The good news is, there are still a few dozen boxes of Crayola crayons that Li’l Artist hasn’t breached. The bad news is, I don’t get to go shopping for more at this point. 🙂

We have already started school, as has been our habit, in early August (August 1, this year!). I don’t plan this out wildly ahead: In fact, I don’t do ANY planning until July or so, and then I do it all. And then we sit around in 100 degree weather, and think to ourselves, “why not start?” and so we do.

Please do not think that we are “so ahead” or anything of the sort. The truth is, our habit has also been to really slack off come springtime. That is, it gets down to the bare bones most times; the extras like the composer study and art appreciation give way to seed-catalogue study and poultry appreciation. Arts not quite as fine, I’m afraid. :] Starting in August gives us a little extra cushion before we fizzle later on.

This year is by far my ‘most involved’ yet. I’m taking it one day at a time. After praying about it, we decided to stay with Ambleside Online – the more I read Charlotte Mason, get to know these living books and follow Ambleside, the more excited I get. I was ready to put it on the shelf, if that’s what God wanted, regardless of my passion for it, but didn’t have to, at least yet. <– and that’s a lot of commas. :] I was publicly educated, what can I say?

Big Sister is starting Year 4 this year. If you’re not familiar with Ambleside, this is the year where it really kicks you up a notch. You go from the “children’s” Shakespeare to The Real Thing. You start reading stuff by some Greek named Plutarch, but of course you’re not really reading HIS stuff (because you [probably] don’t read Classical Greek) but a translation, and you get to do Latin and such. And there’s a ton of well-done, fun,  interesting history books… Big Sis is enjoying most of it (and tolerating some of the rest), but requires a lot of Mama time, with the Shakespeare and Plutarch and stuff.

Little Artist is in Year 2. We started Year 1 a couple years ago, and didn’t really finish it up, so worked on that last year. She is 8 now, and really, finally reading quite well on her own, though she doesn’t voluntarily do it much. In the week we’ve been doing school, she has read through about 35 lessons in McGuffey’s First Reader (she has done several different reading methods in fits and starts, including TATRAS, Bob Books, Teach Your Child to Read in 100… and all have helped). Big Sister learned to read in a matter of months, I think, but Little Artist has taken the scenic route for sure. 🙂 As such, most of her readings are done by me, so I definitely have my hands full in the school area.

Organique has no formal education as of yet. We are working on character habits and socialization (heh), wherein she learns that carving on furniture isn’t appropriate behavior. And such.

Miss Pleasant listens to someone read, pretends to write, and fights with Organique. Usually when someone is on the phone or using Rosetta Stone (which works best without a lot of background noise).

I was blessed this year to find a lot of free Kindle titles, plenty at local second-hand stores, and paperback swap books. I bought others used and new online. Once I’d put together the stack of books (not counting ebooks), I felt so much joy. “Who gets to learn like this??!?” I naturally was a little jealous that *my* education wasn’t nearly so rich or well-rounded, but mostly grateful that these resources were available to my children, that God enables us to home educate, and that someone (who actually knew a good book from twaddle) put together a list and schedule of what to use, when (several someones, actually). And of course for Miss Mason, so many years ago, who described and practiced a method so well.

Most of our hard-copy schoolbooks for this year.

There are a couple Madeline L’Engle books in the photo which do not belong, and you cannot see George Washington’s World (which looks fantastic – we aren’t into it yet) or Poor Richard. But these are our “textbooks.” Holling C. Holling books (several are used library copies – in good shape with hardcovers and cellophane wrapping), Washington Irving, D’Aulaire’s Abe Lincoln; Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley and free reads like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia; The Incredible Journey, Amos Fortune, Free Man, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. How exciting, huh?

We continue to use Making Math Meaningful in that department, and I didn’t include carryover books like The Handbook of Nature Study or An Island Story and other multi-year books that we already have on the shelf.

To organize all this, plus our Folksongs, Composers, Artists and such (Gypsy Rover, Debussy, Renoir this term), I have both a schedule (to keep track of weekly readings) and a checklist (to keep track of the daily stuff). Maybe I’ll try to share those soon.