Friday, February 5, 2021

Teaching our Tribe

 The number one question I get asked as a homeschooling mom is, “What curriculum do you use to teach all those kids?” I will share with you what “boxed” curriculum we use, but it’s important to know that our homeschool does not fit inside any box. I don’t even teach neatly inside one particular methodology. We fall someone between Charlotte Mason and unschooling with a strong pull towards wild and free. We have two goals for our children. The first is that they grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second is that they develop a life long desire to learn. In everything we do I try to connect it back to God and also to experiences. The curriculum books we use are simply a springboard. A typical day starts in our textbooks, which may lead to a “living book”, which may then lead to some imaginative play in the woods, which could lead to a discovery, which then leads to a YouTube video, which leads to a journal entry, which perhaps leads to an art, which inspires and leads to a music, and so on. The textbooks we use to jumpstart our learning have changed some over the years (you can see what we used in the 2018-2019school year), but here is what we are currently using.

HISTORY: As we added more children to our homeschooling day (we now have 5 school age kids, as well as a toddler and a baby), we found it harder and harder to use Heart of Dakota and decided to switch to MasterBooks. This year we are all (yes, our kindergartener through 6th grader) doing America’s Story 3. I do not use the accompanying workbook, but instead assign projects and writing prompts based on each child’s ability, learning style, and interests. We add a LOT of children’s books and novels to this curriculum. 

Perhaps in another blog post I’ll share a book list, but we love this curriculum as the backboard of our history studies.

SCIENCE: I was first introduced to Apologia science a few years ago when I was teaching Physical Science and Physics at a co-op. I fell in love with the curriculum and we have been using Apologia for science ever since. This year we are studying Botany. 

Again, we do not use the accompanying workbook that Apologia offers, but each of the kids keep a nature journal. In it they keep their notes and examples of vocabulary words, drawings and paintings of their nature finds, experiment reports, and more. 

We started a garden this year, which has gone along perfectly with our studies and the children enjoy planning, planting, and tending to their plants.

MATH: We are still using Math for a Living Education by Masterbooks with each child in their own level. 

The stories at the start of each chapter help our children see the real world connection, plus I love how it has character training and other subjects interwoven. A great place to teach math is in the kitchen, and boy are there some yummy recipes in the book!

ENGLISH: We are also still using English for a Living Education. Again, I love how it incorporates bible study and character training. 

We have also started doing daily writing prompts. Sometimes they are silly (for example, “What would you do if you went to take a bath and found a talking alligator in the tub?”), sometimes serious, sometimes require logic and problem solving, and other times are related to current events.

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to grab your FREE Ants Writing Prompts. While you are there be sure to click "Follow Me". More fun resources to come!

READING: We have a few children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and working memory dysfunction. They were receiving tutoring until the COVID shutdown. We recently started Treasure Hunt Reading, which is a free program by Prenda Learn (we did buy the workbook, but you can print yourself). Their website describes it as following “an Orton-Gillingham, multi-sensory, systematic approach to literacy to support learners of all levels and abilities.” Our three oldest boys (K, 1st, and 2nd grader) are going through it. It is very engaging and our boys are enjoying it. Again, we supplement with lots of other hands on activities, games, and early readers.

 I have a fun CVC Treehouse Climb in my Teacher's Pay Teachers store that is a fun way to get lots of practice. You can even use an army man or other figurine to climb the ladder.

For the older kids, I provide a wide range of books for them to choose from each week and we come up with engaging activities to go along with it.

TYPING: Also designed with dyslexics in mind, this year we added TTRS (Touch Type Read Spell) into our homeschool curriculum. It is a no frills typing program but I absolutely love that I can customize and add in their reading lists, science vocabulary words, history facts, and more. It really helps to reinforce all of our other subjects while also teaching them to type, which we believe is a valuable life skill. 

EXTRACURRICULARS: The girls are involved in competitive gymnastics and the boys recently started BMX racing. Music is a big part of their education. They four oldest take piano lessons, and they also have started learning ukulele, guitar, and violin. It’s not uncommon for me to say, “Why don’t you write a song about that.” Whether it is a history lesson, science lesson, bible memorization, or even math facts, we have found that putting it to music helps us learn. The girls have also started sewing. When COVID hit, they began making and selling face masks (and also making masks for Arkansas Children’s Hospital).

 They are now starting to make some quilts. Which brings me to another aspect of our homeschool -  entrepreneurship and financial literacy. They are never too young to learn how to make and manage money. I love seeing the creative business plans they come up with.

I try to have enough margin in our day to allow plenty of time for them to run with their imaginations. Recently they made a track for their matchbox cars and blazed a hiking trail through the woods. Imaginative play teaches problem solving, teamwork, and creativity. 

That about sums up our homeschool! Are you a veteran homeschooler, new homeschooler, or considering homeschooling? I’d love to connect with you on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures

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Ellen W said...

Wonderful post! I love those nature journals. They look great.

Jessica Baker said...

Thank you Ellen! Glad you enjoyed it and hope you found some encouragement or inspiration.

Annette said...

a great walk through of how you do life and homeschooling. :)