How We Homeschool: Mom of 15 Shares the Details

So…as I have promised, here is how we are doing it.

Please keep in mind, this is only a snapshot. If you took a picture of how we did it 20 years ago, you may have not recognized it as the same thing. We have adapted according to the people, the times, and our level of understanding (just like with anything else).

Also, please understand this is simply a sketch. I don’t believe life will allow these plans to go forward as smoothly as they look on paper. The idea is to have something in place I can refer to on those days when circumstances jumble my brain (I’m sure you know what I am talking about).

(Psst: If you want to see more photos like the one above, make sure to visit the Galleries page here).

DAILIES:

Bible.

After three decades of homeschooling, I’ve come to realize that any time spent encouraging my children in the Lord and introducing truth into their lives is never wasted. This is not something that is tacked on, this is the backbone and the meat of our day together.

I think the straight-forward way is the best. We take a consecutive chapters in the book of the Bible we are reading, split it up evenly, and take turns reading it aloud, with loads of discussion and investigation with dictionaries, commentaries, maps, and a Greek and Hebrew lexicon.

Along with this, we will be having prayer and taking the time to sing some hymns together (this is one of the girls’ favorite things).

I also have the children either copy and/or memorize our current verse(s). Sometimes I give them something from my own list, something the Holy Spirit puts on my heart. Other times we follow one of the many lists compiled by various blogging moms (here is one that is both monthly and topical).

We skip this part on Sunday morning (our “Tuesday” due to Daddy’s work schedule) because we go to church on that day.

Languages learning.

Right now we are using English from the Roots Up. I write two Greek and/or Latin words (and their English composites) on the board for copywork. We then discuss them briefly and I do a little mini quiz on the words we learned previously.

We may be alternating this with a dose of Korean, namely learning the alphabet and basic numbers (foreign languages are part of the culture of our home–we are always going around spouting off words and bits of phrases wherever we learn them just for fun, and two of the girls are seriously learning Korean and planning for a possible trip there).

Arithmetic.

This season the youngest four will be using Hamilton’s Arithmetics. I happened upon these beauties while researching Strayer-Upton math. They are to math what Long’s Language is to grammar; gradual, gentle, fun, absolutely something Charlotte Mason and Dr. Moore would have relished.

As I was preparing these I found lots of kinesthetic exercises suggested, such as climbing a flight of stairs while counting by two’s, which will delight my eight-year-old. There are also practical story problems and real-life math interspersed throughout. I’m actually pulling my 15-year-old out of Saxon algebra to do the seventh and eighth grade portions, which will give her a great foundation in personal finance.

These books each cover multiple grades. To save on printer ink I have split them up and printed out only what each child will need for the year, and the oldest will be accessing her text on a tablet via the Google books reader. These little books are the results (you can find out how to print and bind old books here in this post).

The oldest is beefing up on math with an emphasis on business via the Net. She has developed an interest in economics and hopes to study further in an institution of higher learning.

We will be using graph composition books for the written portions of the pages (they are not split up into lessons). There is a lot of oral work, too, so I will be spending a few minutes with each person to help them “get their lessons” as they used to in the one-room schoolhouse days.

Language Arts and Content.

If you are like me, there are a kazillion things you would like to cover with your children, but never enough time to cover them all! I spent some time making lists of all the wonderful adventures I would like to go on with the girls while I could, but trying to find a way to stuff them into a very busy day made me want to hyperventilate.

Soooo…..I am alternating. One week we will be concentrating on language arts, and the next week we will be concentrating on content (you know, those “subjects” that all interact with each other, such as science, history, geography, etc.), and then language arts, and then a full-blown unit study.

Every six weeks or so, we will be having a week or two of “auto-didact.” This is also known as “delight-directed learning,” “independent study,” or even “unschooling.” During this season the children will be let loose to learn on their own and I will be the facilitator, recording what they do and discover after-the-fact. I believe this is just as legitimate as anything else we do together.

This is how it looks in a nutshell:

  1. Language arts
  2. Content
  3. Language arts
  4. Unit study
  5. Language arts
  6. Content
  7. Autodidact
  8. Repeat

Specifically, language arts will look like this:

  • Everyone will be doing a McGuffey’s lesson on the first day of the week (except for dictation). On the second through the fourth day they will be doing:
  • A Long’s Language lesson. This is for the eight and ten-year-old
  • A Harvey’s Grammar lesson. This is for the 13-year-old (you can find the free Google books version here).
  • A portion of “Story Writing” (a little program I invented using materials I had on hand to focus on all the elements of writing a good story). This is for the 15-year-old.
  • The oldest is reading and writing on her own at a graduate level (thanks to the McGuffey readers and Harvey’s grammar), so no plodding or prodding necessary here!

And, I will be reading aloud from good literature daily, with a poetry study once a month.

What will I be reading?

For one thing, I want to read a story, poem or something else from William Bennett’s Book of Virtues.

We also might like to read a novel, such as Little Men, Adam of the Road, or some other good classic, either from our own shelves or from the library.

There are some really good stories and poems included in some sets of books we own, namely, The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls, and My Book House, so I will be taking advantage of them. Actually, there is so much excellent material included. In fact, if I had to homeschool on a deserted island I would take a Bible, Hamilton’s Arithmetics, and these sets of books (they also include nature, science, art, music, crafts and games, and history).

For another fun twist, the children will be doing “handicraft” while I am reading to them. This will include direct arts, such as sketching and watercoloring. It will also incorporate textile arts such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, and embroidery. We have a whole box of plastic beads and another box full of Sculpey that will keep hands busy creating.

Then…the next week we will be concentrating on content.

First, it will be Bible. There will be some scripture memory, prayer, and then we will delve more deeply into doctrinal issues, world-religion comparisons, apologetics, etc.

We will also be enjoying more Greek and Latin roots as on the language arts week.

Next, there will be some arithmetic, since this is a new program for us this year and some are doing a lot of review.

Finally, we will begin to dig in deep. I will be reading aloud. This could be from a historical novel to an Usborne guide. We will be pulling out atlases, almanacs, going online, watching video (via YouTube, Netflix, etc.) and doing some experiments.

Then, to pull it all together, we will be doing some notebooking pages in our composition book on days 1-4, with day two being devoted to nature journaling.

The third type of week we will be enjoying will be devoted to unit studies.

This time we will not be doing any Greek or Latin. We will go straight from Bible to arithmetic, then dig an delve deeply into one very interesting subject. I am planning our first unit study to be the week surrounding “Constitution Day” in September. I have all sorts of things planned, including memorizing the preamble, reading about the history of the formation of the Constitution, and reading the entire document aloud.

The final type of week we will be enjoying together will be “auto-didact.”

This is one of the best ways to prevent burn out, both for kids and mom.

We will still spend some time reading a Bible story out loud with some discussion, but other than that the kids are free to explore as they see fit (within boundaries, and they will not be allowed to veg on electronic devices).

I have seen so many marvelous things happen during these times. Children learned to swim, bicycle, and embroider. They found toads and dragonflies (and other bugs which ended up in plastic baggies in the freezer). They learned to bake banana bread and make stir-fry. They started speaking Korean and designing book covers and logos. They wrote poetry and studied the anatomical proportions artists use.

Besides, it gives mom a rest. Yes, I really do have an entire household to take car of! If I can have a few days just to enjoy the children, not as their teacher, but as their co-discoverer, it replenishes me, it charges my battery!

To pull it all together, I have created this updated version of my assignment sheets.

(you can find the former, still very useful, version here).

If you like, you can download the pdf version here to use as you wish 🙂

Oh, and I also have a pdf of my homeschool plans (including the outlines in the images above, book and resources lists) that you will receive in this week’s email message (make sure and subscribe!).

25 thoughts on “How We Homeschool: Mom of 15 Shares the Details

  1. Wow. I am astonished by your enthusiasm and your management skills. Super MOM!

    What would you want to tell a mom who has always wanted to have a very large family? CHEERS.

    Kelly

    • Thank you, Kelly! I think what I would want to say is Psalm 127–let God do the building and just hang on for the wild ride 😉

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! This is especially helpful to me as I live in Asia and have no access to libraries, garage sales, or used book sales and having a curriculum shipped is too expensive. If it weren’t for public domain books, I don’t know how I’d home school! I think I almost fit the homeschooling on a deserted Island scenario, only my Island is surrounded by a mega city instead of nature.

  3. Oh, I subscribed a while ago but am still not receiving any of your weekly email messages. Do you know why? I’ve been checking my spam folders as well.

  4. You said if you had to home school on a deserted Island you’d take these two sets of books: The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls and My Book House. What’s the difference between the two? If you had to choose one set, which one? Is a certain year better than another? I noticed there are several editions for both sets. We had a set when I was growing up and I loved looking through them. I would like to try and get a set for my own kids.

    • I think for your situation, Bonny, I would choose the Bookshelf for Boys and Girls. I don’t think it matters a whole lot as to what edition, although I think the set I own is about 1963. I hope you find a good one!

  5. Have you talked about Harvey’s anywhere else? I have Harvey’s Elementary. I started it a few years ago with the oldest, but it seemed too early. It wasn’t sticking so we stopped and decided to wait. For myself, I really didn’t begin to understand grammar until high school. I was curious if you felt that Harvey’s would still be a good fit for high schoolers that haven’t formally learned grammar. I think you mentioned it in your book. I’ll be checking there, too. Thanks!

    • I have had great success with Harvey’s in high school, it begins pretty much at the beginning, so I don’t think it is necessary to have any prior grammar experience.

  6. Love this!! I’ve been subscribed to your email for quite awhile but didn’t receive anything extra containing a PDF. How do I get that?

        • Yes, it was sent out. If you missed it, I can send it directly to your email. Just use my contact form and send me a brief email explaining your problem (so I will remember) and I’ll send it to you directly.

  7. How do the Hamilton’s Math compare to Ray’s? Did you print them out from the links that you posted in the blog. I really like the look of the Hamiltons!

    • We used Ray’s for a number of years, and I still recommend them highly. However, I think the Hamilton’s may have a little bit of an edge in the way the practical is interwoven and the word problems are a little easier to decipher. I also like how there is so much review and the exercises are varied and interesting. The one drawback is this might not be good for those who crave routine. The children in our house are all girls, so their natural creativity makes this method perfect for them, but it just may have been a disaster for a few of my easily distracted boys, just not sure because I don’t have the privilege of trying it on them:)

  8. I have previously used Rod & Staff with my boys but I’m intrigued by this math curriculum. My 9 year old is quick at math but needs reading practice. Do you think it would be practical to start him at the beginning and just see how he does? I don’t want him to be bored but as a later reader I think perhaps the reading will challenge and help him. Thoughts on going”backwards”? Thanks Sherry! I feel like your words bless me so deeply! The simplicity and joy you apply to homeschooling is exactly what I desire for my family. Thanks for being obedient to share!!!

    • Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Jesse. Actually, it might be a double-whammy to put a person struggling to read in a new math book that requires a lot of reading. My thought is that it may turn a boy who is excited about math into a boy who hates both math and reading 🙁 No worries. This math is efficient and once he gets better at reading he could zoom through it and feel like a real winner!

  9. I loved seeing your weekly schedule. Could you share a little more about your daily schedule? How do you divide your reading time between different age groups?

    • Well, I actually have a number of different ways to divide that read-aloud time. My favorite is to read to the two youngest either at night before they go to bed or just before they have quiet time in the afternoons (which is less and less as they are getting older). At this time they are settled and more ready to listen and take things in. They are also required to sit while I read to their older siblings, and I am sure they catch things here or there, but having their own special time with books I may have already read to the older set makes them feel special and connected with me.

  10. I just love your blog. I am so grateful for all of your wisdom in homeschooling simply! I have a question. What do you use to learn Korean. I am half Korean and wanted to begin a simple instruction of Korean with my kids. I would love to know what you use.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing about Hamilton’s Arithmetic. It appears to be just what I’ve been looking for. I started out with Ray’s and felt I needed more guidance and purchased the new Math for a Living Education but after working through that still felt I was missing something. Too much was being required of me having littles underfoot and this just seems to bring it all together and make things a little easier on me.

    • I’m so glad this helped, Jessica. The children and I are all enjoying Hamilton’s so far. The lessons are short and sweet, but pretty thorough considering. This last week we played the games recommended in one of the second grade lessons and my 8yo had a blast (it was just the right amount of challenge for her mixed with enough fun that she didn’t complain much). Amazing how much they knew about children in 1917!

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