Fall Interval, part 1 Review 1:

As I started to type this out, it got really long so I'm breaking into two reviews. This first part covers an overview of our educational approach and those things we do all together. Part two (I'll link here when it's up on the blog) will cover what each child was learning during our Fall Interval, part 1.

We break up our years into intervals, which are usually around 6 weeks each. I plan our intervals around our co-op schedule first.  In between each interval we usually take 1 week off but sometimes more (3 weeks off around Christmas, an entire month in the summer, etc). These break weeks are not often vacation time (though sometimes they are & that's fun!) but instead used to catch up on life, though we try to always have a few fun activities & enjoy sleeping in. I highly recommend Mystie's blog (& courses!) to learn more about interval planning. We've done this for years now & it's really helped us establish a workable "groove." 

We finished our first interval of the school year & are currently on a baby break which is 4 weeks. Yikes! That's not ideal- we had just got into a good groove of lessons & I'm a bit concerned they're gonna forget everything but we've been here before & it all worked out. Besides, co-op & music lessons are continuing so their brains are not completely going numb. I thought I'd share an overview of our first interval along with some pictures. I'm hoping to do so again after each interval.

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Fall Interval, Part 1 Review:

This first interval was scheduled for 6 weeks but actually ended only being 4 due to taking one week off to visit with our friends from Texas & then Timothy's arrival. We'll make up for it by adding on 2 extra weeks to the next interval. We started back to lessons before our co-op began because I wanted to re-establish habits + I knew we would have a long baby break & I didn't want to extend lessons too far into the summer. As I mentioned above, during our baby break, the children have returned to co-op & music lessons which has helped fill their days a bit but still left more free time & enabled me to not have teach {much}.

We follow a classical & Charlotte Mason (CM) approach to educating, pulling a lot from Ambleside Online (AO) though we do not use it completely. I can't recommend their site highly enough! I'm blown away that so many ladies offer so much wisdom & guidance for FREE! I didn't come to a deeper understanding of CM until about a year & half ago. I wish we could have done it this way from the beginning! I'm grateful I still have lots of little ones to go from start to finish with but even my older children have benefited from this approach.

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Circle Time for ALL: From the beginning of having children, the foundation to our day has always been circle time. (It happens even we are not doing "school.") This is a set time each week day where we all gather together for memorizing & feasting on riches/beauty like music, art, poetry, Shakespeare, literature. (We do meet on co-op days.) For years, my focus was on Bible study, poetry & memory work but CM showed me the importance of incorporating not only truth & goodness into our learning but also beauty. So we added Shakespeare, composers, folk songs, art study & reading aloud to our circle time. In addition to a bit of review each day, we spend one or more intervals focused on a set amount of work. Repetition makes it stick!  Here's the Circle Time plans for Fall Interval, part 1:

  1. Hymn: O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  2. Bible Memory: Exodus 20:1-17 (the Ten Commandments) & The Lord’s Prayer
  3. Catechism: the Children’s Catechism, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism
  4. Poems: The Pessimist & the Optimist (Patricia, Benjamin & Matthias); The Swing (Jonathan & Elizabeth); After the Party (Abigail); Ooey Gooey & Celery (Emily & Katherine).
  5. Shakespeare: Julius Caesar (memorizing lines & listening to it while we read along)
  6. Folk Song: the Outlandish Knight
  7. History & Geography: Pledge of Allegiance & the Northern Border of the United States
  8. Read Alouds: Little Pilgrim’s Progress; Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Reformation Heroes
  9. Composer: Aaron Copland (we listened to Appalachian Spring & Billy the Kid)
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Mama's Assessment of Circle Time: need to be better about reviewing each day so we do not forget what we worked so hard to memorize. There are several things still to fold in next interval.

Reading Aloud for ALL: Reading has also been foundational to the culture of our home. (btw, I count audiobooks or my being read to under this category in addition to Eric it I reading aloud.) Those stories have knit us together & our imaginations have soared to places we could never travel as we laughed or cried or discussed characters & plots. Often, older children have picked up books & read aloud with no prompting from me and I especially love watching that unfold! Besides Circle Time, we tend to read aloud at lunch (audiobook, Patricia or I) & at dinner (Eric or I). I need to get the boys reading more though everyone takes turns helping to read at Circle Time. Jonathan & Elizabeth are reading aloud the Little House series to me- they get their own hardback copies as they read. (All of my older children did this also!) I usually alternate one of them reading to me each day.

In the beginning, majority of our educational lessons were completely together & I read aloud everything. I miss those simpler days because now I've got my eldest & three sets of children + littles, each working at different things. Glorious but phew- it's a lot! That's why things like family worship, Circle Time and reading aloud remain foundational- they bring us together & enable me to cover more things in a set amount of time. We only finished one book during the Fall Interval, part 1: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. (Patricia read this one.)

Mama's Assessment of Reading Aloud: We definitely didn't read the quantity of books we usually cover due to pregnancy/sickness. Get the boys to read aloud too!

Friday Afternoons for ALL: in reality, this didn't happen because I had iron transfusions every Friday afternoon during this interval. So sad! Next interval, this will be our time for a nature walk or Law's study if the weather is bad. We tried to fit nature study into other parts of our day since we couldn't do it on Fridays:

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Afternoons for ALL: Following CM principles, we set aside time in the afternoons for time outdoors (free play, walks, bikes & yard work), handicrafts, music, baking, art & crafts and reading. I require EVERYONE to get out of each other's face & be alone for at least a half hour- they usually read during that time & most take longer than a half hour. Littles always nap & often, so do several of us older ones. I'm trying to limit screen time- it slipped into our days with pregnancy & sickness. Sigh. Breaking that bad habit is not easy. Chores finish up our day before we eat & have our evening routine (dinner, family worship, reading aloud, baths, meeting with Daddy, bedtime).

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Mama's Assessment of Afternoons: I'm still learning to love this time. I'm tired after teaching & I'm not one to love crafting with children... but I'm trying to embrace the riches of these things. It helps that as the children get older, they can do more independently & clean up after themselves. It also essential for me to get some alone & quiet time- it brings much needed refreshment to my mind & body.

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Note: life with increasingly older children means their social calendars are growing + Benjamin works 3 days a week. If an older child misses one of these above group gatherings, they are required to catch up on their own. They rarely miss Circle Time but if they did, they would need to go through it by themselves. They're required to read the portions we read aloud or do a similar nature study on their free time.

I'll be back soon with part 2 of our Fall Interval, part 1 review!

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