One of my most favorite things to do is to share with other mom’s who are considering homeschooling! I have had maybe close to 10 moms in my home to just show them what all I do and why. I have loved those times of sharing! But in case you haven’t made it over yet…
I’m not a veteran homeschooler and I have much yet to learn. BUT… I love that homeschooling can be (gasp) enjoyable and absolutely delightful!
My Motto: Behind everything I do is my homeschool motto, found in Deuteronomy 11. Love God with your whole heart. Teach your children as you sit, as you walk, when you lie down, and when you stand up. All of life is learning. If you teach your child to love learning, you’ve taught him everything he ever needs to know. Learning happens over a lifetime. It takes place all of the time… in the van, at the store, in your backyard, at the park, while making dinner, etc.
The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Teach these two things to your children and you’ve nearly fulfilled God’s call for you as a mother!
So practically speaking, what is our main focus then?
#1- Bible. This includes memory verses, LOTS of memory verses! Before children can even read, they can be memorizing passages of Scripture!
This also includes you reading Bible stories to your children. The actual Bible event, not fairy tales or fables or bathtub boat pictures of Noah! Also, acting out the Bible stories after you read them! Talk about these precious events at all hours of the day, looking for opportunities to live out what you have read.
#2- Character- We go through these character cards and try to do one character quality each week. Each card includes the definition and an animal that displays that quality in nature. I teach my children the names of the character qualities (even if it’s a long word like perseverance)! Throughout the following weeks and months, I’m continually using those terms to remind them of that character quality and why it’s so important (honesty, humbleness, attentiveness, self-control, etc). We act out these qualities too! And we actually practice these qualities in real-life ways.
Speaking of acting out and practicing great things… we regularly have “Manners Practice” where we practice things like greeting a guest, picking up an item for someone who dropped it, saying “coming” when Mama calls for us, taking a seat on the floor when adults need the chairs to sit on, etc. My children beg me to do “Manners Practice” time!
The third most important thing we do in homeschool is to read! It’s such an amazing thing to read out loud to your child most every day! Read about everything! If all you ever do is read to your child, he’ll surpass a level you didn’t even think he could achieve! Our read-a-loud times have brought about the most precious discussions in our home. We try and squeeze in reading time wherever we can but my children especially like me to read to them at mealtimes. You don’t have to stop filling your brain just because you’re filling your belly! Mealtimes are a great time to learn!
What do I read to them?
A)- The actual Bible, of course!
B)- Bible Stories, of course!
C)- Quality children’s books that focus on character. Not fluffy books without a point. And not about magical kingdoms and fairy tales and fables. But stories about feeding the poor, about learning humbleness, about giving yourself away. I have posted some of my favorite children’s books here and here.
D)- We also use our read-a-loud time to read history and science (you’ll see why below). Recently my boys have been crazy excited about George Washington. They’ve dressed up like him and drafted a Declaration of Independence and the whole nine yards. All from me reading to them! We have enjoyed this book, this one, this one, and this one, to name a few.
Now on to “Academics”:
I think the greatest thing you can do for you and your child is to keep things simple and fun. Your materials and your schedule should be a blessing, NOT a burden!! I hodge podge my materials to tailor to each individual child. What fits their personality best? What sounds fun? What is simple? What is not overwhelming? What doesn’t require 30 minutes of Teacher Manual prep time the night before?! What is frugal? What did I find at a garage sale or receive as a hand-me-down? Could I use that instead of spending big bucks on something that will make me feel STRAPPED for time and energy!
I like briefly checking out used homeschool sites for easy, cheap ideas. My favorite store is Mardel’s, but I always have a coupon in hand! Or best yet… what could you use that you already own?!
One of my favorite things about homeschool is all of our homemade things! We have made homemade “Exercise Dice,” homemade money/ coin board games, homemade flashcards galore, and more!
Flashcards, flashcards, flashcards. What an incredible way to learn! Your children can do them with you while their jumping on a trampoline, doing a chore, or standing on their head (just hold them upside down so they can read them!)
Flashcards have taught my children their ABC’s, all of their phonics sounds, all of their Bible verses, synonyms/ antonyms, homophones, contractions, multiplication and lots of other math facts, music notes, and much more!
Repetition, repetition. Get out those flashcards every day! And they’re portable enough to take to the park or waiting room!
I also like to hang stuff on my walls. Well, I don’t like the cluttered wall part but I am actually totally fine with it. You know why? Because my children walk past it many times a day and they LEARN! I’ll take that over plain walls any day! Your child can make character posters or manners posters and hang them on the wall. You can write out important principles and hang them up. You can hang up your phonics words or shapes or letters, they sky is the limit! Hang up your Bible verse flashcards at the least!
Besides the walls in your home, placemats are also a great learning tool! Your child is sitting there eating and can have something of knowledge filling his spongy, absorbent brain! You can make your own and then laminate it. I’ve done this countless times for help with coins, words, letters, math facts, etc. Or buy a laminated map of the world or the USA and point out things each day! This helps your child understand there is more to the world than his little city!
I didn’t know this until my first son turned two, but children have an INCREDIBLE ability to memorize stuff! We are constantly working on memory work. The neat thing about this is that your child doesn’t even have to know how to read before memorizing all kinds of great stuff. For us, that means our favorite Bible verses, of course! But it could also mean poems, quotes from history, etc. One of the neat things about memorizing things is that you can practice reciting them when you’re in the van or out and about. It doesn’t have to take place during structured homeschool time! Make up songs, rhymes, motions, sign language, or just a particular rhythm; and repeat, repeat, repeat!
Okay, so in case you didn’t notice… I haven’t actually told you any specific homeschool “subjects” that we do. So here they are…
End of post.
I’m partially kidding. We do other subjects like history and science and art (lots of art!), but we do those in a more passive way. Honestly, the thought of a big huge history or science book for my 7-and-under children makes my head spin. So for history we just read! We read all about history! I don’t know of a better way to learn! And for science we kind of just do it as we come across it. My husband and I have gobs of Creation resources from our college-searching days and that’s a BIG deal to us. So we read science from the Bible and study all that God made in nature, our solar system, our bodies, etc. When do we do this? As we sit, as we walk, as we lie down, and as we stand up, of course! And on the weekends when Dada has more time for crazy science experiments!
I’m big on reading. If you teach your child to read well, they can learn endlessly! Once they learn how to read, they can practically homeschool themselves! Have you heard the quote? “In five years you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Reading changes lives! Reading gives knowledge, tons and tons of knowledge!
Here is how I teach my children to read.
The Harding family wrote an e-book called “College by Age 12” and I was really curious what that looked like for them. I don’t think parents need to push for college by age 12, but after reading their book, I see that it is completely possible to have a child finish high school material FAR ahead of their non-homeschooled peers! One of the keys they mentioned was math. If your child can speed ahead in math, they could potentially be at a college freshman level by the time they’re 12. Or 14, or whatever. Now some children won’t be able to go as fast as others, but I do think children are way smarter than we give them credit for! As soon as my boys have mastered one concept, I introduce the next. I don’t care that a Kindergarten math book doesn’t introduce multiplication. If my son sees how 5 circles in 2 rows equals 10, we run with it!
Again, even with math, stick with what is fun and simple. Don’t choose a curriculum that is so extensive that it wears YOU out! Play gobs and gobs of math games! I think money spent on games is way better than money spent on elaborate curricula! Design your own flashcards, make your own worksheets! Print free worksheets online. And if your child just isn’t ready for a certain concept, back pedal and let him rest at the basics until he’s ready to move forward. But keep chugging along with math and your child might have their PhD by 21, like some of the Harding children!
Lastly. Many parents wonder, “Where should my child be?” Yes, you can check online lists of what certain grade levels learn, but as long as you’re always filling your child’s mind with knowledgeable things, you’re doing more than enough!
It’s not like you’ll hit your forehead one day and say “Oh yeah, math, I forgot about math.” You know best what your child should learn! The internet can help as long as it doesn’t burden you to do more than you both are capable of! You do have laundry and dishes and meals to tend to also! Which, having your children do chores is part of homeschool too! See, you were homeschooling and didn’t even know it! Chores are GOOD for your child, let him/her work you out of a job!
If a homeschool conference comes to your area, GO! I’m not recommending you go from booth to booth to be sold on all the best curricula (THAT is exhausting!), but go to hear the speakers and get inspired and fueled up!
You’re raising a World Changer! You can do this Mama! There is no better teacher for your child on the planet!!!