I’ve been experimenting with different recordkeeping methods this fall. Mississippi does not require me to keep any records (a fact which often surprises people) but I like to keep them anyway. In some seasons I do better than others. The one thing I can say for homeschooling in New York and Missouri is that it forced me to write things down.
I had been using the EC Teacher Planner to keep track, but there just isn’t enough room. I like to record conversations and some of the questions that people ask, and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to do that, unless maybe I made my own “conversation log” or something else that I don’t really want to put time and effort into.
So I went back to Sue Elvis’ videos about using Evernote to keep unschooling records. (I also watched these videos, which were helpful, too.) I had tried this a couple of years ago, but the habit never stuck. When I watched the new videos, I realized I had set up my Evernote notebooks wrong; originally, I had a notebook for each child, which meant a lot of laborious copying of notes between notebooks whenever there was shared work. I didn’t realize that the same thing could be taken care of using one notebook and tags for each child. So I set up a Term 1 notebook and started adding notes.
I like keeping track of our learning using Evernote — although I’ve kind of dropped the ball in October. I can nurse the baby to bed at night and use my iPad mini to catch up on our day without too much trouble. But what I was missing was the day-to-day. Did every kid do math or only some of them? How many times did we do math this week? What about reading? Latin?
I think I could (and probably will try) to tweak Evernote to account for some of this dailiness, but first I thought I’d give journaling another try. The good news is, I can keep up if do it on the blog, because I can type on my iPad mini and add pictures. (Theoretically, I mean. If I upload the photos from my iPad to Instagram or Facebook first, or if I would sit down and work on the storage space on my Mac for the big camera.) The bad news is it feels kind of cumbersome typing everything out every day. (Also, I know what you’re thinking; why don’t you just make up a checklist or a chart and print it out, then file it, Angela? Because that would make too much sense and I’m kind of incompetent. The problem I have with printed materials is that I spend so much time fighting with their formats and then after a short while, I usually forget to use them.)
Anyway, since I did keep track of last week – at least as much as I was able – I thought I’d post it in case you were interested in what we were up to. I have to tell you right now, though — it was a nutty week. Gareth was home for fall break (which was not what made the week nutty), and I knew there was a lot of planned “stuff” on the docket, but the unplanned stuff was… well, very unplanned!
Monday (October 17):
A long day for me, but only because I had to go here and there all day. I took Huck to the doctor in the morning (sinus infection), Abby to PT in the afternoon (she has met 4 of 5 of her short term goals already!) and G and K to the carpool for dance class after dinner. (Gareth went along to see local friends.) I was only gone five minutes, so I left the boys at home by themselves. When I came back, George had been stung twice in the face by a wasp. I took over his kitchen chores, did some laundry, bathed the baby, read a couple of books to JM (Building a Bridge and Cross a Bridge, because he is fascinated with bridges after our trip to my mom and dad’s), and after that, I was quite ready to stop and get ready for bed. George’s face was pretty swollen by that point, though, so we did some googling to find out what was normal and decided that he might be having a “large local reaction.” Having already given him Zyrtec and ibuprofen, we determined that we would just have to keep an eye on him.
The only schoolwork I did with anyone directly was with Chipmunk : we did his phonics flash cards and half a page of Dancing Bears A. Otherwise, the boys worked independently. George and Huck did math (George, Singapore 5A Intensive Practice – estimating; Huck an exercise on area in Singapore 4A), Dennis did his Greek, and all 3 worked in their Latin books. We’re still on Lesson 2 of First Form. It’s going to take us forever to get through this book.
This was K’s class day, so she was in the computer room most of the day.
The boys read their schoolbooks and religion, and George told me about Pioneers of the Old South, the settling of the Shenandoah. Chipmunk worked in his Draw Write Now journal and looked through a bunch of Let’s Read and Find Out science books I picked up over the weekend. Before bedtime, he was paging through Destination Moon (a TinTin book) and giggling, so I think he was reading at least parts of it. He read to Andy from his All About Reading Level 2 reader before bed.
Lots of playing outside and time with the puppies today, especially for the little boys.
Bedtime book: By the Shores of Silver Lake
Late start this morning. The side of George’s face was completely swollen, and he could barely open his eye. I started off the morning by calling the nurse line just to make sure we were doing what we could. JM wanted to read Building a Bridge again, and the other boys did their animal chores and messed around outside while I was feeding Abby and getting my own breakfast.
Chemistry day for K, so she was up early and online.
In the morning – math with Huck, reading with Chipmunk, math with Dennis, prayers, the Gospel of Matthew, read aloud from The World of Capt. John Smith and a story from Viking Tales while the little boys modeled with floam. A long, interesting discussion about angels, contingent vs. necessary beings, fallen angels, possession, exorcism, and the rite of baptism in the Extraordinary Form, with some referencing to The Baltimore Catechism, v. 3. Everyone involved from G (newly 20) on down to the 9 year old. Dennis and George read their schoolbooks before and after (in spite of George’s swollen eye.)
In the afternoon – I took Leo to speech for his very first visit, came home to find that George’s face looked still worse, and turned right back around to take him to the doctor. I think he frightened the ladies at the front desk. We left with prescriptions for steroids and antihistamines. While I was gone, Dennis did the rest of his math, Greek, and religion, and Huck read his schoolbooks.
Bedtime: Read Tractor Mac Tune-Up twice to JM and Leo. (Tractor Mac is a little twaddly, but much beloved in our house ever since we read them to George when we lived in rural upstate New York. This is one we didn’t already own, and is good for boys who like to know what all the parts of an engine are called.)
Chipmunk read to Andy from his reader.
Another late start. On the other hand, it has been so hot lately that I understand why the boys are still in their summer pattern of wanting to head outside to play as soon as they wake up. It isn’t supposed to be 90 degrees this late in October. The other problem we are having is the dog. She has essentially stopped nursing her puppies, at least in the day time. They are not quite 3 weeks old, too early to be weaned. So we had to spend extra time all day coaxing her into the box with the puppies, trying to get her to lie down (or at least sit) so the puppies could nurse. Huck’s theory is that it is too hot to be all jammed up together like that. I’m sure the kids are all learning quite a bit from this experience, but it is very stressful for a soft-hearted mom.
K read some books to Abby — Little Green (a lovely board book about a hummingbird) and Chicken, Chicken, Duck!
Morning — We had Morning Time again. Marked the feast of St. Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs (in New York, we often visited the shrine at Auriesville), prayed, read more of the Gospel of Matthew, another Viking Tale (the kids think Harald is rather over the top), and about Mary Stuart in The World of Capt. John Smith. Dennis narrated yesterday’s reading about William of Orange, and we tried to get Leo to do a narration of yesterday’s Viking Tale. Then we attempted to sort out the chart of Tudors and Stuarts in Capt. John Smith. While I read, the boys built machines and buildings with Duplos, and Abby played on the floor. She is starting to be able to sit nearly on her own for short periods of time, which is amazing progress in the past week or two.
Before MT, Huck did his math. (He is almost finished with 4A. Tomorrow, I hope.) Dennis read in Age of Fable and Rocks, Rivers, and the Changing Earth. George did his chores — probably while listening to an audio book — but I think the most he could handle this morning was checking all his news websites. The antihistamine is apparently stronger than Benadryl. (He reported to us at lunchtime that the Archbishop of Kansas City did not have good things to say about Hillary’s VP pick.)
Afternoon — Andy took G, K, and George to the Installation Mass for the new bishop of our diocese. It was held in the convention center downtown and lasted 2.5 hours. The other boys stayed home with me. I took a nature walk around the yard with the younger ones, and the twins spent a long time reading Mysterious Benedict Society books. Then I read to Chipmunk, Leo, and JM, kid-picked books: a chapter from Sarah Witcher’s Story for Chipmunk; Flood Warning! (a Let’s Read and Find Out book) for Leo; and Bear’s Bargain for JM. Math with Dennis at quiet time, and we spent more time trying to get the dog to nurse her puppies. I nursed my baby for about an hour and watched a couple of videos on Facebook — one on Down Syndrome, the other an inspiring video about a man with cerebral palsy and how physical exercise is improving his condition. After quiet time, JM ate a couple of meals’ worth of food to make up for refusing to eat breakfast and lunch and the other boys tried to work with the dog, rescued escaped chickens, read some more, and played outside.
Evening – Speech homework with Leo, and some of us watched the debate, calling out fallacies. Andy and G listened to it on the radio outside in the garage while they put up a giant kennel to make it impossible for the dog to escape the puppies who need to nurse.
Abby’s Special Instructor (SI) came in the morning. Huck spent the entire time staring at one math problem and getting frustrated when he couldn’t get the answer in the book. All the problems he missed were area problems of composite figures, which meant they were multi-step and required some writing. He tried writing some things down, but the numbers were all over each other and it was hard to tell what he had done. This is why we have an OT evaluation scheduled, and an appointment with a neuropsychologist. I am 99.9% certain this is dysgraphia.
Chipmunk worked in his Draw Write Now journal and made a clay airplane.
I also did reading with Chipmunk, played a blending game from AAR with Leo, did some Right Start A subitizing activities with Leo, using fingers and the abacus, and I had George show Chipmunk how to play Corners and enter large numbers on the other side of the abacus. I tried to do an RS E lesson with George about how to do division with remainders on the abacus, but the steroids were making him irritable and restless. Dennis read his school books. We also did some Latin before lunch – well, really English grammar, as we talked about subject/predicate and diagramming.
In the afternoon, Dennis still had math left from Weds, so he did that. George and Huck read their schoolbooks. (George finished Pioneers of the Old South today or yesterday.)
Evening – An early dinner because the boys all went to FNE (Federation of North American Explorers… basically the Catholic version of Boy Scouts).
Our long out-of-the-house day. Band and choir, with a walk on the Germantown Greenway and a trip to Whole Foods in between. Huck collected leaves to identify for his FNE requirements. We made it a little way past the .5 mile marker before we had to turn around.
After lunch in the van, we went to the G’town library to get library cards for the kids enrolled in band, since they can get free library cards even though we don’t live there. We didn’t have much time to look around, but it’s much bigger than our library. Then we brought Leo to speech and tried (and failed) to keep JM occupied in the waiting room. K finally took him on a walk. The other boys read their library books.
We got home about 3 and everybody scattered, mostly to computer time. Andy and I went to our first supper club with some local friends, so no bedtime reading; K and G put the little boys to bed before we got home.
Not technically a school day, but books were still read, etc. K had a lot of homework to do and a math assessment to take online, and even G was sitting at the table doing homework (translating the Confessions of St. Augustine from Latin.) The little boys and I walked around the yard, examining trees and mole tunnels. Leo played with the moon sand, and then spent a lot of time cleaning it up. He also 409’ed the doors. Extra chore day and Mass in the afternoon, since G is flying back to VA tomorrow. We had BBQ from Corky’s for dinner.
Bedtime: Leo’s speech words
Books to JM and Leo: Boo! It’s Halloween (library book, lots of Halloween jokes and rhymes), How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, Tunnels (Gail Gibbons)
Abby practiced sitting up while I read.
Andy brought G back to the airport first thing in the morning, which was quite depressing, but at least it will only be about a month until we see him again at Thanksgiving. Andy took Abby and me out to look at the office space he is thinking of renting, and then we went to lunch, and unexpectedly, to the Verizon store to replace my ancient phone. We spent two hours in the store and then my phone got hung up in the restore process at home. It was very frustrating, and it’s still not set up right. I wish we hadn’t tried it on a Sunday afternoon, but when else is there?
In the evening, I helped K with the letter of intent she was writing for a music scholarship, and read some books to the little boys (which Dennis listened in on, too): Boo! It’s Halloween again (none of the boys seem to get the jokes), Mooncake, A House is a House For Me.
Family rosary, and we crashed into bed.
**I see that I left out a religion essay that K wrote and also George’s Singapore 5A Intensive Practice workbook. He didn’t work it in every day this week, but he did use it this week.