Marching to Our Own Beat
Homeschooling is such a generic term. Each family must choose their own methods of providing a safe, supportive, and challenging learning environment according to their own beliefs and values within the boundaries of state law. It’s unlikely that any two homeschool families educate in exactly the same way.
We take a multifarious approach to homeschooling. By this I mean, I can’t make up my mind which method is the best (Libra parenting–the struggle is real), so I’m willing to try just about everything to see what works best for each individual learner.
I’ve been homeschooling for the better part of eight years. During this time, we’ve tried lots of different curricula, and have really come to enjoy the eclectic approach. This post will cover the topics and resources used for the younger kiddos. I’ll cover the older kids in a later post.
First off, like many homeschool families, I don’t put a lot of stock in pre-determined grade levels. Kids develop at their own pace, and each have different strengths and weaknesses. We may be using second or third grade level curriculum for some subjects, and Kindergarten or first grade for others. That said, Joey is six and is in first grade. Evie is a precocious four, and works on whatever she’s interested in at the moment. She usually follows along with what Joey is doing.
Joey is an active boy, and meets most of the checklist criteria for ADHD, though we’ve never had him formally tested. We work on school throughout the day and night, depending on his attention span. The subjects we cover are: language arts, math, science, social studies, foreign language, character development, and other interest-led topics as they come up.
We are a family of readers, and have always worked to provide a literature-rich environment. We own more books than many small town libraries, and there’s always reading material available. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great place to find affordable children’s books, and many communities, including ours, have neighborhood little libraries. We have read-aloud time several times a day.
In addition to physical books, we have access to tons of digital books. One of the best children’s apps I’ve seen is Epic! books. It’s amazing, and has an ever-expanding library of books, educational videos, and audio books for kids from baby to teen. It’s very reasonable at $4.99 a month, and we use it multiple times a day.
Other reading resources we use are BOB books, Hooked on Phonics digital edition, Time 4 Learning, Mrs. Karle’s Learn to Read free, Easy Peasy, and sight words. I believe strong readers can learn anything, so we spend a lot of time reading.
My favorite math curriculum is Life of Fred. It teaches math concepts in story-format. It helps kids to understand why math is done, and introduces logic-based thinking. For more drill-style practice, we use Time 4 Learning and Khan Academy. The kids use manipulatives, puzzles, blocks, and tangrams to build their spatial and problem solving skills.
For science, we do a lot of interest-led learning depending on whatever they’re into. We’ve researched dinosaurs, volcanoes, marine creatures, and insects in depth over the last year. We work loosely within the scientific method, and have done notebook entries with experiments and nature study.
We cover a variety of topics in social studies. My aim is to help him see history as a fascinating study, rather than a compendium of names and dates. We have been watching Liberty’s Kids on YouTube lately, and are learning about the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States. We’re reading biographies, original documents, and fictional accounts. An awesome side note is that this study fits perfectly with my latest obsession-Hamilton the musical-so we’ve been listening to that a lot as well.
We recently incorporated world history into our week, and are reading The Story of the World, book one, which begins with the transition from nomadic peoples to early agricultural settlements. It’s written in an informative storybook format, which appeals to the kids. We often use chapters as part of a bedtime story routine.
Geography comes in the form of additions to history lessons, and from the various trips we’ve taken. Again, I’m more interested in applicable lessons than rote memorization.
I believe it’s incredibly important for kids to be exposed to many different languages early on. They may not necessarily learn those languages extensively, but it helps form those language pathways in their brains.
Joey and Evie are learning Latin this year, and we plan to continue throughout their school years. Because so many languages, including English, are built from Latin roots, they will be able to take the information and apply it wherever they like as they get older. We’re starting with Song School Latin, by Classical Academic Press. The songs and chants seem to help the information stick in their brains easily.
Joey is also learning the Greek Alphabet using the book Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, from the same publisher.
This is probably our most compelling reason for homeschooling. We read stories and do activities to promote character development. This year, we’ve embraced the Random Acts of Kindness movement and try to incorporate this into our lives. We’re working on manners and trying to raise our kids to be compassionate, confident, thoughtful individuals.
Whew…so there’s a snapshot of what we’re covering this year. This is neither all-inclusive nor strictly followed every day. I’m not a rigid schedule kind of person, and some days flow a little better than others. We school year-round, so there isn’t that drive to get everything done in a six hour day. Any questions or comments, feel free to post below!