Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Blooming Child

J-Baby turned 8 this month.  Leading up to it, I saw that the inward focus of 7 was giving way (and he was one of those 7 year-olds who really lived life in a minor key), and J-Baby was swinging toward equilibrium once again.  I sighed in relief, and was once again thankful for the little Geselle institute books that talk about child development in broad strokes and are just old enough to have avoided the current fear-based, helicopter-style of parenting.

J-Baby is also thriving on our new, sort-of schedule.  I say sort-of, because we are still who we are, and even deciding to take on more focused lessons has to be done our way.  We started with a basic outline, chose books, and we've tweaked it since then.  So far, this is what is going on:

We're reading The Story of the World Volume II.  I'm not truly impressed, but the boys really like it and Papa pointed out that it does introduce the names of people and places, along with some basic plot and myth.  We're going to get volume I in audio format.

We started with Howard Pyle's version of Robin Hood, which came highly recommended by both Waldorf and CM educators.  Uh, no.  The language is flowery and awkward (not flowery and beautiful, like Shakespeare), and I see no reason for using Robin quoth instead of Robin said in the year 2008.  There is a place for updated language!  Anyway, the boys pointed out that they already know the Robin Hood stories well (thank you Jim Weiss and Barefoot Books), so we went back to Laura Ingalls Wilder's On The Banks of Plum Creek, with a plan to start Farmer Boy as soon as we're done.  The boys are loving it!

J-Baby adores the Holling C. Holling natural history books, and we're currently reading Paddle to the Sea.

We've done a bit of poetry, some art history (biography of Da Vinci, another story they know well so we may drop it), and a little Shakespeare.  The poetry and Shakespeare aren't grabbing the boys; for now I think we'll hold off on Shakespeare, and move to more interesting poetry.  I had chosen Christina Rossetti (based on an Ambleside Online recommendation), but her stuff has really flopped with the boys.  I actually came across a great series called Poetry For Young People and purchased several poets, including Poe, Dickinson, Frost, Sandburg, and Robert Louis Stevenson, so we're going to see what strikes our fancy.

We've yet to get going with math or writing (in a formal way), and that's okay.  What we are doing now is feeding the need that J-Baby expressed.  He is also practicing his reading often, and may soon transition from beginner to advanced beginner, which will open up many more written things to him and help him feed his own curiosity.

Of course, the bulk of our living and learning isn't happening during this focused time.  We're gardening, and reading other books.  We started embroidering burlap, and the boys draw everyday.  We walk, we ride bikes, we go to the farm markets, we hike, we chase trains, we get together with friends, we cook and bake, we make music and sing . . . we live.

It has been wonderful to watch J-Baby open up to the world and live in it full of joy.

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