Archived Homeschool Blog - 9/11/2012

We are back in the swing of things, as of mid-July.  In fact, the girls have managed to complete 200 credits already this homeschool year!

I felt led to get an early start this year, so that we don’t feel pressured or forced on any particular day.  I assume that allows us to be more flexible to the spirit.  There are days when someone has need, and if I feel pressured to complete hours, I might be tempted to choose homeschool over our mission from God.  That is a continual worldly pull…number and credits and proof, quantity over quality, etc.  I am making a point to fight that, but it is sometimes a fine line.  I do want my children to receive a good education, AND I want them to be focused on God’s work.  The only way to meet both needs is to focus on God Himself and allow Him to guide me step by step and day by day.

So far, I’m pretty thrilled with our curriculum for the year.  I noticed that I tend to neglect a few things in their education.  For one, I had always neglected daily spelling practice.  I was so against the boring rote work in my own education and throughout my early teaching career.  However, I have learned that there is something about repetitive practice that leads to both learning and the character of discipline. 

Last year (or the year before) we started an actual spelling program.  I simply take advantage of the individualization opportunity in homeschool so that we are not practicing for the purpose of practicing (or keeping them busy for my own sake).  We practice intently the things that they need to learn, and it comes right alongside direct instruction.  Seems obvious, but I feel like I spent a lot of time in education copying a bunch of stuff I never really understood or I had understood for a long time.  (Maybe it was just my attitude that was the problem!)

Here’s how the typical week looks for us:

Bible

I have issued a priority on the time we spend in the Bible and in prayer.  Matt and I both started reading a book to the girls.  He is reading to them from Matthew.  I am reading to them from Psalms.  If Matt is available, he does his reading with them.  If not, I do mine. 
I bought them nice prayer journals, and after we read and pray together, I have them write a prayer to God or a word what they think they hear God speaking specifically to them.  Today, Eden wrote:  “Oh, Lord, my God, you are my ruler.”  !!  (We don’t always get that kind of depth.)
We have also started praying more intercessory prayers: personal, local, national and global.  (eg. We have been covering the hurricane Isaac - before and after – and praying for a friend’s son).  We are also following a 40 day commitment with Operation World.  (I don’t usually get to it over the weekend, so we count this as our social studies time on Monday and learn about three countries at once).
This is the best learning and the most important thing we do each day!!

Language Arts

Spelling - I bought an appropriate level book for each of the girls.  (Xander is a half-year behind, since she started late in this subject.)  I give them each a pretest of the words.  If they get 80% correct, I move on to the next list.  We keep going until we find the word list that they need to learn.  Then, they begin practice.  We use the A Reason for Spelling books by The Concerned Group, Inc.  I pick and choose activities from the book for them to complete Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (in addition to copying their words twice at least one of those days).   On Thursday, I pretest again.  If they get 80% or better, they don’t have to do spelling on Friday.   If they don’t get at least 80%, I give them another activity to practice the words (study, cover and copy or write in a sentence, etc.) and they take a final test on Friday.
Handwriting -  Along with the spelling practice program, I decided to incorporate handwriting practice this year.  I give them a weekly bible verse (often chosen by Matt) and they copy it from a dry erase board I made and hang in the kitchen (where we typically homeschool).  I have Eden practice print, and Xander alternates between print and cursive.  They still make a lot of letters wrong.  On an ideal day, I would sit and watch them each write every letter.  However, I typically only get to do that once a week per child.  (I have to balance things around here!) 
Language/Writing -  We alternate every other day between language lessons and writing projects.  I have a Spectrum 3rd grade Language Arts book that we are working through together twice a week.  We spend two days on various writing projects.  (So far, an All About Me book and a book on an animal in South America).  On Friday, we learn Danish for free with our library access to Mango.
Reading - The girls spend at least 30 minutes a day quietly reading books they select from their collection or from their library check-outs.  Occasionally, I let Eden read along with Tumblebooks (also through the library). Many days, I also read aloud to them from a chapter book. 
(I let Dillon play on www.starfall.com and watch Leap Frog videos, and we read to him to introduce reading.  I also found a series of dry erase workbooks for pre-K by Trend Enterprises, Inc. and I bought him some dry erase crayons by Crayola!  He loves getting to be included in the homeschool “fun.” )

 

Math  

We are walking through the math books by Bob Jones University Press.  I am blazing through the 2nd grade book with Eden (probably could have started in the 3rd grade book, but I let her skip pages that are too easy and will start the new book as soon as she finishes this one).  I am snail crawling through the 5th grade book with Xander (probably should have bought the 4th grade, but we are going to try to make it…with supplements from the internet!). 
My only problem with these books: I don’t need the “teacher book” to tell me what to do, but there is no answer key at the back of the workbook.  I guess I would have had to buy the expensive teacher manual to get that.  So, I have to rely on my own brain – and calculator!- to check her work.  Time consuming!  (Note to BJU: A workbook answer key would be nice!)

Social Studies

I bought Apologia’s Around the World in 180 Days.  I love the idea and the setup, but the book attempts to be all-grade-encompassing.  It left a lot of detail work for me.  I’m not sure I would have needed to buy this, and I’m finding myself writing my own curriculum anyway.  I wish I’d tried checking it out at the library and just writing my own curriculum.  Fortunately for you, I am planning on typing and including my own elementary study of the world on the website or Etsy!

Science

I bought the Bob Jones University Press 5th Grade science book and workbook (and test packet…too cheap to fork out the extra money for the answer key or the teacher’s manual!)  We have just started the first chapter, and so far I LOVE IT!  The Creationist emphasis does not try to delete God from the picture!  In fact, the book mentions God quite often!  We are going through the work together.
I can’t do everything every day.  Sometimes I have to cut things out, and I’m always trying to balance the independent work in some subjects with the direct instruction in others…trying to cover every subject with direct instruction at least once a week.

It’s a lot of work, but I’m committed to making little disciples out of this group of blessings that God has given me.  Right now, they are my number one ministry!

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