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Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. 
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

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studying the characteristics of tree leaves

practicing reading and spelling with the moveable alphabet and Reading Lessons Through Literature

welcoming April’s bluebonnets

enjoying the negative space in our routine

washing dishes during afternoon kitchen clean-up

reading a vintage comic book, using a pile of laundry for a pillow (hashtag: real life)

discovering a wren’s nest in her rain boot

sifting It’s All Good and Chop, Chop, helping with the weekly meal plan

reading interesting facts from The 50 States

making their own recipe for fresh lemonade

sculpting a human heart for his rhetoric project

making a personal salad from our garden lettuce

reading picture books, napping on the lawn

our one-room schoolhouse

 our first garden cabbage

illustrating heliocentric (sun) and geocentric (earth) theories from history in Along Came Galileo

working in the garden, standing in a strong spring breeze

illustrating weather after experiencing local tornadoes, thunderstorms, and floods

(weather source books: Nature Anatomy, Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today, and Joe Kauffman’s Big Book about Earth and Space)

more images: #cloisteredaway_homeschooling

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I wonder sometimes if slowness is more a state of the mind than the body, as our days never seem to be as slow I imagine them. April and May followed suit with March, eclectic and busy. But then again, spring is always a time for activity. April was cool, cloudy, and full of wildflowers, and we spent as much time as possible outdoors, in the yard, at the park, going for walks in nature or just around our neighborhood. We only planted garden herbs this year, instead of a large vegetable garden. With all of the home projects and changes around here, I needed to simplify what we’re managing this summer. Now that summer is here, I do miss watching the fruit appear on the vine. Next spring.

Like parenting, there is no script for the homeschool life, and I’m learning more confidently each year how to adapt our learning to life’s changing circumstances, instead of feeling paralyzed or guilty about never measuring up to a straight-forward plan. The home is alive, a breathing organism, and so is education. Although we had not planned a major lull in academic studies in May, the children spent the month unusually sick with viral high fevers, bronchitis, strep throat, and so on. While April was beautiful and lived mostly outdoors, May, with rotating sickness and terrible weather, was lived mostly indoors. We used the time to read more, to play, to live more unstructured. I’m grateful for the June sunshine this week.

I left for the Wild+Free conference right in the middle of May, and my mother graciously cared for my sick children and treated them with movie marathons and dress-up and library trips. Thank you again, Mom. Also, for those interested, you can now find the audio from the conference by subscribing here.

As we quickly swing into our summer rhythm, I’m also reflecting on this last year: what I learned, what I loved most, and what to keep and toss for next year. I plan to save that for another post though, as it seems too loaded for this one. As for April and May, here are the books we read. Some of the read-alouds are still in progress.

APRIL + MAY BOOKS

Liam | Aesop’s Fables | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | Treasure Island

Burke | The Hobbit | Warriors, book 1-3 | Along Came Galileo | Treasure Island  | The Molehill, Vol. 3

Blythe | The Secret Garden | Caddie Woodlawn | How To Train Your Dragon

Olive | Frog and Toad All Year | The Burgess Bird Book for Children (RA) | beginning readers

Picture Books We Loved | The Hundred Dresses | The Family Under the Bridge | Make Way for Ducklings | Carl Larsson’s A Farm: Paintings from a Bygone Age (out of print, but consider this one as an alternative) | On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstien

Family Read-Alouds | Redwall | The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (on audio) | North! Or Be Eaten | WildwoodHudson Taylor: The Man Who Believed God

Myself | Brainstorm: The Purpose and Power of the Teenage Brain | Girl on a Train | The Thirteeth Tale | All the Light We Cannot See (finally finished!) | When Breath Become Air

10 replies
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      I’m still finishing The Thirteenth Tale, and am holding my opinion of it until the end. The writing is magnificent, richly descriptive and approachable. It reminds me of the British Romantics, beautiful in a really dark way. So if you like Rebecca or any of the Brontes’ works or Shelley, you’ll love it. As for the Wingfeather Saga, I’m humbly surprised at how well-written and engaging they are. We are all loving them, although we’ve lagged in our read-aloud lately.

      Reply
  1. Jo
    Jo says:

    I love this. I can’t wait to see your lessons learned. I’m at least 5 years from homeschool season, but I love seeing it through other people’s eyes! :-)

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you, Jo. This journey is something that’s easy to slide into and will certainly be adapted as you go. I’m so glad you find encouragement for the journey here. ;)

      Reply
  2. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    Stunning photos and beautiful words as always, Bethany. I’m wondering where the white table and chairs are from that the children are always working at?

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you, Ashley. My brother-in-law built the table for us several years ago, and I purchased the chairs from The Land of Nod also about 6 years ago. If they still carry the chairs, they’re sturdy and have stood the test of many children over the years. I definitely recommend them.

      Reply
  3. rebecca
    rebecca says:

    Do you have a post about how your homeschool materials are organized/kept? I am toying with the idea of homeschooling (I have a 4 yo, 2yo and a 4 week old) so i get overwhelmed thinking about the organization part!

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      I know I’ve talked about it in various posts, although possibly not just one. When the kids were young, I used art boxes that could neatly stack on the bookshelf. They each had one that we’d throw their work [we wanted to save] in and I’d make time to sort through it later. Try searching ‘school room’ in the search bar to see if I’ve written anything more specifically about the materials. I’ll also make note of this topic to cover this summer, as several people have had similar types of questions. Thanks, Rebecca!

      Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Hi Andrea! We don’t use just one specific curriculum. I tend to piece bits together based on what our family needs for the academic year. I shared the main resources we used this last year in this post, although you can find the variety of books we use by reading through the homeschool tab. I started listing them in the monthly “our homeschool in pictures” posts this year. So that might also be a good resource. ;)

      Reply

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