That’s a wrap

This is my second of what I hope will be many Weekly Roundups.

This week our homeschool adventure has been “all memory master, all the time!”  We’ve focused on reviewing and memorizing our Classical Conversations curriculum.  This is my daughter’s last year in Foundations and her last to try for Memory Master.

What is a Memory Master?  A student who achieves Memory Master is one who has memorized over 400 pieces of information.  Students are put through intensive oral “proofs” where they are quizzed by a parent, by a different adult, by their tutor, and finally by the CC director.  It is a monumental achievement, and I am so pleased that my daughter is pushing herself to go the distance.

One of the most challenging aspect of the memory master testing is memorizing the 160-event historical timeline that spans creation all the way to modern times.  This week we recited the timeline over and over.  We made up songs to help her remember the sections that she didn’t quite master.  We used silly visual imagery to help her make connections from one timeline fact to the next.  For example, when she had a difficult time remembering that the timeline fact “Explorers of the Northeast: Cartier, Champlain, and Cabot” came right after “John Knox, the Scottish Reformer,” we envisioned the explorers searching through John Knox’s long beard.  We use all sorts of memory tricks to get the information in our brains!

We also spent a great deal of time on geography.  The amazing part of homeschooling is all the learning I am doing as I teach my daughter!  Geography has NEVER been my strong point…yet now I find myself able to visualize Europe in detail.  When I came across a reference to the Black Sea in one of the novels I am reading, I instantly “saw” in my head where the characters were because I have memorized the Black Sea’s location on a map.  This is one subject that my daughter has really mastered this past week.  She has made it her own.

CC students memorize multiplication facts up to 15×15.  We worked on the 13s, 14s, 15s, squares, and cubes this week.  We also reviewed the various formulas for area of rectangles, triangles, squares, and circles in addition to conversions such as the fact that there are 5,280 feet in one mile and 2.45 cm in one inch.  We’ve learned about the Associative, Commutative, and Identity Laws for addition and multiplication and the Distributative Law.  Those 13s and 14s are tricky, but we’ll get there!  Both of us!

24 science and 24 history facts have been memorized.  Why all the memory work?  The fact that is learned gives the brain a “peg” on which to hang more information as more information is learned.  For example, she now knows Newton’s Laws and the three Laws of Thermodynamics.  At ice skating when she tried to throw her jacket over her head, she flew back as far as she threw the jacket…demonstrating with a face plant Newton’s Third Law of Motion that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. She laughed when she fell and said, “Mom!  I just proved Newton’s Third Law of Motion!”

English Grammar and Latin facts are also being drilled into our brains.  She’s learned how to conjugate the Latin verb amo in the present, imperfect, future, present perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect tenses.  She’s also learned about the eight parts of speech and their various definitions and usages and can list the indefinite, demonstrative, nominative, objective, possessive, and possessive adjective forms of pronouns.  I was an education major with a minor in English and never learned about object complement nouns or diagrammed a sentence, but she can do both like a pro!

For reading during this intensive memory master week, I have let her read for pleasure.  She’s had her nose in the Hunger Games books and has just begun Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara series.

Today we participated in a Memory Master “Boot Camp” where we got together with other students going out for Memory Master and tested each other.  Each mom took a subject, and the kids rotated through each station, reciting the memory work.  It gave me chills to hear the vast amount of information those kids have learned!  The facts just roll off their tongues…and the greatest part about it is to see the pride in their eyes as they see for themselves that there is an intrinsic reward for hard work.  Playing on the playground afterwards didn’t hurt, either!

Fine arts?  PE?  Drama? Choir? Covered.  We are homeschoolers…but we are decidedly NOT undersocialized.  We are running so many different directions for piano lessons, skating lessons, drama, kids choir, and Sunday School that sometimes I have to take off the SuperMom cape and throw it in the washing machine because it gets too frayed around the edges!  Now if I could only learn how to infuse the superhero magic…oh right!  That’s the Holy Spirit power, keeping us on track and reminding us WHY we homeschool and choose to do life in a way that is not the easy road.

It would be so easy to drop my daughter off at school every morning.  It would be easy to let someone else motivate her, to let someone else make curriculum choices and book choices for her.  If I didn’t have to grade one more math test, I would be tickled!  I could do normal things in the day, such as grocery shopping, running errands, contacting repair services and doing laundry, without having to balance it with school work.  I could do things for myself — wow!  What a concept!  Yoga…manicures…Starbucks with other moms…naps…reading books out by the pool…women’s Bible studies….photography classes…painting classes….

Yet making the choice to put our daughter in school would mean that someone else would have her eight hours out of every day, 5 days a week.  That is 1,280 hours a school year that someone else is using to influence my child — for good or for bad.  It would mean forcing my daughter into the curriculum that someone else deems appropriate for her — never mind if she already knows it all or if she is hopelessly behind.  It would mean her exposure to behaviors and peer pressure that would be — in my opinion as her mom — inappropriate.  Don’t even get me started on the physical aspects of institutionalized schooling.  When she was in school as a kindergartener and first grader, she contracted pink eye, pneumonia, whooping cough, and a chronic throat infection.  The doctors said she needed her tonsils out.  We started homeschooling…and voila!  A healthier girl.  Of course she still gets a few colds and whatnot.  But she still has her tonsils.  Most of all, going back into that setting would mean I would miss out on her life at the very time that she needs her mom the most.  Becoming a young woman is a roller coaster ride, and it is nice to have mom at the ready to assure her that her tears and dramatic over-reactions are likely hormonal, will pass, and are normal, rather than having her heart broken by bullies who taunt her and call her “Emo.” (Yep. Happened to me.)

Yes, my choice to homeschool takes away a great deal of “me” time (what’s that, anyway?) — but it also gives me a great deal of togetherness and closeness with my daughter.  It gives me the chance to learn all over again those things that I never really learned past the test the first time around.  For instance, can you name the world leaders of WWII without googling it?  I can, thanks to homeschooling and CC!  God has given me this precious opportunity to rub elbows every day with the most special girl in the world!  I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

*(Hitler of Germany, Tojo of Japan, Mussolini of Italy — Axis Leaders) and (Churchill of England, Roosevelt and Eisenhower and McArthur of the US, and Stalin of the USSR — Allied Leaders)*

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