We're coming to the end of AO7 Term 1. How can that possibly be?
Things are going pretty well. It is a terrific time period, and Jemimah and I are enjoying the book selections very much. Watership Down has proved a big hit, which is a relief, because Jemimah watched the movie as a young dot somewhere, and was convinced that the story was filled with strange dreams and fields of blood. She seems to have recovered from that experience somewhat, as time has passed, and is nearing the end of the rather long book now. She has been reading a chapter a day, which has worked well.
Other literature choices have included Scott's Ivanhoe and The Once and Future King. The latter I have been reading aloud, and I'm glad, because it is a very clever book, and I have enjoyed Jemimah's reaction to the things that are out of place to a book set in Old England. Merlyn, in this version of the Arthurian legend, is living through life backwards, making him a wise old man who is getting younger. This allows him to make very amusing and often perspicacious observations on events in recent history. He remarks on education in the British Public School system, World War II and 'the Austrian', and advances in medicine and health, amongst other things. I find him most amusing. I have also been reading aloud the poetry selections - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, and Cormac the Skald. We adore, adore, adore, epic poetry, the legacy of of our Iliad reading in AO6, and we just can't get enough. Tennyson's Idylls of the King continues the poetry next term. Hurrah! Don't you think poetry is so much better when it is read aloud? Right now as we wait for Tennyson, I'm reading aloud the prose book Feats on the Fiord by Harriet Martineau. I know nothing about this book or this author, and I was interested to read that she died in Ambleside - possibly one reason why Mason may have known of her. I wonder if they ever met. Anyway, her book on Norway is just delightful so far, and Miss Mason obviously liked it:
Have you read Feats on the Fjord? Miss Martineau, who wrote the book, never visited Norway, but no one could describe the life on the fjords more vividly than she has done; that is because her Imagination was at home in distant lands, as no doubt it was also in past ages...In order to have a richly-stored picture-gallery of the Imagination we must read much, and, as the French say, figure to ourselves, as we go on, that which we read.
Charlotte Mason Ourselves pp 48-49
My fear for the year was Churchill's Birth of Britain, because so many people complain about how hard and dry it is. We haven't found it that way at all. I have divided the rather long chapters into short sections that Jemimah reads daily, following on with very good maps. For me, the map work has been the key, probably, and I have been getting really good narrations, both written and oral from this book. We're up to Alfred the Great right now. The Churchill book has been supplemented with additional readings from The Venerable Bede and Asser, and Jemimah has really enjoyed reading the same original sources that Churchill cites. They're fairly easy reading, and are mostly short, and again, we follow on with the maps.
I was initially worried about how we would go with C S Lewis' Mere Christianity, a book I struggled with at a much older age than Jemimah. I forget, I think, how much more advanced her reading and comprehension is than mine was at the same stage as a consequence of a Charlotte Mason education from the beginning. It warms my mummy heart to hear the insights she is having into God's word. Her youth group is reading John Piper's book Risk is Right - Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It this term, and she is quite disparaging about how easy it is. "He says some good stuff, Mummy, but does he really have to repeat himself over and over?"
We started learning Japanese this term, a third language after French and Latin. I must say that I have found it rather daunting to be teaching a language I don't speak at all. We have begun with learning Hiragana, and I'm afraid my old brain makes me rather slow. Still, we both enjoy it. We are doing Japanese copywork every morning, and working our way through a text book three days a week with a combination of oral and written lessons. I think the different alphabets makes this a necessity, despite it being different from Miss Mason's methods. She never taught Japanese. We are also learning some little Japanese nursery songs.
Everything is harder in AO7. There is significantly more reading, we are attempting three written narrations a week, we are learning three languages. Maths is possibly the exception to the 'harder' rule. Everyone tells you that MEP7 is easier than MEP6, and they're correct. Jemimah is coasting through the highest Express stream of this level, and has just commenced MEP7b this week. Spending less time on maths has been very welcome as we commence this heavier workload, so I am happy not to add anything else at this stage. She could certainly do more if I needed her to, but what's the point?
That brings me to science. I've been attempting to do science without textbooks, and I'm really pleased with how it has been going. The science notebook has been the key to our success here, and her scientific drawings act like narrations - if you can illustrate something and explain your drawing, then you probably understand the material. I'll post pictures of this notebook in its own post, and go into detail on what we're using for science then as well. So far we have read a biography of Carl Linnaeus, leading into a study of classification and binomial nomenclature, books from Isaac Asimov's "How Did We Find Out About" series on germs and genes, the latter, along with a book on Mendel leading into a study of variation and inheritance, covering classical genetics, meiosis and mitosis. Light and astronomy have been other studies, as well as in depth nature study. All of this goes into the science notebook.
My daughter's education is the education I wish I had. My husband said this very same thing last week. I love her grasp of history. I like her command of the English language. I am so pleased with her deepening knowledge of God's word and about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I like the way she is beginning to understand herself and the world around her. My Jemimah is becoming a charming young lady, but she is still my little girl. She is only just 12 years old, and she still has lots of bad habits and many of areas of academic and personal weakness. As do I. So far, though, I am content with where she is on the journey. I feel that she is on the right track. And a whole lot of that is due to Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online. I am continually grateful for them both.