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Emily ZL

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About Emily ZL

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  1. I also feel that way about CM. She scheduled her schoolkids for mornings only -- but 6 days per week. We have an excellent drop off program we do on Fridays, so we school only 4 days. I just couldn't see us getting to all of those lessons. And with lots of kids, and babies, I don't have the ability to do what some people say ("It's easy, we just do these subjects from 9-12, then take a break for lunch and play, and these other subjects from 2-4, and we're done!" Yeah, I do not have 5 full hours of instruction time in me to give). I need to be done in 60-90 minutes max for my young kids K-2 and maybe 30-40 max for my older independent kid. I can't be reading out loud with toddlers and babies screaming at me and throwing themselves on my books, which they do. We do a "daily checklist" of items with my young two in K and 1st: poetry and memory verse (both take 3 minutes or less), math, and handwriting. Then everything else gets done once per week on a checklist. I keep everything on a single sheet of paper with the pages and lessons we must cover. For my older independent kid in 4th, he does do loops. I have changed them around a lot to fit what I wanted to cover better. He does a language arts loop that started with copywork, grammar, and spelling. Now it's one week of 3 days Writing and Rhetoric and one day spelling, then an alternate week of 3 days grammar and one day spelling. Poetry, memory, math, and religion are daily (with religion on its own loop). He has a loop of typing and Latin, and a loop of history, science, and geography. So he may only do Latin twice weekly, but I'm happy with his progress. Sometimes we do history twice weekly with science and geography once, while other times we switch it to alternating weeks and just do one full week of geography or science, etc. I think loops are best used like that, per "subject" or per "slot." I know we can only have so many "slots" of subjects on my son's schedule before he really gets overwhelmed with school. Plus he reads so much outside of assignments that I don't think he needs 4 hours of official school work.
  2. Another option is to think of your loop schedule items on more of a "weekly checklist" level, if you want to hit them all at least once in the week. So every day, you say "I'm going to choose 2 or 3 of these to work on based on how I feel, and what else we've got going on," and as long as you hit them all at some point in the week, you can feel good. This works well for me. I'm spontaneous and I hated having to "do the next thing" when it didn't perfectly fit the day. Sometimes no one felt like doing Latin and wanted to do Bible, and I just got sick of trying to deal with the loop. So we did the weekly checklist instead.
  3. Things I don't do well and DO feel guilty about: nature study, reading aloud (my dh sort of does), deep literature discussions, Plutarch, morning time with hymns and prayers and such Things I don't do and DON'T care about: sports, unit studies, big history cycles with tons of books and projects, art appreciation past the early years
  4. I wanted to reply to this, but this is pretty much exactly what I was going to say. I used BA as a full curriculum for 3rd grade and it was fun, but I consider it our "lost year" in math. He worked the puzzles but did not retain the procedures. I didn't want to let it drop because I was hung up on BA being the best and hardest option. But in reality, Math Mammoth is giving him plenty of challenges while building those solid core skills. And it includes a puzzle corner too once in a while. I intended to use BA as a supplement, but really we are so busy with MM and progressing so well I just didn't.
  5. I agree with everyone who said 2A. Building solid foundations will prevent problems down the road. I had almost the same situation (good at math and enjoyed it, then unhappy, didn't like BA, felt behind). We have loved MM. It does have lots of practice but Maria Miller specifically says that an average child should do about half the problems. The rest are for extra practice. So I cross out about half, or we skip whole pages if he's solid on something. Then we do all the problems when we need to. We also skip sections like geometry in order to ensure plenty of time to cement the basic four operations, knowing we can always circle back later. What I liked about MM was that it was so cheap for all grades 1-6 when it was on sale at homeschool buyers co-op (which I think it might be now too?). So I figured even if I only used it to print off relevant review problems or shore up some difficult issue it would be worth it.
  6. Yeah, that's fair. Of my 5 (soon 6) kids, only 3 are schooling and they are in K, 1st, and 4th. So those are limited data points. But the three of them all just love working on their own. I give their assignments very close attention, and the K child gets very little formal work to do. But they just love owning it. Perhaps this is just too limited of a data set. And kids change as well.
  7. I feel like this comes more easily to homeschoolers, especially homeschoolers who don't have the time or inclination to be top-down lecturers. My kids have to work fairly independently because there are so many of them. Then we solve problems on a one-on-one basis (the tutoring model). I don't think I own a single curriculum where I use a teacher guide to "teach" or lecture to my kids. We use Math Mammoth, and similar programs. They all show great skills for self-directed learning and I didn't really teach that either. The question (in my opinion) is, how do you get that for kids in a public or private school? They are in a large group setting. It seems unrealistic to expect these poor teachers to get to all the content, attend to all the discipline, defend themselves to the parents, tailor their lessons to the different needs of their students if at all possible, and also to somehow teach independence and motivation to kids who may have totally messed up family situations full of academic pressure, overscheduling, two households to navigate, extracurriculars... It seems like everyone overlooks the sanity and character traits that are best for kids to succeed. A kid who goes to the right schools might end up taking a host of psychiatric drugs and failing out of school. But it seems largely a parent driven and family driven set of skills that those families make into priorities.
  8. Love all this. I find this all very true. I'm also in Texas, but Manhattan is like this too. I was at a kindergarten birthday once where the grandmother of one of the kids in this private Pre-K4 program said she was glad they were doing so many hard worksheets to get ahead of the other kids (really?) and that she sends her granddaughter to Kumon after school. I asked, why?? She said, "Andrea wants to be a vet, and I tell her she better get used to all the work now. She cries and cries about the work, but I tell her she needs to get used to it if she's ever going to be a vet." What an odd world. What odd reasoning. By that model, how will she learn to be a doctor if she doesn't stay up for 36 hours straight at 5? How will she learn to drive if she doesn't start at 5? How will she make babies if she.. well, you get the picture. Lol.
  9. Why not just a box? Sonlight, Memoria Press, My Fathers World, that secular one (Oak Meadow something?), or in my Catholic world there's Seton, MODG, CHC, and on and on. Just write a check and get everything you need for a successful year delivered right to your house. I think cobbling together your own program is perfect for a certain type of mom (myself included) but I meet moms constantly who would rather all the thinking and planning be done for them, and they do fine with the box.
  10. I completely agree. Virtue is definitely not in a booklist, and I'm not convinced that Plutarch will magically train up good children. Ultimately we are a flawed and broken people capable of both high ideals and also terrible actions. The best we can do for virtue, I think, is do our very best to instill it concretely in our families, live it, and discuss it in our homeschools. It's a fantastic aspect of homeschooling that you can include lots of diverse writers and works without having to get anyone else's permission. It doesn't need to be on some official canon to be worthwhile, and some of the typical canon pieces will seem inane and not worth your time. However, I do think it's true that none of us has unlimited time. So I do choose to prioritize Homer, and Greek and Roman myths, and I hope to start Shakespeare soon, knowing that I only have so much time and this seems most beneficial to me. But we might also choose to ditch some classics later because they don't float my boat -- I will probably hit a lot of Aquinas's Summa and very little of the Divine Comedy, unless my kids take to it for some reason. Homeschooling is so great and so flexible. I just think the classical tradition and the classical canon are worthwhile and have a great track record on so many levels, especially in the face of modern methods that...really don't.
  11. There's a lot of confusion here, in this thread and in the world, about what classical education actually is. Partly that is because different modern writers will give different definitions, and partly it's because of the tension between the neo-classical post-Sayers ages and stages approach (which is not necessarily bad), and the traditional line of classical Western thought on education that began with Aristotle and Quintilian and continued up through Charlotte Mason, and essentially ended with modern progressive theories starting in the late Victorian era and early 20th century. The general method, I believe, was to read and emulate the very best quality, most influential work that had been created over the millennia, with an emphasis on learning classical languages so those works could be understood and read in their original languages. (Certainly the founding fathers in the US, and most writers of that era, quote extensively in Latin without providing any translation, assuming their contemporaries would understand.) Modern writers disagree about the exact nature of the Trivium, but the basic idea, IMHO, is that one must learn the mechanics and logic of language, to recognize using language what is actually true and to separate that from even persuasive-sounding falsehoods, and to communicate truth effectively and persuasively. This is certainly not done by "creative" writing but by actively learning Latin, grammar, logic, rhetoric, and by extensive imitation of excellent writing. (You see the outcome in letters from even poor young soldiers during the civil war that read like beautiful poetry.) Charlotte Mason is basically a version of classical education but with some tweaks to make it more accessible, more enjoyable, and less of a grind. She put a lot of emphasis on practical things like short varied lessons, reading excellent quality classic books, oral rather than written work in early ages, with free afternoons for play, and lots of outdoor experience of nature. By older grades, however, she advocates longer lessons, Latin grammar, difficult Western classics, extensive writing with different rhetorical methods (narrative, persuasive, etc.), which is clearly a form of classical. As for the canon, some people argue it's all an opinion based on old traditions, that nothing in it is any better than anything produced by women or minorities of today who have been shut out. Ok. That's an opinion. I think it's entirely unsupported, though. It's like saying a Jackson Pollock is just as good as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. If you think that, fine, you probably don't like classical education! And that is fine. But classical education is based on the view, held for millennia before the last 60 years, that there are clear differences in quality between Mozart and Michaelangelo and Shakespeare, and the works of Brittney Spears, Tracey Emin, and James Patterson, and that it is best for the human person to cultivate that which is truly good and beautiful. So, due to various cultural circumstances, the "great conversation" of the very best works was conducted mostly by white men. Okay. That doesn't mean they were any better humans, sure. But Hamlet is still excellent, the language is still rich, the truths about humanity deep and interesting to explore. Homer is so influential in cultures the world over that it's almost impossible to imagine our cultural stories without it. Everything modern is essentially derivative and riffing off the Bible, Homer, and Shakespeare, and if you don't know those first, you aren't even able to engage with the material beyond "I like it" or "I don't like it. I think adding on a PC fight is just a modern obsession. Virtue is the ultimate goal, in my understanding. Not just to know what is true or good, but to act on it. An "education" is supposed to teach you to be fully human, to exercise self-control, to gain a full understanding of what is right and what that entails from you; otherwise it is just a pedantic collection of knowledge and skills so you can get a job and buy stuff. When you read older books where someone feels torn about lying to or betraying even a murderer (Invisible Man), or has a code of honor that makes him want to sacrifice himself to protect others, that is the ultimate goal, that internalized virtue. How you get there is generally by teaching it explicitly. You can use Plutarch, or any other method, but always it involves emphasizing that what is right is objective and never subjective. Again, this is not modern at all but was the norm for over 2000 years. And that is why classical education is so radical and looks so crazy and different to us today.
  12. These 3 subjects would be really easy to do together. I would second those who said SCM picture study (just choose your artist(s) and you're good) and throw in some Deep Space Sparkle for technique when the mood strikes. For science, I would subscribe to something cheap like Young Scientists Club ($119/year) for the fun experiments, and then just get the kids library books in their topics of interest. You really don't need much in elementary science besides getting outside, observing the natural world casually, and passing along the fun parts of science so they will find it interesting. History would work well with SOTW. Fine and done, lol.
  13. I used MP Astronomy for my 4th grader this year, and would recommend it. We bought just the student book and the optional $5 lesson plans book. I would say it is excellent if you use it in moderation, along with a good AR night sky app. I took about 3 weeks (one lesson per week) to teach my son the 15 brightest stars and their constellations. But after this, drawing the constellations became steadily less interesting to him. At that time, I bought the night sky app and that really brought it to life. He couldn't believe that he was looking at "the" Vega, the one he had learned about! We decided to skip ahead and just do some of the solar system work. He was super into the facts about the planets. So I like that we can skip around to keep it fresh. We also are very, very devout (though again, not YEC so I haven't been looking for that) and we absolutely love Greek myths, as well as fairy tales etc. We talk about how the Greeks didn't have God's revelation to the Israelites so they made up their own crazy stories. I know Bishop Robert Barron has said a lot about the difference between myths and the Bible -- how only people who have never read myths would think the God of the Bible was just a myth! The gods of the Greek myths are just selfish, powerful versions of people who make bad choices -- what a difference with the true God! What a contrast they make! So it does spark great discussions about how the true God worth worshipping is goodness, truth, and beauty itself, vs these hilarious antics the Greeks made up around the hearth fires. My son especially likes how the story of Romulus and Remus says so much about how the Romans saw themselves (raised by wolves, begun in murder!) vs the Greek origins, vs our own stories about the founding of the US (Washington and the cherry tree emphasizing our ideas about integrity). So yeah, I think it's hard to talk constellations without the myths they come from, and it makes it more fun.
  14. Pam Barnhill has Advent and Christmas morning time plans. She was giving them away for free a couple of weeks back so I downloaded one. I have been really surprised that I'm actually using it and we're actually doing some fun Advent schooling. We pray the O Antiphons and read some picture books and all that sort of fuzzy sweet stuff. We also made a Jesse tree last year and made ornaments from felt. Ours had 30 days (25 old testament and 5 new testament). I like how the Jesse tree really makes the chronology of salvation history clear as you see it all paves the way for Jesus. When I was a kid, we just had an advent calendar but it wasn't logically arranged. It just had angels or shepherds or whatever. I think the Jesse tree really helps with the chronology in my own head too (I have written down what years David and Ezra and Jonah and Esther etc were active and I don't think I was at all clear on that before!).
  15. These are all good suggestions, especially focusing on fun things like blowing bubbles, playing games, and playing outside as also "building skills" and not just on some sense that they aren't enough or are wasting time if they aren't in a formal curriculum. You mentioned poetry. I would just add my two cents that memorizing little poems like Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses is just pure fun at this age. They love it, they're short and easy and cute, and the kids feel so good and proud about being able to say it back. The completed poems can be written (by dictation to mom) into a special notebook and the child can use crayons to illustrate their poem if they like that sort of thing, and it just becomes a keepsake. So sweet. Just IMHO.
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