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Not embracing winter

Don accuses me of not embracing the winter here.  He is totally correct that I haven’t embraced it.  I don’t have the time or equipment to take up cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or ice fishing.  Even if I did, I don’t have the motivation for it.

I’ve long viewed winter as a season to “get through.”  It creates a hostile environment.  I can’t just casually step outside my door like I can in the summer.  I have prepare myself by putting on boots, a heavy coat, gloves or mittens, and a hood or hat.  I have to spend more time putting all the same gear on Simon (at least Peter can dress himself).  Then I step out into snowdrifts and bitingly cold wind.  The snow creates work–it has to be plowed and snow-blown.  It turns simple chores, like taking scraps out to the compost bin, into challenging feats.  Our Jetta and snowplow truck have both gotten stuck in our driveway multiple times, causing stress and wasted time.  Air temperature readings of -15 F and wind chills of -20 to -30 F make me want to hole up in our house and avoid unnecessary trips anywhere.

Don found a graphic from the National Weather Service yesterday that said the highest temperatures in the UP were below the lowest temperatures in Alaska; that didn’t exactly make me feel better.  Sometimes I feel cheated because the winter here is more severe than in many parts of Canada (particularly southwestern Ontario, where we lived for the past five years), but we don’t have the benefits of living in Canada.

Our big, old house is not the most energy-efficient.  We spend a small fortune heating it, yet it’s rarely warm enough to be comfortable.  The living room, where the pellet stove is, is the only room that ever actually feels warm, but it also has major drafts.  The rest of the house is usually between the low and mid 60s F.  We mostly avoid eating in the dining room because it’s so cold–there are large windows on two sides, an unheated laundry room on the third side, and the other side opens to the kitchen, which for some inexplicable reason has no heating ducts.  Unless all four of us are eating together (which is more rare than usual, since Don has been so busy at work this semester), we eat at the kitchen counter–the boys sitting on the two stools and me standing up.  My personal hygiene has taken a hit; it’s hard to find the motivation to take a shower when the bathroom is so cold.

I just keep telling myself that it will end.  It won’t be this cold forever.  Another couple weeks and we’ll warm up to freezing, the giant snow piles will start to melt, and it won’t be torture to be outside.  I cling to that hope.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have really struggled with homeschooling this year.  The first week or two was a honeymoon, but since then, it’s been hard.  A month into the school year, I was wondering if I’d made a mistake, if I should just bail and send Peter to school.  Not being a quitting sort, and remembering that sending him to school isn’t fun either (getting him up early, fed, dressed, and out the door on time to catch the bus, packing lunches, getting him to do homework), I kept on trying.  I adjusted the workload so we were only doing 80% of what I had originally scheduled for a week (knowing that that would extend our school year longer, but figuring it was worth it if it reduced our stress).  Peter is not great at focusing on getting things done unless they are his own projects and it could easily take him until lunchtime to do his morning chores–all of going to the bathroom, eating breakfast, cleaning up after his breakfast, taking his vitamins, getting dressed, feeding the cat, emptying the dishwasher (if necessary), shoveling the porch (if necessary), and brushing his teeth.  Then there was his schedule of academic work to contend with.  We mostly kept up with the work we did together, but he wasted time and goofed off and sometimes actively fought me about his independent work.  I tried just letting him be and trying to get things done that I needed to do around the house, letting him experience the consequences of goofing off by not being able to play on the Wii or the computer or read his books or magazines for pleasure until his work was done.  I tried staying on his case, checking on him every 5-10 minutes to remind him what he was supposed to be doing.  Neither was very satisfactory.  He regularly ran into the evening hours and the weekends before he finished what was scheduled.  It’s not like I was piling on an excessive load; he ought to have been done by early to mid-afternoon every day.  He ought to have had plenty of free time to read and build things and go outside and play and do all the things that kids do and learn from.  The way it’s been going is just not my vision for homeschooling.  By December, I was totally burnt out and ready to take him in to start school in January.  A three-week break (including a week-long Caribbean cruise for my husband and me, while the boys stayed with their grandparents), renewed my energy enough to keep trying.  I tried re-organizing his morning chore expectations, changing his checklist to put breakfast last, reminding him of kids in history who would wake up at 5 am and do farm chores for two hours before breakfast.  It helped, but not enough.  Burnout started to creep back.

For a long time, I’ve realized that this is not sustainable.  I spend so much time and energy on Peter–writing lesson plans, doing lessons with him, trying to get him to do his work, checking his work after it’s done–that my life is not balanced.  I’m not keeping up with the housework as well as I should.  I’m not doing enough fun preschool-type things with Simon.  I’m not getting other things done that have been sitting on my to-do list for months.  Most of all, I’m stressed with fighting him all the time; it’s not the relationship I want to have with him.  Yet, I’ve been resistant to sending him to school.  As noted above, there are stresses with having kids in school too.  Academically, I don’t think school would meet his needs very well.  Socially/behaviorally, I think he’s better off at home and out in the community, rather than in school.  And in my own personal experience of attending seven different schools for kindergarten through high school, the schools that I started mid-year were the schools where I felt that I didn’t fit in socially, whereas the schools I started at the beginning of a school year were the ones where I had friends, so I kept trying to convince myself to at least hang in there for the rest of the school year and then send him to school next year.

Last week Peter didn’t finish his work until Sunday evening, despite the fact that I only gave him four day’s worth of work for the week since Simon and I both had colds and I wasn’t up to doing lessons.  This week (another four-day week since I gave him a day off for his birthday on Tuesday), he didn’t finish his work on Wednesday and then wasted so much time on Thursday that he didn’t finish his Wednesday work until Thursday evening, putting him an entire day behind; on Saturday morning, he had a full day’s work to do.  Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon, I sat down at my computer.  I usually do lesson plans on the weekends, so I thought I should probably get started on that.  Then I thought I ought to do some lessons with Peter (who was goofing off instead of getting his independent work done).  I was so tired from fighting with him the past couple days that I didn’t want to do any of it.  I just wanted my weekend to be a break.  So I gave up.  I decided to take him to the local elementary school on Monday to register him, let him have one last day at his homeschool Lego robotics class on Tuesday, and have him start school on Wednesday, which is our state’s Count Day (when the number of students enrolled in a school determines their state funding).  I figured if I was going to send him to school, he should be there on Count Day; I would feel guilty enrolling him afterwards.

I spent the afternoon with thoughts rolling around in my head.  I thought about having to buy Peter a lunchbox and find his backpack.  I thought about what school would be like for him.  I thought about not having him around during the day, about just Simon and me being home.  I didn’t want to send Peter to school, but I couldn’t go on the way it was.  Then a letter came in the mail.  It was for Peter, from a friend he had made in Scouts before we moved here who was also homeschooled.  I remembered her mom’s relaxed attitude toward curriculum.  I thought–maybe we could try unschooling, just to get through this school year.  Then at least I wouldn’t have to send Peter to school in the middle of the school year, which I really don’t want to do.

I looked up some info on unschooling on the internet and it resonated with me more than I expected.  As a self-professed “curriculum junkie”, I always thought unschooling was sort of lazy and haphazard.  But remembering back to when I was a kid, reading books surreptitiously in school because they were more interesting than the lessons being presented, wishing I could just be left alone to do my own thing, I realized how much I would have liking unschooling, and that it would have been a good educational method for me.  Peter is much like me, happily spending hours in books, imaginative, enjoying projects of his own creation.  I think unschooling will work for him.  Rather than being just a way to get through the year, I’m excited about this change.  It will take some of the pressure off me so I can get my life into better balance.  I think Peter will enjoy it.  However, after a careful consideration of our current subjects, I’m not comfortable doing 100% unschooling, so we will “almost unschool”.  I’m going to retain math and French, because I’m not comfortable waiting for Peter to decide he’s interested in learning math and because I don’t want him to lose his French language skills.  Besides that, his learning will be self-directed.  He can read books, magazines, textbooks, ask me for lessons in the subjects he likes, watch educational tv, look up stuff on the internet, write letters/stories/comic books, build projects, do experiments, continue his Lego robotics and gymnastics classes, play outside, and I’m going to get us signed up to do some volunteer work.  Either it will go well and will save our homeschooling journey, or it won’t and Peter will start 5th grade in the fall at the local school.

Seven months in the UP

Today marks seven months since the boys and I arrived at our new home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Don came a couple days earlier).

The summer was wonderful, with long hours of daylight, pleasant temperatures, and all the gorgeous greens and blues of the trees and the water (there’s lots of nature here).

The winter has been challenging.  Winter anywhere with a young child is a challenge, though, and we now have a high-end snowblower (we started the winter without a working snowblower), so future winters should be somewhat easier.  November and December were really rough; we got dumped on with snow and the sky was always gray and dreary.  In my totally non-scientific observation, we’ve had more sun in January than in all of November and December combined, which has helped my outlook considerably (at least I feel hope that someday it will end).  The snow also seems to have eased off somewhat.  We still have plenty on the ground and have gotten a few light snowfalls, but nothing major lately (knock on wood).

Adjusting to living in the US again has been interesting.  We have Canadian satellite tv, and I still get my news online from CBC, so we feel more connected with Canada than the US in some ways.  But obviously, our local environment is American.  I notice it most with health care; I really dislike having to use American health insurance.  The whole system is so complicated, and we have a high deductible ($3500 for the family), so basically we have to pay for everything.  I don’t like questioning whether or not it’s worth the expense to go see a doctor or to take my kid to the emergency room, or making decisions like holding off on getting something done until after New Year’s so it can count towards the next year’s deductible, knowing that there’s no way we would hit the current year’s deductible.

I also miss my grocery stores (Superstore/Loblaws) because of certain products they carried that I can’t find here, along with Bulk Barn, where I could buy cheap spices, small quantities of things that I didn’t need much of (instead of having to buy a whole bag of pretzels because I needed 8 pretzels for a craft), candy, and exotic treats.

Another adjustment has been to having propane heat, using a pellet stove for supplemental heat, and having a septic system.  It makes me think more about how warm we heat the house (not enough for my comfort, but I feel like I have to put up with the chill) and what kinds of chemicals go down the drain.  We also have started a compost bin, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years; I feel good about not throwing away organic waste.  Something that does bug me is that we can’t recycle glass here, and are more limited in other things to recycle (for example, we could recycle Tetra-Paks and certain plastics in Ontario but we can’t here).

Although I was born here and grew up here, I like Canada better and would prefer to live there.  But we are here and expect to be here for the long haul, so I’m doing my best to focus on the good things here.  Probably the best (other than the natural beauty) is the homeschool partnership program through a local school district.  Peter is taking a Lego robotics class there once a week.  They are paying for him to take gymnastics lessons, which he is enjoying (he decided he didn’t want to play hockey this year).  They also are paying for us to get a non-resident family membership to the best public library in the area (which is awesome because the tiny library that we otherwise are stuck with has terrible hours and has been a real disappointment).

All in all, we are settling in and adapting.  This is a good place to live and raise a family.

A little boy in Haiti

A week ago, I returned from a long-anticipated trip to Haiti, where I volunteered at an orphanage for a week.  I have been interested in Haiti for about eight years and have studied Haitian Creole off and on in my spare time during those years, but for a combination of financial and personal reasons, I wasn’t able to go there until now.

One of the children I met who touched my heart was a little boy, whose name and picture I cannot post here for privacy reasons.  At 23 months old, he was abandoned at a hospital, weighing only 10 pounds.  Haitian social services transferred him to the orphanage about two and a half weeks before I came.  He had been weighed the day I arrived and was up to 14 pounds, but he was still quite weak, unable to sit up unassisted and sometimes too tired to hold his head up.  He made little noise and certainly said no words.  When offered a toy, he tucked in his thumb and tried to grasp it with just his fingers; I kept moving his thumb around the toys so he could get used to the feel of a proper grip.  His rare smiles showed a mouthful of white teeth in his thin face, the best evidence that he really was as old as he was said to be, because his size and behavior were more like those of a younger baby.

Although I can’t share his photo publicly, I assure you that he is a real boy.  I met him, I held him on my lap, I fed him spoonful after tiny spoonful of food with a consistency of pudding while he cried in protest, I held a sippy cup for him to drink from, and I carried him around and sang to him until he fell asleep.  But I shouldn’t have been the one to do those things for him; I was just a short-term volunteer, there for a week and then gone.  His mother should have been the one to do those things.

As a short-term volunteer, I was only given limited information about the children’s backgrounds.  Knowing that I cannot know the answers, I wonder.  Is his mother alive?  Does she know where he is now?  Does she wonder about how he’s doing and pray for his well-being?  Will she ever see him again?

I can only imagine the desperation she must have felt, making the decision to leave her child in the hope that someone else would care for him.  No parent should ever have to make the decision between abandoning her child and watching him starve to death.

After flying back to Miami, on the drive from the airport to my hotel, I saw a billboard advertising the opportunity to lease a Maserati for $699 per month.  To see such poverty and then such excess was striking.  The classic American attitude toward the poor–“they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps”–doesn’t work in such cases of extreme poverty.  You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t even have boots.

If you’re the praying type, please pray for this boy and his family.  And pray for the people with Maseratis, that they might be moved to use some of their money to help those who can’t afford to feed their children.

I put together a post with my curriculum choices last year.  It ended up being a bit more work than I expected, but I enjoyed doing it, so I decided to do it again this year.  It ended up being a lot of work again.  I started this post at the end of August, before we started our school year, didn’t finish it before we started, and have been so busy since then that it’s been a low priority to get it done.  My options were to give up or finish it.  I don’t want to waste the work I already did so I’m going to finish it, but forgive me for not illustrating all my choices, because that’s where most of the work is.

First, my updated introduction.  We are a Canadian-American family living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Our son Peter is 9 years old and entering grade 4.  This is our second year of homeschooling, but the first year in our current home (we moved here from Ontario, Canada over the summer) and the first year that I will not be working.  We also have a two-and-a-half-year-old, Simon.

Lafreniere Family April 2014

Our family in April, the most recent picture of all four of us.

We are continuing with the two-year American/Canadian history sequence that we started last year.  I have been splicing together Sonlight curriculum‘s one-year condensed version of American history with a Sonlight-style Canadian history schedule to cover both American and Canadian history together chronologically.  Peter and I have both been enjoying it.  We ended up making it a little less than halfway through last year, but I think we’ll be able to finish it off this year.

US history

I am recycling a picture of some of the Sonlight books we used last year, but we are now approaching the American Civil War.

This is just a sample of the many books we will be reading.

And again, recycling a picture of some of the Canadian history books we read.

For grammar and writing mechanics, we are trying something new this year.  We are using the Easy Grammar grade 4 book along with Daily Grams, for daily practice of capitalization, punctuation, etc.  Peter continues to write a daily journal (now a minimum of four sentences, up from three last year) and has a weekly writing assignment.

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Peter made great progress using All About Spelling last year, finishing level 1 and getting halfway through level 2.  We will continue moving through the program at his pace.  I’m projecting that he’ll start level 3 sometime in November.

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This will probably be Peter’s last year of handwriting.  He will finish CHC‘s Catholic Heritage Handwriting series with level 4.

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For math, we will continue with the combination of RightStart Mathematics and Singapore workbooks.  We’ll be doing level D in RightStart and using the 3B and 4A Singapore workbooks.  Peter also plays math computer games for practice (Math Blaster and Vroot and Vroom).

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RightStart is an American program, but they do sell a Canadian workbook (money problems have pictures of Canadian coins) and Canadian money cards for their card games. I bought this workbook when we were still living in Canada, as we weren’t expecting to move for at least another year. I think Peter will enjoy doing money problems with Canadian currency, though.

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As part of my effort to maintain Peter’s fluency in French, we will continue to use materials from the French Ministry of Education’s distance education program, which are available for free online.  We are using CM1 Français and Sciences expérimentales et technologies,  and finishing up the parts of CE2 Instruction civique that I planned to do last year and ended up dropping when life got crazy as we prepared to move.  Peter watches French-language tv programs at least three days a week (through satellite tv) and will be reading some books in French (I bought a half-dozen before we moved so I can give him one a month; I’m planning to restock at Christmas, plus we have lots of books for younger kids for him to read to Simon).

Francais

Recycled sample of French language arts from last year

Instruction civique

Recycled sample of “civic instruction” (rights/freedoms, safety, etc)

Sciences

Recycled sample of science

We’ve also changed our religion program this year.  Peter still has daily Bible passages to read, but we’ve switched the rest to Memoria Press Christian Studies book 1, which uses the Golden Children’s Bible.

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We just wrapped up the last lesson in last year’s art book, and we will be starting ARTistic Pursuits grades 4-6 book 1, by the same author.  Last year, we made a variety of kinds of art (drawing, painting, cutting-and-pasting shapes, mosaic, sculpture).  This year will be focused on drawing in black-and-white.  Art has been a challenge for us and I’m not sure how long we’ll continue to do it, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet.  We’ll see how things go this year; I may not bother to do it again next year.

Peter started learning to type last year, but didn’t make great progress.  I still think it’s a useful skill for him to learn, so I found a different free online typing program to use this year–TypingWeb.   He enjoys the games and I appreciate the fact that I can log in and track his progress (how much time he spends on the lessons, speed, error rate).  He is only in fourth grade so I’m not pushing it too hard–he’s only doing it once or twice a week–but I’m hoping to see some improvement this year.

I added Memoria Press’ Book of Astronomy to Peter’s science this year, since he is interested in space and in Greek mythology.  We live out in the country and we can see an incredible number of stars on a clear night, so learning constellations is a great thing to do here.

Also new this year is Latin.  Near the end of the summer, Peter kept saying he wanted to learn Latin.  I wasn’t too keen on increasing his workload, but Don insisted that since one of our main reasons for homeschooling is to be able to adapt to his needs and interests, we should listen to him.  So we’re using Memoria Press’ Prima Latina program.  It’s a fairly easy program (intended to be used as young as 2nd grade), so he’s able to be successful without a whole lot of time and effort.  I bought the optional DVD set so he can sort of have the experience of listening to a teacher lecture.

We are participating in a local public school district’s homeschool partnership program.  Peter is taking a Lego Robotics class, and they are paying for part of the cost for him to play hockey (it counts as physical education).

So far, a month into the school year, we’ve had a rough start.  For the first few weeks, I was seriously tempted to send him to school so I wouldn’t have to deal with him during the day.  Things are still not going as well as I would like, but schoolwork is getting done, chores are getting done, and he is learning stuff.  We are pulling it off and I hope it will continue to get better.

When we decided to get a cat a year and a half ago, I put a lot of effort into researching cat litter.  I’m glad I did.

I discovered that wood pellets are the world’s best cat litter.  They are super cheap (about $6 for a 40 lb bag that lasts for several months).  They are all-natural, non-toxic, and made from a renewable resource; they’re made of nothing but compressed wood.  They don’t track much like some of the finer litters that end up causing a mess around the litter box.  If you’re on a sewer system, you can flush them; they disintegrate into sawdust quickly when they hit the water.  In our old house, we kept the litter box next to the toilet, so it was super-easy to just scoop the poop into the toilet, dump the sawdust from the tray, and flush.  Now that we have a septic system, we don’t want to put the pellets down the toilet, but they can be composted (I researched this too–if you want to use cat waste compost on your garden, you have to compost it for at least 18 months for it to be safe, but we plan to compost it until it looks like compost and then dump it in the woods.  We have one compost bin for cat poop/litter and another for food scraps and other “clean” materials that we can use in our [future] garden.)

The only drawback I can find to wood pellets as cat litter is that they don’t do much for odor control.  But that basically just motivates you to scoop the poop as soon as it happens, so you end up with a cleaner litter box.

There are two considerations if you decide to switch:

1. Buy wood pellets from TSC or somewhere similar (sold either as fuel for pellet stoves or as stall pellets for horses) instead of a pet store.  You can buy “Feline Pine” cat litter at a pet store, but it’s much more expensive.

2.  You do need a special kind of litter box with a grate on the bottom and a removable tray, so there is some start-up expense there, but it will pay off.  You can buy one specially made for this purpose (I think it might be sold by Feline Pine) or you can buy the Tidy Cats Breeze box and use that, which is what we did.  Basically, when the cat pees, it causes the pellets to disintegrate.  Some of them fall through the grate on their own, but some don’t.  You need to sort of stir the pellets when you scoop the poop, so the wet peed-on sawdust falls through the grate into the tray, and then you dump the tray.  The dry pellets stay in the box until they get peed on or scooped up with poop.  You never have to dump the entire box, just add more pellets when it starts getting low.

If you want to save money, be environmentally friendly, and use a product that you know won’t harm your health or your cat’s, using wood pellets for cat litter is the way to go.

We finished our first year of full-time homeschooling last week, just in time for our new third grade graduate to head off to Webelos Scout camp for four days.  It certainly wasn’t my intention to still be doing lessons on the first day of August, but life doesn’t always go according to plan.  My husband applied for, interviewed for, was offered, and accepted a job in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (we were living in Ontario, Canada), so we put an unexpected amount of time and effort into house-buying, house-selling, moving internationally, and getting settled into our new house, which meant we got behind  in homeschooling and had to do three weeks of lessons in July.  Fear not, Peter has still been having an awesome summer, complete with swimming lessons, going to parks, jumping on the neighbors’ trampoline, exploring the woods at our new house, playing with the neighbor kids, and reading lots of books.  We are taking the month of August off before starting 4th grade in September and I plan to be done by mid-June next year, barring other major unforeseen life changes.

When we first decided to homeschool Peter, the plan was for me to stay home full-time with both boys.  Then I had an opportunity to teach part-time and I decided to go for it.  It seemed like we could pull it off–I would still be home enough to do lessons with Peter, but it would give me a chance to make some money, keep my foot in the door with the school board, and have a life outside of my home.  Originally, Don was watching the boys while I was at work, which definitely helped financially, but with his whole job thing happening, we ended up hiring a babysitter to come to the house every day.  Even though I was only gone about three hours a day, it was a challenge to homeschool while working part-time.  I had to leave for work around noon, but factoring in time to eat lunch and get dressed before that, and Peter’s slow-pokiness in the mornings, we usually only had about two hours to get lessons done together, and even that time was fraught with interruptions from Simon (diaper changes, snack requests, and just general needs for attention).  Peter was supposed to do his independent work while I was gone, which also was a challenge sometimes.  After I got home and checked his independent work, it was time to cook dinner and deal with other things, so we rarely did any lessons other than in the mornings.  If someone had a doctor or dentist appointment or if we went grocery shopping or to open gym time, it meant sacrificing lessons for a day.  Even if we got behind schedule, though, I insisted on taking weekends off so that we had a break.  Our scheduling wasn’t ideal, but we pulled it off.

The biggest area of growth over the school year was in Peter’s writing.  He’s still not a prolific writer, but it’s no longer like pulling teeth to get him to put words on a page.  He made it through level 1 and half of level 2 in All About Spelling, which has made him more comfortable in trying to spell words he doesn’t know (and more accurate, even though he still has a ways to go).  Writing a minimum of three sentences on topics of his choice in his daily journal gave him practice writing, again helping him become more comfortable.  I struggled with the weekly writing assignments, both making the assignments and getting him to do them with an appropriate amount of care.  Some of them came from his grammar book, some ideas I found online, and others I came up with myself.  He tended to put them off until Friday and then rush through them.  I felt that the amount of work the writing assignments were to come up with and to go over them with him was not worth what he was getting out of them, so I gave up on them for the last couple months when life was busy and stressful with the move.

The biggest disappointment was art.  I knew going into it that Peter wasn’t a huge fan of art, so I didn’t have really high expectations, but I figured it would be a fun thing to do once a week.  However, I made the mistake of scheduling art on Fridays, thinking it would be a nice way to end the week.  When we ended up behind schedule for the week, far too often I decided to just drop art.  Even when we did art, usually I just went over the directions with Peter before I left for work and then he did it himself while I was gone.  This meant that a) he didn’t put as much effort into his art as he would have if I were there, and b) I didn’t get to do art.  Near the end of the year, I made a point to do art with Peter, and it was fun for both of us.

With French language arts, science lessons in French, French workbooks, French library books, and watching tv in French, Peter seems to have gotten enough exposure to the language that his French seems to be holding up.  That was one of my main concerns about taking him out of school, as he had been attending a francophone school.

History continues to be a favorite subject for both of us.  Going back and forth between US and Canadian history has worked out well.  I feel that Peter is getting a solid introduction to the history of both countries, and I have learned things too.  Even though we both really enjoy doing read-alouds, I finally dropped them around Christmas time because we kept getting so far behind schedule.  Peter is a strong reader and has been able to read most of the read-aloud books himself.  I miss sharing the books with him, but this is easier, and he won’t suffer long-term harm from reading the books himself.  My parents didn’t read to me when I was in third grade and I turned out okay.  :)

All in all, it has been a successful year.  I will enjoy having a month off, but I am also looking forward to the adventure of homeschooling for fourth grade.

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