Note: Over the next week, I’m going to take you with me on a meander through my day. No two days look alike around here, but this will give you a glimpse on my daily rituals of cherishing life. I do this very imperfectly. I would love to hear about your own rituals in the comments. And don’t forget to check out my favorite resources on the bottom of these posts.
I have talked a lot about homeschooling and how we do it. I don’t have any advice to share. This is only our 9th year of official homeschooling. I have 12 more after this, so I’m not even at the half way mark. I can’t say I’ve been highly successful in measurable ways. But, this series is about cherishing life, not perfecting it. So, here are a few ways, I’m trying to slow down and enjoy our school day:
Bible and History Time
One question I get asked by people who do not homeschool is how to do it with four different grades. My first answer is that is is more home than school. It doesn’t look a lot like a traditional classroom. Another answer is that I have learned to integrate as many subjects as possible for all of us to do at once.
This year, we are doing Bible and History together and the two subjects are related. This will be the third year we have done this, and it works extremely well for us. We gather around the table and do some Bible memory work: books of the New Testament and verses in Romans right now. Next, I read a passage of Scripture or we take turns reading it or I summarize it and tell it in story form with application. We’re going through the Gospels and the Life of Jesus this year. Then, I read our history lesson from real books, not textbooks. Right now, we’re studying the history of the Roman Empire alongside the concurrent time in history of Jesus’ life here on Earth. It is very interesting and makes the Bible come alive in a new way. We work on notebook pages to create a notebook of what we learned at the end of the year. This may be a map or a worksheet comparing Old Testament prophecies with their New Testament fulfillment or coloring a picture of Augustus Caesar and his life at home. The older ones can go more in depth than the younger ones.
I love this time of day. I would homeschool just for this if I could. Sure, there are mornings when everyone is grumpy or someone doesn’t want to read or one child picks on another or a drink dumps all over the school work. But, during this time in the last week, we have discussed the Oregon shootings and Twin Towers, what standing up for Jesus may look like for us as a family, how the sovereignty of God plays into tragedy, how God views divorce in light of the Romans’ casual attitude towards marriage, exactly why Herod was such a tyrant and how God orchestrated Christ’s birth to align with the alignment of three planets which looked like a bright star and led the wise men to Him. Most of these topics weren’t in the lesson, nor were they topics I brought up. They were just borne of questions asked by the children and discussed by all of us, even the newly-turned five-year-old.
Our Learning Cycle
When our Bible time is finished, everyone separates for their individual work. I work with my youngest, who is in kindergarten and needs more time with me directly. His curriculum integrates Phonics, Reading, History and Science. I also field questions from the other two boys as they do their Math and English worksheets. There is no set order, but the three of them cycle through the following as the computer and the piano are available: practice piano, science class and projects on the computer for all three, math on DVD for my 8th grader, spelling practice and test on the computer for my 5th grader and individual assignments in language arts and math. When I’m done with our youngest, he pretty much only has piano left. Then, I check with each of the older ones to see what they have completed and if they need any additional help from me or any tests administered. If someone finishes earlier, they read books from our reading basket, read with me, play educational games on the Kindle, build with Legos or start a game of chess with someone else who is finished.
As you can see, we set up our homeschool to gradually make the students work more and more independently. I’m busy all morning, but I’m not standing up lecturing on each of the 26 core subjects my 4 children take (Bible, History, Science, Math, English and Reading for each of them plus Spelling for the middle two.) Integration and independent learning are the keys to enjoying this homeschool life.
The extracurricular subjects like P.E., Home Economics, Health, Typing, Art, Drama, etc. are taught either through our co-op or library classes we attend or in real life ways. A few of examples of real life learning: a brisk walk after breakfast or a tennis game at the park for P.E., getting everyone in the kitchen to cook a meal together or cleaning together for Home Economics, and field trips around our area for state history.
If you homeschool, your day won’t look exactly like ours. If you don’t homeschool, you still may be able to use a few elements of our day. I could list a ton of resources, but I’ll include our favorites and current ones below.
Resources for Home Learning:
BJU Press for Math and Language Arts
My Father’s World for Integrated Bible, History, Music and Art through real books and a few textbooks
Apologia Science – The curriculum included in My Father’s World for younger ones and what we’re using for 7th and 8th grade. We may possibly use it for high school as well.
Faber Piano Adventures for Piano/Music
Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell
Starfall – For early reading and to educate younger ones while working with older ones
Spelling City – Students can enter in their own spelling lists, play games to learn the words and take their test which is graded and printed out for their record.
Math Drills – We don’t use Math-U-See, but these drills are available free online for anyone to practice basic math facts.
Skrafty – A long list of classes available online to use with the popular educational Minecraft game. Classes can be purchased individually or you can buy a subscription to access all of the classes.