Thursday, August 5, 2010


With the dawn of this new school year, I feel a jumble of emotions.  Granted, some could be blamed on my very pregnant state.  Some could be blamed on the fact in addition to the expected babe, I have a third grader and a first grader and a sort-of kindergartner and a toddler.  Some could be blamed on the fact that despite being homeschooled myself and teaching my own children for the past three years, I still feel so clueless about this whole process. 

Yet I proceed, knowing He guides our steps

Each year I crave more simplicity.  Craziness already abounds with six people, including three active boys, living in a tiny space so school time needs to be simple.  I often fear that we won't do enough-- that in my efforts to make things plain and straightforward and uncomplicated, I will somehow dumb down our learning.  And then when I gather papers and print pictures and make lists to compile the children's end-of-the-year portfolios, I am amazed at the great variety of all we have accomplished. 

I had decided not to share our school choices for this year, thinking it may make a boring read or even be a discouragement to some overwhelmed soul just starting the homeschool journey, but I had a change of heart.  Here's hoping this is a help, not a hindrance. 

This year, I plan to continue reading aloud from our Bible story book and having the children take turns telling the stories back to me (narration).  For Bible memory, we will together memorize Ecclesiastes 3 in the fall, pick up memorizing the Christmas story in December (we made great progress last year!) and work on Psalm 1 in the spring.  The little ones are included in this, too.  In fact, the younger ones seem to memorize the verses easier than anyone!

We plan to continue using Making Math Meaningful because the hands-on use of manipulatives has been a great fit for our family.   

Gavin has been a slow learner in the reading department, mainly because it doesn't interest him like math does.  But he can read well when he wants to.  He delights in the silly lessons of Explode the Code so he will continue working through the series.  Maddie despised Explode the Code so this summer, she and I worked through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  We are not quite finished with it, but she is thriving.  It is an especially good fit for her because many of the stories she has to read aloud involve animals.  About once a week, we plan to take a break from the routine and work on copywork or poetry, too. 

We will continue using TruthQuest for history.  It looks to be a very boy-ish, adventurous year, as we will be studying mountain men and the Sante Fe Trail  and the Gold Rush and the Pony Express and the Civil War.  I love TruthQuest because it is basically just a tremendous list of books for many chronological events in history.  It takes some discipline not to want to read it all, but it is a fabulous resource.  We read great literature and never have to touch a textbook!

Science is Gavin's favorite subject and also so very simple.  Each child keeps a nature journal.  They include drawings of things they see on nature walks or color copies of leaves they've collected or brief descriptions of animals they are interested in.  I've found that they do their best work when they are under no pressure. 

Art consists of displaying a different art print each month and taking a few minutes a week to study it and discuss it.  (We plan to study the works of Mary Cassatt and Norman Rockwell and Leonardo daVinci throughout the year.)  Music is listening quietly  to a great composition and learning a bit about the composer.  (We plan to listen to Johannes Brahms and John Philip Sousa and Handel's Messiah and several hymns.) 

Lest the lengthy paragraphs seem daunting or un-simple, let me reassure you that our days are short and uncomplicated.  We begin the morning with Bible and prayer.  We work on new memory verses on Monday and then review throughout the week-- no rushing.  Then we do what we call our "extra subject."  We spend anywhere from ten to thirty minutes on either art or music or nature study.  Though I would like to do more, it does not fit with this season on life. 

Next the littlest ones are released to go play while the older ones concentrate on phonics.  We set the timer for fifteen minutes and as long as there is no dilly-dallying, they can stop when they hear the beep.  Then it is on to math for about thirty minutes. 

Next we reconvene and everyone gathers on the couch for our history read aloud.  Since our reading consists of living books and much historical fiction, the little ones are required to at least sit nearby.  This often leads to a bit of non-school reading, too.  And then our day is done.  We are always done by lunchtime, and often before. 

Of course, learning is never done.  The children have had the opportunity over the years to participate in soccer and ballet and Christmas caroling and bird watches and the list goes on. Each opportunity is an opportunity to learn. 

What does your coming homeschool year look like?  I'd love to hear new ideas...and old ones, too!

Not Back to School Blog Hop


  1. I knew your day would look like this. I HEART your Homeschool!

  2. Your homeschool sounds quite varied and rich. I think all home educating moms, even without the barrage of hormones pregnancy brings, have doubts and insecurities. :-) I am convinced that by the time I feel I have a handle on what I'm doing, all my kids will be paying taxes and living in another state.

    I love the fact that you're a second generation homeschooler!

  3. I love reading your plan. It helps me feel more peaceful and settled not to see a huge long list of five thousand different curriculums and activities. I've been homeschooling for a long while now, and I even overwhelm myself at the start of each new year! Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Do you teach the phonetic writing that is included with the "Teach Your Child..." lessons? BB HATES writing, and I'm wondering if that part of the lesson is really necessary.

  5. No, we do not do the writing part. Maddie writes a little on her own and our main goal right now is reading so we'll concentrate on writing later.

  6. Oh, I think your school plan sounds delightful...simple perhaps, but delightful indeed! The joys of home learning!

  7. I came here from a comment you left on Elise's blog...

    And, can I just say one thing? I have loved this post and I think your day is simply delightful! Thank you for sharing it.


  8. and, just one more thing? I LOVE your get acquainted page...


    What are the ages of your little ones?

  9. Awesome! Thanks for sharing and being honest about the time-frames. I often hear homeschoolers talk about school from 8am to 3pm and I always scratch my head. My homeschool days looked much like this. We were almost always done by noon. I also love that mix and match and use what works for *your* kids. Do you have any preschool recommendations?
    Also love your comment about how the writing comes later. Reading is the key to *everything*.


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