8.31.2014

Homeschooling~ Year 2, Curriculum, What We've Learned, and How We've Changed...

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Last year at this time, we were starting out on the first year of homeschooling 
with big expectations, 
no gauges to mark our progression by, 
zero experience, 
and no fully-formulated 'homeschooling philosophy' 
from which our expectations and goals could flow out of.  

Three days in, three of us were sitting in a circle on Niamh's bedroom floor crying our eyes out.

Over the following weeks and months, we fell into our groove.  
I carved out a lot of learning time for myself.
I needed to learn what things I was very passionate about teaching my children.
What things I needed to learn patience in teaching (e-hem, math and spanish).
I learned what parts of our curriculum did not work.
I learned that there are maybe like 1 million different curriculums out there.
And as many homeschooling philosophies to match.
I learned that Philly is great at math and actually enjoys drawing.
And Niamh is an avid reader and picks up Spanish very quickly.
I learned that I teach math too loud (and with a mean face sometimes). 
And that the kids immensely enjoyed the one or two times a week when dad would substitute teach for an hour.

I think this summer has been just as profitable. 
I have spent quite a bit of time creating in my mind our homeschooling philosophy. 
~~That thing our expectations can grow from, so that this year we aren't ashamed and crying three days into it, because we met NONE of our glorious goals for the first (and subsequent) week(s). 

I have also talked with two other (awesome) homeschooling moms in particular, who have more years under their belts and better knowledge of the options and help out there.
I'm not sure if there is anything that helps more~listening to what works for other homeschoolers, what has shaped their methods and choice in curriculum,  and where they look to enhance their kids learning and development.  
I like that these two mother's approaches are world's apart...and that maybe I fall somewhere in the murky middle...but that they spent the time answering my questions~ and the advice and time they offered has been a huge help to me this summer.
  
I've been asked what curriculum we use quite a few times over the last year...
This is a quick glance over our upcoming year...
which is very, very different than the all-in-one curriculum we purchased last summer.
I think, on the whole, it is way better for our particular homeschooling needs and goals.

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Spanish~ Rosetta Stone
Self-paced.
love.love.love RS. 

Math~
Philly needs to master his multiplication and division in the beginning of the year.  He is very good at math, so will move onto a 4th grade workbook soon after.  
Niamh is using a pre-algebra textbook I ordered from Amazon. 

Spelling~
We are continuing to use last year's spelling bookbecause I like the approach to mastering EVERY word before moving on.  This is Philly's first year using this spelling book.

Latin~ Prima Latina
Listening to the pro's of studying latin from another mama whose kids are learning it convinced... Phil.  I needed more persuasion:).  My mom's school also teaches it, and she had only good things to say, too. 
Hello, first year of Latin.  

History~ Shaping our history lessons from this text. 

Science~ We teach our kids from an evolutionary-creationist belief.  
That means we fully believe that God created and sustains, moment-to moment, everything we see around us.  We are created in His image and have a sinful nature.  We believe that God created through evolution because that is what the natural world around us clearly reveals.  

We have started (end of last year) to use a book on evolution and Darwin's life to explore this with our kids.  Having been raised in a church and Christian school that only offered a 6-day creation view point, and seeing a world in drastic conflict with that story of creation, I want to offer my kids a Biblical worldview that comes alongside science in a way that will not require them to choose between Jesus or good science.  

This is perhaps my favorite part of homeschooling, because it is difficult to find science resources for kids that are Bible-informed and yet scientifically relevant.  Basically, I don't want my children feeling the pressure from an unnecessary dichotomy of science or faith.  

I focused much of my energy into this over the last year, reading really good books on evolution, creation, and the first chapters in Genesis.  I also turned to others more knowledgeable than myself (pastors and Bible professors) for their views and advice.

This is one of the things I am most passionate about as a person and follower of Jesus~ relieving the ridiculous pressures on our children that somehow our creation beliefs (how things were made) are directly linked to the validity of our salvation. 
I am thankful that because we homeschool, we get to teach our kids the latest science with a deep appreciation for the Creator behind it ALL.

Here are a few of the most challenging and rewarding reads (my faith was deepened and enriched) over the last year.  I have lots more to share...but I can't fit it all into one homeschooling blog post:). 


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English/Grammer~ 
Using this recommended set for Philly.
And this one for Niamh.

Literature~
Phil reads with the kids nightly (we pick those books:).
He is currently reading The Princess and the Goblin. 
Niamh and Philly work their way through various chapter books as well.
This series is especially fun while being educational, and they have read many of the books already.

Art/Music~
Phil takes the music upon himself.  He loves talking bands and music with the kids, and he does a great job exposing them to all kinds of musical tastes and genres.  
Art is mine;).  My favorite thing to do with them is a nature walk with sketchpads and pencils/watercolors.  Sometimes we combine a lesson and draw/paint a song~ the end result is usually pretty interesting:).  

Bible~
Everything we do and learn stems from our faith in Jesus Christ.  Besides reading Scripture as a family daily, we enjoy keeping 'Gift' notebooks, learning Scripture from tattoos, and integrating Gospel conversations throughout our day together.  We did spend a lot of time reading about famous missionaries last year as part of our curriculum...This year, we'd like to emphasize what a life lived for Christ really looks like in practice.  The beauty of educating our own children often grows out of the things we are continually learning as parents...it is a sharing process between us and them.  I love that we are always together, learning many things as a family unit.

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Some of the things we use:

Myndololgy notecards for recording daily "gifts".
A journal for me to write down ideas, notes, to-do lists, etc. while the kids are working.

**Yoobi gives one product for every one that you buy to a classroom in need here in the US.

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The Self Propelled Advantage was recommended to me for good reading this summer, too.  Talk about a new way to view homeschooling!  I love the approach explored in this book.  We bought the student planners as well.  I know this is especially going to be a huge self-motivating force to Niamh this year, as she already enjoys being 'in charge' of herself:).  Highly recommend this for other homeschooling mamas still figuring out their 'homeschooling philospohy'!!

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So how do I put into words our approach to homeschooling now?

We want to be equipping highly motivated, self-learners to master a variety of subjects as well as pursue with passion their own hobbies, interests, and talents.  We want to guide them in forming their own Biblical worldview while studying and engaging in the world around them.  We want to encourage Gospel conversations and live with freed hearts, fully committed to following Jesus Christ.  

Here is to the new school year, new things learned, and a clean slate ahead of us.
We wish the best to you and your family/kiddos for the school year as well!! 

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10 comments:

  1. What a glorious thing to homeschool - hard work, but so precious to be able to guide and teach your children to value learning from a Christian perspective, and love God.
    Blessings
    Maxine

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  2. I am impressed at your progress, I sometimes wish i was home schooled as i would have been so much further ahead

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  3. I love reading about other mom's homeschooling philosophy's and curriculum choices for the new year. It really sounds as though you have found your groove in just a year that is amazing. I'm still working out ours...and removing distractions in my own life to do so has been tremendous in moving forward. I have also stepped away from the AiO curriculum this year which is liberating in itself. I loved it for our starting point but as I get to know my children's learning styles and my own teaching style...it is fun to piece it together. Have a blessed new school year!! Glad you have those mama friends to lean on/learn from.

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    1. I think shaping our learning/teaching style will be an ongoing thing for sure! ... I am glad to have a clearer picture of what this year will look like starting out :) ... And I agree- it is more fun to piece everything together, keeping your kid's interests and abilities in mind.

      Hope you guys have a blast this year!! Wish you lived closer! We have not joined a co-op as of yet...so we do not know many other homeschoolers.

      And still trying to convince you to move east... NJ is a 'green' state;)~ we don't have mountains or beautiful landscape. But we don't pump our own gas either. (Huge selling point, right?;) haha.

      If you want to borrow that book, let me know, and I'll send it to you!
      x

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    2. LOL!! Huge selling point! ;)

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  4. Congrats. I am starting out late but I am doing preschool homeschooling for my 3 yr old.

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  5. Thank you for sharing Krista!! We are on day 3 (tomorrow) of our first year of homeschooling. Seeing what you do is inspiring and helpful! Here's to a great year!!

    Warmly-
    Meredith

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  6. Love Love Love that you are teaching Evolution, we are Christian and often get asked,
    "How can you believe in Evolution then?"
    Strength for the year ahead!

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  7. I don't have children yet, and certainly never dreamed of homeschooling, but your approach is awesome. I found this post fascinating and thinking about how awesome it would be to homeschool kids someday! Thanks for sharing.

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