Wonderful Wednesdays each week or by following the Solagratiamom Teaching Plan. So it begs the question....do educational projects or crafts or videos detract from, or enhance, a classical education? I think if the parent understands what the classical model is and puts everything in the right perspective, it should enhance, not detract from, their child's education. Let's simplify and look at the basic areas of study for a classically Christian educated child in the grammar stage:
- Bible Study
- Math (operations, word problems, everyday math use, math in art form, graphing & more)
- Latin study
- Reading (Bible, poetry, anthologies, picture books, readers in advancing levels to chapter books)
- Writing (learning to form letters correctly and transition to copy work)
- Recitation (reciting out loud things such as catechism, math facts, poetry, Bible verses etc.)
- Repetition (to gain factual knowledge of key content areas for later study and learning - we use the Classical Conversation's® Curriculum Guide)
We spend this day in our CC Community. We are there from early in the morning (since I Tutor) until just after lunch time. Once we get home, we do what the kids call "the basics" - math, Latin, handwriting (which they just graduated from their cursive books - so now they are doing cursive copy work), phonics workbooks (mastering phonetic rules and applying them - even though they read well, I think it's important to have a solid phonetic base and the rules memorized), spelling (which I like the Christian Liberty books because they tie together phonetic rules with spelling) and their catechism workbook. I read aloud every night to my kids from the classics such as Aesop, Burgess, Lang, Harriott to name a few favorites. I guide the book choices read independently. I always have subscriptions to good Christian magazines on a steady flow -such as Odyssey, Kids Answers and Math Mania to name a few. During leisure time, we discuss articles that my daughter found interesting or that may have provoked questions and it offers a different type of discourse, than literature book discussion.
We start our day with Bible Study (alternating the kids reading out loud from the Chapter of study) and then move into math. Math, they are required to do two pages of review concepts and then we do a new lesson, if they are ready to move on to the next concept. Next, we do our Latin curriculum, copywork (which is usually related to history or fine arts) and spelling. After that, they do grammar recitation -which involves copywork of grammar rules, memorizing them and then me reciting examples as they write them correctly, showing application of the rule to the sentence dictated. Next they work on phonics workbooks (again memorizing rules and then showing that they can apply them through the workbook pages), catechism (memorization and recitation) and CC memory work (memorization and recitation). We also do things like map drawing, map pinning, and I also use this day to do a few things from the Teaching Plan that pique their (or my) interest or will fit. We use this day to do extra math projects and pursue something such as a Math Art project, like below (this one is on symmetry and the other is working on graphing). Our school day starts at 9 A.M. and we usually don't finish until about 4 P.M. Some days we go later if there is a project or something we're into.
We start our day with Math right after or during breakfast (review sheets of concepts learned so far). Then we have everyone over for our Wonderful Wednesday's group and we cover all the memory work for Classical Conversations® Curriculum Guide for whatever week we just did in our Community on Monday. We use lapbooks and CC Connected timeline hand motions/music. We dress up like our history sentences or timeline characters and do a project based on science or fine arts, generally speaking. We end our time with a Review Game of the previous 6 weeks of material covered. Once that is done, everyone has left and we've eaten lunch, then the afternoon is spent doing the "basics" we do on Mondays - writing, spelling, phonics workbook, catechism and Latin.
We require math to be done on both Saturday and Sundays. Math consists of two worksheets, reviewing concepts covered throughout the week. This was started by my husband at the beginning of this year. He really wanted to create a love and emphasis on math. I have to say that it's been amazing to see the transformation with math, this idea has facilitated. It's expected and it's daily, so there's less resistance and she is moving through math much quicker now. I didn't know my hubby was so brilliant! LOL :)
CLASSICAL CURRICULUM CHOICES/METHODS WE USE….
- Bible study we are currently using is the Bible Study Guide for All Ages Here and last year we did the Foundations study, which is excellent as well.
- The math curriculums we are using are Math U See as our core math curriculum and then supplement extra math work from Making Math Meaningful and do hands on math projects such as those in Math Art. I use principles from Revealing Arithmetic to guide my math curriculum down the Biblical Worldview path.
- The writing curriculum we have really loved using is Handwriting Without Tears Here
- Our copywork this year comes from The Happy Scribe
- The phonics workbooks we are using are Here and you can read why Here
- Our spelling program is Here
- Recitation materials we use are Bible verses and Grammar Recitation as well as poetry
- Regarding Catechism, I agree with this article on why we pursue it Here
- Here is a great list of Classic Christian Literature we read from Here
- The Latin program we love and recommend is Here
- This is a great read on why recitation and memorization compliment one another Here
- Ways that we have used to make learning through the repetition of facts more fun is Here
Purpose - We start our year with a "School Pledge" - this lays out our expectations for behavior and makes clear, our standards. We make sure the kids know that homeschooling is a gift and the purpose of our homeschool, which is to ultimately glorify God and make Him known to a lost world. We measure everything we choose to do, against the goals of our homeschool. It doesn't make schooling perfect, but it does give us direction and a place to reference, when we get out of whack.
Plan - I create a realistic check off list (we use this one as our base and I add things that pertain to our current year - you can download it and modify it for your purposes with what fits for your homeschool - then laminate it and have the kids check it off each day with a dry erase marker, as they work through their day) or find another way of keeping oneself and children on course for the day. Believe it or not, I'm not super detailed but more of a big picture thinker. However, I realize that the devil's in the details, so I provide enough details to keep me and my kids on course and plan enough, to stay the course and arrive where I plan. I don't have each day planned down to the hour but more a plan regarding scope for the day. I use markers in my workbooks/Teacher's Guides to keep track (since they are little and my State doesn't require detailed records of work completed at this age) and I use the Teaching Plan to supplement the memory work or teach concepts in more detail, that are touched on via the memory work. Routine is very important for kids. Find a groove for school and a routine that works and stick to it.
Perspective - If you are doing Classical Conversations® it is easy to get focused in on those 24 weeks of "school" and then peter out when you hit the end of that. My kids know school is year round. They expect to work at school year round in some capacity or another. We also weave education into everyday experiences and tie things together for them, so life itself is a learning experience, not just set in a classroom. That's not to say we don't have bad attitudes or subjects on some days, or take time off at other periods - that's why we school year round, so I can have some flexibility to our school weeks. We lighten up our school year during the early summer and fall months, keeping core elements like Math year round, even when we're "not doing school". This allows me to do things like take a field trip that seems beneficial or do something silly like celebrate PI Day - without stressing. As far as my perspective, I recognize that there are 52 weeks in a year, so if I don't get to the things I want to cover for CC during those 24 weeks or there are things on the Teaching Plan I want to do but they don't end up fitting in that specific CC week - I just do them during the other weeks of the year we are doing school. I have a big picture plan - I know what subjects/lessons we're doing in a day. That's it. However that happens and however long that takes, is up to how diligently the kids work that day and how many interruptions we have. If it's a beautiful morning and we all want to go for a nature walk, then we can and we all just know that the check off list has to be done - so we may work later that day or more diligently when we return. I like the flexibility. That works for me - I can check off my list and as long as I accomplish what I need to, I'm good! Some of you need a specific plan for each hour and day and I get that. I would just caution you not to become a slave to an hour by hour plan, but rather a purpose and an overall goal, allowing flexibility when life happens, because it will! That's also why we homeschool year round, because life does happen - so plan for it! I also shift from year to year on our "focus" outside of the basics. Last year; it was nature study, geography and map drawing. This year; it's been fine arts, math and finding math in other subjects such as art. You have to take a "long view" and realize every year isn't going to fit everything you'd like your kids to learn - so pick areas of focus each year to weave into the core curriculum you are working with.
Discipline - This one will get you every time! If you don't remain disciplined in your pursuits, learn to say no, recognize that your child doesn't have to participate in everything that "sounds good," then it is ever so easy to get taken off course and run out of "time" for the important stuff. I think most homeschool families might say it's hard to find time for school with all the social opportunities that abound these days for homeschoolers! So, be wise and disciplined in your choices. Now that my daughter is in third grade we no longer allow activities like sports during school hours - no matter how great the homeschool class being offered is. We also look to see if the activity will divide or unite our family, encourage a classical education or not and further develop or hinder in our children, those godly characteristics we are working so diligently to instill. The activities we have allowed this year are; ballet (because it is physical exercise, classical music, and develops a further love of the arts), Christian youth theatre (because it develops the skills of public speaking, love of the arts and spiritual discipleship) and piano (because it teaches music theory, trains her ear classically, is a gateway to playing other instruments down the road, and provides an outlet to serve our family and the Church, through worship). This is a LOT of activities for our family. Last year she only did piano, as we intentionally drew back and re-prioritized. We made sure that the activities serve a purpose and don't interfere with our school. Another way to describe discipline in this context is living intentionally.
To summarize, you can live with intent and have lots of fun too. You just need a few elements - a purpose, a plan, a perspective and understanding, to provide the underpinnings and then discipline to see your purpose and plan come to fruition. The final element is prayer! Prayerfully decide your purpose and plan for your homeschool. Pray for perspective, discipline and understanding -bring everything you pursue or consider before Him. This will allow you to set and stay the course and have lots of fun and joy in the midst of the journey!
So tell me what you think? Feel free to comment if you have any insights or ideas.