We’ve been in school for a month now, and have worked some things out. Overall, I think things are going well, even if our schedule is somewhat unorthodox (more on that later, this post is already epic in length).
This year we’re doing Classical Conversations, a homeschool co-op that covers a wide range of subjects and meets once a week. I’m teaching the class Hannah and Jack are in, which has its challenges, but overall I think the program is giving us what we needed, namely:
- A group of kids the children can identify with as also being homeschooled and learning similar things
- A good motivator to do science projects, which I would otherwise avoid
- A good “spine” for history, in that the group learns over 200 timeline events spanning all of history each year (the Veritas Press timeline cards), plus takes a more in-depth look at 1/3 of that with weekly memory work (this year our group is doing the final third, so we started with Columbus)
No group is perfect and I’m really not a method person, so we are supplementing the Classical Conversations material liberally with Charlotte Mason type things like short lessons, living books, copywork, and talking about ideas rather than just facts. Some of the other things we’re doing include:
- Reading: We are taking a break from Explode the Code and both big kids are working in The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. Even though Hannah was reading on her own without a reading text, I think she missed a lot of phonics rules when we were using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (nothing against that book, it did teach Hannah to read, but it’s not a phonics program) and I wanted to make sure she didn’t overlook something. Each child reads in the OPG for 15 minutes a day, and then whatever free reading they want. Sarah is learning the alphabet and letter sounds.
- Literature: We are reading through Around the World on 80 Legs, which is a book of poetry about animals from different regions. We also read from a Mother Goose anthology every day (we have a big collection), and we read a tale from Aesop (for Classical Studies) and some sort of fairy tale or folk tale or Brer Rabbit tale or tall tale. We read lots of other books too as the fancy strikes us. Every night we read a few chapters from a chapter book as a family. Some nights Josh reads to us out of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and some nights I read some chapters from a chapter book (fiction) that corresponds to what we’re learning about in history.
- History: As mentioned above, we read chapter books tied to our history section (this gives the kids a better depth of knowledge about the time period, and helps them to think more deeply about it), and we also read picture books about that time period as I can find them in the library. This year I purchased The Story of the World on audio and the kids listen to the CDs during rest time. It amazes me how much history they are retaining and the connections they make between things. As I already mentioned, we are learning timeline events for chronological history, plus one in depth piece of history per week. We are also learning the US Presidents in order by song. I’ve never learned that, so it’s new to me too.
- Math: Hannah is blazing through Saxon 1 and doing a great job. To supplement that, I also got a CD of Addition facts songs that we listen to just about every day. Jack and Sarah are learning the addition facts too, as well as the skip counting memory work from Classical Conversations.
- Science: We have weekly memory work about the human body and chemistry for Classical Conversations, as well as a science experiment every week. Other than that, I bought Lyrical Life Science but I think it’s a little above the kids’ heads right now. So we’re reading our living books about science and spending time outdoors looking at bugs and nature and whatnot when we can.
- Geography: We are learning US geography this year, and each child has their own laminated US map, which we trace the outline of pretty much every day. We are learning the states and capitals by song, and every week we will add a few more. As we learn them, I outline those states on our dry erase map that you saw in the pictures of our school room. I never learned the states and capitals so I’m psyched to do this.
- Latin: We are using Prima Latina this year and taking it V-E-R-Y slow. Like two weeks on each lesson. I think that’s OK, and I want to make sure they really learn the material rather than blasting through it. We’ve learned some new vocabulary so far and part of a prayer in Latin. There is some Latin in Classical Conversations but not very much and not systematic enough to meet my goals for Latin.
- Handwriting: We are doing Charlotte Mason style copywork for Hannah. I write a selection for her on lined handwriting paper every day, and then she carefully copies it, trying to make her letters beautiful and well formed. Usually the sentence or passage is the history or English grammar memory work from Classical Conversations, or the Latin prayer we’re working on. She’s doing a great job with it, and I think it will really help her penmanship, which otherwise looks pretty rushed. I was going to start cursive this fall, but now I think I’ll wait until the spring or next fall. Jack is not very good at writing and can’t be bothered to make his letters perfectly, so I am letting go of that for now. He can write his name and other than that he’s just a boy who wants to be up and moving and really, he’s barely four so there is no rush.
- Fine Arts: There is a fine arts component in Classical Conversations but I really want to get into doing Charlotte Mason style picture study. I have not found the time so far to get into it, but it’s on the list (maybe these kits?). We do read living books about artists and their art, and we look at books of paintings by famous artists. I’m not good at crafty things, so the kids only rarely make crafts. They will probably need therapy later in life for their dire lack of craft memories. Oh, and Hannah is taking ballet this fall.
- Bible: We got a great CD of the First Catechism set to music and the kids are LOVING it. Hannah had memorized most of the catechism by the end of last school year, but Jack and Sarah had not made a ton of progress. Then we got this CD and the next thing I knew Jack had the first 45 questions memorized! It’s awesome and I highly recommend it. We are also continuing to read through the Jesus Storybook Bible and Big Picture Bible and memorizing Romans 8.
In Thursday’s post I’ll talk more about our unorthodox schooling schedule and how I’m working 40 hours a week and homeschooling and not going crazy. Or at least not much crazier than I already was. 🙂
“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” and, overall, life is good in our homeschool.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. A veritable plethora of them, in fact.