Homeschool Spotlight: Human Body Unit!

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For the past few months, we have been working through the Apologia Astronomy book. We just finished it before our winter break, and now we are starting a fun little unit on the human body! I am personally really excited about this particular unit because my mom did this same unit with my brothers and I as kids and I remember it fondly. 🙂

Here’s what we’re doing:

1. First of all, we went to the local newspaper office and picked up a roll of newsprint. They give these away for free or cheap because it’s just the end of the roll and they can’t use them on their machines. We got ours for $3. When we got home from picking it up, the kids took turns laying down on the rolled-out paper and I traced out their bodies.

2. We’re using this book:

It’s a basic, elementary-level look at the main organs and systems in the body, complete with life-size coloring sheets for each one. And here’s the fun part – each page gets copied off for each child and they color it and attach it to their life-size body that is hanging on the wall. Isn’t that fun??!?

3. I’m also reading correlating pages in this book, because I just love Usborne books:

It has flaps to lift and all sorts of fun tidbits of information. The kids love it!

And that’s it! I’ll probably grab a few library books to add on to this, but it gives a great, hands-on look at the human body in a way they’ll hopefully enjoy and remember for a long time!

Happy Learning!
– Judy

Homeschooling: Working through some common concerns…

Today marks the one year anniversary of the largest massacre of children in our country’s history. The Sandy Hook shooting left 27 people dead, including 18 children, most of them kindergarteners.

I remember the day it happened last year. My Facebook feed was full of prayers for the victims’ families, hugs for children, and talk of homeschooling- both thanks that they do and wishes that they were. It was a terribly sad time for everyone, and a time of holding our children extra-close.

 

Just a few days ago I was asked why I chose to homeschool.  I responded that I really enjoyed my children’s company and liked being able to tailor their education to fit each of them individually.  But as I remember all the emotions surrounding that fateful day a year ago, I can also say that I am so thankful that I am here to protect my children – not only from the very improbably catastrophe, but also from the much-more-common issues of bullies, unkind teachers, and ungodly influences.

I frequently hear various reasons why a family chooses not to homeschool.  Sometimes this decision is made with much prayer and communication between everyone involved. But more often than not,  it seems the decision has a lot of fear behind it. And it breaks my heart when parents feel like they have to make this decision out of fear!  So today, I want to address some of the most common fear-based reasons I hear for choosing not to homeschool.  I hope I can be an encouragement to those of you who may feel a pull towards homeschooling but are struggling with some of these fears.

1.) I would go crazy without a break sometimes.  Or,  I have to work to get out of the house.

This is a hard one! I wish I could tell you that you won’t go crazy, that the need to get away will fade, but honestly, this is something that all homeschooling moms struggle with. But it’s far from hopeless! In fact, this need for an adult social life has created some amazing support groups from which many moms build deep, lasting relationships. Just like every other phase of life, you will learn what you need to finish at your best and will need to learn to prioritize your life to make that happen. For me, this has included involvement in a support group and/or Bible study, moms nights out, and focused alone time to process my days.

2.) My kids need more socialization that homeschooling allows for.

Not so! Most cities have at least one homeschooling group with opportunities for field trips, playdates, and activity days. Many larger cities have co-ops, where your kids can take classes on various subjects or participate in sports leagues with other kids their age. Also, many school districts even allow kids to enroll part-time, giving them access to choir, foreign language, and more, especially in middle and high school.  In addition to this is the age-blended socialization aspect.  Only in public school are children surrounded all day by people in their own age bracket.  This doesn’t prepare them for real life, but the age-blended socialization of homeschooling does.

3.) I’m afraid my kids won’t know how to stand up for and/or share their faith if they aren’t exposed to non-Christian kids at school.

This one makes me especially sad. As parents, we have been assigned by the Lord to protect and guide our children through life. What better way to raise children who are firm in what they believe than by having their primary education source being your living room couch! And just because you keep your kids at home for their education doesn’t mean they can’t have ample opportunity to share their faith. It just means that you as the parent will have to help provide those opportunities! Invite the neighbors over. Join Little League or some other community program. Serve at a soup kitchen together. And most importantly? Model the kind of faith you want your children to someday develop.

4.) We can’t afford to homeschool.

There are times that this is a legitimate issue. However, much of the time this is just another hurdle to overcome. What are you prioritizing, financially? Is it cable & a gym membership? An expensive vehicle? Rent in a certain neighborhood? Frequently eating out? Yes, going without an income that I could bring in means we have to watch our expenses very carefully. We don’t have many of the extras that many families enjoy. I cook most of our meals. We don’t take fancy vacations. But we’re choosing to invest that money into our children’s future instead.

And actual expenses of homeschooling? They can be as much or as little as you can afford. Many states now offer home education programs through the local school district that are free. You can find endless free resources online. The library is amazing. And you can choose certain subjects that are more important for you to be able to individualize and spend your resources there. For example, for history and science, we use curriculum in which we purchase the “spine” and depend on the library for most of the rest.  My annual school budget is around $500.

5.) I’m not organized enough to homeschool. Or, I don’t think I can make the time with my little ones running around!

Don’t worry- you’ll find your groove eventually! I struggle with organization and time management too, and I’m constantly adjusting to meet our changing needs. Another advantage to homeschooling is that because you are teaching your children one-on-one, you can fit an entire day’s worth of education into only a couple of hours, leaving the rest of the day for what children should be doing – playing! Remember, just take it one day at a time, one week at a time, one year at a time. You don’t have to commit to homeschooling for 18 years! Every day, every year you give your children at home is a gift.

 

Anyway, I need to get back to my little crew now. As I’m reminiscing about the loss our country experienced last year, I’m feeling the need to hold them extra close today. I hope this post has been a blessing to you and has settled some fears that may be lurking in your mind. Many blessings on you today and always!

– Judy

Back-To-School With Essential Oils

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This week is our first week of school, and I’ve been thinking about the best oils to use for the school year. In the above graphic, I’ve picked the most helpful oils, and in this post I will talk about how to use them.

Citrus Fresh & Lemon

Wake Up Happy

These oils can be diffused as your children get ready for their day. Or, if you don’t have a diffuser, you can use a stainless steel spray bottle with water, a touch of alcohol (to emmulsify), and several drops of oil, and spray it in their room as they’re waking up. You can also add Peppermint oil to the mix for those extra groggy morning!

Valor & Clarity

Focus & Learn

These are great oils to apply to your children as they get ready to head out the door (or begin their schoolwork if you homeschool). They can be applied in many places; I put them on the back of the neck (base of scull) or behind the ears.

Valor is awesome for helping your children feel confident and relieving anxiety. It’s been used to help kids with ADD/ADHD challenges as well. (I also love using this on myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed – it helps instantly!)

Clarity helps with focus and clear thinking. It can be a great help in many ways – you just might find yourself snagging some too!

Motivation

Extra Homework Help

A little of this oil goes a long way! Recommended mostly for older students and parents because of its potency, Motivation gives you just what it claims! Have a lot to get done? This one will give you the boost you need!

Vetiver

ADD/ADHD Challenges

Do you have a child who struggles with attention and you want a solution that doesn’t require drugs? Vetiver oil has been proven to help with ADD/ADHD. Place a drop at the base of the big toes.

Thieves

Stay Protected Against Germs

Thieves is one of those oils I never want to be without! I’ll save the story of this oil for another day, but let me tell you this. Thieves had been university tested to show that when properly diffused, Young Living Thieves oil kills 99.96% of airborne germs. It is powerful applied topically too. If you homeschool, you can diffuse this, especially during cold season. If your kids are leaving home for school, you can apply some to the base of their feet for immune support. And don’t forget to send a bottle of Thieves Hand Sanitizer in each of their backpacks!

Melaluca Alternifolia

Keep Lice Away

Head lice is a nasty issue you’d rather not have to deal with! While lice are becoming resistant to chemical shampoos, they cannot become resistant to essential oils. To help prevent these little buggers from taking up residence on your child’s head, mix a few drops of Melaluca Alternifolia (commonly known as tea tree oil) into your child’s shampoo once a week.

Lavender & Peace and Calming

Relax and Sleep Well

Do your children have a hard time winding down after a full and stimulating day? These oils are known for their ability to relax the body and mind and help induce sound sleep. Apply on the back of the neck or the big toe. Great for us adults too!

So there you have it – my top oil picks for back-to-school! Many of these oils are in the Everyday Oils kit from Young Living, which I highly recommend if you’re just getting started with essential oils. Others are sold individually. If you have any questions or want to order, send me a message!

– Judy

The Curriculum Round-Up!

As we’re gearing up to begin our next school year, I thought I’d share our plans for the year.

This year I will have 3 “students” – my 7 year old daughter Eliza and my boys Judah and Caleb who are just shy of 6 & 4. I try to avoid grades, because quite frankly I just don’t think they really apply to the world of homeschooling very well. But for context, my 7-year-old is fairly advanced, doing mostly 3rd/4th grade work, my 6-year-old is reading and doing 1st grade math, and my 4-year-old will be doing pre-k/kindergarten work this year.

For those of you who don’t know me, I also have a 2-year-old and a newborn, which is quite a juggling act!

I thought and thought about how to best approach this school year. Last year, we took a very simple approach, focusing mostly on Bible, reading, writing, and math and only throwing in other subjects when we had time. But I know that my kids (especially my oldest) will need more than that this year. So I needed to figure out how to maintain a fairly simple, low-stress approach while adding in 2 full subjects: history and science.

So this is what I’ve decided to do. I am hopeful (and fairly sure) that it will work out pretty well for us. 🙂

First of all, we will be dividing our day into 2 parts: “couch time” and “table time”. Each will likely last around an hour.

“Couch Time” will be right after breakfast and morning chores. The oldest 2 will be required to participate, but I think the other 2 will probably want to join us most days. And the baby will probably be napping. 🙂  The format will be me reading aloud on the couch.

During “couch time,” we will do these subjects:

Bible – We are using The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine Vos. I am really excited to go through this Bible together! It’s the perfect option for kids who are too old for a picture Bible and too young for a standard Bible. It’s divided into readings that should take less than 10 minutes per day.

History (only on M/W/F) – We will be using The Mystery of History, Vol. 1 this year, studying creation to the resurrection. We will be focusing on the read-aloud parts, and doing the timeline, but no quizzes.

Science (only on T/Th) – We will be using Exploring Creation With Astronomy (1st semester) and Exploring Creation With Botany(2nd semester). These books are a bit advanced for my kids, but I think they’ll enjoy them. We’re going to pick & choose what we do from them (and the activity notebooks) and go through each book in a semester instead of a year.

After “couch time,” we’ll break for playtime and lunch. Then I’ll put the youngest 2 down for naps, and we’ll do “table time.”

“Table Time” will be the time we spend on more workbook-type study. I also have a few pre-K/K books for my 4-year-old to do with us during this time, since he won’t have his sister to play with. 🙂

During “table time,” we’ll do these subjects:

Math – We use Singapore Primary Mathematics, which I love! We started using it when Eliza was in kindergarten and hating the math workbook we were using. I like the way the books work through the various math topics and builds on them each year. And the lessons aren’t overwhelming or redundant, so my kids enjoy them too! We go through the books at the kids’ pace, ignoring grade levels. Eliza is about a third of the way through the 4th grade level, Judah is about 2/3 through 1st grade, and Caleb will be starting the kindergarten book.

Language Arts – Language arts encompasses several subjects, and each child will likely do 1 or 2 per day, not all of them. I have 2 readers now, so I’ll have a year off of teaching how to read, unless Caleb decides to jump on it! I’m using Spectrum Language Arts for Eliza and Judah. For creative writing we’re using Just Write, book 1 for Eliza, and may be using their primer level book (Write About Me) for Judah later in the year. I like the way they give lots of guidance and ideas for writing. For spelling, Eliza will be keeping a basic notebook of words she doesn’t spell write, and review it regularly. And we’re going to use another book that I’m excited about, called Vocabulary Vine. It works through the most common Latin and Greek roots in a very clear way. For Judah, we’re doing Spectrum Writing in addition to LA, and he’s excited about a break from Handwriting Without Tears. 🙂 Also, for Caleb, we are using HWT Get Set For School and Spectrum Phonics K to teach him his letter sounds and get him ready to learn to read. If he takes it farther than that, that’s great, but no pressure!

Independent Reading – Each day I’ll expect my 2 oldest to spend some time reading to themselves or me. We frequent the library and I hope to fill this time with books that coincide with our history and science topics for the week, as well as great classics and other interesting books we find.

And that’s it! Four subjects per day, two after breakfast and two after lunch. Probably be around 2 hours of school per day, maybe a bit more with individual reading time.

I feel really good about our ability to take on this routine and the amount of playtime it still gives my kids. I’m a big believer in not “over-schooling” and I feel that this honors that conviction of mine while still giving my children the education the need in a way they’ll enjoy!

And last, but not least… my new planner!  I’m super excited about this beautiful book and it’s ability to help me track our children’s schooling this year!

This is The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, by Debra Bell.  Isn’t it pretty?!?  I like how flexible it is, and how it incorporates home management into the school planner.  Can’t wait to start using it!

What are you most excited about for this school year?

– Judy

Our Homeschool Year in Review

When we started our school year back in August, I posted what we were doing for the year (at the end of the post). Now it seems appropriate to give a year-end review to let you know how things went!

First of all, the year took an unexpected turn when I found out I was expecting in mid-September. I found myself exhausted to the core and struggling to stay motivated right from the start. That said, I think things went fairly well for the year in general.

Eliza enjoyed her second year of studying American history through the American Girl books. We spent 6 weeks in each time period, working our way through the civil war era through the 40s.  She also developed in her reading comprehension and cursive handwriting. In math, she progressed through her 3rd grade books and into 4th grade.

Judah’s growth this year was such a treat to take part in! He finished his kindergarten and 1st semester math books, learning basic addition, subtraction, place value, money, shapes, etc. (I love Singapore!) He has learned how to read this year. I think my favorite part of homeschooling is teaching my kids to learn to read – it’s just such a blessing to see the world open up to them! He has also developed in his penmanship (his least-favorite part of school so far).

Towards the middle of the year I got the idea to get a couple of preschool workbooks and tear all the pages out, putting them into page protectors and a 3-ring-binder.  I got a nice set of washable dry-erase markers and bada-bing!  A fun activity for Caleb to do when he wanted to “do school” with his big siblings.  He can do the same things over and over, making it cost-efficient for us and fun for him!  We focused on “pre-writing” type activities like tracing, mazes, and dot-to-dots.

 

As far as the year of school goes, technically we’re not even done yet.  We had to stop in late April for a little family trip, and never really got going again, thanks to another trip to Colorado and then all the birth/baby preparations.  Now that Micah is almost a month old, I’m feeling ready to start back in it again.  I’ve decided to shorten our school year (a standard year is 36 weeks; we are going to end up doing around 30 weeks, I think), which was a huge step for me!  But I’m happy we decided to do it.  Trying to get to 36 weeks was really stressful, and would essentially mean no summer break at all.  Anyway, we’re going to try to work through the last of our work over the next couple of weeks, doing just 1-2 subjects a few days a week.  It’s like a half-vacation.  🙂

This year has been a interesting juggling act.  It’s been a bit overwhelming to me at times, learning to teach 2 children at very different levels, while entertaining a preschooler and toddler, and dealing with the exhaustion of pregnancy to boot.  I guess it was a good “warm-up” for next year, which I expect will be even more busy and crazy!  Lol…

One of these days, I will do another post to let you all know what we’re doing this next school year, which I am super excited about!

 

Blessings,

– Judy

Getting Started in Homeschooling – A Few Thoughts

I have had a few moms lately who have asked me for advise in getting started homeschooling, so I figured it would make a good blog post.  🙂  So, I’m going to share some of my thoughts with you, and hopefully you’ll find this encouraging and informational!  *Disclaimer: I’m mostly speaking from the perspective of a mom who has decided early on to homeschool, and I don’t have experience pulling kids out of public school later on.  That adjustment can be a very different experience entirely.*

Homeschooling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember!  I was blessed to be homeschooled myself from kindergarten through high school graduation (except for a one-year stint in public school).  Some of my earliest memories are reading with my mom and little brothers.  Although there were times I felt very “different” than the neighbour kids, I knew that I was blessed to be home!  And as I grew older, I knew that homeschooling my kids was a non-negotiable.  I was very happy when Mark shared my conviction fully.  Anyway, as a homeschooled kid, and now a homeschooling mama, I think I can share with you a fairly well-rounded perspective on something that I’m pretty passionate about!

First things first – making the decision!  So here’s the deal – as valuable and awesome as homeschooling is, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this is a big huge decision that you need to spend weeks and months agonizing over.  Because, in most cases, it’s just not that big of a deal!  We moms have a tendency to over-think everything – from whether or not we mash up our baby’s food to how often we brush our kids’ teeth.  Are you interested in homeschooling?  Is your spouse on board?  Then give it a try!  Especially in the early years, you really don’t have much – if anything – to lose!  And that leads me right into my next thought…

Commit to taking things a year (and day) at a time!  For many moms, committing to a life of homeschooling is a completely overwhelming thought!  They start pondering things like “How do I teach calculus/chemistry/physics?” “How will I my kids learn music or speech/debate (or those other things that require classmates)?”  Here’s the thing – starting homeschooling early on with one child (or even two) is something you ease into.  Homeschooling kindergarten (and other early grades) is a totally different ball game than high school.  And the confidence you will get from teaching your children through elementary school will help see you through the harder parts of high school (which, btw, is totally do-able as well, but that’s another post for a later day!).

So, those things said, I’m going to dive into some specifics.  This relates mostly to the early elementary years, since that is where we are right now.

Education Style

One of the first things you’ll want to figure out is your education style.  There are many terms that refer to various styles ranging from very structured to very relaxed.  Here are a few of the most commonly used:

     Unschooling – Unschooling refers to any non-structured learning approach that allows children to pursue their own interests with parental support and guidance and lets children learn by being included in the life of adults.
     Montessori / Waldorf – Montessori and Waldorf recognize and respect a child’s need for rhythm and order in his daily routine. They recognize that need in different ways. Take toys, for example. Montessori schools use Montessori designed and approved toys which will teach them concepts.  A Waldorf education encourages the child to create his own toys from materials which happen to be at hand. Using the imagination is the child’s most important ‘work’.
     Living Books / Charlotte Mason – One begins by teaching basic reading, writing and math skills, then exposing children to the best sources of knowledge for all other subjects, taking nature walks, observing wildlife, visiting museums and reading real books for subjects such as geography, history and literature.
     Unit Studies – A unit study involves taking a theme or topic and delving into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math and fine arts as they apply. All subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project.
     Classical – Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
    All-inclusive Curriculum – Textbook curricula have graded textbooks in each subject and follow a scope and sequence that covers each subject in daily increments for a 12-year, 180-days-a-year academic program.

I have found this website: http://www.homeschoolreviews.com to be a priceless resource for learning about different curricula!

I’m not going to tell you which approach I think is *best*, because that really depends primarily on you and your children!  If you and your kids need more structure, do that; if you do better on more freedom, do that!  Don’t let anyone else make you feel inferior because you take a different approach than they do.  And again, don’t forget that homeschooling is a constantly-changing, fluid part of a relationship you have with your children, and as such, don’t be afraid to adjust it with your kids as you go about your studies!

But to get started out, pick an approach that you feel best reflects your style and goals for the next school year, and go from there, okay?  😀

Our Approach – What Works For Us

Okay, so all that said, I know that some people may wonder what we use, and why, so I will share that too!

First, some quick background.  We have two kids who will be in school this next year – Eliza and Judah.  Eliza will be 6 1/2, and in first grade.  Judah will be 5 and in kindergarten.  But although they are only one grade apart from each other, academically they are very different!  Eliza learned to read before she turned 4, and now reads around a 4th grade reading level.  She does 2nd grade math and writes well, and has a pretty long attention span.  Judah has a much shorter attention span and is just starting to learn phonics and numbers.  That said, I am still trying to keep them together for as many subjects as possible, for the sake of family togetherness and my own sanity!  🙂

So, here’s my take on the early years of homeschooling:  The goal for the first 2-3 years is to establish a love for learning and a foundation to build upon for the rest of the child’s school career.  By nature, this has to be very individualized, because that works out differently for each child.  For Eliza, that meant that I had to be careful not to hold her back, and to keep things interesting.  Last year (kindergarten), we had to completely change gears after the first trimester because neither of us were enjoying ourselves!  For Judah, this means that I have to be careful not to push him too hard or put my experiences with Eliza onto him, because he is a totally different person with his own needs and personality.

Our approach is rather “eclectic” – I have realized that although I love the ideas behind the less-structured methods, I need more structure than that myself, especially having four kids.  But I can’t have too much either, or I drive myself nuts!  So I have to find a happy balance, which is sometimes challenging!  I lean mostly towards the “living books” approach, using the library a ton.  For Eliza, with her level of reading where it is, we have chosen to do American Girl studies for kindergarten and 1st grade.  We spend 6 weeks with each historical character, reading through the 6 books as well as the “Welcome to *A.Girl*’s World” book that AG published.  We make lapbooks for each girl, which is how much of her writing practice happens.  Through this, we cover reading, writing, history, culture, and art.  For science, we just use the library for topics they choose (this will change in 2nd grade).  For math, I love the Singapore Primary Mathmatics series!  Eliza really likes them too, and is learning a lot.  She’s currently in the middle of 2nd grade for math.  For Judah, kindergarten will be mostly phonics and math, with read-alouds for other topics (the world around us) of his interest.  He’ll use Singapore Math as well, and we were given the K12 Phonicsworks program which we like.  (I’ve heard really good things about Explode the Code as well, but K12 is all I’ve used)  Like I said before, kindergarten is kind of a “warm-up” year – with the biggest goal to establish a foundation and love of learning, so all that really matters to me is that he makes progress in reading and math, and that he enjoys learning about whatever else he’s interested in!

Subjects We Study:
     Kindergarten – character/Bible, phonics/reading,  intro writing, math, the world around us (nature & culture), art/music
     1st Grade – character/Bible, phonics/reading, writing, math, nature & culture, art/music

*As a side note, for preschool, I love this guide from SimplyCharlotteMason.com: http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/eyguide/  Although I didn’t follow it exactly, I think it lays a great foundation to build off of!

Getting Started

So, if you’re just getting started, here’s what I recommend.  Read about different approaches to home education, and discuss them with your spouse.  Get an idea of what you think will work for you and your family.  Research the curriculum options for the basic topics and pick something to get started with.  Don’t go overboard!  Then, a few months into your first year, take a really honest assessment.  Are your kids learning?  Are they enjoying learning?  Are you enjoying teaching?  Is there anything that needs to be adjusted?  Readjust, and continue.  Take it a day at at time, a week at a time, a month at a time, and always be open to changing and adjusting.  The journey can be challenging at times, but it is so worth it!

~ Judy

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Our Future Plans

As a major planner, I am actually a total nerd about researching homeschooling curriculum and ideas, and as such, I’ve drafted out my plans for the rest of our homeschooling career!  So, in case you were curious, here’s what’s been floating around in my mind. (And if the idea of planning this far out totally freaks out out, please feel free to skip it – I won’t be hurt!)

2nd – 6th Grade – the subjects above shift into character/Bible, language arts (grammar, writing, spelling, vocab, reading), math, science, history, geography, art, music, foreign language intro.  My plan for the elementary years is to work chronologically through history using Truthquest History (a Christian history curriculum, but there are great secular ones as well), and incorporate our language arts studies into history like we are now with the American Girl studies, as well as art and music history.  We’ll continue using Singapore Math through 6th grade-level unless it no longer meets our needs.  We’ll be using Apologia science (also Christian/creationist) which also uses the holistic Charlotte Mason approach.

7th – 12th Grade – literature, math, science, social studies, foreign language, electives of choice.  My plan for the secondary years is to work chronologically through history again using Truthquest History and incorporate literature, art and music history.  We’ll probably switch to Teaching Textbooks for math, which I’ve heard is the best homeschool math program around, and since math is *not* my strong point, I need a curriculum that will teach my kids for me.  (Maybe I’ll go through it with them, lol!)  We’ll continue using Apologia science for middle/high school, and probably Rosetta Stone for foreign language. **I will also have them studying at a deep enough level to take CLEP test to earn concurrent college credit as we go through the relating topics in 9th-12th grades.  Our goal is for our kids to have at least their associates, but hopefully bachelor’s degree by the time they graduate.**

Wholehearted Homeschooling

I am so thankful that Mark and I see eye to eye on so much! One of those things is homeschooling. Homeschooling our children has always been our plan – I think we even discussed it before we were married! We had no desire to trust our children’s education to someone else, or to send them off to spend the bulk of their time away from us. We want to enjoy our kids to the fullest!

So almost as soon as Eliza was born, I was researching methods and curriculums. I came upon the Charlotte Mason approach, which I really liked, and a curriculum called Heart of Wisdom which used a unit study based 4-year cycle and honored the Biblical Feasts and Hebrew way of thought (vs. Greek).

One of my all-time favorite authors is Sally Clarkson. She has authored many books on motherhood and homeschooling, and her husband Clay wrote the book that was the most instrumental for us in deciding how to parent our children (more on that in a later post). We bought her and Clay’s book, Educating the Wholehearted Child, a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it then, but now our first year of homeschooling is coming to a close, and I just reread much of it in preparation for next year. It is such a good book, and so inspiring! They break down the areas of study into these categories:

Discipleship Studies (character and Bible study)
Disciplined Studies (math, reading, writing)
Discussion Studies (literature, history, fine arts)
Discovery Studies (science, creative arts)
Discretionary Studies (additional things important to your child/family)

I really like the way each area of study is explained. Discipleship, Discussion, Discovery – these are words that get to the core of how these subjects are best learned, and makes it easier for me to look at our school plans and keep us on task. Am I encouraging my children in their relationship with HaShem (or just telling them stories)? Are we discussing enough (or just reading)? Are we discovering the world around us (or just doing worksheets)?

I am re-energized and excited about the new school year ahead of us, and can’t wait to see how my children (and I) grow in this upcoming year!

~ Judy