Our Classical Homeschool 2016

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Quite a few things have changed since I shared our homeschool journey a little over a year ago. It’s amazing how a year of trying something new can change your mind. I mentioned in that post a love I had for Classical Education and Charlotte Mason, and to put it in a nutshell, I sorta fell in love with the classical model in a new and fresh way, and discovered in the process that it is the best fit for our family. If you are unsure what classical education is then read this for a general overview it is written by Classical Conversations, there are many other articles and books out there as well. I originally thought classical education would be too much work for me to implement with our ever-growing family, but actually we joined Classical Conversations this past year and it really served our needs and gave me some clear direction. My children learned so much and grew as students through the Classical Conversations materials and community. As we moved along in the year I began trying out classical approaches to various subjects and I just liked it a lot, and so did my kids! I have also been doing some reading and research on Classical education, and I’ve been able to catch a more long-term vision.  At this point, I’m totally sold! The more we do, the more fruit I see, the more I believe in the model and what it can do for the minds of my children (and me for that matter since I’m learning many things along with them). As I experience classical education first hand I honestly begin to wish I had been taught this way. I feel like I am learning more than I ever knew before, and I have my masters in education so that’s saying something! I genuinely enjoy our material, and of course if mama likes it that encourages my children to view it as exciting and interesting as well. I once also thought classical education would be boring and intense, but as it turns out we have never enjoyed our school more than we do now that we are on this classical education path. It’s interesting, challenging, and fun! And surprisingly, it’s restful and relational. I find that we spend more time having conversations about our subjects. Impromptu research projects come up all the time. Memory work songs can be sung while folding laundry or jumping on the trampoline. Everyone is having fun with it! Even my child who previously disliked school enjoys most of our subjects now. My children actually enjoy the work more because it is more suited for the way that the child’s brain works and for their capability levels. It feels like a breath of fresh air from some of the more traditional things we were using. I could go on and on, but I think you get where I am coming from. I love that I know where we are headed.

Now, what I really want to do with this post is share our curriculum for this year, and in future posts I plan to break apart exactly how we are approaching each subject with these materials. I want to do this because classical education can be done in so many different ways. It’s fun to get to peek into another family’s homeschool from time to time and see how they are accomplishing their educational goals. I know posts like this by other bloggers have really helped me shape our homeschool; they’ve also introduced me to curriculum that fit our family well. Overall, I’ve learned that there are SO many ways to do this homeschool thing. I love how many of us who may even carry the same education philosophies and Christian vision for our families can do it so differently. We are not in a competition! We are raising up arrows side by side, it’s hard work, and we should be helping and encouraging and praying for one-another. We can share our curriculum choices and at the same time be excited about the curriculum choices of others. A curriculum or philosophy or method that is a great fit for one family, may not fit another at all,;and that’s okay! I just want you to know that I’m not putting this out here to say, “look how great our curriculum choices are” or anything like that. I am still learning and growing with each year that I homeschool. I am excited about the year ahead; and we’ve already started many things I list below and have found them to be wonderful for us. Maybe this can give you an idea or two, or maybe not and that’s okay too because you will find the curriculum and style that works for you and your kids. So without further ado, here it is.

Our Classical Curriculum for the 2016-2017 School Year for a 2nd and a 3rd grader

Bible: Polished Cornerstones by Doorposts for our Biblical Womanhood character training, Truth and Grace Memory Book (This is what we use for a Children’s Catechism), daily Bible reading alone and out loud.

Language Arts: Classical Conversations, First Language Lessons, and Writing with Ease

Reading: Both of my girls are reading well so no formal reading curriculum is needed anymore. Woohoo! We used “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons“, and loved it for both! One of my children had to go through it a few times, but it did the job! For reading, we will practice reading aloud, reading alone, and narration from living books, classics, and biographies for children. I also have them participate in reading the Scripture out loud. My 3rd grader will be reading through the New Testament for the second time independently. I may start my 2nd grader reading through the New Testament the second half of the year depending on her progress, we will just play it by ear and see if she is ready then.

Spelling: All About Spelling and Spelling Power

Handwriting: Classical Conversations prescripts cursive workbooks, Writing with Ease. We currently write in print, but will hopefully move to cursive this year with my third grader for notebooking and Writing With Ease. We are wrapping up Simply Charlotte Mason Print to Cursive Write the Proverbs with my 3rd grader; she has worked on it all summer, and it was great!

History: Classical Conversations, Story of the World, and other biographies and books on our CC topics (here’s one of my favorites, actually all from this series are great!) We do CC related reading from the Story of the World books as well as listen through the audio books straight through.

Science: Classical Conversations, reference books, nature journaling and classification guides (like this one). We will also be drawing a labeling drawings from the beautiful book Nature Anatomy. (go look inside, it’s gorgeous!) Eventually we will add in a formal science, I’m leaning toward apologia, but that will be 5th or 6th grade and it will be done independently.

Latin: Classical Conversations and Sing Song Latin DVDs and Text with CD

Math: Classical Conversations and Teaching Textbooks (for my 3rd grader), Splash Math, and math practice worksheets (from workbooks like this one), math fact flash cards, and working with manipulatives (this is the set we have by Saxon and we love it).

Geography: Classical Conversations and we will use the method described in the geography chapter in The Core.

Art: Classical Conversations, Drawing with Children, and See the Light. We will also play around on Art Hub a little bit for fun.

Music: Classical Conversations, hymn singing/memorization, they are both learning to play the ukulele, and we may add piano lessons (not sure yet though). I also use Faber Music flash cards to teach music symbols, note names, rhythms, and basic theory.

Some things that are shaping my year:

This is my homeschool planner, it may be a little pricey, but it literally has everything I need to plan and track the homeschool and the home in one place. It includes meal planning, budgeting, lesson planning, grade keeping, attendance tracking (for up to 4 children), and more. Also, there is a printable insert on CC connect where you can place all the memory work in a spot in the planner on your CC day to be able to quickly access and plan accordingly.

I’m on CC connected (I mentioned it above) which is a great resource! If you participate in Classical Conversations it is really affordable and worth it to me (currently $6 a month for foundations), this is a great place to ask questions on the forums and to find CC related printables and add-ons. These add-ons aren’t necessary at all, but they can be fun! There are history coloring pages that correlate with the history sentences which my girls loved last year. There are many practice worksheets and things that expound on the core information. There are presentation planning sheets. There are songs and mp3s to help with memory work. The list goes on, but a quick word of warning….don’t get too ambitious over there. With so many ideas and printables it can be easy to over-plan and create busy work instead of productive work which usually leads to burnout for the kiddos. Unless you have one who loves busy work, then hey, go for it!

These are the two books I read over the summer which sharpened my vision for the coming year: The Core by Leigh Bortins and Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. Both very different books, but super helpful!

If you are looking for a book to help you understand the Classical Education model as a whole as well as in each phase of education then I recommend The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer.  I often pull that out and give it a good look-over because it’s almost a “how-to” guide. I don’t do everything the way she says it, but it definitely gives me good ideas to draw from.

My Heart on this Journey

The Lord has been so good to me this year, in many many ways. I feel like I have grown and matured in the skill of homeschooling, which I believe is a grace and help from the Lord. It probably has much to do with gaining a greater vision for the path we are on. I am also growing in my understanding of who He is and loving Him in deeper ways. Knowing Him on a deeper level through His Word has been the thing that has encouraged my heart to press on in homeschooling and in the vision He has given us for our family when things were hard this past year. The reality is my strength and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my life and my portion. He will sustain me through the hard days, through the times I have doubts, through the days when it feels like there is no way to get everything done that we need to get done, through sick days or weeks or months, through welcoming another sweet baby, through another postpartum period. He will lift my head and keep me putting one foot in front of the other, seeking to do His will by diligently teaching and training these little ones which He has entrusted to me.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
-Psalm 73:26

Happy homeschooling to all you homeschool mamas out there!