Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Classical Education Looked Like Today at Our House

We loosely follow a classical education model in our homeschool. According to Susan Weiss Bauer, who popularized this approach among homeschoolers with her book The Well Trained Mind, there are several stages of learning.  Eva, at age 7, is in the thick of the first stage, called the "grammar stage".  This is not when the study of grammar is emphasized, but rather, the acquisition of facts, and memorization.  

I haven't done a lot of memorization with our girls, but I have noticed that their minds are ripe for facts between the ages of about 5 and 10, and even beyond that.  I call it the osmosis method.  Make great reading available to them and they will soak it up, and present you with all kinds of interesting information at the family dinner table - like, "Mom, did you know that woodpeckers communicate with each other by drumming their beaks on tree trunks at up to 20 jabs per second?  And I'll say, "I had no idea, where did you read that?" And inevitably, in case you want to rush out and get a subscription, they'll say, "My Ask/Cobblestone/Calliope/Dig Magazine". This is the beauty of classical education, and homeschooling in general (and eye catching, fact filled, magazines for kids), and it has nothing to do with how high a child's iq happens to be. 

While the osmosis method really works, there are those of us who like to feel that our adult intervention actually contributes to our children's learning as well. The classical method comes to the rescue with the teaching of particular skills. In the elementary school years the idea is to encourage narration, or gathering together of the facts, in sequence.  This leads to the art of summarizing, and then later, in the "logic stage" (middle school), more critical analysis. 

This morning with Eva, instead of the usual format -"Tell me what you remember?", followed by, "Can you summarize the reading?"-  I said, "Tell me about one of Anne of Green Gables' adventures that you thought was funny".  I asked her to write down her response, which follows:

One time anne was inviteing her Friend Diana to tea. and then Anne gave Diana a drink. Which anne Thoute was Juice. but it was wine! And Anne did not even notes!  Then the next day...Dianas mother said that Anne and Diana Would not Play again!  becouse Dianas Mother had thout that Anne had gotten Diana drunk on Purpes! but then a Few Chapters Later...when Anne saved a Friends life Mrs Barry - Dianas Mother said that they could Play again!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Eva's Pre-Birthday Poem for Clara

birthDays are so
speeshel like eating thro
a cake. blowing out The
candles with briteness so
alike. Next comes Pressents,
tear down the rapping! and
There you seek a butiful
Dress and oh Julry!

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Kimono Kids - by Maxime and Nicolas

Our Tia, who is here visiting us in Berkeley, California for ten days, decided that she wanted to buy a Japanese robe called a kimono. When she was young, her father (our grandfather) brought her a kimono from the Osaka Hotel in Japan. She loved that kimono and thought that she might find one like it in Chinatown in San Francisco. We went there first, but all we saw were food shops, gift shops, and restaurants. Then our father suggested we look in Japantown.  

We found a shop in a Japanese mall in Japantown. It was as long as a hallway and it had tablecloths, wedding kimonos, short and long cotton and silk kimonos, purses and wallets, and figurines. The kimonos were different colors, prices, and sizes. Some of them had flower and bird patterns. Tia bought a short purple kimono with cranes flying across it, and she bought a long, flowered pink one.

The shopkeeper had grey hair, glasses, and he was a good shopkeeper because he knew what everything was and what it was used for. He had good prices and when he saw Tia looking at the colorful purses and wallets, he cleverly brought more colors out. She ended up buying four purses and four wallets.

Maybe the next time Tia visits we will go back and get a few figurines.

Photos compliments of Maxime
Maxine, Colette, Nicolas and Tia in San Francisco

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Highlights

January: Lots of playing in the snow!

February: Exercise after months indoors

March: Spring is coming

April: Lucia's final choral concert as a home schooler

May: Clara graduates to Nona's harp

June: Clara graduates from sunday school

July: Clara and Claudio go to Chile
We plant Folo's tree when they get home

August: Lucia has some fun with Ice Cream

September: Lucia embarks on her first day of school

October: Lucia learns how to row and
she receives her TKD Black Belt

 November: Lucia performs in her first
high school musical

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Journey Up the Avocado Tree - by Clara

I pass through an abundance of wild flowers and tufts of grass. My shoes feel soggy, like a bowl of cereal left uneaten.The tree looks like a jungle balancing on a tiny tree trunk, the leaves are a rich dark green and the branches are the shade of chocolate. The branches of the huge towering avocado tree are so close to the ground that, to get to the tree trunk, I have to brush them aside.  Once I enter, I feel like I have entered a different realm.  It is dark and shady under the tree, with the sunlight peeking through the branches.  I hoist myself up with some difficulty, and from there, I can begin my journey to the top. 
I place my feet in the crook of the branches as I slowly climb up the tree, focusing on not losing my balance and falling. My stomach muscles tighten as I climb higher and higher up the tree. Beads of sweat form on my forehead, and the small branches of the tree seem to be trying to keep me away from my secret spot. They slap me in the face, and the knobby tips scratch my skin and get caught in my hair. But the sweet and fresh smell of the dewy air around me urges me to continue my battle of climbing up the tree.The branches finally give up their fight and I gallantly emerge from the branches of the tree.
But just as I continue to move toward my secret spot, the branches seem to have changed their mind.They tangle themselves in my pony tail, and leave my hair sticking out at odd angles.I shout at them and tell them to stop. They seem to understand me because they don't get tangled in my hair anymore.Then I come across an opening in the branches, where I can see all around me, but nobody can see my face. The view is very striking at sunset, and the trees around me look so mysterious bathed in pink light. A smile spreads across my face.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This Sorry Looking Orange - Freewrite by Clara

This sorry looking orange is very scarred and looks as if it went into battle, with strange claw marks all over its orange body.  There is one gash so deep that you can imagine the juice is about to burst from it!

Its skin is blistered and dry in some parts, and in others it is very moist with lots of jolly dimples.  In some areas it is a dank yellow with brown scars and a very faint green, but in other parts it is a very dark orange.  In one spot, there is a very large gash in the shape of a humming bird.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014