Scholé in Our Home: Phonics, Exams, and Butterflies

Next week is our final week of the 2016-2017 school year, and then we’ll have a six-week break before starting fresh in September. Over those weeks, I hope to post our plans for 1st, 5th, 7th, and 10th grade, as well as Morning Time for the fall term. Today, I thought I would share a couple of changes we’ve made, as well as some summer learning fun. 🙂

Scholé of Intent: I have known about Charlotte Mason’s practice of end-of-term examinations for years now, but have mostly just tried to ignore them as an optional practice that would only add to our workload. Our routine for most of the year is six weeks of school and followed by a week-long break, which both I and the kids need and look forward to. I was pretty sure using three of those break weeks for exams would result in mutiny on my kids’ part, and no true break for me. But I have recently become more aware of the benefits of exams through the repeated mentions in Charlotte Mason’s books, as well as the Mason Jar podcast interview and webinar with Celeste Cruz. The idea of having a comprehensive record of my kids’ growth in knowledge especially appealed to me. I have overflowing bins in the basement of math books, workbooks, and written narrations. Keeping exams in a file for each child or year would be a much more meaningful and compact way of recording their progress. I was inspired enough to get creative and make exams work in our homeschool.

So, next week will be our first exam week. I am using AmblesideOnline’s exams as a basis for my own, modifying as needed, removing things like handicrafts which we have not done (I still have a long way to go in my understanding and implementation of Miss Mason’s ideas!). Instead of taking an extra week for exams, or doing them during our break, I will just eliminate all other written work from our last week of each term, and have them work on their exams each day until they are done. Some things like recitations will be done with Dad some evening or on Saturday (maybe we’ll make it a bit special with dessert or something). I hope to report back here on how it went, perhaps sharing a few examples of the kids’ work with their permission. I’m actually quite excited about it!

Scholé of Method: Mr. L, who turned six earlier this week, had started four-letter words in the phonics book, but was not as fluent in three-letter words as I felt he should be. Both he and I preferred our “breaks” to read a Bob Book, so I decided to give Brandy’s Teaching Reading with Bob Books program a try. It has the built-in review he needs, and I am no longer dreading phonics lessons – sometimes Mom needs a change as much as the child does!

Scholé of Outcome: Mr. L asked if we could get some caterpillars to observe again this year, and I couldn’t say no, even though it seemed like a lot to pay for a few little wiggly caterpillars. 😉 It was worth it though, to see how much the little guys enjoyed watching them grow and their excitement when the butterflies started hatching from their chrysalides. We watched them in the “habitat” for a few days, and then let them go. L still mentions sometimes that he misses the butterflies…it’s all about how much they care, right?

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