In the month of August, there are many garden chores to accomplish. Along with collecting the daily vegetables and fruits, there are seeds to be gathered and stored for use next year. This is a wonderful job for toddlers and preschoolers who are eager to pay attention to detail and to do a job well, not-to-mention, to learn about how plants come back next year.
Now that baby has arrived in the Rolling household, I am able to send out my little troop to gather daisy, coreopsis, and dianthus seeds. Another day they come in with plumes of dill seed! In the hat to the left, you will see dill seeds, ready to be stored. Under the dill seeds are daisy seeds, which little fingers will later seperate from dill seeds. Above the hat are coriander/cilantro seeds.
Once we have seperated the seeds from the plant stems, we store each type of seed separately in tea cups inside a cabinet specifically designated for drying peppers and storing seeds. It is quite the handsome shelf with white tea cups full of flower and herb seeds!
by Alecia Rolling. This year we are trying out Catholic Schoolhouse for our young children. We are involved professionally with Catholic Schoolhouse as we are writing materials for them to use for the dialectical and rhetorical stages of their program (i.e. middle and high school levels). And we thought: “Why not try it ourselves?” This is a classically-based homeschool program that offers a structured program that meets weekly to cover core memorization activities, art projects, science experiments, and social activity.
Thankfully, a brave soul here in Virginia has taken it upon herself to be director and to start a local Catholic Schoolhouse program. She is a mother of 5 children and is certainly not lacking in things to do! The founders of Catholic Schoolhouse have been more than helpful in explaining the logistics of setting up the program, finding a facility, and getting a group up and going.
The typical schedule for our local program will look something like this:
This is not an easy question. Homeschool rooms are as varied as the families they are for. The number and ages of children in the room at one time, the number of rooms in the house, how much money a family earns: these are all factors to be considered in designing your schoolroom.
For us, it has come down to three necessary components:
1. A Place for Prayer:
Every morning we gather around our homeschool room shrine to make the day’s offerings and petitions. The children are aloud to handle the saints’ statues, rosaries, and our second class relic from St. Leopoldo Mandic while I read the Bible passage for the day. We close with a hymn before starting school. (For more ideas about incorporating young children in religious activities, see The Child in the Church by Maria Montessori and Others.)
2. A Place for Group Study: After prayers, we adjourn to the group study area to sing the alphabet, go over the day on the calendar, and review what everyone has learned together so far. This usually sets up the pre-schoolers nicely to work on their own a little while, so I can help our older child.
3.Enough space for individual study and teaching: After Group Study, I slowly make my way around to each child individually to help him or her with a task. I start with the oldest, help her with reading. Then, I help #2 with colors or shapes, while #1 is working on math. Finally, I check their work, and we return to a group activity…coloring. This is how we end the formal school hour (at present).
Optional perks! I encourage mothers to think about what kinds of spaces they would particularly like in a homeschool room to encourage them and their children to do more than just school in the schoolroom. For example, I have my sewing desk in one corner of our room, and some days we retreat to the schoolroom, I work on a sewing project, and the kids do activities. We also have musical instruments in the schoolroom. The children can experiment with shakers, xylophones, and more, or Papa brings out the guitar for singing and dancing!
Alecia Rolling has been speaking German with our children for five years now, and we have started homeschooling in this bilingual setting. Above, you can now find a page that lists our core curriculum for our German-English bilingual homeschool. Links are provided to the books, and you may wish to peruse the blog posts for practical suggestions and ideas for making the curriculum work for your home.
This page has been added in response to inquiries from other families, who wish to homeschool in two languages and especially in German and English.
We have just finished our second week of “formal” homeschool, and it finally feels like routine. The children are happier and more relaxed, and I am enjoying my time in the school room more and more. Their lessons go with them throughout the day as we read books, play in the garden, or just sit outside and talk. It is such a relief to hear a little voice say,
Mama! There’s a tree! God made that tree. (pause) He made all trees.
Mama, I found an ‘e’! We are learning about ‘e’ right now. Can you tell me what this word says?
It came to mind that I could share what we do each morning from 8:30-9:30 (sometimes 10am!). I have also linked the books we use below for those interested.
Review Calendar, What we’ll do today, sing the alphabet.
Preschooler works independently on Montessori activities, while Mama helps Kindergartener with Reading and Math.
Kindergartener works independently on Reading and Math, while Mama works with Preschooler on Montessori activities.
Mama Checks Kindergartener’s work and praises Preschooler for what he did well.
We all sit and color together a coloring page that corresponds with our morning Bible reading.
Of course, this is merely our formal school time. School is an all day affair! This week my children became newly interested in castles and dragons, thanks in part to a small puppet set we received from a relative. When I reminded them of our book, Saint George and the Dragon, they squealed with excitement. We read the book many times over. They built castles with their Papa, they made forts out of sheets on rainy days, and they told one another elaborate tales of princes and knights.
Their playtime allowed them many opportunities to learn. For example, Papa talked about the way castles should be built to be strong and withstand attacks. They named the parts of the castle and developed strategies to evade the dragon, if he should appear. When they read Saint George and the Dragon with Mama, they talked about bravery and courage despite fear. When they built forts and they told their own stories, they were practicing strategic thinking and narration.
This year I have a Kindergartener, Preschooler, Toddler, and (soon) a newborn in the homeschool room. After teaching my Kindergartener last year, I of course felt quite confident about teaching my new preschooler. After all, it couldn’t be that different! Oh, but yes it can. I was reminded this week of how unique each of my children are.
When #1 was two and a half years old, we worked on colors with Montessori color tablets. The teaching moment was quiet and peaceful. I pointed to a color, and she found the other matching tablet. We then named the color. It was very methodical and again…quiet.
Now, I am teaching #2 with the same color tablets. Yes, he is a boy, but also a completely different temperament. I began the same way I had begun with #1, but #2 kept insisting that he wanted to build a tower out of the color tablets. I was beginning to get angry, when I paused….
“Okay, we will build a tower and make airplanes out of the tablets to fly onto the tower, but first you have to find the matching color, so we can make our planes. Then you can fly the planes over here and build a tower!”
He looked at me a moment as if considering whether or not I was trying to trick him. He then grinned, and I held up a color tablet. “What color is this?” I don’t know. “Green!” I bellowed like a drill sergeant. Still bellowing, “Can you say green?!” GREEN! he yelled with a smile.
We spent the next ten minutes sounding like a platoon of soldiers learning their colors, making planes, and building towers. A memorable day!
A Reflection on Life’s Lessons amidst Homeschooling
In the summer on the homestead, we tend to focus on gardening, canning, preserving, feeding the animals, and natural history. This has proven to be the the best time of year for subjects like botany, biology, and chemistry, since there are so many natural instances illustrating lessons from each subject! This year, however, we are embarking into new territory and studying the three R’s as well… in the summer.
Yes, this first week of July we began homeschooling for the 2011-2012 academic year. “What? But, it’s the summer?!” one might exclaim.
Indeed, it is summer, and the days are longer! Besides, this year we have a baby due in the middle of August, and we know now that the family needs a good month to re-adjust to the new family dynamics. Thankfully, homeschooling offers us the flexibility we need to be able to appreciate those four weeks after the new baby is born. We were able to say, “Let’s just start early and then take a month off.”
Learning will not cease that month for the older children. They will enjoy valuable lessons in life. Our kindergartener will finally be allowed to change diapers — something she has been begging to do all year! Our toddler will be able to master “silence” when the baby is sleeping, and our 1-year-old will practice being gentle — no hitting the baby.
What will be the three most important life-lessons that month? Empathy. Self-sufficiency. Sacrifice.
Empathy. Our older children will see how helpless a newborn is and be told how helpless they were as infants. They will hear stories about how Mama and Papa had to help them when they were little, and how nice it is that the new baby has so many to help him: Mama, Papa, Sister 1, Brother 1, and Brother 2! They will each have their tasks in helping the baby and be praised for jobs well-done, especially when they respond to a need without Mama’s prompting.
Self-sufficiency. The older children will especially be praised for independent achievements — successes such as dressing or eating without Mama’s help. These achievements will be lauded because they show how much each child is growing up and becoming more independent. These also demonstrate their readiness for more responsibilities (and more privileges) and make them proud of themselves as they become more adept human persons.
Sacrifice. Everyone, even the 1-year-old, will sacrifice some time with Mama for the new baby. It is the learning of this sacrifice that requires a month-long adjustment period. Admittedly, this is a tough lesson for adults and still tough for children. “Why can’t Mama read a story now?” She is napping from being awake all night with the baby. Do you know that Mama used to stay up at night when you were a baby?
“Why is Papa cooking?” Mama is feeding the baby, and she did that for you, too.
With hope I reflect on these moments that are to come. For my children to see what all I did for them — what all Papa did for them — by watching us care for their baby sibling will in the end teach them how much we loved them as babies and still do as they grow up — being able to take the time in August as a family to welcome our newest little one is certainly one of the perks to homeschooling!
Catholic Schoolhouse – an alternative to Classical Conversations
Have you been involved in a Classical Conversations group, but have been unhappy with the program as regards your Catholic tradition and understanding? You are not alone. A new source is now available online that seems to be a worthwhile alternative to Classical Conversations. Meet Catholic Schoolhouse.
They offer materials to help you start your own Catholic Schoolhouse group in your own hometown! They are quite inexpensive, and the schedule is quite reasonable. If you have found yourself wanting to start a local homeschooling group, this just might be what you are looking for!
Visit their website and contact them if you are interested or have more questions. They are extremely helpful.