Monday, January 5, 2015

How We Homeschool

Autumn and Parker Carving Pumpkins

This fall we started our 10th year of homeschooling.  It has gone so fast!  Through the years we have tried a little bit of everything....Abeka, Pathways, Rod and Staff, ACE and various other resources.  I have come to the conclusion that:
  1. Whatever you are using is just a tool.  Don't get caught up in becoming a task master, enjoy the process.
  2. No curriculum is perfect.  We are imperfect parents trying to teach imperfect children from a resource that was created from imperfect people.  To expect perfection is setting ourselves up for failure.
  3. Enjoy the journey.  You only get to travel it once.  I have learned so much right along with my children.  Go with the flow.  Does it really matter if they fill out that 120th fill in the blank?
We always start our day with Circle Time around the Breakfast table.     

This year we have a freshman in high school, and 8th grader, a child in 2nd grade, one in 1st, one in kindergarten, one in preschool and a toddler.  With such a wide range of learning, this is a nice way to start our morning together before everyone scatters.

During this time we study or review a Bible verse or passage and read a short Bible story.  We are going to begin using the New City Catechism.  I plan on writing about the benefits of using a catechism in the next few weeks.

During this time we also go over nature study topics, artists, composers and seasonal topics.  If things are going well, I also try to sneak in a chapter from a fun read aloud or picture book.

Here are a few of the resources we use.  We don't have anything set in stone, but we always try to incorporate the Bible and one of these resources into our morning. 

We have enjoyed all of their books.  Simple and straight forward, and easy for your children to understand what is being taught.

This simple book also has a coloring book that can be purchased.  I have one of the books that I read from and the Littles each get their own coloring book. (This is a resource I just use for the Littles. )

There are 125 books in this collection, but you can buy them individually.  They are colorful and fun to read.

Walking stick Sam.

Nature Study

We usually read or look over a book that followings along with our weekly theme or season.  Sometimes we watch a short video.  But, starting this year I would like to try something different.  There is a wonderful wooded park across the street from where we recently moved.  It has plenty of wildlife and plants and trees to discover.  My plan is for us to visit this area every Friday afternoon and watch it through the seasons.  We can record what we find in a nature journal, and when we come across something new we can look it up together.

Composer Study

I love it when my children hear classical music and they say "Mom, is that Bach?"  Thrills my soul!  I love classical music, and I love even more that my children are learning and appreciating it.  This has all come from our morning time Composer Study, as well as listening to fun music like Beethoven's Wig in the van. 

Artist Study

Last year we had a very specific plan for our Artist study.  But, I wanted to lighten things up a bit and get away from sitting at the table as long.  Adding time together reading books has become a focus in our day.  I thought it would be fun to learn the illustrators that bring our favorite stories to life.


I don't really have a specific style of homeschooling.  I really enjoy a lot of Charlotte Mason's suggestions, and probably would identify myself more with her than anyone.  I wrote about her here.
This book A Charlotte Mason Companion has been a real help to me.

But, there are weeks when we unschool, and I really enjoy the natural rhythm and hands on activities  associated with Waldorf and Montessori.  Maybe I'm just confused, but either way, I believe it works well for us.

Because of this, I don't use a 'box' curriculum.  We are able to mix and match to suit each child's individual needs, while making sure they get the information they need.

We note booking, when appropriate.  This corresponds with our Nature Study, Composer and Art Study.  We use Explode the Code for our Phonics, and really love it!  Life of Fred has become our favorite math curriculum.  I also purchase workbooks from the store (Meijer, Walmart, etc.) for building math skills, writing practice and thinking skills.  These are inexpensive workbooks, but work great for the basics.

We use Christian Liberty Nature Readers. for science.

I can't finish this post without mentioning the Public Library.  Literally one of my favorite places!  I have to admit that at least one of our family members visits the library 3-4 times a week.  We rely heavily on real books (as opposed to textbooks) for our home.  

In the coming weeks I would like to share with you the schedules and curriculum for each child.  I can then be a little more specific.  This post is getting long already :)

Real Life Learning

Before you click away, I want to mention one more thing.  My husband and I believe that book learning is good, but real life is better.  You can't beat hands on, one on one with real people, places and things.  Put the books aside, get in the car and go!  There is so much to see and do.  My husband and three of our boys have just returned from a trip to Philadelphia.  What history!  They attended the church that Ben Franklin and George Washington attended.  They sat in President Washington's seat for the service.  The pictures and video of the church were awesome.  My boys won't forget that.  But, I am pretty sure they would have glazed over it if it was in their textbook pages jumbled in with all the other stuff.  Don't get me wrong, textbooks can be good.  But, use them as the resource they are.

We attended a conference and dinner with The Duggar's from 19 Kids and Counting.  What a fun experience to be part of something bigger than ourselves!  The conference was for the Heartbeat Bill which would not allow an abortion after the detection of the babies heartbeat.  Being able to see the legislative process first hand is amazing.  Something, I am embarrassed to admit, I didn't really understand until we became involved and started studying.

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