“A boy’s will is the wind’s will and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts…….” Longfellow
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Now, hopefully, I will be able to figure out how to print them off so I can include them in my son’s school records for this year.
While the previous posts have described the heart and soul of my son’s education, this post is all about what has provided the structure and therefore it is of no less importance. Although, I must say, on his part, less exciting and certainly requiring more self discipline. I will not be including the literature based curricula that we have used for history, geography, and science because they are not considered “school” by my kids, too much fun. They go along with the second part of this series, Homeschooling Boys Part 2, For the Love of a Story.
Here is an entry from his history notebook from last year entitled “Leif becomes a Christian”. I love the bright glow covering everything!
Another history notebook entry.
We work on all of our literature based curricula in the afternoons or evenings and I do not feel the need to keep to a schedule with any of them. We do what works out each day and they are thought of as a treat for sure! On library, field trip or homeschool group days our time is limited so we are likely to skip them.
Because we pretty much have either a pregnant mama or a nursing baby at all times at our house, our school day needs to be very relaxed. I do not try to start each morning at a certain time or be too rigid in any way. No one here thrives on stress, especially me! On the other hand, our days are full of routine. I think it provides kids with a great deal of security when they know what to expect from their days.
So, loosely, this is what our mornings look like. The school bus stops right outside our house at 8:00, that’s kind of the signal for the kids that it’s time to get up. A few of them are in bed reading. They get up, do their “morning chores”, come down for breakfast, and then choose another small job to help get the kitchen and breakfast area cleaned up. The boys then go outside to take care of Willy and the chickens.
I try to start each day out with God’s word. Thankfully, our church has an excellent Sunday school. (If any of our kid’s current or former Sunday school teachers are reading this, please know how much we appreciate you!) The thing I like the most about it is that it doesn’t turn God’s word into “twaddle” (a Charlotte Mason term) and cutesy songs, but rather gently feeds the kids “the sincere milk of the word”. Kids often understand the things of God much more readily that we give them credit for!
I have just used the kids Sunday school lessons then as the structure for their individual Bible time each morning. Kindergarten through second grade they memorize Bible verses and the commandments. Each morning they copy their memory work into their journals and when they are very young that is pretty much all I require of them for handwriting. The girls seem to enjoy writing at a younger age. But for the boys that’s about all they can handle.
Now that my oldest son is in third grade he also has Sunday school paperwork. He reads or I have read to him a couple assigned chapters and then he has ten or so questions to answer. This has been a wonderful way to get my kids into the word each day. He works on a couple questions a day. I make sure he writes the answers in complete sentences. I also have him read the story out of the Bible story book to increase his understanding. He is also studying and memorizing sections of Luther’s Catechism.
Afterwards he usually moves on to math. We use Math.U.See. I was able to attend a work shop put on by the company a few years ago when we made the switch and it just makes a lot of sense. Plus, each lesson is on DVD so I really don’t need to teach it. Now that my oldest daughter is learning algebra I’m really thankful for this! They have tailored the curriculum to the SAT but not to the yearly grade exams. So typically a child using Math.U.See might not score well on standardized testing in the elementary years but will score exceptionally well later on. I love the way it teaches the different concepts and all of my kids like math now! I also like the fact that it doesn’t go by “grade” level, leaving everyone more comfortable to work at their own pace.
Everyday he reads a little aloud to me but I try to never weary him. When he was still sounding out most words I would have him read one page then I would read one. Taking turns gives them a break and keeps the story interesting. While unlocking the written word with your child is amazing and exciting, it can also become tedious, for us and them! Just remember that they learn line upon line, precept upon precept. Even just sounding out a few words a day is practice and practice means progress! Even now that he is reading a lot on his own I’ll have him read aloud to me. I think it is an important skill to be able to read aloud with confidence. Right now he is reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, and is loving it!
Although I wasn’t planning to, this year I have also added Spell to Write and Read to his formal studies. He and his brother were busy writing war stories this fall and I could see that he needed more spelling knowledge. I have been using this curriculum with his sisters for the last couple years and I have learned so much! So many of the mysteries of the written English language now make sense to us! For example, ch says /k/ when the word is of Greek origin and /sh/ when the word is French. Why the silent k in knock etc.? Because it is “the ghost of a forgotten sound”, in old and middle English the k was actually pronounced and the spelling of the word never changed. Cool! There is so much more, too! Probably next year he will join his sisters in their study of the Greek and Latin roots in the English language and Spell to Write and Read compliments that perfectly! I was able to attend a workshop with the curriculum’s creator, Wanda Sanseri a few years ago. If you look into this curriculum it seems a little over whelming but it is well worth pursuing. I use it in a self modified version that has worked really well for our family.
His war story is several pages long. One day he said,”Mom, how come our stories sound like a kid wrote them instead of like a real story?” Hmm……Well, for one thing kids did write them! It opened up a discussion about adjectives and interesting sentences structure! He took it to heart, too. Later on in his story he wrote, “We grabbed guns and knives and ran to the army trucks and zoomed off through the woods to the battle field.” Not too bad!
He is growing up though! The other day he was reading something about the Civil War and he came up to me looking very serious. “Mom,”he said, ” I used to think it would be kind of fun to have a war here but I didn’t know war was so terrible. I’m going to pray that we never have a war here!”
Growing in wisdom, growing in grace. I ‘m looking forward to watching the rest of the story unfold! And like Mary, the mother of my Lord, and every other mama, truly I am blessed among women!
In closing I wanted to share this poem that I found!
God made a world out of his dreams,
Of magic mountains, oceans, and streams,
Prairies and plains and wooded land.
Then paused and thought,”I need someone to stand,
On top of the mountains, to conquer the seas,
Explore the plains and climb the trees.
Someone to start out small and grow,
Sturdy and strong like a tree” and so
He created boys, full of spirit and fun
To explore and conquer, to romp and run
With dirty faces, and banged up chins
With courageous hearts and boyish grins.
And when he’d completed the task he’d begun
Surely He said,”That’s a job well done!”