Here we are eight weeks into a new school year already! I confess it was with a little apprehension that we began. Last year was difficult. More than difficult. I don’t know why it was so hard–maybe it was me, maybe it was the age range, but whatever the reason, the thought of adding one more student and compressing our four days of school into three days was a little overwhelming.
I can’t explain it, but everything has gone wonderfully smooth. I have given the boys their schedules and Isaac and Stephen have taken the initiative to do much of their work independently. Jack does what he can on his own with reviewing his spelling exercises and working on math and we work together on new spelling exercises and readings. Gabriel is working hard on learning his phonograms and writing and enjoys illustrating his tales and coloring and adding birds to his tree for his nature study.
Sebastian stays busy these three days at pre-school at the YMCA. He was a little nervous about going without Gabriel this year. He hadn’t really expressed anything until one day at breakfast before school started he asked out of the blue, “If I give you money, do I not have to go to preschool?” The first week was pretty successful. The next two weeks that followed brought agonizing partings with tears and wailing. I went out-of-town the next week, resolved that if he still was unhappy by the time I came back he could just stay home. Adam and Kathy took him to school and he went with no tears and since I’ve been back he has gone in happily and I am back to having to chase him down to hug him goodbye.
The reason for compressing our four days into three is because on Thursdays we spend our day at Red Mountain Community School. I knew we needed some interaction with other people for all our sakes (especially mine!) so I inquired on one of the forums I’m on about a Charlotte Mason group in the area. I was directed to Red Mountain and after talking with the head teacher I knew it was exactly what we needed. We have a wonderful gentle rhythm to our day there: handwriting, morning time with all the students where we sing folk songs and hymns and share things from home, tales, math talks and games, nature study, break and lunch, French, music, picture study, and sometime handicrafts. The boys enjoy lunch in the field where they can run and play with others. We do many of the things I have wanted to do at home but run out of energy before they are accomplished.
On Fridays we can join the school for excursion day. So far we have visited Swann Creek, an old covered bridge that still is in service, and made a trip to Sylacauga to visit a marble quarry, a museum, and Blue Bell ice cream.
The highlight for me has been to sit under the example of the head teacher, Ms. Walker. Her kindness and gentleness and love of the students is evident in both her teaching and correcting. Kathy has been with the boys twice and commented that she finds herself talking more quietly after being around her. I have found the same. I’m always a little sad when the day is over and I know it is another whole week before we return.
So on we press and it is exciting to know that we are two-thirds through our first term and we are all still sane.