Monday, October 31, 2011

School in our House

Not surprisingly, I get asked often about home schooling and how we do it, what curriculum we use, etc.  So, I thought I'd do a post answering some of those questions.  This year is the most consistently we have done school and the most time we've put in each day.  It helps that Joshua is finally ready to fully engage.  We're out on Wednesday mornings, so we typically do the other four days a week from 9:00-11:30 AM, covering five subjects a day.

First of all, here are my students.  Caleb - 2nd Grade and Joshua - 1st Grade

We use the Sonlight Curriculum.  We are currently using our 4th "Core" from Sonlight.  This year the Core focuses on World History from around 0 AD to present.  Last year we did World History, part 1.

The Core from Sonlight (SL) includes Bible, History/Geography, and Read-Aloud books.  In addition to that, we are using SL Science 1 (it took us two years to get through Science K, so we're a little behind!), Horizons Math (2 for Caleb and 1 for Joshua) and a hodge-podge of Language Arts Materials.  We are using SL's program for some of it and then some additional work books.

This year I made each of the boys their own notebook (Caleb's pictured below) to have a place to keep their paperwork and activity sheets.  Joshua is holding the Science Activities book because, other than geography, science is his favorite subject.  Caleb is also holding one of this favorite books A Child's History of the World, which is the primary history text for this year.

 Our Bible this year includes selected readings from the whole Bible, so it has us moving through the text much quicker than last year where we read all the way through both Genesis and Exodus and some of the Psalms, Proverbs and New Testament.  It also has the "Awesome Book of Bible Facts" scheduled, but frankly, for these kids who are already very well versed in Bible facts and history, it's not quite so awesome.  We are also doing the assigned Bible memory work.  Additionally, we are participating in Community Bible Study at a local church and the boys have to complete lessons each week, same as me.  This year we're studying the book of John.  It's been great for them to be in a more classroom-like environment once a week and learn how to study the Bible in the process. 

Here's our history/geography books.  Joshua was determined not to like Window on the World at the beginning of the year, but I think it's actually grown on him.  Each reading highlights a country of the world, talking some about both the spiritual state of the country, and what life is like there.  Then it concludes with giving ways you can pray for that specific country, which we always do.

Here's what Sonlight's Core Schedule looks like it.  This is one of the two main reasons I chose SL.  We don't follow it exactly the way they break it out, for example, we only do His/Geo twice a week, so we cover all five days worth of readings in 2-3 days, instead of five.  But, the framework is all there and I don't have to figure out the pacing or ordering myself.  Beautiful.  The other thing I love about SL is that it is a literature-based curriculum, meaning they don't use textbooks, per se.  I may want another approach when the boys are older, but for now when I just want to focus on broadening their horizons and for them to LOVE learning, this works wonderfully!  They love school time and always complain when we stop reading.

This year we decided to add in a foreign language, so we bought Rosetta Stone Spanish (Spain edition).  Each of the boys does it for 20-30 minutes twice a week.  It's slow going, but they are learning some and at least are being exposed to another language.  

We also decided to add a typing program.  This is the HIT of school time.  The boys had never really done anything on the computer before and the typing program is geared towards kids, so it includes lots of games to practice typing.  This is their favorite part of school.  And it really is helping them learn to type.  They "hen pecked" before whenever they wanted to type something, but are now much more's cool to see.

Andrew, who is now 3.5 years, spends most of our school time just entertaining himself.  We school for about 2.5 hours a day, four days a week, so that's quite a bit of time for him on his own.  He usually stays in the family room with us or the kitchen with play-doh.  Here is his creation from this morning.

And here he is all dressed up and nowhere to go. :)

One of my favorite things about home schooling is that it gives the kids hours every day to just play and be creative.  Joshua's other great love right now is space.  On the wall over his bed he now has huge solar system stickers and a poster or two. And of course, his collection also includes the infamous Planet Mars, of Andrew's Nose Fame.  In addition to that, has created his own solar system for his door.  In case you're wondering that all those extra pieces on the left are, that's the Kuiper Belt (asteroids) that go around the Sun and several of our planets.  He loves his space room and solar system collection so much that he has declared his room to be a museum.  He now has an "Open"/"Not Open" sign on the outside of his door.  I laugh every night when I go into his room to turn his fan off and see the "Not Open" sign. 

 It's not astronauts and space exploration he loves, but the planets and such, but here he is posing anyway in the Ontario Science Museum.  I think he makes a pretty good looking astronaut. :)

Anyway, we love home schooling and are so thankful that it works well for our family during this time of our life.  If you're considering it, I'd love to talk to you!

No comments: