Another week has passed, and it’s time to evaluate the new plan. Are we moving forward? Let’s see…
• Math. Leila’s adding in the thousands! Noah’s multiplying multi-digit numbers. Zahra’s entrenched in all things fractions. We only do traditional math work once a week, but we’re using math every day, no doubt about it. In fact, backing off the traditional work has given them time and space to find concrete applications of what they’re learning. I can only say good things about our math curriculum—well, except for the fact that it doesn’t have an answer key. I’m doing a lot of elementary-school math these days.
• Reading. Everybody’s reading. For pleasure. Every day. The older two, in two languages.
• Writing. The older two are writing. For pleasure and for projects (which, in theory, is for pleasure). In two languages. They’ve got Creative Writing at the Nook. Zahra’s knocking out her spelling words every week, but the other two are balking. I’m not even sure Leila is ready for spelling words, to be honest. I give her tiny words in French, which she can read; but when it comes time to spell them, she can only come up with about 50% of them. Noah ignores his words for most of the week, and then when it comes time to spell them, he’s adamant that the method is to blame and that he can’t possibly work this way.
• Other language arts. They do lots of things in two languages (including Book Club), but they’re also learning a third (slowly): Arabic!
• Science. Thank God the Nook has this covered, because there are just not enough hours in the day. Leila’s in an astronomy class, and the older two are in a STEM class where today they built draw-bots. At home, we do have a new magazine subscription to La Salamandre Junior, a gorgeously illustrated/photographed and superbly written nature magazine. The latest issue was all about magpies! That’s our science plan.
• Art. Crafts are more our game these days. Zahra, who is running her knitting/needle-felting/sewing business, is regularly practising these. For Christmas, Leila got needle-felting supplies, and a couple evenings a week, all three are at the kitchen table, stabbing away at something.
• History. We’re finally making good progress in The Story of the World! The kids love the stories, and it’s easy to read them at the breakfast table. We let at least a day go by before reading through the review questions and narration exercises and doing the map work. Zahra’s also got Canadian history at the Nook.
• Music. All three kids are in choir, and—gasp!—my dream of a family band is coming closer to reality. We’ve got Noah and me on the piano, Zahra on the violin, Leila on the ukulele, Saïd on the djembe. Surely we can find a way to pull this together…
• Sports. Every Wednesday for the next ten weeks, for one hour, I will be lying on the couch sipping tea and reading my book. Or maybe just staring at the ceiling and revelling in the silence. I’ll likely be eating chocolate or ice cream. If I can figure out the stupid smart TV, I might be watching TV. Whatever else I don’t allow the kids to do, I’ll be doing that. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah, sports. I signed the kids up for karate at the school on Wednesdays. Noah’s also playing soccer. We climbed the rock wall in Vaudreuil and might do that again. We’re also taking care of chickens in the winter, and that counts as a sport.
• Project time. This is…coming along. We’re not 100% there yet. Two days a week are Project Days; but sometimes, it’s unclear to them what they’re supposed to do with that two-hour block in the plan. And I’m trying to guide them, all the while not wanting to completely lay out the path for them. Zahra has been collecting scientific names of animals for quite some time. The other day, I saw her organizing them in a notebook with a colour-coded system. I asked her what she was doing, and she said she was organizing them by the place where she had found the scientific name (book, museum, zoo, etc.). I don’t think that will end up being particularly helpful, but I have to let her go with it. Noah’s changed projects three times, and now he’s on Ancient Egypt, after a particularly interesting chapter in The Story of the World. Last Project Day, he read through this fantastic book on Egypt, and then said he wants to build a pyramid. We’ll tackle that tomorrow.
Other thing being tackled at our house this week: the snow and ice! The kids are making these amazing snow forts and can spend hours a day in them. Noah’s has stairs and a fence made of big sheets of jagged ice. Zahra’s has a shelf and two rooms. Leila is the gopher, running from fort to fort with supplies. Last year, when they built them in the forest, I delivered “mail” and hot chocolate, so I’m trying to think up some more good ideas.
Goodbye, January. Snow, you can stay awhile.