Our Simple Homeschool Days

Our fourth week of homeschool is underway. School days have fallen into a nice rhythm and I’ve been constantly reminded how blessed I am to get to stay home with my children and teach them.

I’ve looked forward to homeschooling since I was a teenager roaming the halls of curriculum conferences and making mental lists of curriculum to revisit when I had kids someday. Now I get to do it.

Homeschooling is more challenging, more fun, more patience-demanding, and more rewarding than I ever dreamt.

We’re following a mostly classical approach, with a strong emphasis on stories (aka Charlotte Mason) with plenty of time to develop their imaginations and “just be kids”.

Here’s a peek into our incredibly simple, but fun, homeschool days.

Painting a map of ancient EgyptMy online search for a large Bible map was futile, so we painted one. (I was going to paint it myself, but this post inspired me to include the kiddos in *my* projects. The map turned out incredible!) 

While the children finish their breakfast, I read aloud to them, straight from the Bible. My goal is to read through the majority of the stories each year, roughly following the church calendar.

Once a week, they attend a Classical Academy and get to learn things that I’m not at all good at (like music, art, and Latin) and do things that are extra fun in a group, like science experiments and history activities.

The other days, the kids line up to recite the Apostle’s Creed and sing a song or two.

After all of five minutes, everyone is dying of thirst, so we take a water break. Parched mouths sated, we sit down around the little school room table to start our “memory hour”.

Memory Hour: 

  • Scripture Memory:  Last year at the Academy, Rose was challenged to learn two verses from Psalms a week. I didn’t think it was possible. It is! Rose and Will can both recite Psalm 1-7, plus many other verses. It’s amazing what a child can learn if you just work on it a few minutes a day! Each day, we review the Psalms and other Scripture passages we’ve already learned using a memory jar, then work on the next passage. We’re continuing through the Psalms this year, though adding in a few additional Scripture passages.
  • Latin: With the resurgence in classical education, Latin-learning has regained popularity. I know all the arguments in favor of Latin, like “English is based on Latin” (around 90% of words with more than two syllables stem from it) and “What English is now, Latin was for almost two millennia”, but what convinced me most of it’s worthwhileness was something Joshua said on a lovely ice cream date in the park (and I paraphrase) “How many children in America actually master a second language well enough to use it? Often it just fades into the back of their brains. Of all the languages to ‘be in the back of a child’s brain’ what better language than Latin?” My good friend Peggy teaches Latin at the Academy and is working on the best Latin curriculum* for kids ever. It’s complete with picture flashcards and engaging Latin stories. During our “memory hour” at home, we review a set or two of flashcards and occasionally listen to Mater Anserina, a beautifully translated collection of Mother Goose rhymes.
  • Poetry:  Still seated around our little school room table, we review and work on poetry. Just like with Scripture memory, I’ve been utterly surprised and pleased with how quickly children can master poems if you just work a little each day. Currently, they’re memorizing Little Things and The Swing.  (I’m almost done compiling an elementary poetry curriculum for my kiddos….more on that soon!)
  • History: This year we’re studying Creation through the Fall of Rome, roughly following Veritas Press’ Ancient Egypt & Old Testament and New Testament, Greece, and Rome outlines. At the Academy, I get to help tell history stories and do history-themed activities. During our memory hour at home, we just listen to the timeline song (with optional worksheets and activities after lunch).
  • Other memory: We usually use up all our time, but if there’s extra, the kids love listening to “memory songs”, like these.

Math

My friend Kathryn introduced us to the Life of Fred math books. We are hooked! The tagline of the series is Math: as serious as it needs to be. Instead of tears and endless hours of copy work, we’re reading stories of Fred, a five-year-old Math professor, and the myriad of ridiculous ways he uses math every day.

We started with the very first book, Apples. In the first three weeks, we’ve laughed and giggled our way through sets, basic algebra terminology, geometric shapes, cardinal numbers, and time-telling, plus basic addition and subtraction.

So far, the concepts have been simple enough that the short drills (aka Your Turn to Play sections) have been sufficient practice. If we ever need more, I’ll use worksheets from Math-U-See or Kahn Academy.

Reading James Herriot's Treasury for Children My cheesy students, reading James Herriot’s Treasury for Children—a sweet and highly recommended collection of veterinary stories

Until this point in our day, we do the schoolwork together. Even Meg enjoys sitting in on the memory and math time, and has picked up so much just by listening and trying to follow along. (Edmund’s attempts at participation are cute, but admittedly distracting. Thankfully he still takes an nice morning nap!) Not until we hit English Arts do we have to split up.

English Arts:

  • Literature: There are few things as fun as getting read to by your child, especially when the stories are enjoyable for adults too! Rose is currently reading James Herriott’s Treasure for Children (and loving it). Also on the literature list are The Cabin Faced WestBeatrice Potter’s CollectionLittle House on the Prairie; The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe….
  • Writing: Last year, at the Academy, Rose amazed me with how well she was able to write stories, but I think I pushed her too hard. This year we’re taking it slowly. Our goal is to have children that can craft good stories like the children in Lewis’ Calormen . We’re using the traditional classical method of retelling, loosely following ideas from IEW.
  • Spelling and Handwriting: While Will works on phonics, Rose pulls out handwriting paper and practices handwriting and spelling. Since Phonics Pathways laid such a good spelling foundation, we’re just using lists like the days of the week to practice spelling while she works on handwriting (a skill that needs some work!)

Phonics Pathways Fun

Will learning to read with Phonics Pathways. Since he’s not quite ready to write yet, he “spells” words with letter tiles. 

Phonics: This spring Will asked me to teach him how to read. I wasn’t sure he was up for it yet, but he kept begging and begging. It seemed cruel to say “no” to that! So we began our reading adventure, cuddled on the couch together. At first it was slow going, but he kept pulling out Phonics Pathways day after day, just as chipper as could be. Now he’s reading three letter words well and cannot wait for each day’s new lesson.

One of the things I love about Phonics Pathways is that it incorporates spelling right into the curriculum. Since he’s working on getting the hang of writing, we made little letter tiles and he gets to “spell” the words with them.

Homeschool Never Stops:  Although our official homeschool day wraps up around lunchtime, one of the things I love most about homeschooling is that the learning never really ends. Bedtime literature with Joshua, nature walks, random map-making projects, and practical home economics blend school and “life” beautifully.

And that’s our homeschool day in a nutshell.

Homeschooling Mamas? What are your days like? 

  May be linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeWorks for MeWalking RedeemedGraced SimplicityFabulously Frugal & Simple Lives

[Full disclosure: links to some products in this post are my referral links.]

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