Saturday, June 30, 2012

Planning Builder's Fourth Grade Year Part II: History

I started with Literature Read-Alouds, but I didn't purposefully correlate our Lit to our History. After reading and having some experience under my belt, I've decided to keep our Literature separate from History, as I find there are many more living books authored that do not fit in particular time periods neatly. For read-alouds, I aim for literary quality and timelessness. In History, I aim for literary quality too, but to tell you the truth, I have to dig deeper to find the ones that pass my test.

We are studying Early Modern history (1600-1849). At first I was going to go with Story of the World (SOTW) with the Activity Guide, but then decided to try out History Odyssey (HO) Early Modern as it has a free trial (10 weeks' worth!). It uses SOTW 3 too, but schedules it differently. HO schedules by region and within that region, chronologically. I'm hoping this will keep Builder more focused and engaged, and make it easier for him to form connections. Maturity will undoubtedly play a role too, as the last time he did SOTW was when he was 7 (SOTW 2) and now he will be 9. We didn't have too much retention with SOTW 2 (I know we're just exposing at this stage, but I was hoping for some more), and he specifically stated at that time that he couldn't keep the people straight, and there was a lot of jumping from thing to thing. I'm sure to incorporate more repetition as well, and review through listening to the audio books in the car. We like Jim Weiss.

I had prepared an American History year for this year, and while it has been a good year, Builder says he misses the coloring pages, but especially the map pages. I couldn't find anything truly compatible map-wise. I tried going the hands-on way, but it turns out both Builder and I prefer working through simple line drawn maps than 3D maps. Ballerina may be another story, so I'm keeping it in case she warms up to it. HO uses maps too, and I like the coloring pages I've seen so far. I think I'll be going with them for Modern Times as well, as it is sometimes a difficult period to get quality guides for from what I've seen.

Delving deeper into Charlotte Mason's readings, I will be sure to focus on tweaking HO to suit our narration style and watch closely that nothing turns into busywork. Builder is doing so well on his narrations, both in breadth and depth, that I would hate to put a wrench in this with requiring written narrations every time. So far he's been dictating and I've been typing. What I foresee doing is requiring one written narration a week, and for the first 12 weeks or so have him copy down half of his narration. For the next 12 weeks he can then proceed to narrate half of the story to me (while I type it up), then I print it out, and he writes out the last half. After this, he should get his confidence and be able to write one narration a week by the end of the year. In fifth, I want to requiring 2 written a week. I require narrations for History, Literature read-alouds, Literature reading, Natural Science, Composer Study, Picture Study, sometimes Poetry, and even Math rules very occasionally.

We should be plenty busy with HO and its requirements, but I will also add living books instead of/in addition to what HO requires. HO lists Children's History of the World (CHOW) as optional, but instead Builder will be reading Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall. We're adding colorful historical picture books, some biographies by Diane Stanley, one whimsical one about King Louis the XIV, another beautifully illustrated about tulips in the Golden Age in Holland.

While we're busy with our historical studies and reading, Builder will be keeping an informal Book of Centuries.  I am using Tanglewood's $5 one I got a long time ago. It has different pages, all marked with a timeline. I will be using the Early Modern section of course. We will have stickers by History Odyssey and a World Atlas Sticker Atlas that should be easy to affix and write a few notes or descriptions for. I can also cut and paste or simply print Builder's dictated narrations and include in this binder, together with the coloring pages. For our reference, we will continue to use Usborne's Encyclopedia of World History.

Self Doubt

All homeschooling moms struggle with self doubt sometimes. Are we doing enough? Is my child learning? Is this good? Am I an adequate teacher? Is homeschooling working? Fear stops even the stoutest of hearts dead in its tracks at least once a year. How do we conquer this near-mythical beast of self doubt?

Work on your evaluation. Seriously. It's that simple. You may dread it, as you think you have not done nearly enough. But see, by actually searching around the house or in your files for those papers you have forgotten about, you will begin to see the light. Hey, we did more science than I thought. Or "Oh, what a nice picture Greta made, especially when seen next to the one from the grade before". That's right, Jimmy did improve in his mathematical calculations. Oh yes, there was that neat field trip to the electrical company, and there's that list of books - did we read that many books this year? You see, by beginning to work on your evaluation early and whenever that feeling of despair and doubt hits, you will be working on something. You will see how much you have accomplished.

Surround yourself with people who have positive attitudes towards homeschooling. Avoid the negative ones. If you can't, do not talk about homeschooling with them (I'm talking people you can't avoid, like your relatives).

Garner support from your husband/partner. This alone can make a homeschooling mom feel all better, when your partner reassures you that your child is doing much better than you think and that (ah) you are doing a good job.

We homeschooling moms don't have bosses to give us raises, steady pats on the back, a salary, or admiration/envy from colleagues. Homeschooling can be isolating work, even if you belong to a support group. Resist the temptation to compare to other moms, or compare your child to other homeschooled or public schooled children. Your children are unique. Your situation is unique. Your style is yours, nobody else's. And most importantly, your family is yours and by the mere fact that you are worrying, I know you are doing a wonderful job. Kudos to you, Mama!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Well Deserved Breakfast

Husband gave me the day off. I can sleep in, plan, ah. He made me this delicious, rustica sandwich - egg, meunster cheese, bacon, all on Italian rustic bread. Doesn't it look scrumptious?