I just wanted to give a quick update on how our schooling is going along with a few links to some great resources I have come across recently. So far we have been sticking very loosely with the curriculum from Ambleside Online, and I do mean loosely. I started the year all gung-ho about following the Year One curriculum to the tee, but it just wasn’t the right fit for our family this year so we just kind of did our own thing. Our oldest son has picked up the rudiments of reading and math pretty much on his own. I will get into the plan for this next year in the link section in a bit. We mostly read a lot of living books and spent time exploring the outdoors.
For this next year, our second son will be Kindergarten age and our oldest will be in second grade. Here is what I have found so far that I am excited about for this next year:
Reading- My wonderful friend Brandy from Afterthoughts has put together a wonderful blog about Teaching Reading with BOB books that I am really excited about. She has pretty much broken the books down into daily lessons that are practical and short, just what I am looking for!
Math- I am still saving up for this program, even though it is very affordable. Math-U-See is a really great program that is recommended by Ambleside Online and I have friends that have used it. We got to check it out this last year and our oldest son just LOVED it. This year I plan on starting our grade K student in the Primer book. For our grade 2 student, I plan on starting him in the Alpha book and letting him go at his pace, then moving to the Beta book when he seems ready. The great thing about this program is that you only have to buy the manipulatives once, then as they move into the higher levels there are a few more manipulatives to buy. You can use the same teacher’s pack for that grade level with each child you have in that grade, you only have to buy a new student book. I think this program is going to work out very well for us.
Discipleship- I discovered a wonderful Mennonite/Anabaptist curriculum online for free! All I have to do is print it out and adapt it to our individual school needs. It is called Journeys with God and I am so excited to have found it! It was developed for use in a classroom setting, but so far it seems really easy to adapt to home schooling. I have decided to start the Grade 2 curriculum with our oldest, and then have him sit in on the Grade K and 1 curriculum with his younger brother so that he doesn’t miss out on anything.
Natural History/Nature Studies- I have always been a big fan of the emphasis that Charlotte Mason has put on getting your kids outside and enjoying nature. I have decided to go back through a Year 1 book from Ambleside Online that we only got through the first few chapters of. It is called The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess. I have found some great resource sites that are going to make this book so much fun to read this year. The first one I found at the blog Satori Smiles . The second one is a gem that I found at That Resource Site and it is packed full of useful things like Montessori cards you can print out of all the birds mentioned in the story, copy work sheets, coloring pages, etc. We will also be doing our normal outings and nature-y type things that we usually do.
Copywork/Handwriting- I have finally decided on a handwriting style that we would like to teach the boys by reading a great free e-book from Bogart Family Resources. It talks about the importance of teaching handwriting and also goes through all the different styles so you can get an idea of what will work for your kids. Eddie and I decided that we prefer the Zaner-Bloser style of handwriting, so I think that I am going to try making up my own copywork sheets. Bogart Family Resources has some great copywork sheets pre-made to buy, but Eddie and I both agree that we would prefer for the kids to do scripture copywork in a translation other than KJV and unfortunately, that is all BFR has available. I found a site to buy either the Zaner-Bloser font or the D’Nelian font for $49.95, which may be a viable option for us to create our own copywork sheets. We haven’t decided yet, so if anyone has any suggestions or other Zaner-Bloser resources you know about, please let us know!
Books to Read- Along with the books recommended in the Journeys With God curriculum, plus various books from the Ambleside Online curriculum, I found a great list of books for boys listed on the blog Ordo Amoris called The Literature of Honor for Boys. I am pre-reading the first book of a series called Redwall by Brian Jacques for our oldest to read this year. He is really into knight stories, which is also why we have already started reading The Story of King Arthur and his Knights written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. I am having our oldest draw out a summary of each chapter after we read it to get him started with his narration skills. He had been very resistant to oral narration, so I had to kind of trick him a bit to get him to narrate at all. I hope to move on to oral and written narration eventually, but for now I have to use what works.
Geography- I have really liked using the Holling C. Holling books for now, so I think we will continue going through them at our own pace. I might also add in some regional stories that we can pinpoint on a map from countries and people groups that are under persecution for their faith. For us, that is something very important to pass on to our boys.
Languages- For now we are still plugging away at Latin. Eddie and I are just picking vocabulary to teach the boys for now and I think I will also add some Koine Greek words in this year. We are using Charlotte Mason‘s idea that you teach vocabulary first until the children are familiar with the words, their sound, and their meanings, then you go on to the written language. The boys all seem to be doing very well with this approach.
I am planning on working on reading, copywork, and math on a daily basis for about 15 minutes for each activity. The rest of the material I plan on scheduling by the week and just fitting it in on the day that it works best. I think it will be better to have more weekly goals than daily goals for us because life happens and we really enjoy being flexible with what life throws our way. So that’s the plan.