I've been reading Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss this week. It's a great motivation for the beginning of our homeschooling year! The book is about the use of the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education in a Catholic homeschooling family.
I didn't know much about the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling until I started this book several months back (and started reading some blogs and the 4Real forums linked on the sidebar); I've always planned to use Mother of Divine Grace and the classical approach. But I love the way the Charlotte Mason ideals foster a love for learning as the child is educated through "living books" and experiences with the natural world. I feel it can be a wonderful way to approach various subjects and a great way to grow as a family by experiencing literature and nature together.
Yesterday we had a "real learning" day. We are aiming to start "school" next Monday but are still doing educational activities at home. Tuesday just happened to be one of those days where things "clicked". We woke up for breakfast and talked about the visit my parents would make at lunchtime. We decided to go pick some flowers to make a bouquet and set the table. Mary Clare made colorful placemats with each person's name and the table looked so nice!
But NeNe and PaPa were running late so we needed to find something else to keep us busy until their arrival...books! We read Because A Little Bug went Ka-Choo by Dr. Seuss and talked about how one little thing can cause a whole host of reactions. We talked about making our own book with a similar storyline. So she dictated to me a cute little story about a dog. I thought two of the character names were very creative: Mrs. Hedgeherd and Mr. Doodleburg :)
NeNe and PaPa brought a yummy lunch and some special treats for our poor injured lamb. Mary Clare is still unable to use her left leg (sprained her knee) so we're hoping our doctor appointment tomorrow will help us figure out how to help it get better. My mom was so thoughtful to notice my disappointment in missing Mary Clare's feast day. She brought a little St. Clare card and a printout of the life of St. Clare. The girls loved their little presents and it helped ease the exit of the grandparents, which normally makes for a very dramatic and sorrowful departure.
We also had plans to go to an event at the library with our homeschool friends, so we got everyone out to the car and arrived just after it started. The program was about African Spiritual music and drums and the kids really enjoyed learning the rhythms and hearing the storyteller tell about the experience of black slaves escaping to freedom. After the program we went to the children's section of the library and picked out another stack of quality books that we spent the evening reading...Babar, Lyle the Crocodile, Circus Caps for Sale, some of My First Little House books, Curious George, and more! I picked out books I was curious to read myself, so it made it more fun for me to read too. I'm trying to get over my fear of checking out books. We lose things so easily and have hundreds of books already that it's hard to keep track. But I know it's worth it in the end to have a richer selection of books to read!
I read the story of St. Clare's life aloud over dinner, and afterwards, in Charlotte Mason style, I asked MC what she remembered about what I read. It's good to see what they catch (things like St. Francis cutting off St. Clare's hair) and what they miss (things like the story of St. Clare holding up a monstrance and scaring away the rough soldiers who were going to raid the convent). Then we can discuss again some of the main points and make sure she has a good sense of what the story is about. I need to remember to do that more often, to stop and explain things during our reading, and to ask questions to check for comprehension.
It was a good day and I'm hopeful that the transition into the official school year will go smoothly. I need to work on my bed time and wake time so that I can get up early for school and do the bulk of our work in the mornings. I'm also really looking forward to getting lots of motivation and some needed books from the homeschool convention this weekend. And I'm looking forward to seeing some friends...and praying for all those moms I've encountered that are still discerning the school choices these last couple weeks. Best wishes to all who embark on this new school year, whether in-home or out-of-home!