Friday April 20, 2007

     Many of you are beginning to wind down your homeschooling year.  I know that some of you finish up your school year the end of May, and others continue on for a week or two longer.  Some school year ‘round, but implement a more laid back schedule for the summer months.  We school year ‘round, but our schedule calls for our normal school routine for most of the summer.  We take our vacation time when Copper is off from work, no matter what time of year that might be.  This year we’ll take some time off in early May, another break in the fall, and then our last vacation for 2007 will be near the end of the year.

     As most of you are winding down, I’m gearing up for our summer term!  We use three or four terms each academic year, and that gives us the feeling of three or four brand new beginnings each year.  Math, spelling, Latin, typing, writing, etc., continue year ‘round; but we change our reading for history, geography, science, and fine arts each term.  This type of schedule has served us well for several years.  However, with my eldest son beginning high school in the fall, our summer term will be his last for this type of study.  For this reason, more than any other, I’m hoping our summer term will be grand!

     Our geography studies are always two-fold – one foreign country, and one region of the United States.  Our summer term will find us studying Italy and the southwestern states.  We use a living books approach for most of our homeschooling, and geography is no exception!  Because my sons are five years apart, I find it’s best to have some books geared to each age level, as well as some books that they will read in common.  Some of the books we will use this summer will be works of fiction set in Italy, and some will be non-fiction works.  Over the years I’ve discovered some wonderful series of books that cover not only most foreign countries, but also series on the various states.  I enjoy being able to add to these series every term! 

     My boys learn so much using this living books approach to geography.  It’s fun as they sit down to a meal to hear, “Hey! This dish originated in Germany!”.  Or for them to regail poor Grandma Meg with various pieces of information about France (which actually happened at a birthday part last year!). 

     We combine our reading in geography with some map skills.  For the youngest, this usually just involves locating the places he’s read about on the world and/or United States maps.  My older son does the same, but also does some map drawing and plotting of cities, geographical features, etc.  I may also use the GeoSafari or some of our great map puzzles once every couple of weeks or so for one or both boys.

     We will be studying the music of Johann Strauss during the summer term.  Because a nearby city hosts an annual Strauss festival every summer, complete with costumed dancers and a live orchestra, our study of Strauss is perfectly timed!!!  Before the festival my boys will both spend time listening to the Vox CD  of Strauss’s biography, and we will listen to hours of his music together.  My boys have learned so many pieces of music and recognize various composers’ music instantly from studying this way.  I’m sure the Strauss pieces will soon be added to their repertoire.

     The artist we will study during our summer term is Henri Matisse.  Copper and I have struggled over the years with the subject of fine art.  I want my sons to recognize works of art in the same way that they recognize music.  I want them to see a piece and know that it’s a Monet.  I want them to know the works of Michelangelo, daVinci, Rembrandt.  I want them to recognize works by Remington, Grandma Moses and Winslow Homer.

     However, we are also careful not to put things before our young son’s eyes that might cause them to stumble. Everyone has to come up with their own balance in this area, but here’s what we’ve done.  Some of you may object, but it works for us!  My husband, who was an art major in college, “artfully” clothes the unclothed in the books that I buy for our art studies.  All of the children’s and young adult art books are handled in this manner. My children can still see the works of art as they read about the artist and his methods of painting (sculpting, etc.), and the alterations my husband has made do not render them unrecognizable.  He does a very skillful job of clothing the subjects of the paintings in as much of the style of the artist as is possible.  Sometimes I have to look twice to see if the work has even been altered!  These books can then be shelved in our home library for all ages to access.

     However, I am also in the process of collecting the full series of Time-Life Art books (which are gorgeous, by the way), and we are not altering these at all.  I also own a beautiful copy of Standard Treasury of the World’s Great Paintings.  The works in this volume are also left alone.  The unaltered books are placed high on a shelf so that smaller children do not reach them, and older children know that these are available with parent supervision only.  As we study each artist, I bookmark pages in these books and the boys and I will sit down together to look at some of the works of that particular artist.  Then the book is re-shelved.  

     And so with every paycheck I’m ordering a few more books for our summer term, and every day my boys are on the lookout for either the mail lady or Tony, the UPS man.  How much better can it be than when the boys race one another out the door to meet the deliverer of school books, and then beg to be the one to open the box??? Yep, I love homeschooling!

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your households!
Proverbs 31:27

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3 comments to Friday April 20, 2007

  • We also homeschool year round. July and August are so hot and miserable outside that we get our best work done during these months! LOL I enjoyed hearing about what books and methods you are using!

  • Sounds like our normal summers.  We homeschool until mid-afternoon, then hit the pool. 

  • Thanks for all the links for some of your school resources! We continue to school through the summer at regular pace. Our breaks happen when he is on vacation or we have family in town. It works well for us and I like that we don’t have to spend time reviewing what was forgotten over the summer. 🙂