We'd barely been in Russia (Irkutsk, Siberia more specifically) when I found myself drinking Vodka with Audrey's father. Not sure if it was the two days we'd already spent on the train, with three more…
Today marked a milestone on this grand adventure as Decker graduated to the fourth grade. Although Pleasanton Unified School District (P.U.S.D.) may not agree, the two officials for the ABCD World School (our registered home school name), Audrey Gillette (Principal) and Bryan Gillette (Janitor) signed off on Decker’s successful completion of his Capstone.
This required Decker to navigate the Paris Metro system for an entire day with no assistance from other family members. He was given a map and a list of destinations. Each of the three legs required a transfer to a different train line within the underground metro maze. Eleven months ago this would have stopped him in his tracks and he would have declared, “I can’t do this.” Today he demonstrated the confidence of a Parisian. When Audrey and I thought he was going the wrong way and tried to interject, he stayed firm and proved us both wrong.
Colin completed his Capstone a month ago after organizing our time in Greece.
To show P.U.S.D. that our kids are ready for their next grade level, here is how they did on their subjects:
READING – We lost track of how many books each completed but they did read at least 20 minutes a day. Our budget would have been blown if we had to buy all the books Colin finished so we are grateful for the Kindle, Overdrive, and the eight public libraries we belong to. If you read a lot, it’s worth checking out.
WRITING – Each boy wrote a daily journal although Colin started every day with, “Today when I woke up, I had breakfast.” And since he was doing it on his iPad, his typing improved to 40 wpm. Decker still prefers paper and pencil.
ARITHMETIC – They completed the same lessons as their peers along with learning how to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit, Metric to Imperial, 24 foreign currencies to US dollars and local time to Pacific Time. All in their head.
GEOGRAPHY – Ah, duh. I’m guessing they know it better than their teachers. They still need to study the Asian continent.
ART – We recently visited the Musee Rodin where they viewed Rodin sculptures, a Monet, a Renoir, and a Van Gogh then later explored the Louvre. Toured the Botero Museum in Medellin as well as completed a walking tour of graffiti art in Bogota.
LANGUAGE – With two weeks of intensive one-on-one Spanish lessons and four months in Spanish-speaking countries, they can now order lunch, buy a bus ticket, and find a bathroom.
POLITICAL SCIENCE – Colin was overheard explaining to his Grandma why President Mugabe (Zimbabwe) was overthrown while Decker later educated them on the difference between the Hutus and Tutsis (Rwanda). They, like us, are confounded by the nutcase of the Bolivian President who thinks drinking Coca Cola makes you bald and eating chicken makes you gay.
ZOOLOGY – Colin is able to identify many of the African venomous snakes while Decker can tell the difference between a Leopard and a Cheetah, a Lilac Breasted Roller and a Bee Eater, and an Impala and a Springbok. Audrey and I can now tell the difference between an Elephant and a Giraffe.
US HISTORY – We may be lacking a little here although the boys were privy to many conversations where locals asked us, “What do you think of Trump?” Our final week will be spent in Washington D.C. so I am hoping for some last minute cramming since US History is a core part of the fifth-grade curriculum. They do, however, know all the words to “Hamilton.”
The second most popular question we get is “What do you do about the boy’s schooling?” Although our curriculum called for 20 minutes of math, 20 minutes of reading, and 20 minutes of journaling each school day, I am confident they learned so much more this past year and are ready to move to the next grade. I am hopeful their teachers will feel the same. They still have problems answering the most popular question we get, “What is your favorite country?“