Homeschooling

Begin the school day together

As a family, we began our school day as a group.  It didn’t always begin at the same time, and sometimes we were still in our jammies, but we began our studies together in the front room.  I called it group time.  It became the signal that it was time to focus and take care of the academics for that day (both the children and the mom needed a reminder sometimes).   I miss having group time sometimes.  The opportunity to  be together to share and discuss things which mattered developed into one of my favorite times of day as my family grew.  This time can be especially effective for auditory learners, or social children.  What did we do when we were together?

Devotional study– scriptures, prayer, and pledging the flag were the beginning of group time.

Poetry-I would take a book off the shelf and randomly choose a poem or two to read aloud.  The goal was exposure, not serious study.  We did a poetry unit together when they were teens that did require some analysis, but this was simply to hear the beauty of the language and learn to become a bit more comfortable with poetry in general.  We read classic, religious, and non-sense poetry.

History reading– I would read a chapter or two from the current volume of history we were studying (often from a book by Genevieve Foster, or Albert Marrin).  Discussion would follow.  Writing and further study took place on an individual basis.

Character or ethics study– We would discuss manners, courtesy, positive character traits, hero study, and ethics (as they grew older).  It became a time to answer questions, share experiences, role play, and explore correct ways to handle the challenge of dealing with people around us.

Drill– time for the 3×5 cards!  Greek and Latin roots, facts about the US Presidents, geography facts, times tables, anything you would find on a flashcard can be drilled as a group.  Often the younger children memorize more easily than the older ones, so it can become fun for everyone to get involved!

Memorization work– quotes, scriptures, poetry, parts of significant documents can be fun to memorize as a group.  We would work on memorizing things such as Walt Whitman’s O Captain, My Captain when we studied the end of the Civil War, scriptures they needed to memorize for church, or just a wonderful quote we found.  Having uplifting, inspired words in their minds and hearts provided them with a well from which to draw good things when they found they needed it!

Literature reading– We would generally all read the same literature book at one time.  I would then assign writing or other work that was appropriate for the age of each child.

Hands-on activities– If it was going to create a mess or was a particularly interesting activity, everyone wanted to be involved so we added it into our time together.  That often gave me time to clear things away before lunchtime, and everyone went to their individual studies with a smile.

Whatever Mom wants to throw into the mix– I would often find something I wanted to share or introduce to the whole gang, so I would simply add it to the days’ group time agenda.   Upcoming scheduling changes, discussion about learning styles or personality types, music and art study, and a rare video were some of the things we added as needed.  (I also found that any academics we could accomplish as a family made their lists seem shorter, and was like magic for everyone’s mood.)

When my children were young, group time took 10-20 minutes.  It grew as they did.  We had some epic times when they were all teenagers; sometimes we went for hours.  The opportunity it provided us to share and understand each other and the world around them was a favorite for everyone!  We are not all the same, but we learned to work together, talk to one another, and appreciate our differences.

Sometimes I really miss group time…

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Homeschooling

Routines vs. schedules, part 2

When my children were at home, I think everyone’s favorite part of the academic day was “group time.”  We would gather for our morning devotional, pledge, and work on as much together as differing ages and such would allow.  Here is a very general outline of what it entailed.

Group time:

Poetry-No big plan.  Just pulled a book of the shelf and read one or two poems.  Sometimes they were nonsense; sometimes they were a more serious work.  Nothing morbid/too deep for early learners.  Not everyone will love poetry, but everyone should be given the chance to hear it.

History reading-A passage from whichever book we are currently using.  This was often accompanied by a book with great illustrations/photographs to help the visual learners.  Often they would color a picture as I read.  (Dover coloring books-doverpublishing.com-were great resources for this.)

Character or ethics study-We would discuss manners, courtesy, heroes, or whatever Mom felt she needed to address in a non-confrontational format.  Sometimes I would use a picture book or fable.  Sometimes we would pull things from the scriptures or history.  A VITAL part of our school day!

Drill-3×5 cards are a must for the way we schooled.  Classical education requires foundational concepts be memorized, and flashcards are one of the easiest ways to do that!  States/capitols, presidents, phonograms, Latin and Greek roots, scientific facts, you name it.  Younger children often memorize more quickly than older ones, so this can be a great time for them to shine!

Memorization work-Poetry, scriptures, music, quotes.  Fill their bucket with the words and images of those who can help them in good times or bad.  What will they sing as they watch the sunrise over the mountain for the first time?  Whose words will come to them as they face the next mountain?

Literature reading-Picture books.  Chapter books.  Great literature is sometimes best shared as a family.  Some books we read for fun (see blog on our favorite read-aloud books).  Some we read as part of our academic studies-and for fun.  If your children have a hard time sitting still as you read, try allowing them to color, or build with legos, or dance.  If they are kinesthetic, they will learn more that way!

Hands-on activities-If you are going to make a mess, you may as well involve everyone!  Try to have something for each child to do so that they can all contribute.

Whatever Mom wants to throw into the mix-The above list is in no way comprehensive.  Add life skills, other academics, or whatever you feel would benefit your own children.  After all, you are the Mom!

Once group time was over, everyone needed to finish their individual lists.  I have included the subjects I assigned for each level.  (For more information on learning levels, check the archives on this blog.)

Individual work for discovery learners:

Penmanship/copy work

Oral narration

Basic grammar study

Spelling

Hands-on math and science

Science collections

Reading-with Mom or individually

Learning games

Art or music

Scripture study

History, math or science bio

Chores with an older helper

Individual work for analysis learners:

Penmanship book with quotes or poetry

Narration

Outlining

Hands-on activities

Reading for history, science, literature, etc.

Grammar study

Logic study

Vocabulary/syntax study

Current events

Mathematics

Art or music

Scripture study

Latin or other language study

Chores

Individual work for application learners:

Upper level mathematics

Continuing logic study

Writing, writing, and more writing

Reading, reading, and more reading

Prep for the SAT/ACT

Great literature

Primary source history

Real-life experience

Chores