Our Second Year of Classical Conversations Comes to an End

We’ve finished our second year of Classical Conversations.

Here’s a photo of the Essentials students on their final day of class when they presented their Faces of History essays.  They all dressed up as the famous American they did their reports on.  My daughter is in the Native American costume. She did her report on Sacagawea.

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My oldest daughter also prepared for Memory Masters testing this year, our first experience with that process.  She made it through the tutor proof, arguably the hardest part, but in the weeks between the tutor test and the final, director proof, she decided to quit. There were many tears and much confusion, but I decided to let her have her way and drop out.  I didn’t push her to finish, badly as I wanted to, easy as it would have been to do so.

Looking back, I can see that she didn’t really want to do Memory Masters badly enough all along. She said she did.  But I was the one who reminded her to study everyday.  I was confused by this, but I thought it was just immaturity on her part and she needed the structure I provided. But, I was a tutor this year for the first time, too. And now that I have tested a few of the other students during this process, I can compare her performance with theirs and now there is no doubt in my mind that her heart wasn’t in it. The answers flew out of those kids’ mouths. They were eager to perform. They were frustrated when they made even the smallest mistake.  Though my daughter knew the material, she was always slow to respond, quick to make mistakes because she wasn’t really focusing, slow to correct her mistakes, etc. All of these should have been tell-tale signs that she wasn’t really interested in Memory Masters. I share this experience because it may help another mom and child out there avoid the drama we went through. A kid can be able to do it all day long, but they also have to want to do it without prodding.

Lesson learned.

Next year, I’m not reminding any of my children to study.  If they want to test for Memory Masters, they’ll be reminding me that it’s time.

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I attended a Classical Conversations Webinar called “Cultivating Learning: Creating a Parent Practical Learning Plan.” I am already doing what the webinar suggested because I have been working through a Saxon math text the last few months.  I wrote down a bunch of notes and titles of books I want to read.  It was a very encouraging, inspiring, motivating Webinar.

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My middle daughter recently finished one of her Kumon books. When she started the book, her scissor skills were appalling. There would be nothing left of anything she tried to cut out! She has greatly improved.  I love these books.

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I am trying another spelling program with my oldest.  This will be the forth spelling program we’ve tried.

Facepalm.

This time, we’re doing Phonetic Zoo Spelling. I’m going to let my daughter use it for a while before I really rave about it, but I am hopeful this one will work for us longterm and in ways the other programs have not.

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Our Classical Conversations group had it’s Field Day and Awards Ceremony yesterday. I gave the kids in my class some handmade bookmarks with their names on them.IMG_0676

One of the dads cooked burgers and dogs and we all brought sides.  The weather was perfect. It was a glorious day.

The older Challenge kids lead the Foundations kids in games.  Here’s a photo of my middle daughter running in a game that I think they called Pony Express. She looks very intense, but she was trying to get through before a big kid caught her.  She told me later, “I want you to sign me up for a real race like you do sometimes, because I’m fast, Mom.”  10993121_10206126147020171_46973248203671107_oI brought my parachute and took the kids through some games at the end of the day.  Here we are playing “catapult” with my teddy bear.

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11246852_10206126132739814_6477253407371351563_nHere’s a picture of my middle daughter and one of her classmates. They were Abecedarians in the youngest class on campus this year.

One of the things I love most about Classical Conversations is the community. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, kids of all ages from high school to infants, are together for “school” events like this. Or is it a “family” event? I guess it’s both! I imagine this is what school events were like in early American villages.  Classical Conversations allows kids to go to school while also remaining a part of their families. I feel so incredibly thankful for this unique, healthy, intelligent, spirit-filled community my kids and I are enjoying.

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My youngest child was worn out from all the fun.  Here she’s sleeping, holding the bear on the way home from the park.

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Building Forts

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When my kids wanted to build a fort today, I told them “Fine.” But then I yelled downstairs, “Only two blankets!”

You see, quite often, in the past, my kids have spent so much time and energy building their forts that they never actually have the energy or interest to play inside them before it is time to take their forts down.

As important as their creativity is, I also think it’s sad that in all that fort-building, they may never actually leave their childhood with vivid memories of being in their forts. So I try and help them by limiting how many blankets they get to use and it seems to work. From my seat upstairs, I can hear them now giggling and chatting from underneath their covers, playing games with their imagination.

If you will follow me for a moment, I’d like to say that the same kind of thing is often true for homeschooling moms. We home school moms can easily spend too much time “building our forts” like our kids.  We research, shop, organize, fuss, and plan so long and when everything is finally ready, we have very little energy or enthusiasm left over to actually teach our children every day, day in and day out, at home.

Moms of grade school children will approach me, wringing their hands, asking, “What math do you use?”  I don’t often answer this question directly. I usually ask them, “What have you been using?”  Many times, they answer me, “Nothing.” and their children are too old for them to be asking this question. That’s when I tell them to choose the program they’ve heard about, whatever it is, (it’s usually always a good one) and just start doing it.

I have to be very careful with this in my own life and by the grace of God, at times, I have often felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and restrain me when I was tempted to get caught up in details that aren’t essential. As a homeschooling mom, I want to actually teach my kids at home, not just play school with my kids.

The worst that could happen, that has happened to me, is the program I pay so much for doesn’t work.

No, actually, the worst that could happen is I don’t ever choose a program and my kids don’t learn something they need to learn and I fail them. (That sounds harsh, but I think that is true.)

The Lord has taught me to just choose a resource and teach from it, teach from it, teach from it everyday, day in, day out. Consistency is more important than novelty.

If something isn’t working well for whatever reason, the Lord has taught me the freedom to just throw it out right away and get started on something different as soon as possible (and often that is as soon as I can afford to replace it, which might be a while).

It’s like when your kids build a fort, climb into it, and it collapses for some reason.  The effort isn’t wasted.   Your kids learn from that experience and quickly adjust and build it differently the next time.

I’ve learned most of what I know about home schooling by just doing it. I know other home school moms would say the same thing.

Researching, planning, building, improving, organizing, and even decorating a home school can be fun (and overwhelming at times). But teaching my kids how to read or write or divide at home- that is the authentic home schooling experience I actually want. It’s like building forts, then crawling in them and making memories.

Two Things Copy Max Can Do For Homeschooling Moms

Every homeschooling mom should know that Copy Max (or Staples) can do two things particular things to make your job easier.

First, they can bind your old books. 

We love this Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature and we’ve had it for years and years, but the binding was wearing out and pages were falling out.

We took it to Copy Max and for a little more than $4, they put on a spiral binding and clear covers.

It’s like new!

I love spiral bound books anyway because they stay open, lay flat, and you can keep them open to the page you were on last instead of using book marks, etc.

And it’s probably always cheaper to get a book like this rebound than to buy a new one.

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The second thing Copy Max can do for you is take the binding off your workbooks.

This will create a stack of crisp worksheets, ready to use.

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I love Kumon workbooks, but they don’t come with perforated pages and that makes it difficult to tear the pages out of the books neatly without leaving behind too much of the page.

So I asked Copy Max to take the bindings off.  They charged me a little more than a dollar for each workbook.  To me, that’s worth it.

I keep my stack of worksheets neat and tidy with some adorable paper binders my sister bought me. (Thanks, Loretta.)  And I just put these stacks on the shelf with the other books and things I am using for Kindergarten.

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Notes from the Classical Conversations Practicum 2014- Part 1

I attended the Classical Conversations Practicum in Easton, CT this year and I took copious notes.  Copious is a word I learned at the practicum, actually. Someone said to me, “You are a copious note-taker like me.” I smiled and nodded and pretended to know what copious meant. Then I heard the speaker say, “You want to create copiousness in your home school.” I know the only reason I recognized the word copiousness was because I had heard the word copious right before that. Later, I looked it up. Copious means “abundant” and it can also mean “fullness, as of thoughts or ideas.” So I have abundant notes, notes full of thoughts and ideas. I’d like to record and process some of those thoughts and ideas here.  This may take a while.

My notes begin-

Many parents quit homeschooling their kids once they get to middle/ high school because the academics get scary and because they can’t motivate their children to do the work anymore.

Parents with younger children can pick a high school subject and begin working through it on their own now. That way Algebra, Chemistry, or Latin won’t be so intimidating when we take our kids through it.

Parents of younger students should work on their parenting skills because they will need to be able to lead their kids as they get older.  Parenting resources by Paul Tripp are excellent for this. In particular, the speaker recommended his book Age of Opportunity.

Note: I had never heard of Paul Tripp before, but apparently, I should have. When I mentioned his name to my husband, I found out Tripp was a speaker and/or author of resources that were used at Biblical Counseling conferences my husband and I attended in college.

My practicum notes continue-

The Classical model of education begins with the end in mind. C.S. Lewis wrote the first Narnia books last.  Leigh Bortins started Classical Conversations with the Challenge levels and then built the Essentials and Foundations programs based on what students in Challenge would need to succeed when they got there.

So when people ask, “Why so much memorization?” in Foundations, parents can answer, “So students will have a detailed world map, timeline, vital math, history, and science facts stored in their brain to use to reason with when they are in Challenge levels.

Beginning with the end in mind is the best way to ensure you will arrive at your desired destination. So ask, “What do I want my children to be capable of at the end of high school?” and begin working a plan to get to that goal.”

The Trivium, or the three stages of learning- grammar, dialectic, rhetoric- teaches kids how to learn. It also follows the stages they go through as they grow up.

During their early years, children love to memorize. They love repetition.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” -GK Chesterton

Note: As the speaker talked about the fact that children like to memorize, it occurred to me that this is true of all children, not just the home schooled ones (i.e. that Frozen song that everyone knows). Classical parents recognize the fact that children memorize and are strategic about what they give their children to retain (i.e. the timeline song.)

As children grow, they become more (and more and more and more) dialectic (depending their propensity to argue. My daughter is well into the dialectic stage.)  They begin to reason topics out, look for truth on both sides, and pick a side to argue.  Classical Conversations gives kids rich content to argue about and students will study books like The Fallacy Detective that give guidelines for arguing well and fairly, etc.

The speaker said the kids in the early Challenge levels will read The Hiding Place (one my all-time favorite books) and argue about whether or not people in the Ten Boom family should have lied to the Nazis in order to help the Jews.  (That was one of the most interesting parts of the story, in my opinion, the fact that one sister lied and the other would not lie, not matter what. Both sisters were righteous women who wanted to help the Jews escape the Nazis.) Adults are like that. Even Christians don’t always agree.  What great practice this gives pre-teens and teens for real life!

Note: It also occurred to me that all children at this stage of life begin to argue, not just the home schooled ones. But, unfortunately, a lot of children are just arguing about how they should be allowed to buy a Lady Gaga CD with their own money or go to the mall with their friends alone. My kids will probably want to go to the mall alone, too, but God willing, we will still be in CC and they will have other, better things to argue about. And maybe all their practice in thinking will make it easier for to reason with them as to why they won’t be allowed to go to the mall alone until they are out of college.  (I’m being sarcastic.)

The last stage of learning is rhetoric. In this stage, you can communicate about your subject matter in public, apply your subject to create something useful, teach others about it, etc. Anyone who is a master at a subject has gone through all three levels of learning-grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric- whether or not they did so strategically. Obviously, no one can be called a master if they haven’t even mastered the basic grammar of their subject.

Note: That’s when it occurred to me that this is why I love Les Mills. I teach group fitness classes part-time and I have recently pursued a certification to teach an excellent weight-lifting class called Bodypump.  I have to learn every Bodypump routine by heart.  Knowing the routines by heart allows me to focus on other, more important things like changing my tone of voice to fit the tone of the music or intensity of the workout. Or I can focus on the people in my classes, making eye contact with them, watching their form, coaching them they way they need to be coached, etc. Basically, by expecting their instructors to know the material by heart, Les Mills turns their group fitness instructors into fitness rhetoricians!  It was incredible to realize that the Trivium applies to everything we learn, even teaching group fitness classes!

This has to be all for now, folks. I know, I know.  But I’ve got copious amounts of laundry to do. I’ll have to process some more of my practicum notes here later.

 

A Day of School

This is what a day in our home school looks like right now.

We wake up and the girls play or read until I call them into the kitchen for breakfast.

We eat together at the table, usually the same breakfast everyday to keep things simple, and we review our Bible memory verses.

As soon as we finish with breakfast, we start doing our daily chores including cleaning off the table, unloading the dishwasher, reloading it, folding, drying, and starting a new load of laundry, etc. Through years of trial and error, I have found that it helps to get this basic housework work done before we settle down to do school, otherwise, we are too tired when the school day is over to start such physical work.

Both my nine year old and my four year old have a list of age-appropriate chores in their bedroom that I help them refer to everyday.  I also do some of my basic housework at this time and I offer the girls help and supervision as they need it. The baby plays around our feet while we all work.  She likes to cause trouble.  She crawls into the beds right after we make them, or she plays with the toys we are trying to put away, etc.

When my oldest daughter is finished with her chores, I usually tell her to sit at the kitchen table and start doing handwriting, logic, and sometimes math, because she can work on those subjects somewhat independently. By this time, I am usually finishing up my housework and my four year old has finished her chores, too, and is playing with her baby sister. I can usually come in and out and check my oldest daughter’s work and start offering her help. Then, once everyone’s house work is done and the little girls are playing, I will settle down at the table and do spelling, math review with flash cards, language, writing, science, etc., with my oldest, all the subjects we need to work together to complete. We try to finish as much as we can before lunchtime, but we don’t always finish everything before our stomachs demand food.

At some point, we have to make and eat lunch.  We usually eat the same healthy lunch, too. Again, this just serves to keep the time we spend on lunch prep and clean up somewhat consistent.  We usually listen to an audio book while we eat.  After lunch, we all clean up the table and I put my baby daughter down for a nap, if she hasn’t needed one already, and I have my two oldest daughters review their memory work for Classical Conversations together.  Then I work with my four year old while her older sister gets a book and reads silently.  When my four old finishes her schoolwork, both the girls are free to play for the rest of the day, unless my oldest is too into her book and wants to read more.

On some days, at least one day each week, my four year old asks to go first.  On those days, I let my oldest get a book and read it silently when she is done with her chores.  She reads until I finish doing schoolwork with my four year old and then I will begin doing school with her.  My oldest is always happy to read so, either way works fine.

One day a week, we all do history together in the afternoon.  Most days, we finish everything by mid-afternoon and the girls have some free time before dinner. Sometime in the afternoon, the baby wakes up from her nap and begins playing with her sisters and I always try and exercise before I need to start making dinner.

I work part time at least one day a week. On the days I work, we leave after breakfast, come home for lunch, and then start our school day with chores right after lunch, just like every other day.

Having this consistent routine ensures balance; my house never becomes so dirty that we can’t function and our school work isn’t ever neglected either.  We get more or less done some days, but everyday, we are being productive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Room Schoolhouse

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I had my oldest, Norah, take my middle child, Avril, through some of her school work yesterday.  They reviewed their geography memory work for Classical Conversations together. Avril is still learning to count, recognize, and understand numbers 1-100, so they used a chart to count to 100, then used an abacus to count to 100 again.  They did one page in Avril’s handwriting, skill, and cutting workbooks, all while I merely supervised.

Homeschoolers Value Authentic Learning Over Classroom Achievements

I’ve been watching several old episodes of Star Trek DS9, one of my husband’s favorite television shows. During one episode, I really liked an exchange between the character Captain Cisco and his teenage son, Jake. Jake wants to go hang out with a friend the night before a big test, but his dad tells him he ought to be studying.

“Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll ace the test.”

To this, Captain Cisco tells his son,

“This is not about tests, Jake. This is about learning. You can’t learn to appreciate Klingon opera by cramming for the test the night before.”

He may not be a real person and there may not be any such a thing as Klingon opera but I still really like what Cisco expresses to his son here because it expresses the same thing many homeschoolers, including myself, believe about education.

We value authentic learning over traditional classroom achievements. It doesn’t bother us that our kids will never have report cards. We’d rather them have shelves full of books they’ve read and reread, photos of history and science projects they done themselves and notebooks full of original drawings, reports and narrations.

There are so many things that can’t be learned in a classroom and there aren’t many that a student must have a classroom for. So we home school so that our kids have time to learn to actually appreciate subjects like opera, for instance, rather than study these things just enough to pass a test on it.

We want the subjects we learn to become a part of our understanding from then on, not just long enough to get a good grade and move on to something else without recalling the subject matter long term. Not that you can’t develop real appreciation for subjects in school, but let’s face it, there isn’t much time in school to pursue interests even if one is sparked by something you are assigned to study.  And there is so much emphasis on achievement that students (and many teachers) can’t really even tell the difference between test performance and authentic understanding.  As homeschoolers, we get to create a universe where it really is all about learning.

Apologia’s Anatomy and Physiology


We have done only two days worth of our new science program, Apologia’s Human Anatomy and Physiology, and I am already having doubts about it.

The first negative for me has been the amount of reading. So much reading! Even I, the teacher/adult, began to hear the words, “Blah, blah, blah…” instead of what I was actually saying. I was prepared to do a lot of reading, but this is beyond anything I imagined.

I called my friend who uses Apologia books and complained to her and she explained that she thinks this anatomy book is probably the most advanced book that Apologia offers for the elementary years. She isn’t even going to use it with her kids until middle school.

Oh.

I wish I had talked to her before I chose the most challenging of all the elementary books Apologia had to offer.  Oops.

My friend suggested I cut down the amount of material each day and cover in four lessons what the book suggests I cover in two. I agreed that that would work, but realized that meant I would have to do science almost everyday in order to get the same amount of material done in one year.

I am not sure about doing science everyday.  We do school work everyday, but science is a subject I prefer to do only once or twice a week.

Besides the loads and loads of reading, the notebooking pages had my daughter and I confused.  They did not give the student directions on how to complete them or even offer suggestions or hints about what to draw or write on the pages. My daughter had to complete the page above labeled “Anatomy and Physiology,” but she was given no idea what she was supposed to draw in the two boxes or write on the lines under them. This was very stressful to us both for about ten minutes, until we decided together how to best fill the boxes and the lines with appropriate content.

My daughter ended up drawing the outside of a body and the inside of a body (as far as she understands what’s inside). I suggested she define the words “anatomy” and “physiology” but that ended up being the worst suggestion possible because the definitions are so long that the science class turned into a handwriting challenge and there wasn’t even enough room for the definitions on the page, so my daughter needed another page of lined paper just to finish her science work.

All this was very confusing to me and my daughter until my friend explained the obvious. This is a journal, not a workbook. That should have been obvious to me since the cover says “journal.” Kids are given spaces to fill with whatever they want, whatever was interesting to them, whatever they retained. There are no right or wrong answers, etc. The fact that there are two boxes on this page today does not mean there are two specific images the publisher has in mind for a child to draw today. There are just two boxes. The kid can fill one… or both… or neither.

I think we might have been less confused if we were just given a journal of blank pages to fill with whatever content we chose. The pictures and lines and boxes end up being less than helpful if what you are supposed to do is choose your own topic and create a page about something you are interested in.

So, after talking to my friend, I think I understand the Apologia program better, but I doubt this book will work for us.  I really try to avoid making these kinds of mistakes. I wish I had known what kinds of questions to ask my friend before I made this purchase, because I think I will have to be looking for another science curriculum.  We may also need to hold off on this one until my oldest is ready for something this rigorous.

 

You know you’re a homeschooler if…

You know you’re a home schooler if…


“bookshelves” and “drywall anchors” are items on your school supply list.

We added two new bookshelves to our dining room.


Our book collection was growing just like our kids… Fast! The two shelves we already had, pictured above, we’re getting full, so we needed more.

I have a strong feeling “bookshelves” might be on next year’s supply list and the next year’s supply list, too.

“When I have a little money, I buy books.  And if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” -Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

 

 

A Day of School

If you are interested, here’s a play by play of our first day of school. Some people are interested in how I manage it all.

Well, here it is.

But if you are squeamish about lengthy blog posts, I suggest you just come back another day and read. This may take a while.

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Dwayne leaves for work.

Norah gets Avril out of bed and they come into my room and snuggle.

After about five minutes, I get up, go to the bathroom, change the baby’s diaper and get dressed.

The girls are playing in Norah’s room.

I shuffle into the kitchen, make my ice water, shuffle to the couch, take my thyroid pill, read my Bible and check my emails on my laptop.

Norah comes in about ten minutes later and demands food. I tell her she can make it for herself. She says, “Really?!” She toasts two bagels, one for herself and one for Avril. She gets out the cream cheese, smears it on, puts in back in the fridge. Lesson #1 for the day. They eat while I finish checking emails.

When they finish, they go play again.

I make myself breakfast and shout to Norah that she should get dressed, brush her hair, pee, etc.

I notice that Norah has forgotten to close the bagel bag so I call her in and she tries to close it once herself, but then I show her how to do it without leaving air in the bag.

By the time I finish eating, Norah is totally dressed and ready so she cleans off the kitchen table with spray and paper towels while I clean off the dining room table. We use both tables for school so they both need to be crumb-free.

I tell Norah to begin with handwriting. She hates handwriting so I try and do that when she is freshest and first to just get it out of the way. She gets her workbook, pencil and sits at the kitchen table (because I want to do dishes). While she works, I unload and reload the dishwasher and clean the pans and knives that can’t be put into the machine. I am looking over my shoulder and giving her guidance, making her erase and redo certain letters, etc. I also manage to sweep, clean off the counters and wipe the stove top by the time she is done with two pages in her handwriting book.

I take out the garbage and tell Norah to grab the recyclables and bring them out to the big trash can, too.

Avril is playing in the living room with the toys in her toy box while all this is going on.

When the garbage is empty, I show Norah how to wet Swiffer the kitchen floor. She takes several turns mopping, throws away the dirty Swiffers, learns how to put on new Swiffers herself, moves kitchen chairs for me, etc.

She washes her hands while I put the kitchen trash can and all the chairs back in place, etc.

I tell her math is next. She gets her blocks and books out of the bench in the dining room. (It has a storage compartment under the seat.) I have to bring her a pencil cause she forgot to keep it with her. We watch the math instructional video on my laptop and I watch her do her math page, explaining some things to her as she goes.

Avril is wanting to climb on me. I let her sit on my lap, but then she wants to get on the table and get Norah’s attention. I get her to pick up Legos and write on a coloring page with a pencil for a while. She is wanting climb again, but at this point, I tell her “No” firmly and tell her to play with her doll house that is right there in the dining room. I tell her I am watching her and that Norah is “doing school” and so she needs to play. She cries loudly but she is also walking to the dollhouse. She sits and looks over her shoulder to see if I am looking like I said I would. I watch as much as I need to to get her playing well.

Norah puts her math supplies back in the bench while I grab her spelling supplies.

I wash off some grapes and cut some up for Avril, too. Norah and I share the grapes while we do her spelling. Avril eats her grapes while she sits next to me.

Norah cleans up from spelling and the grape bowls under my direction while I grab her writing book and notebook.

I talk to her about the writing assignment for a minute, but she is going to be able to do her writing assignment on her own mostly. I take that time to call Avril over to the couch to do an ABC puzzle.

Norah finishes the writing page before Avril and I finish the puzzle. She helps Avril find and put in the last pieces.

We all sit on the couch and start her grammar lesson and practice memorizing a poem.

But Avril is climbing everywhere at this point, almost ripping pages out of Norah’s open notebook, distracting Norah, so I tell her to go play on the carpet in front of the couch. She cries again but she walks to the carpet anyway. She sits in a fuss and pouts and cries louder. I tell her Norah is “doing school” and that she needs to be quiet while Norah works and she needs to play. She understands me and knows I am serious when I tell her she will have to go to bed if she isn’t quiet. Eventually, she finds a basket of Barbies and a book to flip through.

Norah and I take turns reading John, Chapter 1 in her kid’s Bible and talk about it verse by verse.

Norah begs to do science today. I was going to save it for next week, but say “Okay.”

By this time, Avril has come over. I offer to let her color with Norah while Norah colors in her science activity book. Avril says “No” and points to the computer in the living room meaning she wants to watch a movie. I start Toy Story for her. She sits at the computer desk in the living room and watches the movie on the large computer screen while Norah and I do science in the kitchen to begin with, but then end up moving to the dinning room because Toy Story is too loud and distracting.

After science, I tell Norah she has to read “New Toes for Tia.” She is not happy that I am choosing a book for her and she says so. I tell her to go to her room and read and come tell me what the book is about. She leaves in a huff with the book in her hand.

About ten minutes later, she comes back to the kitchen and tells me with enthusiasm all about what has happened in the book so far.

Norah reads some more silently, this time in the dining room while I am making lunch in the kitchen.

While she, Avril and I are eating spaghetti and meatballs, Norah and I discuss the story more. I have to read a page to help Norah understand why one of the chapters was called “Tia’s new Father” and Norah said Tia’s father hadn’t died and her mother hadn’t remarried or anything. Norah didn’t realize that the text was saying Tia’s father was becoming a new man as he started to let God change him.

After lunch, Norah says, “I guess I liked ‘New Toes for Tia’ after all.” She then chooses another book to read silently in her room. Avril finishes watching Toy Story and I clean up and then sit down to drink another large cup of ice water.

The day goes on from there, but at this point, we are done with our formal home school plans. And for the rest of the day, Avril can get more attention and Norah can have more freedom.