Dare I say…
We're back at it this “homeschooling thing”. And dare I say, this may be the first year I actually have any sort of clue what I'm doing?
I probably shouldn't confess that considering I am my child's teacher, but heck man, it's the truth. Years ago I sat wide-eyed, paralyzed in fear, at the idea of having my children at home with me all day, every day. Overcome with dread at the idea of it all, I called a listening ear to vent before she offered some incredibly practical advice for me:
“Focus on raising the type of children you want to be around. The rest will come.”
I've given much thought, prayer, and study to the idea of education (what is it? who is for? what should it look like? what's the point of it all?) these past few years. Coupled with our wonderful Classical Conversations community, and focusing on raising children I enjoy being around, dare I confess how excited I am? And how much fun I'm having?
I'm LOVING THIS.
Part of the joy in our homeschooling is that it's family specific. What's valuable to us? What do we want them to learn? What do we want to focus on? How do we want to shape our school time? What freedom there is in that! This is a food, garden, and farming centered blog, but allow me to spill my guts on our homeschooling routine anyway, please?
It's worth noting, before school each day, I make the kids do chores and tend to the family and the farm. They help feed animals, clear the table, put away clean dishes, do laundry, make beds, clean their bedrooms, brush hair and teeth, and put on clean clothes. Classical music and a diffuser of essential oils certainly help the attitudes.
Our Current Curriculum:
1. We are a part of a Classical Conversations community. This year, we're working through Cycle 1:
– Ancient Empires. There are three cycles total and that are continually repeated. Our Classical Conversations memory work and activities cover:
– Geography: We memorize geography locations to song and spend time tracing maps, studying about the civilizations that have lived there, molding and painting salt dough maps of the locations, etc.
– Latin: We memorize words and declensions to song each week so they can better understand grammar and language.
– English: We memorize English facts (ie: What is a preposition?) to song.
– History Timeline: We memorize the entire history of the world to song (ie: Creation and the fall, The Flood and the Tower of Babel, Mesopotamia and Sumer, Egyptians…) I'll be honest – it's my favorite song to sing. Even the 4 year old knows it.
– Math: Based on the principles of memory work, the kids learn their “skip counting” and math facts to song as well.
– Science: I'm not “big” on science curriculum because we live on a working farm and our environment is like a giant science laboratory, but I do have the kids memorize science facts each week to song (ie: What are the classifications of living things?).
2. We teach our children to read and write using Explode the Code books. It's worked well for both Georgia and Owen thus far and is simple to implement for the “normal” Mom.
3. Handwriting is practiced by writing a sentence or two each day on a posterboard. The kids present these posterboards at our community day (Friday) in front of their peers which also gives them public-speaking exposure. I allow them to pick a subject (ie: spiders) and then they'll draw pictures and write full sentences about them. At this point, I write out the sentences and then they copy them to ensure they're punctuated and spelled correctly. After they can write normal confidently, we “upgrade” to cursive using free worksheets you can download online.
4. Art and History are studied extensively because frankly, I love both subjects. We choose an artist every two weeks and read articles, imitate art, and watch videos to understand them better. Monet is still our favorite (go figure).
5. Math is Eureka Math, which can be printed out and worked through.
6. Second Language: French is without a doubt my favorite subject. We've joined up with a fellow homeschooling family and each Wednesday we gather around our kitchen table to speak French together (immersion style). I don't speak French (though I'm learning!) and have found TalkBox.mom subscription boxes and books to be my very favorite resource.
7. Music: Piano, baby. Sorry kids. I'm willing to be the mean Mom who forces her kids to play piano because music is a language all it's own and learning to read it is a lifelong gift that I'm forcing them to accept. Once they can read, they're put into lessons with a local teacher.
I know it sounds like a lot. But at this stage, it's about ten minutes of “lesson” planning the night before and three hours (give or take) each day. A year ago, the idea of covering this amount would've floored me. But as with all things parenting, it's a progression that starts slow and grows each year. It's taken me three years to get this far. So be gentle on yourself.
The schoolroom isn't finished (is anything ever?) as we save up to replace the old window and glass door, but for the first time in our three years of homeschooling, we have a proper space to facilitate the day – which is good timing, considering Georgia and Owen are in need of proper schooling this year. Hear the cry of every homeschooling mom: “I've been pregnant or nursing for the last seventeen million years and it always interrupts the school year.” But not this year! No, sir. Time and effort are put into planning the day's events and all the children participate, according to their skill level. Stuart and I, by God's great mercy, are able to tag-team teaching – each taking subjects that either interest us or come more naturally than others.
Guess who has two thumbs and doesn't like teaching math? (*This girl*)
French on the other hand? S'il vous plaît!
(That means PLEASE!)
(I just learned that last month.)
(I'm a really great French teacher. Cough.)
(Good thing I love learning.)