A smattering of recent events and thoughts
1. Victoria (still age 5, 6 in May) tried her first sleepover last night. Full young for that, I know, but she was directly across the street with a family she has known and loved for a while now, so we thought we’d give it a try. (Sister Violet was also at a sleepover with a friend.) We were reading in bed (I was finishing Coraline) when the phone rang. Eggmaster answered it, but I could hear clearly that little V was ready to come home. The worst of it: “We were watching the Secret Garden, and the mom DIED.” And many sobs. She tried to stick it out, but in the end she was just too sad, and by 11:30 dad went to get her and he fell asleep with her in her own bed. Poor thing. I stayed home from church this morning so I’d be here when she woke up and we could have some extra time together. Dead moms are indeed a scary thought.
2. The day before, little V had the same friend over here to play. The friend goes to a year-round school, so she gets breaks at odd times, like 3 weeks in February. After waiting anxiously all day, Victoria greeted her friend by sitting in a chair reading, then reading her friend the jokes in a joke book. Finally the friend was so antsy I sent them upstairs to play in the girls’ room. They came downstairs again later, and Victoria curled up in a chair to draw. The friend asked to play a game, but Victoria told her, “maybe you could get some pen and paper and draw too,” and went back to work.
3. On a related note, I continue to read The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child. 😉
4. Victoria is pretty much asking for a more organized learning program. She says, “I want more lessons, like [Violet] has.” OK, then. Later, I told her we would be reading Charlotte’s Web together as our first book in our more formal schedule. “Well how am I supposed to learn anything from that?” she asks. Hmmm, I feel long, painful learning curve for mom coming on. Meanwhile she is really enjoying Spanish and is addicted to Magic School Bus, which seems to fit her idea of “educational.” The girl wants *facts.*
5. The grownups here have started watching Martin Chuzzlewit, with Paul Scofield. We are loving it. Having read a fair amount of Dickens, especially his more sprawling works, I really appreciate the televised versions, where the details of setting do not have to take up 12 pages, and you get some visuals to sort out all the characters. The production is pretty funny, but the story itself is just flat out nuts. Eggmaster and I often look at each other in amazement before we burst out laughing at something totally outrageous. Two thumbs up — Netflix it.
6. Violet took the EXPLORE test yesterday for NUMATS, and then I took her out for lunch to celebrate. (Please see links about the test and NUMATS — it is not interesting enough to type out!) We went to a place I used to go to in college, famous for its malts. It was kind of like that deli scene in When Harry Met Sally — the girl was raving mad about her food, thrilled with everything — loudly. Quote: “If a grilled cheese sandwich could take you to heaven, I’d be sitting on a cloud with a harp.” The test was 3 hours long, so I was glad to give her a treat. It is probably going to stand in as our required yearly test for homeschooling. We could also do Woodcock-Johnson, but since she would probably participate in NUMATS anyway, I’d rather just do one test per year.
7. Teaching Textbooks have been a success so far. The “lecture” part isn’t scintillating, but it holds Violet’s interest about as long as it needs to. I have talked to a few families who have used TT Pre-Algebra with younger kids doing advanced math. We all have been skipping some of the early chapters and generally whizzing through the first half, but otherwise like it. (The second half of the book is algebra, negative numbers, roots and exponents, etc.) Despite the need to “telescope,” I am glad we didn’t go straight to the Algebra book. I’m satisfied with our decision to take a year to explore — or just skip math for a few weeks here and there. Violet is returning to regular math more mature and more confident. I also think Teaching Textbooks allows her to do more advanced math in a reasonable amount of time each day. Art of Problem Solving just seemed a little too intense — though we may look at it again in a few years.
One more TT note, for the curious — the problem sets for each lesson build in review. At least half of the questions review earlier topics. This has made it really easy to combine lessons (we do two a day, but I combine the problem sets so she is doing one lesson’s worth of problems). On the positive side, generally there are only one or two review questions per topic, so the review isn’t totally onerous. I think it’s great for a younger student in particular, who can benefit from doing a small amount of computation and putting the decimal in the right place and converting from fraction to percent without actually doing 20 problems on those topics. My student, at least, is not as conscientious as an older student might be, and TT seems to give her the right amount of gentle nudging to get the small things right as well as the big things.