Learning On A Quilt

Well the Smith family is about to go on another school-year adventure. I’m so excited to dig in to the new stuff we got this year and also to invite you all to share your classrooms with us! I have gotten so many emails through the past few years asking about my homeschooling and I haven’t done a great job of sharing on here, so I’ll just tell you a little about where we are now.

I started Kindergarten with Abby and Ellie and used Sonlight. I liked it a lot but was still on the hunt. As a first time teacher I was so nervous I was going to leave something out that would completely ruin my child’s future. I needed to order the whole kit and kaboodle. And an extra couple kaboodles just in case. Everything had to be in neat folders, perfectly arranged, classroom poised and ready for the learning to happen.

I’ve swayed away from that a little bit, although I am still a complete sucker for back to school supplies. And don’t get me started on Curriculum Fairs. I am a dangerous woman at one of those. And despite the fact that they are better for the environment, I must say I miss the white Crayola markers. Have you seen the new ones? Anyway. I love the gear.

Last year we did Calvert, which I also liked. At this point I was starting to find my style of teaching and their style of learning and I don’t think that was the best curriculum for us. I think it would have helped if I could have let it go when we didn’t finish everything we were supposed to for each day.

What you’ll find is that there isn’t one magical curriculum you can order and have it all be perfect for every child. So, you have to do the hard thing (gulp) and start to piecemeal. I don’t really do piecemeal well. I would like it in a box, with my instructions inside, perfectly arranged so that nothing can be left up to me because I will certainly fail them…

With that said, I have grown stronger in my teaching and am trusting my instincts a little more. We are going to be altering this next year to fit the season we’ll be in. I chose *after much obsessing* “My Father’s World” as our main curriculum because it will allow me to easily include Kate in Abby and Ellie’s work, and also because they send a person to your house to care for your baby while you teach. No? That one would get my vote.

If you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, you should be. She was an incredible woman with some amazing ideas about children and the way they learn. I just adore her, and honestly, it’s probably why the name Charlotte was one of my favorites. To me, it brings me to a time in life where children did their lessons outside while they explored. I love this idea, and we are going to be incorporating it more this year than we have in the past. One of her strongest beliefs is that children should not be read “twaddle.” In other words, read original, unabridged, masterpieces of literature and you will be brought up to that level. During the past few years I have seen that happen with my kids, and I love the natural way they ask about words they don’t understand and concepts they aren’t familiar with as we read.

A lot of people asked about curriculum and scheduling so I wanted to touch on them. In addition to My Father’s World, we are using Math-U-See for math and Apologia science (we are doing astronomy this year). I like this program because it does a great job of blending science and Christian beliefs. And, they threw in a denim jumper. That’s a lie. I bought it. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.

For spelling, MFW recommends a Rod and Staff program called “Spelling By Sound and Structure,” and also “Primary Language Lessons“by Emma Serl.  I love Rod and Staff…we have used their preschool stuff in the past as well and really liked it.

I tend to gravitate towards learning which is simple, classic, and inspiring. It may go back to my love of Little House, but I just think that we tend to complicate things sometimes. Literature saturated days, clean basics, and room for some outside time is the plan for this year.

The way we will structure our days is to start in the morning and finish up with formal lessons before lunch. We’ll take a short break to milk the cows and grind some wheat, and then we’ll pick up with nature study and art. Charlotte Mason also put a heavy emphasis on the role of nature study and I haven’t done a great job of this in the past. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the mosquitos and the heat, but let’s just say it hasn’t always gone according to plan. I have tried to plan these elaborate things and it just ends up being stressful, so we’re throwing down the big quilt and going with it. I guess that’s the theme this year :)

A friend of mine (and newbie homeschooler this year!) Kelly (Faithful Provisions) is meeting with a wonderful homeschool mom and author we heard speak a few weeks ago and we are going to try and have her set up a workshop for our readers. Once I get the scoop I’ll pass it along and if you’re interested we would love to have you come!

This is a really basic sketch of a couple things we are planning, but this is my favorite part. I’m going to put a Linky on here and I would love for you to put your site on here if you homeschool and want to share the way you do things. It’s so great to be inspired by other people’s creativity :) Feel free to leave comments too…I’m not really familiar with the Linky but I think you can do either one.

Talk to you all soon…

A

P.S. Please leave any homeschool advice, tips, pictures, or anything else you want to share. I am seriously so excited to read them all! Does this make me a dufus? Don’t answer that.


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  • Kristie

    I really like the new look of your blog, just so peaceful. I didn’t realize you homeschooled your girls. We are in our second year of homeschooling. We tried Abeka video for about six months and eventually found “K12″ which is AmAzInG. Allie had a really hard time with the “old school” learning style required by Abeka. We started the independent study portion of K12 and it is really wonderful because it incorporates so many different learning styles. Allie is very visual.

    I also want to recommend a book to you, it really helped in a lot of ways. It’s called “The Way They Learn.” by Cynthia Tobias (Teaching to your child’s strengths.) One thing that REALLY helped me in this book was to figure out that my daughter is an emotional learner. If there is the least bit of conflict (even if it’s not hers but someone else’s) Allie just can not learn. Her mind is always on the emotional well being of those around her, and if she is stressed about someone’s feelings she just can’t focus. Knowing this about her has helped resolve so many issues.

    When she is frustrated and can’t remember really basic things that I KNOW she knows, I will take a minute and talk to her on an emotional level, and sort things out. As soon as the peace comes for her, her abilities return like magic. Anyway, I highly recommend it to any one, especially those that homeschool.

  • http://profiles.google.com/colleen.wachob Colleen Wachob

    A couple of months ago I read your book while at my sisters and was touched by your family’s faithful journey through deep grief. Thank for sharing your heart. I just checked your blog out for the first time today – and had to peek at the homeschooling corner.  I am venturing into homeschooling this year and loved how you phrased your philosophy: “literature saturated days, clean basics and room for outside time.” That is my heart for this year, too! Learning the basics simply and effectively, reading good books, and loving the exploration of the world around as we play creatively in it! Thank you!