We had a lovely 5 days away at a “farm-lodge” near the Zimbabwean border last week, and so it was with creaky joints that we jumped back into village life and… a new school year this week! (The pictures interspersed in this post are mainly from that holiday.)
My first day of school was a bit stressful for me. We started late–which was planned for our special activities, but now that I’m adding another “full” student with my kindergartner this year, I needed to adjust to how to stagger Caleb’s and Colin’s learning schedules. Colin needs me for everything, even his writing papers (to make sure he’s forming his letters right. He gets creative. Who wants to form letters the same way all the time, right? He’s definitely a change for me as the teacher in comparison with his tradition-loving older brother.) And then, even though I thought I was all ready for this week at least, a fly on the wall would have seen me scrambling at times looking for this or that misplaced manipulative or flashcard set from last year…
Each day of the week went progressively easier, and for that I was thankful. A Zimbabwean lady whose family we have been helping the last few months dropped by on Tuesday to “help” me around the house. Gratefully, we had almost three dry days from Tuesday to Thursday, since I had almost a week and a half’s worth of laundry to catch up on! I was wondering after a rough Monday how I would hang all the clothes up and yet do better at homeschooling that day. I was so thankful for her help, even though I had to pause on occasion to quickly show her how to do it “my way.” She filled my lines with laundry and then proceeded to sweep my floor, clean my bathroom, dust, and wash dishes. After about three hours, I sent her away with a nice (for here!) payment of $5, and we were both happy.
Jealous? Well, one reason I was happy to be away from the village slapped me in the face again before we had even reached the drive to our house. 10 little boys jumping and cheering in the road, waving both little arms vigorously in excitement that we were back. One boy thought we’d gone to America. Sure enough every day since we came back (if it didn’t rain), our yard was full of visitors who love to play here. They like the grass, I guess. I love the children, yet it does get draining to have so little privacy, and so many charges in my care. I counted 28 non-Meyers children in the yard Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday before I had even awoken, Seth caught one little boy in what had apparently become his daily pattern of stealing from our chest freezer in the garage. That’s a story in itself…
So back to homeschooling: Caleb was stressed by Xtra math’s 2-second mastery program for math facts practice. But he’s already mastered the 3- and 6-second programs for addition and subtraction, and we haven’t yet introduced multiplication. I wanted to keep using this wonderful program that flips flashcards for me in a fun way, all the while freeing me to teach another child; but I instead calmly encouraged him. “It’s okay, Caleb. You don’t have to do Xtramath. You can do flashcards with me instead.” He changed his mind and is back to Xtramath. 🙂 I also encouraged him that it make take quite a while, maybe the whole year, to master the facts with such a short time limit.
We had a great week overall. Apologia’s science books are going to be a little over Caleb’s head, I think, but they are really wonderful nevertheless. The lapbook we are doing will be just the right amount of review for him. This week (and next week), before jumping into the Swimming Creatures zoology book, we are first completing lesson 1 of Apologia’s first zoology book, Flying Creatures. We read about the classification system this week. We’re memorizing “Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species” with the acronym “King Philip Came Over from Genoa, Spain.”
In history we began our study of the Middle Ages! Caleb asked on our 2nd day of reading, “Where are the knights? Why are we still reading about Rome?” But he didn’t mind so much when we made Roman pillars out of cookie dough. And he was comforted when I reminded him why the pillars were “fallen”–because of the fall of Rome! This year, I am writing down 3-4 sentences of his history narration and then expecting him to copy them himself. This week he only copied two sentences each. Towards the end of the year, we will move towards dictation of his narration, instead of copywork.
Colin participated for two of our history readings this week. I think he enjoyed it. He doesn’t have much patience for silly, “busy work,” though. He already finished about 9 daily lessons this week in phonics and math. We’ll slow down soon, but the beginning coverage of vowels and numbers 1-7 this week was easy review for him.
Seth is teaching Bible and Tsonga to the boys Mondays to Thursdays for 15 minutes each subject, and I am incredibly grateful! It gives me a chance to get the laundry going and read to Callie and Carson before beginning school. It makes such a difference for me, and it also ensures that Tsonga gets done every day (which was absolutely necessary this year!) It also helps school to start at the same time every day, which encourages me to be more disciplined.
Caleb just began a new spelling lesson on Thursday, since the first few days of the week were spent in review. He did well on a review week with Writing with Ease 1, so I think we will move on to Writing with Ease level 2 this week or next. For language we studied the four types of sentences and their ending punctuation marks.
And we fit in most of our extras this week! Even on our first week of school! We did not do map blobbing, because I don’t have the materials yet for it. Nature study didn’t work out either. It was too rainy. I wasn’t planning to go on a nature walk this week, though. And we did not read Shakespeare because I didn’t move the book to my Kindle yet. Our poetry tea was a total hit, though. So fun! And such a nice break right in the middle of the week. We leaped around the room to Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky today and drew a little boy for art.
Final family and ministry updates:
Callie had her fingers smashed in the door yesterday. 😦 She’s better now.
Carson loves to eat.
Boys are weird.
Our church gate was stolen. That’s another piece of startling info that unpleasantly surprised us when we arrived back from vacation. Sometime I’m going to write a series of articles on reasons why Africa is poor. This is one of them.
Please pray for two young women I visited this week that they will follow Christ with all of their hearts.
We enjoyed having enough data this month to download part of the Bill Nye – Ken Ham debate on Wednesday evening. Seth loves that stuff, and I found it pretty interesting as well. Thursday morning my first waking thought was this: “A man who believes that fish got out of the sea and walked, that we came from a rock, or rather…he doesn’t know what (admittedly!), is concerned that if we don’t teach that theory alone to all of the children in the States, the USA won’t stay ahead.” Isn’t this a kind of insanity? Romans 1:20-22
I hope you enjoy the sunny pictures from Africa in the middle of your snowy global warming.