I have bemoaned the fact that I don’t know any other Ambleside Online families in real life. Oh, how I have complained – at least in my own head – that no one is “doing” what we are trying to “do” in our homeschool. AO’s forum is wonderful and all of the lovely Charlotte Mason podcasts are so encouraging, but I’ve really longed to know more AO users. Well, I might be getting my chance.
A friend of a friend on a Facebook group for homeschoolers in my area put out feelers to see who might be using AO. I was so excited when my friend tagged me and I was able to strike up a conversation (online) with a potential AO mom (see how desperate I was?). What has evolved is a little home grown Facebook group of women in my area who are “interested or curious” about CM. I suggested that we go through Brandy Vencel’s Start Here study guide on Charlotte Mason’s 20 principles, which many of you readers my remember I had just recently started on my own. I’m so very excited for our first meeting this weekend. We plan to just introduce ourselves and get everyone prepped to begin the study so we can have an actual book discussion next month.
After two years of praying for a local AO community, I have finally found something pretty close. In fact, it might be better as we really go straight to the source – CM’s volumes – which I know the AO board would be very much in favor. In my head, I call it my little Scholè Sister’s group (borrowing the term from bloggers Mystie Winckler, Brandy Vencel, and Pam Barnhill), which refers to “restful learning.” You can read all about that on a previous post.
So, I might find – or win over! – some AO users, but I am definitely going to find some other mamas who are going to share my interest in living books, nature study, copy work, and all those Mason-y foundations you don’t find at every turn in the homeschool world. I’m excited to network and socialize with these mamas and perhaps introduce our kids to each others kids. Maybe we can do some nature walks together or give art supply recommendations. I’m totally geeking out!
Okay, I’m going to take a hard left turn here and talk a little about habit training. The old screen time monster has reared its ugly head, but I see Term 1 riding in on a white horse to save me – save us all. A8 severely sprained his ankle this past weekend while playing baseball. His ankle was so swollen for so long, I really expected to have it x-rayed again next week and find a fracture after all (the initial x-ray did not show a fracture). But, suddenly, today – four days after injury – he was able to put some weight on it, and by the end of the day he was walking without crutches. Halleluiah! Having him incapacitated was like having a second toddler in the house – a toddler who wanted to watch Power Rangers on DH’s iPad non-stop.
To be fair, for the amount of screen time he was getting, he really wasn’t acting too badly. I really hoped that he would do some reading while he had to rest with his ankle on ice, but the poor kid just wanted to watch TV, and I sympathized with him (for the most part). He did read some fluff books, but nothing too strenuous.
Planning for Term 1
We will begin Term 1 on August 1st, so I’m trying to throw my lack of habit training efforts into planning well. Last year we did a full media purge the two weeks leading up to Term 1, and that worked really well. In fact, I highly recommend that if your family struggles with screen time creeping up. That’s not going to be an option for us this year, though, as I will be “babysitting” my 8 year old niece and 11 year old nephew the week prior to starting Term 1 this year. I will limit their screen time, but I don’t want to completely take it away from A8 and my nephew who uses a wheel chair and cannot handle summer heat. The boys tend to bond over Wii games, and I want them to have that opportunity. I do plan to get some fun art supplies and arrange for the kids to experience some projects we don’t always get around to doing. And, I hope they will all tolerate some read alouds and impromptu voice and piano lessons. My sister’s kids are not homeschooled, so they might look at me kind of funny!
I’m feeling very positive about the start of the school year in … 11 days (okay, small panic attack there). I’ve done more pre-reading this summer than I have done previously for A8’s year (L5’s Year 1 is still familiar enough to me to not require re-reading), and I have high hopes that J3 is going to be more independent and participatory than he was last year. He’s been in a long phase of “knowing all the words” to whatever book I try to read to him, so even though we’ve been sitting down to read I haven’t actually read him a book in forever. I’m hoping to read to him from Thornton Burgess’ Old Mother West Wind and Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books this term. A8 and L5 both started reading spontaneously just after they turned four years old, so I’m looking for that to be a possibility for J3 as well (he turns 4 in the fall) but trying not to expect him to be an early reader like his brothers. Just getting him back into the habit of letting me read to him would be a step in the right direction!
Until we meet again in two weeks (b/c that seems to be a rate that is do-able), be well.
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (audio book)
- Telling the Truth by Frederick Buechner (ohmygosh! I hope I haven’t lost this inter-library loan book. Must check the van thoroughly!)
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (pre-reading for Year 3 – I’m told I need to have the sequel The Princess and the Curdie at the ready when I finish the book.)
Moderately challenging books:
- Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Yes Please by Amy Pohler (although not challenging, it does fall into the biography category)
- Mind to Mind: An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education by Karen Glass
- For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay in conjunction with Brandy Vencel’s Start Here study
- Henry V by William Shakespeare (studying this with A8 — about to wrap this up and watch Kenneth Branagh — aka Gilderoy Lockhart — on DVD)
- Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child by Anthony Esolen