July 15, 2014
Summer School

We seriously contemplated homeschooling Elizabeth full time instead of sending her to school last year, but felt we lacked resources to help her become truly bilingual. Elizabeth has enjoyed school greatly and so far we have been quite impressed with the school. But Brendan and I feel education shouldn't be completely "outsourced". So we've continued on with many of the various school-like things we started to do last year and tried to keep Elizabeth connected to other homeschoolers so that she doesn't start to think that school is the only option out there. Since we did send her to school most of the day, we had to be creative in how we approached our educational goals during the year to avoid eating up all her unstructured leisure time.

As we send her to school full time for the moment, the bulk of our homeschooling this year has been weekends and school holidays. As summer approached, Elizabeth was very much looking forward to getting to do more "school at home".

Math: Elizabeth tends to skip 13 and 16 when counting to twenty in English, and fifteen in French, so we've been working on tens and units on the theory that if she doesn't just memorize the numbers in sequence but actually connects the amounts to the numbers it will be easier for her. She's actually pretty good at math, but she cheats whenever she can (just like Mommy always did) in order to avoid thinking. Her favourite math activity is currently playing dominos, as long as Matthew isn't allowed to "help" too much, although "lego math" is a close second.

Reading: Elizabeth can read quite a lot of words now, but it seems requires enormous effort for her to read more than a few sentences at a time. Daddy thinks that it is more frustration that she can't just rattle them off with ease. We've been reading to her as well (she's into the Boxcar kids series) She really enjoyed doing a couple of "paper bag book reports" on books she read to us, though Matthew did keep stealing the items she wanted to put in her bag to present to Daddy... We're also working on storytelling - Auntie Karen introduced us to a cool app called "Toontastic" which Elizabeth really loves. So far her stories are mostly about cats and trains and owners being sad when the cat gets squished by the train. Don't ask me why, because I don't know.

Memorization: We asked Elizabeth to learn three poems this summer, to be recited either to family or on the stage at the museum of Civilization. She really wanted to visit the museum, so she agreed to try the stage but a natural born actress she is not. After watching her agonize for a while, I dragged her on stage once there were no strangers in the room (except for one really annoying guide who clearly had his own ideas about what Elizabeth "should" do in the theatre and kept interrupting us to try to get Elizabeth to dress up. Sigh). Anyway, we both dressed up and I went on stage too (because clearly she would have run off again like a frightened rabbit immediately without Mommy's moral support). And then she whispered "The three little kittens" in the tiniest whisper ever, as quickly as possible. We did it again backstage away from prying eyes on video. She was marginally louder. We let her recite the next poem at home.

Science: Elizabeth and Daddy have been working through a series of simple science experiments with Elizabeth that we'd dug up for potential home schooling group lessons in short chunks. The chunks tend to build on each other and we've been trying to get Elizabeth to draw connections between the lessons.  For example we talked about simple machines (making it easier to do things), about air (how it is there even if we can't see it) and then about moving air with fans (simple machines moving air).  Elizabeth has been enjoying both the lessons and the "Daddy time" raving to mommy about how she got to do x and y with daddy and how wonderful it was. We realized that she actually hasn't spent much time one on one with Daddy since Matthew was born and apparently she's been missing this.

Mommy and Elizabeth do science experiments too, but ours are all designed to talk about the scientific method and tend to run over several days. A favourite was the vinegar bath for an egg. It got much bigger and squishy. Turns out it also explodes if squeezed with enough vim. We've also managed to turn one caterpillar into a moth this summer, and another into a corpse...

Penmanship: I asked her if there was anything in particular she wanted to learn this summer. I was quite surprised when she demanded to learn how to do "joined up writing". But she was very determined and so I ordered a how to write cursive book that had been recommended by a couple folk in our local homeschooling group "Handwriting without Tears". Lots of helicopters and monkey bars are involved, to our great amusement. Elizabeth's handwriting is becoming surprisingly legible, though her spelling is still creative enough that we usually require "translation"!

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