Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer Catch-Up, Part 2: A Master of Memory

This was our second year of CC. During our first year, everything was new to me, and everything was new to the kids. I had my doubts, people. Max and Sam were four years old when their year started, and it seemed a bit ridiculous that they were memorizing John 1:1-7 in English and Latin when they could barely tie their own shoes. I'd read The Well-Trained Mind, and it resonated with me, and I became passionate about choosing a different academic path for the education of my children.

But seriously? Max and Sam were, and are, very typical little boys. They like to climb trees and wrestle and joke about poop. They don't like Latin. So this course of teaching that we chose, in which they spend a lot of time when they're young memorizing vast amounts of information that they can't yet comprehend, well... let's just say the jury was still out for me. I'd made tons of great friends, and the kids loved CC, but I wasn't convinced that it was working in an academic sense.

As year two came to a close, I found myself amazed at the large quantity of facts that all three kids had cumulatively memorized. One of CC's mantras regarding the early years (called the grammar stage by classical educators) is that we must train the brain to retain. That means lots of repetition with singing and motions thrown in to make it fun. It means lots of books, read by them and to them. It means limited TV, limited computers, limited image-based learning that does a lot of their brain's work for them while they zone out in front of it. The kids, by and large, have great fun with it, as they haven't been made privy to the misconception that learning is a drag. As a parent, it can be hard to persevere. It's work, for sure. It's discipline. But I can tell you at the end of year two that it's worth it. And it's working.

On her own, my little firstborn determined at the beginning of last year that she wanted to become a Memory Master. In short, a Memory Master is one who is able to recite every single fact that he or she has learned that year in order, from memory, without making a mistake and without needing any help. They are tested by a tutor, and the recitation alone takes over an hour without taking a break. When Chloe decided this was her goal, I sighed was super proud. I also knew it meant a lot of work for me, in order to keep her on top of the quickly accumulating weekly facts. Our director constantly reminded us of something I came to understand well: just because you can't do it doesn't mean they can't! As parents we often foolishly assume that because we can't memorize all of this information, there's no way our young children can. Nothing is further from the truth. They are far more capable of memorizing than we are, and a classical education takes advantage of that.

Chloe worked extremely hard. Greg and I were so very proud of her work ethic and determination. She sailed through her Memory Masters exam with flying colors - not even the slightest stumble over a single fact, according to the tutor who tested her. Here's a list of some of what she memorized this year:

-161 events and people in a chronological timeline
-44 U.S. presidents
-24 history sentences
-120 geographic locations and features
-24 science facts
-5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
-24 English grammar facts
-Math multiplication tables up to 15x15, common squares and cubes, basic geometry formulas and unit conversions
-The entire passage of Exodus 20:1-17

She was rewarded with a trophy and special recognition at the end-of-year ceremony. We were rewarded with a newly defined understanding of what our children, with God's help, are capable of.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Catch-Up, Part 1: The CC Closing Ceremonies

Way back in April, we finished up our second year of Classical Conversations and celebrated another great year of learning with all of our friends.

Chloe and some of her classmates reciting their history facts.

Max and Sam, my dapper little dudes, showing off their mad Latin skillz.

They've improved so much in their memory work this year. It's been pretty cool to see all that they're capable of learning, even though they're so different from their academically devoted sis :-).

What would science be without a little music and dancing?

Of course, this year was bittersweet.

We knew that we would be leaving soon, and though we will continue with our participation in CC here in Rochester, these friends have made an irrevocable imprint on our hearts.

I will forever be grateful to this collection of families who have learned with us, laughed with us, prayed with us, and loved on us. 

"I can't imagine my life without you; 
You've held a place all your own.
Just knowing you were beneath the same sky,
Oh what a joy I have known."
- "Goodbye for Now," Kathy Troccoli

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Catch-Up

Wow, we have been busy. This summer will go on record as the busiest one I think we've ever had. Lots of travel. Lots of visitors. Lots of boxes still to unpack.

There are so many special experiences that have come and gone, undocumented on the blog due to complete lack of time. I have a few days to catch my breath and plan on getting some of these sweet memories up for posterity.

"Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it."
- L.M. Montgomery, The Story Child

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Beating the Heat

Baby, it's hot outside. Inside, the invasion of the painters continues. Big giant sigh. Don't get me wrong - I'm very grateful that I am not the one stripping wallpaper, but sharing every inch of our space with a bunch of strange men every day sure is getting old. After Charlie nearly took one of them out as he perched on the top of a ladder painting our two story foyer, I determined that what we needed to do was leave the premises. Stat.

We headed straight for one of the ROC's finest, Strong's Museum of Play. The kids checked their respective identities at the door and became





educated consumers...

apple pickers...




damsels in distress...

and quilters.

We left with our imaginations full of new material, and headed home to jump in the pool.

I couldn't agree more.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The 4th at the Lake

We spent July 4th at Lake Chautauqua with the fam. The day started out spectacular. I raced to Wegman's to grab a watermelon and some hamburger buns, and locked my keys in the trunk after spending five minutes tethering said watermelon to the side of the trunk so it wouldn't roll over my buns. Why, one might ask, didn't I just put my buns on the front seat next to me and let the stinking melon roll around the trunk for a few miles? Well I'm not sure, but I had ninety minutes to ponder it while I waited - in the rain - for the roadside assistance man to cruise on over and unlock my truck. Good times.

Once we loaded up all manner of food and kids and arrived at the Lake, things started looking up. We had a great time - it was everything a July 4th should be. Nothing more, and nothing less.

We went out on the boat and visited a cool old bookstore.

We grilled hot dogs and watched the fireworks explode into red and blue streaks in the black night sky.

We let the kids eat junk food and stay up late.

We put them to bed smelling like the lake and didn't care.

We roasted marshmallows over an open fire and kayaked through the quiet morning with kids on our laps.

We rescued one of our littles when he got too curious and slipped off the dock, and thanked God over and over for His provision of safety.

The kids slept great and the grownups slept like crap, grumbling bleary eyed to one another in the morning until coffee was gratefully sipped on the big deck at the water's edge.

We drove home happy and tired, glad to live in this country where we are free to live as we choose, and prayerful that our children will still enjoy the same liberties in the decades to come.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Day on the Town

We've got several very kind, very large, very loud men in our house making paint magic happen this week, so we've been taking advantage of the forced exodus by exploring our new town. We've had lots of sunshine and 85 degree days, and the five of us have had great fun making new friends and discovering cool nooks and crannies all over the place. Our little town, Fairport, has a wonderful village quite close to where we live. It's right on the Erie Canal, so you can watch the boats saunter by as you're walking through the Farmer's market or getting some coffee or heading to the library. 

This gazebo is in the town square, and there is an outdoor concert here every Thursday night at dusk.

No music? No problem.

Huck Finn daydreams. I have two little boys who could spend hours here.

 I had to pull one back over to "our" side of the fence after he snuck through the posts in pursuit of a little adventure. Stinker.

Charlie is entranced with the three little mice outside the library. He insisted on several visits with them before we left. They're his homeboys.

Town Hall. 

Great Day. Great Town. We miss the Burgh, but we love it here!