. Another is that I have a very interesting job--at least around the holidays--which also provides us with quality learning opportunities. In the old days, ministers would shadow a senior pastor around in order to learn the tricks of the trade. I'm, not talking about internships. They would do this instead of seminary! So maybe Norm could take a church after this...
I have learned other things, too, and hopefully I will get to posting something about these things some time soon, but things are crazy as we careen in toward "Thanksgiving Sunday". As the days get shorter and the last leaves fall onto the street (and the lawn), it is a great time to not be on sabbatical. It is a blessing to be a home school dad. It is a blessing to be a minister.