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Bear (10) again opted to stay home with me this week instead of spending time at his dad’s with his brothers. I was knocked out most of the week with a combo of kidney infection and bronchitis, so having one kid home was kind of ideal. He was happy to help out when I asked but he mostly wanted to entertain himself. He made a Minecraft server this week, worked on his card game and RPG projects, and finished the last few books in the Imaginarium Geographica series. He also read Volume I of The Graphic Canon and the first book in The Cat Who…. mystery series. He read a few more chapters in The Early Human World, did some Language Mechanic pages, worked through about ten more Beast Academy pages, and read a couple more sections of Genesis, as well as doing a refresher on ancient Greek that kicked his butt (in a good way). I was surprised at how much Greek he had lost. I’m hoping, knock on wood, that I can bust him through to finish Language Mechanic and Elementary Greek I as well as the rest of Beast Academy 3 before the beginning of September.

He’s having so much success with Beast Academy – memorizing his times tables AND really getting all the concepts – that I hate to switch him to some other math program even though he’s using it two levels behind. Beast Academy just started publishing a few months ago, with Level 3, so the books appropriate to his grade level aren’t out yet. Technically he’ll be in 6th grade next year so it’ll sure look funny that he’s doing 4th grade math, but I’d rather he completely understand 4th grade and have fun with it than be on grade level on paper.

Next week, he has an Arabic calligraphy class, Terran has a lunch date with a young friend, and I am taking part in a restorative justice circle, but I hope between those things we’ll have time for some lessons. My white board system, letting the kids do it when they wish and wipe it off as they go, is still working out really well. Here’s Verdi’s from last week:

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I find that while the boys don’t really pick up work on their own, it’s easy enough for me to say, “go find a thing to wipe off your board.” I’m prone to say this when they ask me if they can have some special privilege – “do your list first” – or if they are fighting – “go do your list” – or if I am busy and want them out of my hair.  They never argue with me about it, perhaps because they know they have the power to just plug through and make it all go away for the rest of the week.

Here’s a shot of the board in whole. Anything black is done in permanent Sharpie. Then I can write in the dates and assignments. The boys really like being able to see what activities they week holds for us on the calendar, too.

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Making the list one week at a time is the best of both worlds. I can put in things that relate to their current projects or interests as well as long-term goals, adjust to which of those goals seems easier or most relevant to this week, but having the list already all set up during my on-with-the-kids time means I never have to use my brain for planning when I’ve got all the chaotic emotional on-with-kids energy flooding me.

I got the idea for a whiteboard from Steph at One-Sixteenth, who I have known online for pretty much my whole homeschooling career. She is a neopagan-leaning mom doing a WTM-ish LCC with her four boys, who are just enough older than my boys that I can basically rely on her to have done all the relevant research and experimentation for the grade I was about to teach.

My little WTM-ish homeschool community was rocked this week by the news of her wonderful, loving husband Jeff’s sudden unexpected death. I wrote that day, “Can’t take in enough of my beloveds tonight. Gasping for them like an asthmatic for air. Good gods, life is so cruel. Set all the differences aside and love whoever is next to you tonight, please, please. Nothing else matters.” That feeling has lingered. By all accounts, Jeff was a gentle and loving man who raised four boys, now 11 to 17 years old, who are genuinely kind, sweet and attentive to each other. It reminds me that life is about one thing – taking care of each other – and amidst all of the lighting of candles for Jeff that has gone on across our community around the country, I have become rededicated to looking at every moment with an eye to how much more loving I can be right then.

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