As I mentioned in a previous post we are going to carry on with homeschool (roughly 3 days a week) through the summer. I’m aware that our family rhythm is going to be very disrupted in the autumn, with weeks of finishing the build and moving house. So I’d like to feel that we are a little ‘ahead’ so that we can get ‘behind’ and feel that all things have worked out equally. It makes sense in my head.
But I’m also aware that it is the summer and that means getting outside and enjoying the good weather is priority number 1, so how to fit in lessons with fun summer time? Well I think I’ve found the answer, at least the answer for us. My friend loaned me her copy of First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise, and I am finding that it is ideal. The lessons are short but build on one another. They reinforce core skills (narration, memorisation, good grammar) but are brief and fun.
I’ve only done 2 lessons so far but they have been enjoyable and allowed for a variance in approach that I feel works very well for us. For lesson 1 (learning about nouns) I had Huwyl bounce on the mini trampoline the whole time. He was memorising the definition while moving his body and releasing energy. I had in my mind something I’d been reading in Boys Alive! by Janet Allison ( who has written a great article here on this topic), she says with boys it is always “physical first”. They require movement in order to think and this is especially true of Huwyl. I’m also hoping to build positive kinaesthetic associations with learning and good feelings. Too often learning is associated with physical confinement, irritation and discomfort. I hope that if Huwyl’s body is comfortable when he is learning that his mind will be more free and associate learning with a nice rush of endorphins!
Today we memorised the poem The Caterpillar by Christina Rossetti. Huwyl find memorising quite easy, I think because he is like me and has a strong tendency towards aural learning (learning through hearing). We also made up little hand movements to go along with the poem to make it fun and he loved the feeling of ‘joining in’ with me as we repeated the words and they became familiar. The ‘enrichment’ activity was to illustrate the poem, so we worked on that together doing a bit of a mixed media picture with collage pieces and his own drawings.
We used the back of an old set of house plans for the drawing to allow him a good surface area to describe the whole ‘story’. I also asked him to write the title and author’s name at the top for a bit of added handwriting practice. I wrote the words out on his whiteboard first (we use this for All About Spelling lessons as I find it is too difficult for him to use paper and pencil, it makes ‘mistakes’ too permanent and hinders progress) and he copied them, he prefers this kind of concrete support and it is laying the foundations for doing some copy work down the line.
I envisage using this book 2-3 times a week along with a lesson of All About Spelling each week; both support reading skills but are using different approaches and developing Huwyl’s capacities in different ways. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve purchased from Peace Hill Press so far (we also have Story of the World) and particularly enjoy the almost scripted nature of the lessons. This allows me to relax as I know what I’m doing and what outcomes I’m looking for but there is plenty of flexibility in making the lessons fun and a varied approach that differentiates the lessons from one another.
Classical Education (which I am mixing with the Charlotte Mason approach, a bit of Waldorf and a bit of whatever we fancy) sounds a bit dull and yet I’ve found the texts I’ve used so far to be upbeat, varied and full of fun. I’m looking forward to continuing on with our lessons through the summer and am imagining a few taking place in or next to the swimming pool, I’ll let you know how that goes!