"If Psalm 1 is to be believed, we must not allow our children to stand, sit or walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality. Instead, we must place them in situations that will aid them in meditating on the law of the Lord 'day and night.' Surely this involves how and where they are to be educated." — Voddie T. Baucham Jr.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pay attention

I was reading here and decided to write about what I've been thinking about a lot lately, which is, what really matters when it comes to my children's education. And what I've boiled everything down to is charachter. If I can somehow train my children in good character than nothing that God would be calling them to would be out of their reach. They would not be hindered by bad habits, lack of self control or self disipline. They would not be lazy, distracted or a host of other things. Yes I want them to know the three R's  and some other etuff as well, but if I don't train their character then its like pouring golden water into a beautiful vase that has a hole in the bottom. It's whorthless. I know form experience the truth of the Proverb that says "the desire of a lazy man will kill him, because his hands refuse to work." I have so many ideas and aspirations that sit in my head and eat away at me because I lack some (unknown to me) component of bringing these things from my head to my hands. I'm sure there is laziness involved, but what I'm finding is that there's something more to it than that. I can't pay attention. Charlotte Mason had tis to say of the habit of attention.

      It's clear that attention is not a faculty of the mind. In fact, the various operations of the mind aren't accurately described as faculties. Attention isn't really an operation of the mind. it just means applying all of oneself to the matter at hand, and it can be developed so that it becomes a habit. [Attention isn't a muscle in the brain to be exercised. It's something you do rather than something you have.]  Vol. 1 pg. 145 (emphases added)

Note where she say applying all of oneself to the matter at hand. This is where I fall short. Even in the moment my mind flits and flutters here and there and yonder. I feel the emptiness of a lost moment with my children when I finish reading a book to them and have a faint idea what I read because I was thinking about something else. Or the regret after a small tea party with Janelle at which my mouth was moving and responding to her, but my mind was somewhere else. Almost every morning lately I wake up with the agonizing thought that I moving closer to eternity, and what will I do today that really matters. In a recent talk with my best friend, she encouraged me with Eccl 9:10 which says

      Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. 

I want to determine to instill this habit in my children, but first I must deal with it in myself. Charlotte had this to say~

                But,––supposing that the doing of a certain action a score or two of times in unbroken sequence forms a habit which it is as easy to follow as not; that, persist still further in the habit without lapses, and it becomes second nature, quite difficult to shake off; continue it further, through a course of years, and the habit has the strength of ten natures, you cannot break through it without doing real violence to yourself; Vol. 1 pg. 110

This is the first habit she says the children should be trained in. And for me all hope is not lost. 
              2 Corintians 5:17 says "Thereofre if any man be in Christ is is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things are made new."

             And 2 Peter 1:4 says "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

So my new focus is to focus. To learn how to pay attention. God help me in this journey, and may I do all for your glory and honor. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1000 Book Challenge

So my challenge for the school year is to read 1000 story books to the kids. They're picked in random order from the shelves of the library scanned for twaddle and read once or twice to the kids. It sounds like a lot but really its only 6 books a day or 30 a week. I gave myself a head start and already have 10 books under my belt. Please join me if you like. I'll list the books that we are ready each week and maybe have some commentary to add. I've been ready at random times during the day. Snack time, nap time, afternoon, bath time and bed time. whenever I have a few minutes to spare. Here is a link to our book list for the year. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Curriculum 2012-13 Part 2

So for part two of my curriculum I'll share what we'll be doing in our after breakfast class time. (Click here for part one). For Science and History I'll be using a two week schedule. So five days for each subject spread over the two weeks.

This class time is mainly with for Janelle, although James will be around doing some other activities while listening to the stories being read.

Bible - Daily
We're going to go through this book of women in the Bible. Each "Princess" is listed with a short poem, story, character trait and Bible verse. We'll spend one week on each one for 30 weeks and then the last six weeks we will review five each week.

Handwriting - Monday
For handwriting Janelle will be working on writing her name. Each week she will copy her name onto a 4x6 index card and place it in a photo album, so each week she will be able to see her progress. We will also do other pre-writing and small motor skill activities as well as some handwriting apps on the iPad.

History - Monday, Wednesday and Friday of week one, and Tuesday and Thursday of week two
For history we will be learning about people from American history. We will only be reading story books about each one that I'll get from the library, and make a note-booking page for each one to keep in our history folder. You can find an outline of our schedule here.

Science - Tuesday and Thursday of week one, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday of week two
For science we will going through the six days of creation reading books for each topic and making a note-booking page for our science folder. You can find an outline here.

Math - Tuesday and Thursday
For math I'll be using Math Play and other online games.

Social Studies - Wednesday and Friday
For social studies we will be learning about different community workers. You can find our list here.

Field Trips/Nature Study - Saturday
Daddy will be in charge of field trips and will be based on something that we were studying for the week either in history, science or social studies. This is also when well do our nature study. I found a wonderful blog that has a weekly nature study challenge. Charlotte Mason was very adamant about children being out in nature as much as possible.

Read-a-louds - Daily
Ambleside.com has a book list that they recommend for birth through age six. I've chosen to read Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner  and Charlotte's Web for the school year. The Winnie the Pooh books will be read over the course of twenty weeks, one chapter a week, and Charlotte's Web will be read over the remaining sixteen weeks.

We will continue to learn nursery rhymes, finger plays, and children's stories. I will post a schedule as soon as I make one :)

Our plans also include taking a daily walk and lots and lots of story books. I'm starting a 1000 book challenge where I plan to read 1000 story books for the school year. It sounds like a lot but it's really only six books a day.

I'm sure they'll be more, but thats all I have for now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Curriculum for 2012-13 Part 1

Here's what I plan on doing this year. I feel like I'm leaving something out because I have so many ideas and aspirations. But there's always next year.

My best friend inspired me to name my homeschool. So after some thought we decided on Greenhouse Learning Academy. I chose the picture of a greenhouse because it really described what I wanted my home to be. A place where children can grow in a gentle and nourishing environment.

I will have two students enrolled for the upcoming year. There is Janelle, 3 and James will be 17 months. I'll mainly follow the Charlotte Mason (CM) approach to education and what she recommends for this age group.

Our set learning times will be a table time during breakfast and a classroom time after breakfast. I got the idea of table time here, but she calls it circle time. Table time will only be 5-10 minutes long and our class time will be 45-60 minutes.

Because both of the children are in the same stage of learning as CM lays out, the following curriculum will be presented to both children. Although Janelle may have more commentary to add, I do not underestimate James' ability to learn and retain the information.

All of this is presented very gently and there is no examination or narration required from the children. It may seem like a lot, but we're not doing all of this every day.

Table time: 5-10 minutes

Bible - Daily
I will be reading through the book of Psalms. One Psalm a day unless it is particularly long in which case I'll break it up. In the case of really short Psalms like Psalm 117, I'll pair it with another short passage.

Memory verses - Daily
Another idea I got from Stacy at With Great Joy is to have a running list of memory verses for the year. I chose for Janelle some verses in Psalms to compliment our Bible reading. We will say the verse and reference everyday until she can say it on her own without any prompting. When she can say the verse on her own she gets a star on her memory verse card, and we go on to the next verse. Fridays will be our review day when we pick a previous verse to recite along with the one we are currently working on.

Spanish - Daily
My Spanish program is vey simple. My brother-in-law who speaks fluent Spanish has agreed to translate some simple sentences for me. We will work on three or four sentences a week. I will not translate them into English, we will just try and memorize the sentences. This is how Charlotte Mason taught Foreign Language. The sentences are placed on the back of a picture that illustrates what is happening in the sentence. I haven't finished making the cards, but I'll post pictures to give a better idea of what I'm doing. We also listen to Spanish music and I plan to learn some simple phrases to say to the children that we can use everyday.

Catechism - Monday
For catechism I'll be using the Children's Catechism found here. We're going to cover one question a week, but if that seems to be moving too slow we'll move it to two questions a week. I will ask the question and give the answer as well as read one of the supporting scriptures given in the outline. Daddy is going to also go over the question of the week at dinner time.

Old Testament books - Monday
For Old Testament Books I will simply sing a song of the books that I learned as a child. There are many of these songs on YouTube, but I haven't found one better than the one I plan to use. I will sing through the song once, unless they ask to sing it again, and that's it. The song will also be on their term CD which I will talk about later. 

Hymn study - Tuesday
For our hymn study I chose 9 hymns to learn for the year. I chose hymns that have simple language so that there woundn't be a lot of "what does that mean". Each hymn will be printed out with some clip art to help illustrate what is being said. We will sing each hymn for four weeks and then we will place it in our family hymnal and move on to the next one. On Fridays we will look through the hymnal and pick one song that we have learned and sing it. I tried to pair the songs with the seasons, so I have For the Beauty of the Earth and This is my Father's World in the fall, Away in a Manger in December and Fairest Lord Jesus in the spring. All of the hymns will also be on their term CD. The hymns for the year are:
Term 1
For the Beauty of the Earth
Holy, Holy, Holy
This is my Father's World
Term 2
Away in a Manger
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Trust and Obey
Term 3
All Creatures of our God and King
Fairest Lord Jesus
Amazing Grace

Presidents - Tuesday
For the Presidents we will cover 15 a term, so 5 every four weeks.  I plan on making picture flash cards with some facts on the back. We will keep the pictures, along with a map print out of the US in a white box with the White House on it. Every week will go over the five for the week, each week learning one new fact, so four facts for each one. We will find where they are from on the map which will be one of the fact learned. I will also read aloud The Buck Stops Here, a book that covers all of the presidents in rhyme. I will only read the section that we are cover at the time, but I will put the entire book on their term CD.

Picture study - Wednesday
For picture study we will be reading three of books from the I Spy series by Lucy Micklethwait. We'll go through one book each term. We will read only one or two pages a week looking at the picture and learning the name of it. I also had 4x6 copies of the pictures printed which will be laminated and used as flash cards.
The books we will be using are:

ASL - Wednesday
For ASL or American Sign Language we will be learn through song. I will chose 3 children's songs for each term and we will learn them in sign. This is a wonderful way to retain vocabulary and its fun too.

Manners - Thursday
For manners I will be using A Little Princess in the Making. We will focus on one each week and find ways to empliment the in our daily lives.

States and Capitals - Thursday
For States and Captials I'll be using States and Capitals Songs. The songs are broken down into regions so we'll just focus on one at a time. While listening to the song we will follow along on our map. Each region will be colored in as we learn the capitals.

Classical Music - Friday
For our classical music study I'll be using Carnival of the Animals. A book and CD set that tells a story of each animal while representing that animal with an instrument. I though it would be good to start with something like this so that there would be a greater appreciation for orchestra music and to train the ear to listen for particular instruments. I haven't received the book yet so I'm not sure how I'm going to break it down for the year.

Poetry - Friday
For poetry I will read a few selections each week from A Childs Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I got a free copy for Kindle on my iPad, so I'll read to the children while they eat a snack.

So thats what I have for now. I'll post soon part two of my curriculum.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A New Year

So I'm finally back to blogging after a long sabbatical due to my 600 mile relocation. I have been doing a lot of thinking about how I wanted to do school this year. I read some more about Charlotte Mason's methods and decided to take her thoughts and make them my main philosophy of education. That said, she doesn't advise you to begin formal education with your child until they are six. So that leaves me with almost two years of what to do. I was reading on Ambleside.com and they suggest read-a-louds for the early years, along with art study, music study, nature study, hymns and folk songs, habit training and Bible. So my focus for this year will be on reading, reading and reading some more. I'm going to keep with my schedules for science and social studies. But I am making some changes to history and Bible. One of the things I love about homeschooling is that if something doesn't work you can change it.

I had a great visit with my best friend Kristal, and we found tons of free books for Kindle on Amazon. The hard part is knowing what to read first. I have been working on my curriculum for the year (which I will post soon), and I can't wait to get started with the school year.