Homeschooling and reading on the brain. Here’s my blog about it today.
This year we are knee deep into Weaver unit study Volume 1. It’s alright, sometimes it’s really fun and other times I have to stretch all I have to make it work. I can see why others moved on to another curriculum mid-year. I’ve thought about doing the same. When I talk to my husband about it he encourages me to see it through, Alas, we are making our way through. I bought all the resources- the spelling, Wisdom Words, and some of the books. It’s “okay”. The kids are having fun and they are learning a lot, but it seems disorganized to me. There is a natural progression to the way kids learn and I don’t like feeling so disjointed. We learn about making lists here and writing a letter there, and then out of nowhere I explain adjectives for 3 days… it was making me break out in hives. We are sticking with Weaver, but have moved onto a less relaxed Language Arts curriculum. My kids can move at the pace that God set in them, but by golly it will be in an order that makes sense to me, the educator. The Master book, which was given to me by a friend for free, is really the only thing I look at. I have decided that in order for it to work I couldn’t become a slave to the program. Something that really helped me was finding a tape player and listening to the tapes the author provides on how to teach the Weaver. Without those tapes I wouldn’t know what to do with this giant mass of information. We use each chapter as a starting point, the background info helps me to see what the point of the chapter is, then we spend a week or two on it. I use Story of the World Vol 1 as our history and supplement Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space, and Science Detective (by Critical Thinking Company) as our science supplements. We begin with Weaver. The Weaver is what provides the Bible- our starting point, as well as the topic of our week, and fun activities and ideas for how to learn about the topic. I’ll glance at Wisdom Words, the writing program, and if they have a suggestion that will be helpful I’ll pencil it in.
This year is a filler year for us. This is the year before we begin our five year multi-age family cycle of My Father’s World. We begin with a year of Geography, then four years of chronological history. At the end, my oldest will be ready for high school and the youngest will go back to year one and begin the cycle over (that’s how MFW intended the curriculum to be used). We are all set to go with Exploring Countries and Cultures next fall. I have owned this curriculum for two years now because I fell in love with it and knew that it would be what we would use when the kids got old enough. I have had all that time to collect extra books, games, movies, and little sticker books, puzzles and maps of different countries, and passports to use along with the already awesome, complete program. As we explore a country in depth, the kids learn study skills in science, appreciation for art and music as it relates to the history of the world, and most importantly, the focus is on Christ in all the world. David and Marie Hazell wrote My Father’s World after a life changing experience living as missionaries and working on translating the Bible for countries who have none. Many children go on to graduate, not only ready for college, but with a love and compassion for others. The program is great for families who have several children, but don’t want to spend 12 hours a day teaching. The program focuses on strong and weak learners at different levels, together at the same time. Think of a one-room schoolhouse.
In the meantime we are having fun with Weaver. Had we not had an organized, planned out path ahead, but went from year to year deciding what to do next, I would not be happy about finishing this book. I know that others have had HUGE success and go on to all the other Volumes in Weaver, but I need a much more structured program for my sanity and peace of mind.
The main reason I am okay with taking a year to do this fun, yet unorganized (in my mind) curriculum is because these early years are for fostering a love of learning. These early elementary years are an introduction to the world, it’s plants, animals, the water cycle, how things grow and change, our country’s holidays and important people, Pilgrims and Indians. Nothing needs to be taught in depth in these early years, because they learn so much on their own, in spite of us getting in the way. The only thing I can not be lax about in these early years in setting the groundwork for understanding numbers and math, and most importantly, reading.
I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again, reading is the most valuable activity you can do with and for your child. Homeschooled or not. If you consistently read to your child all the time, he or she will improve their reading and writing (not handwriting, but writing). Reading is so important that the U.S. Department of Education determines future prison use by determining how many fourth graders are reading “at level”. Source: U.S. Department of Education, NAEP, 2004; and passed on to me by Jim Trelease, author who spoke at a conference promoting reading in the home.
Honestly, I don’t need a curriculum to homeschool successfully. Most don’t need one either. If you have a few years of homeschooling under your belt and have detoxed from the model that was taught to you, and discovered the way that works best in your home… if you have gone through all this, you have the ability to educate your child without spending money on prepared textbooks, workbooks, and teacher manuals. I do too. I wrote my son’s first grade year, including language arts simply because I had the time and the love for it. The only subject I bought complete was math. That is how I know anyone can do it. I have spent the entire blog expressing admiration and reviews for curriculum and am ending with the statement that you don’t need one. All you need is 1) a desire to homeschool and/or a conviction 2) time to read and spend with your kid(s) 3) goals, and a written plan to accomplish them- this will change as your family grows and changes 4) access to lots of books (library or friends and family willing to loan them to you) and a computer (I used this, but the kids didn’t) 5) pencils, paper, binders, hole punch, paint, brushes, and colored pencils 6) access to nature parks, zoos, museums, festivals, and groups/church.
It’s all I used for almost a whole year. Only I bought books in addition to the library. My kids wear the heck out of books and love to re-read them and keep them in their beds so I buy some, but we rely heavily on the library for others. You could probably educate your child with less, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.
Something else that I think is really important is continuing my education while my children do theirs. From the beginning I began to read and read about homeschooling and all the methods in which I could teach my children. I read about mistakes moms made. I read about what worked for others and what didn’t. I bought books from the local college book store so I could learn about something in depth in order to answer my children’s questions. I colored anatomy coloring books and wrote English papers for myself. I began to love learning so that my children could love learning. I also read books written for school teachers. It was when I became a consultant with EDC Educational Services that I began to throw myself into learning about reading. I can’t get enough and I am so happy that the Lord has led me on this path because if I didn’t know what I now know about literacy, my children would have suffered for it. My new job as a Book Fair Lady has taught me that I need to constantly better myself in homeschool knowledge in order to help my children in their homeschool journey. It’s worth more than any money deposited into my checking account. In addition, I have become passionately involved in my work and feel purpose in getting the books I sell into other parent’s hands as well as my own.
This journey is turning out to be quite exciting. I am grateful to be coming out of a difficult season in which I thought I couldn’t go on, or even get out of bed. Christ is all, I know that, but it’s nice to have something to be so involved in and passionate about. I believe those are gifts to me. I don’t think that the Lord wants me in a constant state of inner turmoil- it’s nice to have this “thing” called homeschooling in our lives. Hopefully I never put it before Him as I have always set it down under His authority. I am grateful for this blog and to write about it and hopefully others who love to homeschool like me will read my blog all the way to the end. 🙂
I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday. Keep looking within, He’s there and He’s not left you alone.