Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Way of Learning!

A couple months ago I received an email in my inbox about a program in Castle Rock (about 20 minutes from Parker), called Classical Conversations.  I knew a little about Classical education, from reading A Well Trained Mind a few years ago (when I first started thinking about homeschooling).  I was intrigued and attended an informational meeting in January.

I was completely amazed at the information the children were learning - the Classics, the fun ways in which it was taught  - music and movement, and the complete nature of the program - developing a WHOLE well rounded child through a classical method of teaching.  This was an answer to a prayer!  I had been struggling and wondering if I was covering all the right material, finding outlets for the children to meet others who homeschool on a routine basis, and being able to expose the kids to a world of topics.  This program meets all those needs!

The group meets once a week throughout the school year, with parents in tow.  They offer childcare for those under 4, so Eric gets some play time too until he's 4.  They cover the classical model of teaching so lots of memorization and recitation.  The kids also are required to make a presentation to the group each week, at this age it's more like show and tell but it's great to have the kids speak in front of their peers and others.  It's a Christian group and kids are placed within a group of their peers, but there is time for socializing on the playground at lunch time with all the kids in the program.  You can learn more about Classical Conversation (a program found throughout the USA and abroad) at www.ClassicalConversations.com .

Unfortunately,  we were not able to jump into the program for the remaining school year.  However, we have signed up for the Fall 2011-2012 school year.  In the mean time, I decided to start the program at home to become familiar with some of the material.

Ella is doing a great job memorizing the material in only our 2nd week.  She has learned about Charlemagne and William the Conquerer.  Biomes and Consumers, the 8 Parts of speech, and European bodies of water, and how to conjugate verbs in Latin.

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We of course add in our Saxon Phonics and Singapore Math as well. We don't just memorize the material, but we use the topics for the week as our spine for our lessons (History, Science, Grammar, Geography, etc.) Now if that's not a comprehensive program I'm not sure what else is.

Even Eric has been wanting to recite as well, his favorite is conjugating the word "amo" in Latin. Although, he hasn't picked up the different endings, I think he actually carries a tune pretty well ....

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This week we are learning about Archeology and started reading "The Story of the World."  We will be creating a timeline of Ella's life thus far and also a family tree in the coming weeks.  

Our recent reads are Pinocchio and we've she's also started reading "The Boxcar Children" independently.  Ella's reading is coming along remarkably well!

We are so excited and are enjoying our new way of learning, more classic literature and readings.  Less worksheets and the mundane.  It's fun, interesting, and we're learning together

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Learning is Fun!

Learning and education isn't all about the ABC's and 123's.  We try to make learning fun too in the everyday activities.  Home school is spending meaningful time with the kids, building a strong bond between brother and sister, and developing a love of learning that will last a life time.

Ella continues to enjoy her Art (Drawing/Clay) class; however, this left a 2 hour window for Eric and I to spend some quality time together.  I thought a gym class would be perfect for him to burn off some energy and also develop his social skills in a large group setting.  Well, Eric absolutely loved the classes and he proved to be right at home in the gym. 


Eric is reaching new heights not only in the gym, but at home too.  He's building his vocabulary daily, now forming 2-3 word sentences.

Occasionally, the kids like to dress-up and use their imaginations to take them on crazy adventures.

Ella loves to dress her little brother up and they enjoy playing together.  We thank Grandma Swift for these great outfits!  Here's Eric the train conductor!  He shouts, "All Aboard!"

Doctor Ella Swift quickly climbs aboard the train.

Ella in deep thought over her English project.  We started a new English/Grammar program (Shurley English) and she had fun drawing pictures and learning about groups and subgroups around us.

We attended a trial PE Class for Christian home schoolers and walked away with a box full of books.  It just so happens, that the county library gives away it's books to the home school group and so they had a large supply to give out.  We were able to take our pick and received some wonderful books all for free.  The kids enjoy reading through the books daily.  Ella will be joining the PE class in the fall.


We spend a lot of time indoors during the winter, so I have been trying to keep the kids busy with fun activities at home.  Eric has grown very fond of his construction puzzle and will sit for 30 minutes putting it together.  He is really quick now at finding their spots and is starting to recognize the different colors associated with each vehicle.


We try not to let the weather hinder our time for exploration.  The kids had fun playing with "Moon Sand" in the kitchen.  Lucky for us we have tile floors and it sweeps up rather well.


Time to play!  Eric loves his Laurie Toys tote he received for Christmas.  He is great at stacking the pegs up, is matching the shapes really well and can now tell me at least three different shapes (heart, star, circle) and colors (blue, green, red).  He is also doing really well matching up all the different shapes.


Sometimes, we just need a break.  Ella had fun serving up Hot Chocolate to her brother one very cold afternoon.  They had fun chatting, stirring, and serving up the marsh mellows.  She is quite the little hostess, always asking Eric if he needed more Hot Chocolate or marsh mellows.


Both the kids absolutely love art and enjoy getting their hands dirty.  The kids enjoyed an afternoon of dot painting.  However, Eric was having more fun trying to figure out how to get the tops on and off.


The kids are always busy learning, either on the floor reading books or playing with Moon Sand.  It doesn't matter if it's at a desk, in the kitchen, or on the floor. We have fun and enjoy spending time with one another.