Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homeschool Agendas

Maybe I should start with a statement of my overarching goals for my children:
I want my children to grow up with personal faith in God and the skills, abilities and attitudes necessary to provide for and direct their own families and to be contributing members of society.
Wow. Do I know how to accomplish this? Of course not. I do have some pretty good examples to follow, both within and without my own family. I take great comfort from the fact that in spite of inperfections in my parents and in the circumstances in which I grew up, my siblings and I have seem to have turned out pretty well. I have a lot of dreams for my children--what parent doesn't? I want them to learn to be hardworking. I want them to do well in their schooling and be able to go to college at a good school; I would be really happy if they could qualify for scholarships! I want them to choose good marriage partners and have happy families of their own...OK, most of that's in the way far future. How does that translate to homeschooling this year?
Well, Lily is just in Kindergarten. That means, to me, that any schoolwork we do should be very low-key and not stressful. My plans, consequently, are not very structured; I just don't feel that a child this age needs to be made to fit some adult's mold, even my own. She needs lots of time outdoors, lots of time for experiencing the world around her and for outdoor exploration. This is why Outdoor Time is one of the three things on my To Do list for school every day. I think it is much more critical at this stage in her life than math, reading, or most other things.
What are the other two Every Day items? Well scripture study--preferably reading together and working on a memory verse. Why? Because we come to know God by studying His words as given to us by prophets and apostles. And we need to know God if we are to live our lives with meaning. And have you ever noticed that the things you learned when you were young are never forgotten? Your first phone number (no matter how many you may have had and forgotten since)? All those TV commercials? Nursery rhymes? I remember very distinctly when I was about Lily's age my parent's teaching me William Blake's poem beginning "Little lamb, who made thee?" I remember every line of that poem to this day. So this is the time to be teaching our children the things we want them to remember. Scripture verses, songs and hymns, poems, those things that they can call on when they need to be uplifted anytime throughout their lives.
And my third every-day activity? Music practice. Why? Ummm...because that's what my mother did? In all honesty, I consider my mother to be one of the wisest women, and certainly one of the most intuitive mothers, in the world. She tells me now that music was her way of raising children--her way of giving us something really challenging, requiring consistent work and focus. She didn't produce a crop of great performers; she never wanted to. She did produce a family who know and love music, who learned about persistence, cooperation, and how to record yourself practicing then turn on the tape to make mom think you were doing it when you weren't. Oh wait, that was only me :-) In any case, doing music just feels right, kind of like doing homeschool just feels right to me. By the way, Lily has chosen to study cello this year. I finally have a use for that absolutely adorable little cello I just had to buy two years ago...
So that is my agenda in a nutshell. Oh, I have lots of other things planned. I've written about some in an earlier post. We are (somewhat loosely) following Ambleside Online's year 1 reading schedule, working on the concept of narration...and I have a ton of math materials. I really want my children to understand and enjoy math. I'm always on the lookout for materials that help develop conceptual mathematic abilities. Over the last year or so I have picked up (all used) materials from Miquon, Singapore, Math-U-See, Right Start, and probably a couple of others. But I do math only as Lily wants to do it. She likes doing math, she especially likes workbooks. At this point I encourage her to do any problems she wants to tackle, and I do not point out mistakes. If I notice a particular mistake recurring (say, writing 7's backwards, or always coming up 1 number short when doing an addition problem by "counting on") I will take note of it as something to practice correctly with her on. Often though if she seems to understand the basic concept I just let "mistakes" be. Yesterday she was doing a worksheet where you color in shapes, i.e. "find the squares and color them". One page asked her to find rectangles. The first one she found was a cross, because, she said, it was two rectangles crossing each other. (It wasn't drawn that way, no lines across the arms). But her reasoning made perfect sense. That is exactly the kind of reasoning I don't want to kill by making her find "right" answers all the time! I'm also planning to do science--we just ordered caterpillars to raise into butterflies, and I'm always salivating over all the cool science kits out there. I've looked into NOEO science, which uses more of a "living book" approach. I also like what I have seen of the Apologia elementary books. But really I should save that for another year...
I'm editing this post to add a scripture verse:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21
I actually borrowed this verse from Amber over at who used it in her memoires post (I hope you don't mind Amber). I liked her reference to simplifying and focusing more on family. Sometimes it is so hard to not get caught up in, well, everything...and so we waste our time and energy and forget where real treasure is to be found!


Mrs. Darling said...

Little Lamb who Made Thee is set to music too. I learned the song way back in 1968 when I was in school. Later I taught that same song to my students when I became a teacher. Good luck and blessings as you embark on this new journey

Lynn said...

I hope you have a wonderful year! :)


Sisterlisa said...

I wrote an article inspired by your question and it will publish tomorrow, Friday Aug 29th.

Paula said...

Thank you sisterlisa, I'm looking forward to reading your article!

Thankfulheart said...

Hi Paula, Glad you stopped by. Thank you for your comments and wisdom. God truly is a loving father that does not allow spoiled children! Amen?

Amber said...

I love your post! My kids love "Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature". It is a fun book and teaches basics of Science and my kids all love it! Thanks for stopping by my blog, hopefully I didn't talk your ear off in my e-mail!!! ;D

Chocolateer said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I'm sorry it took so long for me to return the favor, but I am ever so glad I did! I think your goals and your daily activities are just wonderful :) Your little girl will be so blessed by having such a loving mother (just as you were so blessed by your mother)!


Miss Rachel said...

Hello there, Mrs. Paula -
I am still working on my Homeschool Memoirs post for that, but it should be posted here very soon. A lot of what I post has to go through editing before I can post it. And with one person editing all, and a magazine that we just published, some things are hard to get edited! LOL :)

Anyways, here is a link for my Simple Woman's Daybook -
Right under it is the schedule I am using for my Bible Reading Challenge. You can post your own schedule if you want. Where did you start from?


Kelley said...

I finally got a chance to read this post. It's been tantalizing me on my Google Reader ever since you wrote it. I knew, though, that I'd need to give it more than the cursory glance that was all I've had time for up until now.

I'm so glad I finally read it. You have inspired me yet again. I learned for myself this morning not to push Matt too hard. I sat down last night and created an awesome list of things to do today, but he mutinied and now he and Ben have been playing dentist and hide-and-seek, playing with their pirate toys, and coloring each other's fingernails with pencils!

We did manage to get some AO reading in along with scripture reading, some memorization, and hymn practice before the mutiny, though. I guess those are the most important parts of our day anyway. The rest will come.

What kinds of things are you having your kids memorize? We worked on Proverbs 3:5-6 and the 1st verse of How Firm a Foundation this morning. I'm really just picking my personal favorites, and going from there.

I guess the perk of him mutinying (did I spell that right) is that I've had time to work on my own reading and writing this morning.