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We had fun this past week, I know that much, at least. I should have kept track better. Trying to reconstruct it afterwords is hard!

The boys played nicely together. Bear (10) and Terran (7) collaborated on editing the appearance and details of a favorite video game. Bear also finished the Harry Potter series and did some Code Academy. Verdi read Feed, did some Code Academy work, finished his Blinky POV kit, and got his bicycle in shape for the season. The kids all did mathematics in their current books and free writes. When we have absolutely nothing else bookwork-like to do, none of us have any problem getting math done every day. Huh.

Terran has been using Developmental Math, which is the once-popular but now outshined homeschool math workbook series that I started Verdi with way back in 2004 when he was just an itty bitty baby. I feel a little dumb for diverting us and using every other math program on the market when Developmental Math is so clearly awesome.

Bear is plugging along with Beast Academy, but I see him dawdling and doodling more and more. I don’t know if he’s bored or overwhelmed or what. When I force him to talk me through the problems, he can do them and often gets excited and re-absorbed. He’s mastering his times tables when he does actually do the exercises. Soon it will be time to get him the next book. I worry that he will always be a bit behind because Beast Academy is coming out slowly, but these books are so clearly made for the way he thinks.

Verdi hasn’t been doing any math. AOPS was what I had scheduled for him this year, but he takes so long to work through every problem that he’s still in the beginning of the book, and not just because we’ve been slackers. I am scared also that he is going to get behind. I don’t have any idea what math program will work for him. There’s never really been a math program that worked for him. Singapore was going well for a little while but once he got to 4th grade, it stopped making sense to him. Perhaps I will put on my to-do this week a little session of brainstorming with him, showing him different options and asking him how he wants to go about getting enough math in him to ace the SATs.

As I look more closely at where we are now, and compare that with my unarticulated but heartfelt Big Ultimate Goals, I’m surprised to find which things are going very well and which want much more attention. For example, the boys do actually have some common culture and enjoy each others’ presence. That’s been a big concern to me. The actual issue is that they don’t realize they have this. They are telling themselves and each other that they find each other annoying, but also they are smiling and cheerfully playing together without argument for hours each day.

As another example, I was surprised to see writing float to the top of my concerns once I stopped shaking our days and let it all sit still for a bit. My boys can write, but they sure can’t write with any kind of structure. Bear wrote this:

Psicrystals resemble crabs and have crystals growing out of their backs. They are very small. They are psionically linked to their owners via a rapport entanglement, or, in other words, a small interface in the corner of one’s mind that allows them to control psicrystals. They can only be created by a psionic class. These psicrystals are actually pieces of their owner’s psionic powers, meaning that they have the same ability to manifest psionic powers as their owners do. Although they are essentially pieces of their owner’s mind, they usually have a different personality from their owners.

Clearly the child writing that has no problem coming up with intelligent things to say. He just needs to think about his audience and structure it all more consciously. So I’m thinking about incorporating a writing program, a formal one. I’ve been looking at Lost Tools of Writing, Essentials in Writing, and Memoria Press’ new Chreia/Maxim book. I would like a program that focuses on organizing one’s thoughts. Ideally it will be written directly to the kids, too.

A few years ago, I noticed that my kids weren’t very mathy, and thought maybe that was because we didn’t have a math culture at home. I inundated them with living books about math until they were all little math geeks who have pictures of mathematicians on their walls and talk about going to MIT to study math. At that time, I would have said our family culture was all about writing. They had an author dad. All of us, down to the toddler with the crayon, claimed to be working on a novel. I guess we need to try to swing back there some. Only, where is there a culture based around academic essays? I don’t know quite how to find that. I’m going to have to see if I can create it.

All in all, I have determined this week that being more present in the moment definitely lends a clarity to my instruction, to my planning, and to my face time with the kids. I have to admit I feel a bit shaky about not having a schedule. I am drooling over curriculum catalogs all the more, wondering if I’ll ever have a child I can just do an entire year’s program with. But I’m enjoying the natural way in which the things that need to be focused on shake up to the surface. So, week two of parent-led unschooling, I call you a success. We shall do parent-led unschooling again next week.

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