Feb 3, 2013

Bird's-Eye View of the Week: Why Be Normal? Schooling with Charlotte Mason

Every week I think, "Oh, we haven't really covered anything noteworthy this week." 

And then I scratch out a list of stuff and am, like, WOW!" Which is a good thing cuz I do have to show "regular, thorough instruction in the courses normally taught in schools." (COMAR, the Md. state homeschool law)

Fortunately our law is lenient enough that we can define HOW and WHEN we teach what is "normal." When you use a Charlotte Mason curriculum which depends on "living books", you cover so much more with more retention than the dry textbooks and the "teach to the test" parrot talk.

For instance our 6th-grader's normal history lessons on Elizabethan England and Shakespeare are gleaned from reading a 36-chapter tale, Master Skylark, of a kidnapped boy forced to join a player's guild. I'm not sure if the P.S. middle-schoolers even have any familiarity with The Bard.

Our geography study of South America and Australia utilizes a lengthy true story, Stowaway, accounting the three-year voyage of  Captain Cook's circumnavigation of the globe as told by a 10-year-old crewmate.

Science, art, music--they're all covered. But OUR way, not the "normal" way.

So what happened this week?

We concluded our nature study-- a subject NOT normally taught in schools-- with the Outdoor Hour Challenge's January focus on rocks. It culminated with a visit to a local quarry. We pass it every week on the way to jazz class so it was great to make friends with our neighbor. You can read about it in detail here.

February's study will be birds, timed with the Great Backyard Bird Count. Our existing feeders are filled, and replacements are in the mail. Can't wait to do MY favorite subject! (The link will tell you how you can participate. And they are homeschool friendly! )

We're really getting into our other history novel, Strangers in the Land, about the persecution of the Huguenots as experienced by one family. Through it, we are becoming familiar with important events in 18th c. Europe like the Treaty of Nantes. And what an inspiring character study of faith and fortitude.

For Math, Life of Fred-Fractions continues to delight. If a math program makes Mei WANT to do her work, I'll stand on my head for it. 

Her co-op composition class is developing a report on an animal of their choosing. I drew the line at the two she knows most about, dogs and horses. I wanted her to experience the rigors of researching a new topic. It didn't go over well, but she settled on clownfish, natives of the Great Barrier Reef, which will help lead us into the broader study of Australia. And they're so cute. And famous. But finding info (chuckle, haha) was as difficult as finding the Disney character.

"Breezing Up" by Winslow Homer. View it in D.C.!
"Snap the Whip" by Winslow Homer. At the Met in NYC!
Finally the art co-op I teach began their study of Winslow Homer using the Meet the Masters curriculum. This artist will introduce the kids to the concepts of value and focal point in a composition. Homer's subject range is so broad there is something to appeal to anyone, but kids especially can relate to his famous works of "Breezing Up" and "Snap the Whip." I had to explain that game, and now they want to enjoy it, of course! We're hoping next Thursday might not be so muddy. The kids won't care, but the moms might!

For ME, the big thrill was getting a  BREAD MACHINE!!  Naturally, like the good excellent homeschooling parent I am, I will find teachable moments. Chemical reactions and the study of fungi immediately come to mind. Bread-baking. Another way our school is NOT "normal."
   I'm posting my review of my little kitchen workhorse here along with our first successes and their recipes! Keep watching. Can you tell I'm excited?

That's the view from the perch this week. How about you? Do anything "normal?"  Tell Mother All About It!

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