Well, September just flew by! We've joined up with a few different groups and are settling into some fun activities.
One of the kids is spending a few hours a week with a First Lego League (FLL) Robotics team. They are analyzing problems, strategizing to find solutions, and working together to maximize the strengths of each team member to accomplish a common goal. I was the parent helper this week for the team meeting and got to see this group of highly intelligent 8-12 year old kids working together. I was so impressed. The parent-coach gave direction here and there, mostly suggestions with occasional reminders of what the goals for that session were, and the kids went off and worked on their part of the project. This is going to be such a great experience for my oldest. He is still timid about inserting his thoughts and opinions into the group discussion, but with a smaller set of students, he's much more likely to learn and be encouraged along the way. We would never have had this kind of opportunity in our previous school setting.
A few days ago the two oldest and I went to see The Merchant of Venice in Stratford. To prepare the kids (and myself) for this play (which is written in 400 year-old English) we read the summary from Tales From Shakespeare (by Charles and Mary Lamb.) This summary was written 200 years ago, so it was still difficult for the kids to understand. As the three kids and I read through it together, I would stop and explain, line by line at times, what the story was about. We got about half way through the summary and the youngest begged me to continue. He was mesmerized by the story! This is the same boy who whines when I ask him to read anything other than a comic strip. We read the rest of the summary and prepared ourselves for the play (which we knew we wouldn't totally understand.) During the play I kept my eye on the kids... They were squirmy and appeared bored at times. On the way home I asked if they liked it at all. "Yah! I liked it." Did you guys understand which part of the story was happening when? "Yep, I just watched what they were doing and remember the story that you read to us."
The kids begged to join the Hot Cocoa Club at the library. They each bring a mug and sit and listen as one of the library employees reads to them. They're reading The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. My reluctant reader has been reading on in our copy here at home. He wants to know what happens and just can't wait till next week to find out!
As for other reading, my 11 year-old read through Eragon by Christopher Paolini and is now reading Book Two in that series, Eldest. My 9 year-old has finally started reading about Ramona Quimby and has fallen in love with her family. My 7 year-old has a hard time putting down The Magician's Nephew. He took it out while we were running around town to do some shopping yesterday. I think the trick with that one is to get him started by reading the first chapter or two together - just enough to make him realize that there really might be an interesting story in there.
So, while we're doing lots of book learning, we're also having some hands-on learning along the way. We have more time to read, more time to join different activities, and more time to learn new things. (I didn't mention yet that the oldest wants to learn violin. He's found a website to teach him techniques and notes, and then his father refines those at the end of the day.)
We're all still loving it, one month in to the process. Remind me next time to tell you about music and drama, gym days, and the youngest's proposed trumpet lessons.
Yes, the trumpet should be interesting. I'll catch you up on that another time.