Thursday, September 1, 2011

Homeschooling works for me!

 I know homeschooling isn't for every family but it works well for ours and I am getting excited about starting another school year. I love the fact that our family doesn't have to split up for learning to happen, that the kids' books and learning can all have a christian world view, and that we can shelter our children from much of the nastiness that is happening in our world and that we can have more time to work and minister together.

   I have been having fun looking figuring out all the books that we are going to use this year and the activities I hope to do. I'll be honest I don't even begin to get everything scheduled out that we are going to do during the year but I do figure out our basic books and then start looking for books and activities that would add to our learning that we can do together. Throughout the year more books and activities are added as we come across them. Our school year is fairly flexible (other than the basics) and I strive to have us do as much of our learning as possible together and in a fun way.

  Here are some of the books that we plan on using this year:
(I am trying to really make use of what we have on hand rather than going out and buying new books if possible. We will also use our library heavily.)

For Bible:
We are reading through the New Testament (generally one chapter a day) in the morning and the Old Testament (again usually one chapter but if we are engrossed in it we keep reading) after lunch. We also do scripture memory work in the morning and the older kids also do their own memorizing with the ACE curriculum and they do their own bible reading at nap times or at night.

For History:
I want to read aloud The Church in History (a book that I used in bible college but it is interesting, has pictures and I will read it in small sections and I think my kids will enjoy it.) and The Story of the Constitution by Sol Bloom and Lars Johnson. We have also been focusing on Jewish history lately. We have been reading aloud the All of a kind family books and also reading through the Old Testament. Our Jewish neighbor and friend recently loaned us The family treasury of Jewish Holidays and we are hoping to try celebrating some of them this year. Here is a Calendar of holiday dates that I found.

We will also be reading a bunch of biographies both together and on our own.

 For Math:
We are using Saxon Math for Mara, Jonathan and Aaron (87, 65 and ,3 respectively). For Megan I have some Work sheets and will be during other hands on math.

For Science:
We plan on reading aloud and doing together these books and hopefully more as we have a lot of fun ones on our shelf.
  • Science in the Creation Week (to be read and with hands on activities) by David Unfred
  • First Aid for Children Fast by the John Hopkins Children's Center (This is geared for performing first aid on children not necessarily for children to do first aid but it looks to be a well written book with interesting pictures and instructions and in my quest for my children to have a well rounded education I thought this would be valuable learning.)
  • Skin and Bones, a beginner's guide to your great insides by Joanne E. De Jonge
We also plan on doing various activities that help wiht our learning of science like: Beekeeping and study on that, watching videos, hopefully making soap, helping with cleaning fish and butchering chickens.

For English, Spelling and Vocabulary:
For Mara and Jonathan we have ACE workbooks (English and Word Building).  For Aaron and Megan we have a variety of workbooks and I will be working with them a lot on reading (Aaron still needs to get a lot better and I am hoping that Megan will learn how this year).

For Geography:
We are still studying through the countries of the world using a book on countries that we have and also books that we get from the library. We are just finishing up going through the countries of Oceania and are getting ready to study the countries of Africa. Another way we focus on geography is by reading together the Voice of the Martyrs publication, Prayer Point sent out by Samaritans Purse and Missionary letters that we recieve. We also talk about maps quite a bit. Eating and preparing ethnic foods is another way we enjoy learning about countries.

For Literature and creative writing:
I don't have books picked out yet but we try to read a lot of good books. Both me reading aloud and the older two on their own. Mara and Jonathan are voracious readers and so keeping ahead of them in supplying good books can keep me busy! We are just getting ready to order a new bunch from CBD and I am very thankful for the library that I put together when I was their age and all the books my parents have to borrow and for our public library.

As far as creative writing, Mara really enjoys this and does it on her own a lot (this summer she has written several lengthy poems and some stories) but I have been encouraging her in it more. She is working on a book that she tries to work on at least a couple of times a week where she spends time writing and researching. We have also found some essay contests for her to enter.

With the younger three we haven't focused on this much but I do have them write letters every so often and that gives them at least some writing experience.

For Home Ec:
This is something my kids learn a lot naturally and I won't go in to all of that but I did think about some goals that I would like to set for this year and they are that by the end of this year Mara will know how to make 4 different meals with no assistance from me, That Jonathan can do 2 and Aaron can make a simple one. I also want them to practice up more on their baking skills. I want to make progress on their ability to clean the house and maybe do laundry on their own.

For Art and Music:
This spring I started the boys and Megan on piano lessons along with Mara (I teach them) but then summer got busy and I just couldn't seem to keep that on the schedule. We hope to get that started again soon. The boys are also taking drum lessons from a friend and I am hoping to start teaching the girls violin soon as well. Though if we start feeling overwhelmed with too much I will happily cut back.

 We also make sure to sing pretty much every morning together.

I have lots of ideas for art and things I would like to do trying all sorts of different art mediums but at the moment I am not making any specific goals. We will just see what gets done.

For Foriegn Languages:
We are using Rosetta Stone for Latin American Spanish. We love it but took a break over the summer so we need to get it back in our schedule.

I would also love to learn American Sign Language and so I have been exploring routes to learn it as a family.


 Looking over what I wrote that looks like a ton of stuff but it really isn't overwhelming. Math, English, Reading and Word Building (spelling and vocabulary) are the basics that each child needs to do each school day (though if a vacation is needed we will take it- we love the flexibility of homeschooling!) and that is what they work on mostly by themselves or one on one with me during the morning of the school day. Megan and Aaron do not take all morning to do their work, they have time for playing too and sometimes the older kids can get done early as well.

After lunch we sit down together to read our books which includes History, Geography, Science, Bible and literature. Usually we do all of them a day but stuff like history and science will sometimes just be done for a while and then we will take a break. This time is totally a fun time for us, the kids will beg me to keep reading. We learn a lot but it doesn't feel like school work.

 Art, Music, Creative Writing, Languages, and Science activities usually get done in the afternoons as we have time. I do try to schedule the music lessons so they get done on a regular basis. Home Ec happens all of the time! :-)

  A side note.... I found out that I am not the only one excited about school starting. Megan had books out and we begging me to teach her both yesterday and today. This morning when Mara and Aaron's math books arrived Mara asked if she could do a lesson. Then the boys came in from playing baseball in the yard and announced that they wanted to do school work. I am glad they are eager!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. My husband and I are still contemplating homeschooling if/when we adopt our foster-children. It helps me to see how other homeschooling moms plan out their schooling because that is one of the scariest things for me - what to teach.

I also like how you talk about flexibility in teaching. I think that is important.


Becky R said...

Love this post. I love that you guys read so much together, this is so important for life. I also like how you are trying to use more of what you have.

How old are your kids?

I can see doing many of the same things with my 8 year old, but now that my son is in 8th grade we have to start getting ready to do all the things he will need to have on his transcript for college. It is daunting.

We are using Story of the World for History and Literature. We are using Math U See for math. And Apologia for science, the Astronomy book this year.

I am excited to start school. We are going to start Mon. the 19th with a field trip to The Franklin Institute in Philly, PA to see the Mummy exhibit since we are studying ancients in history this year. Although my sons have already done some lessons, on their own in their new books. They were excited to start as you kids were, so we sort of have strated yet. But when do we really ever stop learning?

Nola said...

Thank you for sharing this, I always find it very helpful and interesting to see what others are doing.

I have two questions- one is when (in general) have you found a good time to begin learning how to use the stove and oven with supervision (as in I am RIGHT say putting something in the oven or stirring a pot or flipping a pancake...simple things that can't really be a big issue...I am thinking stove top would be less hazardous than oven overall...any thoughts? My daughter, 5 1/2 is really eager. So far she helps a lot in the kitchen but hasn't done stuff like that really. What are some simple ways to start this with that age?

Also, have you ever dealt with a perfectionist in one of your children? I am a perfectionist, but I have had to learn to let a lot go (with God's help, and it certainly helped having children). I see it as a major character issue with my oldest (5 1/2) and she is so eager to learn and does so well at learning that I started homeschooling her (though not really formally) last year and this year we are continuing. However she gets so frustrated over such small things (especially when bored, which is a big issue for her since she is academically very advanced). I am trying to be patient and help her through this but she will for example start crying and throw her pencil if she does a letter wrong. Sometimes I just don't try to do stuff with her but she also really does NEED to do some "school" because of her boredom. She is at about a grade 1/2 level mostly but much higher with reading and writing. I didn't push her, she did this on her own and taught herself how to read very early. So I am willing to stop if it would help her but I don't know what to do...its hard to know what to do. Any thoughts?

Penny Lane said...

We really loved ASL as well, but found it hard to sustain a skilled teacher through the years. There is an on-line program that is quite good. I'll have to search for it again, but it is through a university. We also purchased a few DVDs through an ASL advocacy group in Idaho. They were specific praise and worship songs. The kids would practice those and then perform in church or elsewhere. They won the state 4-H talent show four years in a row using these DVDs and learned quite a bit in the process. I think Watch the Lamb by Ray Boltz is my absolute favorite. Blessings.

Katy~The Country Blossom said...

Homeschooling is such a joy, isn't it? I am so thankful for the freedom to do so! Best wishes on your homeschooling year!

Katy :)

Abbi said...

Sandra, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If it works out for you to homeschool I think you will really enjoy it! We do!

Becky, My kids are 5, 7, 10 and 11. You are so right that we never quit learning!

Nola, I think the oven can be challanging for a small person- my older two still sometimes have trouble getting things in and out but as long as they are careful I think they can help to stir a pot on the stove or flip some small pancakes when they are your daughters' age.
I haven't really dealt with a perfectionist in my children though my oldest son will sometimes get frusterated when things don't go right. I think just keep encouraging her and let her know that she should do her best but it doesn't have to be perfect. That is neat (though I can understand how it could be challanging) that she is so interested in learning. I wouldn't stop her natural desire to learn but at the same time don't let yourself get stressed either. I guess if it were my child I would let her know that if she is going to just get upset that we will have to do something else for the now (that is if she is really wanting to do it) or explain that we just can't react that way when things don't go right. I am dealing with some of that with my 5 year old too.

Penny Lane, Thanks for the ideas on learning ASL!

Thank you! I hope your year goes good as well!


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