Thursday, February 19, 2009

Every Day Is A Snow Day...

...When you're in home school!

This week we began our latest adventure and it is working out just great. The workload is heavy but really flexible. Our "normal" day goes something like this...

6:30 am...Wake-up, etc.

7:00 am ...School begins with the pledge to the flag (yes, the US Flag!), a morning prayer, a reading about the life of a saint, the daily Mass readings for the day.

7:15 am-12:05 pm...Religion, Math, English, Reading, a short break, Science, History, Spelling, and Vocabulary.

12:05 pm "ish"...Get ready to head out...Usually to see Steve for lunch and some fun. Take the other day, for example...With some newly fallen snow on the ground, we thought it would be great to see the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) in a new light. This was just the type of "field trip" we were looking forward to when we planned this part of the year.

While sometimes we need to finish up a few items in the evening (especially on days when we have Chinese class or Chinese homework), the flexibility of this schedule is really refreshing.

A few added pluses...

First of all, since the program we are following is from a Catholic home school organization, our spiritual lives are being fed much more these days. Living in a country where Christians are in the minority, the availability of parish life is infinitely less convenient than what we are used to. In addition, since the Baltimore Catechism is one of the main religious books that the kids study from, I'm re-learning much of the Doctrine that I've forgotten...

Not to mention 6th grade English (if only Mrs. Bolger could see me now!), Algebra (Sister Margaret, you taught me well!), Spelling (Is that embarass or embarrass???), etc.

Thank goodness for Life least I'm up on that!

As for "specials" like PE, Music and Art, there are a multitude of options, and we are thinking "out of the box" as much as we can. For example, ping pong at the community center serves not only as a great athletic activity, but also as an opportunity to practice our Chinese language skills with other residents of Yanbeiyuan. An afternoon at the Sackler Gallery on Beida's campus provides plenty of Chinese art and artifacts (as well as a real 280,000 year old prehistoric man skeleton!) to view, discuss, and enjoy. Beihai Park is a great place to listen to all types of music, both played and sung, not the least of which is a choir that cheerfully belts out tunes like "Wo ai Beijing Tian'anmen." With a little practice, we may be able to join in for a few notes!

In all, our home school experience so far has been just as we expected...Exhausting but rewarding. While it is definitely rigorous, the variety of material and options as well as the flexibility in planning our time creates endless possibilities. Just perfect when there are countless things to do and see!



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