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).
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.
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).
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:
- Language arts
- Language arts
- Unit study
- Language arts
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!