An unusual chance to actually use my own computer during the day–a power outage! Elliot can’t do his schoolwork as we can’t get online, so I’m snatching a moment to type before the battery dies.
The house is dark and cold, except for near the gas fire. It’s not exactly quiet–Abel is asking me a question and Elliot and I are doing Arabic, which requires only the CD player on the computer rather than the internet. Right now, he’s listening to a list of 10 words, deciding where the (hamza) occurs; at the beginning or in the middle.
Even though CNED (our French home school/correspondence course) continues to stress and challenge us, I do have to admit it’s very well organized–just what I would expect from the French, actually.
The twins are in CM2 this year, which roughly corresponds to Grade 5. I paid 101 euros each (approximately $150) for the entire year, and that includes all their books. For each subject, and there are 8 of them (French, Math, Science, History-Geography, Art, Music, Spanish, and Civic Education), they got a workbook, a teacher’s book which includes corrections, and a folder of exams. Each course has a certain number of units which are further divided into a day’s work, so that each day they will do, for example, Unit 3 day 1. They do anywhere from 1 to 4 pages of exercises, then they correct them. At the end of each unit, they take a test, which is sent to France. A teacher there corrects it, adds comments, and sends it back.
They have CD’s for Spanish and French and Music, and they have to take oral exams, record them on audio cassettes, and send them back as well.
Elliot’s course is online, but he still has books. He follows the same idea; he does 10 days of work, then takes a test which he sends back. Turn around time is about 2-3 weeks. He can also call or email questions, and there’s an online forum of questions already asked. In Math he’s measuring angles; in Music he’s doing the Romantic period; in History and French they’re studying the Greco-Roman period and he’s reading the Odyssey this year.
Their books are full color and attractive, full of little cartoon illustrations, including lines from Asterix. Elliot’s French book is full of art–photos of works of Bernini’s sculptures, Chagall’s and Waterhouse’s paintings, etc. It’s very well done.
It also continues to consume hours and hours of my time. Our learning curve continues to be steep. We’ve learned that Abel needs supervision and prodding; left to do his work at his yellow student desk in his own room, he tends to stare at the poster of General Grievous, or watch the rain falling on the street outside, rather than actually work. We’ve moved him downstairs. Ilsa flies through her work so that she can read, but needs to slow down and work more carefully. Elliot is an oldest child who wants to be a history professor; of course he is very motivated, serious, but he gets frustrated because he likes to have a teacher to explain things in detail, and he misses working with his friends. I’m sure their regular teachers already knew this about them; in fact, I already knew this about them, but I’m used to only dealing with it on a level of evening homework, not daily work.
We have a deadline in June. If we miss it, we lose the whole year. We started 6 weeks late, and we’ve already made up 2 weeks. Hopefully by Christmas we‘ll be just 2 weeks behind. It’ll mean a busy couple of weeks, and the power outage today didn’t help, but I think we can do it. We’ll get all caught up by the end of February, when French kids get a 2 week vacation we won’t take.
Now the power’s back on. It’s been raining nonstop since Saturday afternoon, and there‘s a brand-new baby river at the bottom of our hill. The nearby field has become a swamp. The wind is ferocious, downing trees with weakened roots in the saturated ground. It was a lovely day to stay inside and wonder if we shouldn’t go buy some candles (we didn’t), and then, later, to venture out in hoods and scarves to the local library. We’re set now for a hundred storms, as long as we have light to read by.
Except that we have no time! *#@#$ home school!

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