I will get back to hospital life soon- it takes some time to remember and organize my thoughts.
You guessed it, our schedule changed again and now we're starting over.
I might be repeating myself, but also have some fresh speculations about homeschool life. First of all, as you might have noticed, I've been dragging my feet about committing to a formal school day. And I'm also kind of reluctant to join a "community." There is so much information out there! There are lots of great blogs, and Instagram accounts. I look at Instagram posts (of homeschoolers) and see lots of comments asking of materials, "where'd you get that?" Obviously I don't ask the question myself because it wouldn't be sold in stores here or delivered to Russia. But there is still a moment when I think "I want that too...but I don't NEED it." The materials we have at our disposal are just right for us. But, it may take a little more creativity or perusing the Russian homeschool forums.
I'm attracted to the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling and am currently trying to see if I can make it work with our family life. I like the whole concept of laying a "feast" before the children, presenting them with rich cultural treasures through a range of subjects, taking nature walks, etc.
At first glance, the methodology seems simple. I've been perusing Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason as well as working through Charlotte Mason's actual works.
Much of the approach revolves around "living books" (stories with real-life application) as opposed to textbooks. I took a look at our picture books, and they pretty much fit this description anyway, in a range of subjects-science, geography, history, etc.
But it's still a jump to go from just reading books together to turning it into school. I think it's going to take some work to make a transition into more formal schooling. My hope is that David and/or Sophia will get used to the format and then it will go more smoothly without having to explain each time what we are doing and why.
So, a few questions that have come up:
-David currently struggles with "writing." He is still pretty much at the beginning of this journey. He is so ready to compose stories but can't write them down for himself yet. I also think that if not for needing to actually work on writing, he might have learned to read by now. Because each letter is so hard to write, we are going through the alphabet very slowly.
-I wanted to give us this year to remain informal. I don't really like the idea of a formal preschool curriculum. And Kindergarten curriculum gives me a heart attack! Is Kindergarten the new first grade? But at the same time, "free play" doesn't seem to be giving David what he needs in terms of motor skills. So we're going to have to set up some more intentional activities. I loathe preparing/ instructing crafts and games. That sounds funny! I should clarify-I loathe the time/energy it involves. Before kids, I did it all the time. But it is harder at the moment. And besides that, David isn't into following a plan. I keep wanting to introduce him to board games and I picture him arguing with the instructions. I do the whole presentation and he has his own idea. But, we need to get those muscles working. I don't want handwriting to be a stumbling block. So, I guess I will look for sand and shaving cream to do those alphabet activities that are all over Pinterest.
-Many homeschooling programs seem to emphasize doing school in the morning and having the afternoons more unstructured. I can definitely see the advantage of taking that morning momentum and getting going before everyone has gone off to play separately. However, our climate interferes here. In the winter, we have to do our outside time in the morning if we want to see daylight. In the summer, it's the opposite-we need to hurry outside before the sun's rays (if they choose to show themselves) get too hot. So, I'm kind of answering my own question here, but it seems like we need to have a Morning School option and Afternoon School option that would potentially flip-flop.
-On that note, we also have Andrei's schedule changing daily (and then alternating weeks), so that affects mealtime, etc. I don't know if he would be able to take the time to actually teach one of the subjects, but he could at least read to David more on some days, or possibly take him on a field trip to a museum.
-Discipline and habit-formation are a large part of Charlotte Mason. Umm, not our family's strong points. But all the more reason to cultivate them, right? And I keep hoping that forming some habits will take out some of the heaviness of daily parenting that involves negotiating/persuading/etc. When you do it every day, you develop muscle memory and don't have to devote so much energy to understanding/adapting to the task.
-There are lots of resources online to put together a curriculum, but there is so much emphasis on American culture. Do I want to fully immerse my kids in American culture? Should I switch some to Russian (such as local geography, not U.S.) ? Are there good resources about Russian culture in the English language? Should I just start with American culture/history the first year and switch to Russian the next?
-How can we adapt "nature study" to city life? What will be our best "window" into the changing seasons?
-And after all that talk about not needing textbooks, there are actually lots of standard books and commercial study materials (basically textbooks!) out there for Charlotte Mason. Should I just stick to whatever we can get our hands on, since it's supposed to be a simple (yet varied) approach? Or go through the process of tracking down materials in the U.S. and ordering/transporting them?
-Do I have to get in touch with a school system in the U.S. to officially register as homeschoolers?
Out of time for this post, just wanted to get some thoughts out there.