Wednesday, June 4, 2008

School all year round

Our two homeschoolers, now 10 1/2 and 12 1/2, are officially "out" for the year (they have been attending a university-model school two partial days a week and it's finished till next fall.) But my jokes (which they take as threats) about "year-round schooling" are turning out to have some truth in them, as the best jokes often do.

It's summer here in the heart of the Appalachians, and things have slowed down a bit. Sitting around in the evenings reading or making things, going for walks to the bank or the library, or riding in the car, we talk. Sometimes I find myself pontificating--a useful work meaning, I think, "to act like a pontiff" (the Pope being a well-known pontiff), one who feels himself called upon to make a pronouncement upon everything. When I catch myself doing this, I usually attempt to bring an end to my official pronouncement as soon as possible, knowing that most people, including children, don't like to be lectured. But husband and I and the children often share information back and forth. If, for example, I want to know about a certain kind of a dinosaur, or the details of a forgotten Greek myth, I ask one of my children, as they know much more than I do. On matters of language, history, science, manners and morals, however, husband and I are usually the ones who offer our superior wisdom.

Today I was resting/thinking/talking to husband in our bedroom/office, and youngest son was sculpting at the kitchen table in the next room. He heard me mentioning a review I had read for a book we'd just heard about. I heard him ask his father what the difference was between a preview and a review. Then, suddenly, son began to laugh uproariously.

"I get it!" he exclaimed. "'Pre-' means 'before,' and 'view' means 'see,' so a 'preview' is 'something you see beforehand.' And 're-' means 'again,' so a 'review' is, um, a 'review' is...'something you see again.'" Congratulating him on his discovery, I remarked that this was why a working knowledge of the Latin roots could be so useful. Then I began wondering how he had come to have this knowledge. We haven't given our children Latin lessons, nor have they had more than a cursory introduction to the language in any of their "formal" classes; yet son had apparently picked up a bit here and a bit there, possibly from his own reading, possibly in one or more of our ongoing discussions about language; enough to draw a conclusion for himself.

Later on, husband was telling me about a church small-group meeting he had attended the previous evening. I hadn't been there due to another engagement, so he related how one of the young people at the meeting had brought up a question which I immediately realized I would have had a hard time answering myself, if I had been there. (So much for lengthy pontificating.)

So, what answer was given? This was the kind of meeting where anyone could put in 2 cents worth; the leader would sometimes tie everything together or explain further if it was needed.

"It was daughter [12 1/2] who had the answer," said husband.


The answer she gave referred back to a topic she and I had been talking about several days previously, and she had applied one of the concepts from that conversation, neatly and accurately, to the current discussion. So! She HAD been listening all that time! She'd remembered the illustration I'd used--but how had she come up with it, at just the right time, in a different situation?

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