Saturday, December 12, 2009

Schedule Tweaks

I wrote out this schedule three months ago, and it is still working except that we don't really have that art hour. Instead, Kieron usually studies Chinese and then does Study Island for a while. Sometimes he also tackles another subject like grammar or vocabulary. He's made the "Grade 8 Change" -- about age 14, all the kids in this family (5 so far) seemed to start pulling the oars a bit more themselves. Whereas at the beginning of the year he was sort of dillying, now he basically sets himself a schedule and follows it.

Paddy does math and phonics, which he is speeding through. For math he usually gets through 3-5 lessons and then we do some kind of review game.

Then the kids go outside and I do some work around the house.

After that I work with Paddy in bits and pieces. We have a smoother routine now -- he is willing to pay attention longer, and I'm willing to give him play breaks while I catch up on something that needs doing, or talk to Clare on the phone. Kieron takes a long lunchtime break and usually reads almost a whole book (he's been devouring all the books around the house this year). Then he tucks in and finishes the second part of his schoolwork schedule. I double-check, at least most the time, to make sure he hasn't missed some assignment. And I help him with algebra if he needs help Lastly, Paddy does his handwriting and sometimes a couple of worksheets. We're usually working from 9 to 4 but it's a leisurely pace.

Then they play while I turn my attention to fixing dinner or catching up on things that need doing.

Another tweak is that Aidan and I have a reading lesson every morning. We use Starfall's lessons as a starting point. OK, it is twaddly but no more so than 100 Easy Lessons which is what I used for the other kids (except Paddy, who was already reading by the time he got to the age where I usually teach them to read). It is already having results. Later we follow up with one of our traditional "reading lessons" where he dictates a short journal or story and then we read it back together (I tell him the big words and he has to try and read the easy words).

I still haven't resolved my little ongoing dilemma -- yesterday my oldest and I were talking about education and he spoke about learning about the "truth of things" in the older style of education. I guess I've always gone back and forth about what "paideia" means in our day and age, and I continue to have problems figuring out what the ideal is in this regard.

It's been on my mind as I think about what to do with Kieron as he enters high school next year. One thing I am almost sure of is that I don't want to wing it again unless I have to. But the K12 program is the only pre-planned one that's ever, I mean EVER, worked for me. Most of them I end up tweaking so much that I might as well make up my own. The fact is that there isn't anything out there that quite matches my ideal, and I don't seem able to pull my own out of the air. But am I longing for the "fleshpots of Egypt", for comforts and conveniences, rather than stepping into the wilderness? I managed winging high school for 3 kids. They have done well since and I'm proud of them! But I can't manage to feel all that proud of how I actually did.

I like the support factor of the school, in many ways. It's motivating for my kids to have a clearcut set of goals and a streamlined approach to achieving them. Kieron has done quite well and it's a good challenge for him at his age to exert his mental energies on something that I didn't pull together for him. It's even a bit nice to be able to critique the curriculum together. I don't usually need extra help, but I generally like feeling part of something bigger than our house. (that was one of the things that tore me up most when we pulled the older kids out of Catholic school many years ago). But gosh, do I want to be part of something bigger meaning the California school system? That's a stretch.

For Paddy, it's not so hard to decide. I'm pretty much resolved to sign him up for another year. It's working SO well, he's advancing rapidly, and at his level, it's all mediated through me. So I have no trouble putting the information into a bigger perspective, discussing the theological and philosophical sides to it, and we do a lot of reading and discussing around the edges. And all the classes are planned with quality in mind, though sometimes the questions and activities are twaddly. But we often moderate those. He is learning solfege in music! And finally we are getting to art study! And he knows all these things about the weather and ancient civilizations that he didn't know at the beginning of the year! We do science investigations! And since K12 includes a study of the Israelites with Egypt and the others, his history curriculum dovetails right in with our religious studies! All good things.

For all the kids, we've done way more read-alouds this year than any in the past, and I've been able to keep up more consistently with religious education, because it's the only thing I'm really directly planning. And I've had more time and sympathy for doing the extra Mom-type things. We go for walks; we bake; I can pick up the phone when someone calls, because it's easy to pick up the schooling later without feeling disconnected.

These are nice things.

Ah, well. I guess I have 6 months to discern and pray about it!


  1. So why are thinking K-12 won't fit for highschool? or do they not offer it?

  2. I want a Catholic education for my kids if at all possible -- and the K12 high school seems rigorous and rigid enough so that it wouldn't allow for much supplementation.

    In the grammar grades, it seems easier to take a secular resource and with a few words point out the Catholic perspective.

    In the high school years, I feel like he needs to hear the Catholic perspective from someone besides his Mom. Now it could be that just the life around the edges is enough -- but that's what I'm trying to figure out. It also could be that by staying involved in his studies and planning his religious curriculum, that it would be enough. Again, trying to discern.

  3. Interesting thoughts, Willa. As I'm winging it with my oldest, who's a junior (combination of dual-enrollment and independent reading and work), I'm already thinking how I might do things differently with my next, who's only 12, so we have some time . . . He's quite a different person from his sister, and one who'd respond to seriously challenging work, I think -- but the need for continued Catholic education is a huge factor in whatever we do. And I don't trust myself not to let it slide if it's not right there at the center, know what I mean?

    Good thoughts, anyway. I'll be interested to see how things settle out.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!