You know what would be awesome? Awesome would be a camera crew going into a variety of homes on an average Tuesday morning and filming what their homeschool actually looks like.We could see how their kitchens were set up, how they handled the toddlers at breakfast, how they got the knots out of all the girls’ hair, and how they all found their pencils at school time.
We’d see that every home does things a little bit different — and that’s okay! But oh, the great ideas we’d get!
My house is really, really normal, but I thought you might enjoy “seeing” what school looked like at our house this week.
Minus the camera crews. (My camera is on the blink anyway… whew… off the hook!)
Our homeschooling day usually starts right after breakfast. Dad is still home, so we clear the dishes off the table and get our Bibles out. We start by reading a chapter from the Bible. At the moment, we go around the table, each person reading one verse, because we are wanting some of our children to get more practice reading aloud.
I heard a trick this week to take a 3×5-index card and draw an arrow on the top. My first-grade daughter uses the card to help her follow along as her siblings read from the Bible, so she doesn’t lose her place as easily. When it’s her turn to read aloud, the arrow can help her sound out words. (She wants to read as fast as the “big kids,” so she tries to guess the words rather than sound them out phonetically, by syllable.)
As we read, sometimes we stop to discuss something, and at other times, Dad asks questions at the end. He loves to come up with his own questions, but he also uses our Bible curriculum as a starting point. I often point out grammar, language usage, or vocabulary, because those are things my weird brain notices. Sometimes, if a grammar discussion would take away from the spiritual discussions we’re having, I’ll make a note to myself to discuss it later.
This morning, I saw a verse that had a strange subject-verb order, mixed in with a pile of prepositional phrases. I wondered if the kids could diagram it, but I didn’t want to interrupt the discussion. I decided to write the verse on a white board. My first-grader, who sits next to me, was trying to sound out all the words I was writing, and then she helped me carefully put the white board up on the shelf to show the rest of them later. Only — later never came! I completely forgot about it. It’s still up on that shelf at this moment…
We often have a Bible drill. The kids love these. Even the little ones, who can’t read at all, love to flip open their Bibles and immediately yell, “Found it!” The big kids love to try to race Dad. It’s just fun.
Next we work on our memory verses. Dad reviews a passage of Scripture we’re currently working on, saying a little bit, then we all repeat it back. Then he talks for a minute about the verse we’re going to work on today. We have some pretty lively discussions as we check to be sure we all understand the verse. He then quizzes everyone. Even our two-year-old Little Guy who can’t talk much enjoys trying to say a bit of the verse.
It’s amazing to me how quickly children memorize, especially compared to how s-l-o-w-l-y Daddy and I memorize. Ug…
Next he asks the children to share some of their “homework” from the day before. Almost daily, they choose a “favorite” verse from their day’s work. They write the verse, then they write a bit about why it was so meaningful to them. Of course, we can see a vast difference in writing skill from the younger children who might draw a picture and write a word or two as a caption, and the teenagers whose insights often make me want to cry.
Recently, Lee Binz from the Home Scholar interviewed Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, asking what skills students needed to be able to succeed on SAT or ACT exams. Without a question, essay-writing skills were most important. What better way is there to learn to write effectively than to share what God is teaching us each day in His Word?
Sometimes they share a writing assignment or research project from history or science. For instance, some of them had to research the Tin Islands, while others looked up all the references to Tin and the merchants of Tarshish in the Bible. It sounds a little dull, but it was very interesting when they shared with all of us.
Funny thing was, my oldest son also studied tin, quite by “accident,” in his chemistry reading this week. It’s always “funny” to me how God orchestrates things like that in a way that no curriculum ever could.
Dad finishes up his participation in our school day by doing history. (We’re using our own history curriculum.) I love that he loves history and enjoys teaching this, because I use this time to go in my office and read little Bible stories to the youngest two children, or maybe we start a load of laundry or make a bed or two, or we might just go have some fun together for a few minutes (ie. play in soap bubbles in the sink). These two, currently ages two and four, have been playing quietly for almost an hour now (the little guy likes to play under the table), but I look forward to this special time with just the two of them. Meanwhile, Dad is getting into deep discussions about the Gauls defeating the Romans…
Dad needs to start on his studying for church, or maybe he needs to go visit some people — and we still haven’t done dishes! We take a break now, and the older kids do their house chores and get started on math. I take turns working with the kids, one at a time, on anything they might need in their schoolwork.
- We use A Beka for math, except for our high-school-er who is starting Life of Fred.
- We are using Bible copywork for phonics, handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, and dictation. It works! Having said that, I have been homeschooling for many years now, and I’m more comfortable not having a set curriculum. I have A Beka phonics, All About Spelling, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, the Writing Road to Reading, and Ruth Beechick’s books on my shelf, plus gadzooks of little readers, flashcards, letter tiles, and other gadgets and gizmos. I put them all to good use. “Funny,” though, how well my four-year-old is learning her consonant letter sounds by trying to read the first few verses of Genesis 1. It makes me wonder what I’ll be writing here on my blog in a few more years.
- Each child writes something every day, almost always from the Bible, as I explained above. As they are writing, and before they put it away, I check over it for obvious mistakes that should be corrected.
- Once they’re back at the table, we often have a grammar lesson together.
- They have independent reading assignments, in the Bible, in chapter books (fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and biography), and in science.
- If they have projects to do in science, I might give a little help, but they do a lot of it on their own. (Except for high school, they all use Jeannie Fulbright’s wonderful science books that are based on the six days of creation.)
- They finish up with more interest-based subjects, such as foreign language, computers, interior design, or crafts. They usually do these on their own.
That pretty well describes our school day at the moment. Oh, sometimes we read aloud from a chapter book at lunch. Not always. When I have the energy.
We are really loving school. It’s simple, and God’s amazing Word is at center stage.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13, KJV).