The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6

Sunday, September 28, 2008


My sweet sister-in-Christ, Kim, posed a request in the comments section for more homeschooling-related posts. So, this one's for her. (Just so you know, when I say "you" in the following post I'm talking the collective "you" - all 15 people who read my blog, not just you, Kim :-)

I always second-guess myself when it comes to posting about our homeschooling days. Here are my reasons:

*I don't ever want anyone to think I have it "all together" because I don't. It is very easy (as you can see by the plethora of homeschool websites and blogs) to write about how you intend to homeschool. It is quite a different story, with a houseful of sinful individuals, to implement said plans. As long as everyone acknowledges that my days never go exactly as I plan, and sometimes don't resemble the plan whatsoever, we can proceed :-)
*Also, God has given me five unique individuals to parent the best I can. The way I teach them can, and probably should, be at least a little different from the way you teach your unique individuals. I won't compare my kids to yours and vice-versa. This can be excruciatingly difficult in the homeschooling world, but necessary.
*Lastly, my oldest is only in the 6th grade, so I am certainly not a veteran at this. I so enjoy the encouragement and wisdom I receive from those who have run the full race and finished on their feet!

OK, caveats aside, I will now regale you with our newest, and perhaps most beloved, change. For years I have planned "Fun Fridays." You know, saving art, music, projects & nature study and having a delightful and relaxing Friday to really soak up all of the wonderful beauty and culture that makes an individual "well-rounded." I use that term loosely, because if you ask 10 people what a well-rounded person looks like you'd probably get 10 different iterations. But nonetheless, I wanted a day in the week reserved for the fun stuff. And what better way to end a hard week than with the fun stuff? Here's the problem I was having. Mama can be just an itty-bitty tired come Friday, and she may no longer think those things so important as they seemed on Sunday afternoon when she was planning, thereby letting them slide. In other words, Fun Fridays were not happening.

Enter new idea. Why not do all the fun stuff on Mondays when we're fresh? Let's call it Funday!

So this is what we now do, and boy, what a dunce I am for not doing this sooner! We still begin our days the same as any other: family breakfast at 6:30, devotions with Daddy, personal Bible reading and chores done by 7:45. Then we do our daily Memory Page (which I will expound on in a later post) and practice our instruments. By 9:00 or so we are ready for the fun stuff. Here is what I have scheduled for tomorrow:

  • Mozart unit study - reading and listening
  • election unit study - I'm not sure if this is more for my kiddos or me! The electoral college is not easy to grasp!
  • letter writing - pick a friend, any friend
  • Diagramming - OK, so we are all geeks and actually look forward to this!
  • picture study - up this week: Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer; oil on canvas, 1872. We use A Short History of Art to get some background on the artist and the time he/she lived.
  • music lessons - At least for the time being we have a teacher coming who teaches Nicholas piano, Gretchen viola, and Lillian violin.
  • Scripture memory - We work on this every day but spend more time on Mondays. We are currently memorizing Genesis 1 as a family.
  • Hymn study - we are currently memorizing My Jesus, I Love Thee
  • Recitation - My children have memorized over 40 poems using IEW's Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization Weekly recitation is a fun way to hone in our recitation skills and practice what we have learned.
  • Nature study - take a walk and record something in your nature notebook
  • History - OK, I know that's not really an extra, but we like it a lot, so we do it on Fundays.
  • Lots and Lots and Lots of Reading - We are currently reading some Andersen Fairy Tales. My kids are learning that Disney has kind of distorted the whole fairy tale concept :-)
  • History projects and Science experiments - tomorrow we'll be doing a Byzantine Mosaic from Story of the World Volume 2.
  • Proverbs Copy Book - Each of the older children has a fancy bound sketch book that they are copying the Book of Proverbs into, about 4-5 verses a week.
  • Personal endeavors - My kids like making movies together. Lillian loves to bake. Gretchen likes to lock herself in a room to read. Nicholas LOVES to draw. Gabriel likes to talk to anyone who will listen. Kurt likes to escape and destroy. Fundays allow plenty of time to follow our interests :-)
If all of that gets completed in a timely way with out grumbling and complaining, everybody gets a turn on the X-Box. Life is good.

My hope is to constantly be shifting what we do so that our Fundays never become dry and boring. I hope to spend some time doing some fun geography units, maybe add in journal writing, I don't know - whatever strikes our fancy.

That's one of the definite perks of homeschooling that I love so much!


Karen said...

WOW - wish I could start over and implement some of your wonderful ideas! You're such an inspiration to even some of us "veterans" !

Kim said...

Hi Lovely Nancy!!! Thank you so much for this post. (I guess what the people want...the people get. My next vote is for Nancy to come and personally visit each and every one of us!) There is a world out there starved for more homeschool, practical ideas like this, where we (meaning the starved) don't have to search through endless chatter forums to come up with the real meat of things!! I love this...please post more, more, more! I plead.

Any tips on getting an 8 year old boy to beef up his language arts skills?

Love you!! And appreciate you so much. Noone believes that you "think" you have it all together--those of us who know you, know that you do--and that is the beauty of Christ in you. Not realizing the amazing talent and gifts you have, yet using them all for His glory!!

Gwendolyn said...

I think I'm going to start doing this with my oldest (she is the only one we are homeschooling at this time.) And I will definitely do it on Monday! Thanks for posting this!

Nancy said...

Kim, what are you using with J.D.? Where, specifically, is he struggling?

Kim said...

Well, in the interest of not hoarding the potential worth of your response, I'll post a follow-up, here, in the comments section.

JD is struggling with writing simple stories. His sentences are still at the Dick and Jane stage and will often times, even get those mixed up. We are doing read-alouds...simple stories out of American Pioneers. He loves the stories. He's also reading Busy Times and More Busy Times. He loves reading the fact, he loves reading in general. The problem comes when I try to get him to verbalize any type of plot or story. I'm not asking him to make up a story...I'm just asking him to tell me *back* the story. I know he comprehends well...most of his workbooks, he reads and follows the instructions. Math is a breeze--well, in the comprehension phase anyway. I'll hear him telling amazing story, with detail, about the most current video game he played...which he doesn't get to play very often, so when he does...he goes into "exceedingly, abundant joy."

But to get him to relay a story back to me and then *big gasp* to actually have to write it--well, so I don't completely dishonor him...let's just say it's a struggle. I realize that I could have him write about video games and a novel would written...but let's just say that the curriculum we're using is not video game friendly. :)

Specifically, he struggles with what the story is about; who is the main character; what's the main point of the story and; why in the world are we reading this when we could be playing video games!? :)

Hope this is enough info. to go on. I do understand that some of it is an 8 year old boy energy thing and some of it is a selective desire thing, but do I push the issue or wait it out?

We are using a Language Arts grammar book, a spelling book that has beefed up his vocabulary quite a bit, memorization through hymns and bible verses and a lot of one-on-one story reading and talking/conversing.

Thanks Nancy!!

Lorna said...

It is such a great idea to have a fun day. I guess, looking at the diagramming, everyone's fun is different!

Nancy said...

OK, Kim, a few things come to mind. First off, I find copywork of great literature to be a fantastic thing for building L.A. skills. The child gets to consistently see what well written sentences look like, as opposed to just hearing them read. For the visual learner, this can help immensely. I've always assigned just 2-4 sentences every day in the early years.

Next, have you ever had him narrate the stories back orally and write down what he says, then have him copy what you wrote? This can be a great help in transitioning them to writing the summary of the story themselves. For instance, with Lillian, I read a chapter from her history book (SOTW), she narrates it back to me, I write it down, she copies it. She is just about at the place where I can ask her to write without me, but I know from experience the quality will go down, just because she is slow with writing and her thought process will be more interrupted. That's OK, because with practice she'll get better.

If you haven't done this step with J.D., I would definitely recommend it. As he seems to get that down, I would start to copy down what he says and then hand him the paper and ask him to finish it. Eventually, he will be at the point where he can write the whole thing himself.

Hope that helps a bit, Kim!

Kim said...

Hey Nance--Thanks so much. Yes! It does help...tremendously. I've been wondering where the disconnect was. I have been trying to do a scaled down version of that (by having him repeat back orally to me) but I never thought about writing it down and then having him copy my written work. We did a little of that in 1st grade, when he would have to tell stories to me, but I never had him re-write, what I wrote. duh!? Thanks!! I'll try this for the next few months and see how it's going. I may be back for a tweaking every now and then!! Love you and thanks!!

yhenriques said...


Not to interrupt you and Kim in your teacher's lounge :) -

But so THAT'S why my children got letters this week! They were SO happy!!!

nice post!