We started school this week, but I feel like I am still in the planning stages of this school year. I have chosen a few things we will be using that are new for us, and few things we are bringing along from last year, and a few things are yet to be determined.
For our Bible study, we don’t have a curriculum we follow. I did purchase Balancing the Sword this year, and although we have only used it a few days so far, I think it will be a great match for us.
During our Bible time (mid-morning after all chores are done and everyone has eaten breakfast), we usually start by singing a few hymns. I let the kids each pick a hymn. We all sing remembering the words the best we can (sometimes we use the hymnal if Kendra doesn’t need it to play the piano). My goal is to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and to help my children prepare their hearts for the Word.
After singing, we all open our Bibles to the scriptures we will be reading. This year we started with Luke. I have each child of reading age read a section (depending on their ability I decide how long they should read). For my 6 year old who is still learning to read and sounding words out, I try to find one verse with simple words and help her sound them out. This encourages her to work on learning to read so that she can read more of the Bible like the older kids.
As we read, I will stop them and ask questions or discuss what they are reading. This is where Balancing the Sword comes in. It contains retention questions for every book in the Bible. It doesn’t add commentary, or ask opinionated questions, just questions about exactly what was read. It also contains maps and pictures related to the passages. When the 2 year old has trouble sitting still, I let him look at the pictures as we read. We generally try to cover a chapter a day, but for longer chapters (like Luke 1), we break it up into 2 days.
For scripture memory, I try to pick verses from the passages we are reading. As the year moves along, I will pick verses from other areas of the Bible, especially for the older kids who are able to learn more verses. I found a scripture memory method from Simply Charlotte Mason that I have modified to work for our family. It involves writing each verse on an index card and reviewing them systematically throughout the month. As we learn more verses, I hope to be able to get better at reviewing them.
~As a side note, last year I had a little boy who would dump the cards out of our scripture memory box when I wasn’t paying attention. This year he is a little older, but just in case, I bought a small notebook that holds index cards. I keep it with my Bible and so far, no scattered index cards.
For personal Bible reading time, I found a reading checklist online. I just print off each of us a copy and we check the boxes as we read through the Bible on our own.
For the littles, this one is fairly straightforward.
1st grade – Hannah is still learning to read using 100 Easy Lessons. She also uses Explode the Code to help cement the phonics lessons she is learning. For handwriting, I have her copy scripture or she sometimes uses Draw Write Now. I have her read various books at or below her reading level.
4th grade - Maddie is working on Learning Language Arts through Literature. It is a workbook type curriculum, but I like that it follows a somewhat Charlotte Mason type learning style. It includes grammar, spelling, reading (not much though, I supplement with extra), handwriting, and other extra learning activities. She really enjoys doing it, so I am sticking with it. Last year she did Phonetic Zoo for spelling (because I already had it and it is what her older brother was using), but this year I think I will keep it simple and just use the spelling word in her lessons. She gets 5-6 words a week and it ties into what she is already learning.
9th grade - Tristan…OK, here is where I am still planning. Last year he used Phonetic Zoo for spelling, Fix-it for grammar, and IEW for writing. I would like to find a way to tie everything together in a more practical manner. I feel like he is learning the mechanics of language without learning the usage, if that makes sense. I will mark this one “to be determined”.
12th grade – Kendra will be reading some great literature through the Beautiful Feet history curriculum she is using. I am having her focus on writing skills this year, through her blog, in a nutrition class she is taking, and in the history class. I want her to learn to express herself in a structured way and basically find her writing “voice”.
Just so I don’t leave anyone out…
5 month old – practicing his babbling, cooing, and laughing. No curriculum needed, just lots of encouragement from everyone around him.
2 year old – practicing answering mama in a kind tone without the words “No way, Jose”, memorizing every word of his Veggie Tale shapes and colors books, and keeping us in an uproar with the clever comments he comes up with.