Monday dawned gray and cheerless… just perfect for staying inside and embarking on our first official day of homeschool.
A funny thing about my boys: they love them some workbooks. Filling in blanks. Circling words. Completing math drill sheets (well, Rhys likes that, anyway… probably because he’s better at them than is Fisher). Now I have all these lofty ideas about our homeschool just consisting of… well, sitting around and talking about lofty ideas. Planetary orbits. The nature of Empire and its ultimate unsustainability. The evolution of birds. But hey… my kids want workbooks, so we’ve got to have some workbooks.
So what we’re using, workbook-wise, right now are Explode the Code for Rhys–straightforward phonics with lots of goofy pictures–and Wordly Wise for Fisher–fairly challenging vocabulary work with a minimum of longhand writing required. (And o’ course, he growls over what it does require.) For math, we’re using McRuffy… silly name, cool curriculum with lots of manipulatives and some neat advanced-ish stuff. I bought both the 1st and 3rd grade versions, but we’ve decided to have them both work in the 3rd grade curriculum; Rhys seems perfectly capable of doing it so far. Except for the part about writing his numbers. Boy cannot keep his 5s and 2s straight to save his life.
Anyway: on Monday, we cranked through a nice little multiplication lesson, Rhys did four pages of code-exploding, Fisher grred and grumbled his way through writing nine vocabulary sentences. (But as a consolation prize, he got to do it with his iPod on. Seemed to soften the blow a bit.) We read a book about Japan and counted to ten in Japanese. A sweet, gentle start to our Homeschool Year.
Then yesterday, everybody was sick. Pukey-sick, in my case; horrible nasty head cold-sick, in everyone else’s. So all homeschool consisted of yesterday was watching some educational-ish TV, reading some 100% non-educational Star Wars novels and, in Rhys’ case, doing a color-by-number math worksheet. As I said, boy loves him some worksheets.
Better luck today? Maybe we’ll get around to watercoloring pictures of Mount Fuji? But I have two meetings and we have to take the kitten (very very very bad kitten) to the vet for vaccinations. (Jim wrote it on the calendar as "Jean gets poked with sharp pointy things.") And at 4:30, our beloved babysitter is getting here because Jim and I have tickets to see WILCO. (Cheers and shouts of joy.) So we’ll see what gets squeezed in around the edges…
N.B. In the last 48 hours, I’ve read Graham Joyce’s The Limits of Enchantment, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Beguilement and Juliet Marillier’s The Dark Mirror. Limits of Enchantment was typically stellar and sad, lovely as a fantasy book for those who "just don’t like fantasy," yet rich with imagery from English folklore, populated with wonderfully realized characters (including Joyce’s first-ever first-person female POV) and beautifully written throughout. Beguilement was rather more romantic than I’d expected, but nobody writes romantic sf/f like Bujold; I completely fell in love with her characters, and the story was excellently paced and populated with well-rounded, non-stereotypical characters. The Dark Mirror–well, Celtic but non-Arthurian fantasy is what Marillier writes, and even though I’m not much of a fan of "Celtic fantasy,"* I reliably enjoy her work. A bit wordy, perhaps, and the dialogue certainly doesn’t come skimming off the tongue, but that ancient otherworldly effect is what she’s going for and she accomplishes it well. Once again, interesting characters and a great theme of duty vs. self-realization. ("And in this corner, weighing in at three hundred pounds… it’s the Grim Giant, the Buzz-Killa from Manila… DUTY!")
*Nothing funny ever seems to happen to these people. Were druids and bards really such a dour lot?