August 5th was our first day of school for 2013-14. This year Michael is in Kindergarten and Josh is in 5th grade! Where have the years gone? Wow. This year we had the blessing of having my mom, aka Grandma Lorraine, with us to start our year. This was her first time sitting in on our homeschooling time and she was so excited about getting to be with us for this special day. My mom is a retired elementary teacher and I learned so much from her as I grew up helping her in her classroom through the years. It was a blessing to have her sitting in on “my” first day of homeschooling this year. What a gift!
We started our special first day with a breakfast of homemade waffles, fresh strawberries, and sausage! Our traditional first day breakfast! So yummy! I am so glad that Will taught me to make them! We all enjoyed them!
Next I led all of us in a special first day of school devotion time focusing on “The Golden Rule” Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 NIV and the verses surrounding it. We are focusing on one rule to live by this year…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. So the explanation of how to live that in our family worked beautifully from Do to others as you would have them do to you. Keeping it simple this year is important. I am hoping that it will help keep everyone on track.
My mom has been very supportive of our homeschooling (this is our third year) but this was the first chance she has had to sit and pour over the curricula I have chosen for the boys. She had a ball and was very impressed with what she saw! She told me that reading through it that she was inspired her to want to get back in teaching!
One thing I have learned through a little more than two years of homeschooling already is that we don’t do it perfectly…there is no such way. We have good days and days that aren’t so easy. Life happens and we need to learn to roll with the interruptions and challenges and lean on the Lord through it all. I am in NO WAY an expert on homeschooling. I have days that I struggle and days that go smoothly. I am a disabled mom doing the best I can by the Grace of God they are learning and thriving.
I am learning to remember that all of the wonderful books and materials we have are resources and do not have to be followed to the last detail. If I don’t remind myself to stop, breathe, pray and remember it is about walking with, teaching and discipling my boys not “teaching the material”, I tend to get bogged down in the midst of all of the details instead of fostering a love of the Lord and a love of learning! In case you missed it, click here to find out how God helped me to pull out of the stress bubble I had myself.
Michael’s Kindergarten curriculum
One of the main resources I am using is “Little Hearts for His Glory” by Carrie Austin from Heart of Dakota Publishing. I just love how easy it is to use and the awesome simple cross curricular approach that ties so many of the subjects together! I love how they describe it so well…
The “Learning Through History” part of the program gives an overview of history from creation through present day. Bible stories are integrated with history stories. This allows students to see how the Bible fits into history and how we got to where we are today. These areas are linked with the daily stories: Bible Memory Work, Devotional Topics, Science Discovery, Art Projects, Dramatic Play, Thinking Games, Rhymes, Gross Motor Skills and Music.
The “Learning The Basics” part of the program focuses on language arts and math. It includes: Handwriting, Fine Motor Skills, Phonics, Story time, Language Activities, Math Exploration.
And now that I am remembering that I can pick and choose from it what will help him the most, my worry about “getting it right” as I get him started with his academic learning has lifted! Praise God!
In addition to all of the wonderful lessons in the Little Hearts for His Glory Guide she introduced me to these great resources!
Family-Time Bible in Pictures by Kenneth Taylor/Tyndale Publishing
Devotions for the Children’s Hour by Kenneth Taylor/Moody Publishing
Hide ‘em in your Heart CD by Steve Green/Capitol Christian Music Group
I am giving him his memory verses in the New International Version. I use my favorite Homeschool Mom’s Devotional Bible NIV (which I will share in a “My favorite things” article very soon) when I work with them throughout the day. I have chosen to start using this translation so that he is using the same translation as the rest of our family. He is picking it up pretty easily so I am not concerned…but am open to changing to the New Living Translation if I see a problem.
History for Children, Second Edition by Dr. John Wayland/Christian Liberty Press
History for Little Pilgrims by Christian Liberty Press
Fine Motor and Thinking Skills
Do It Carefully by Martha Rohrer/Rod and Staff Publishing
Finding the Answers by Rod and Staff
The World God Made by Edward Shewin/Christian Liberty Press
The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Burgess
Peter Rabbit and Eleven Other Favorite Tales by Burgess
The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Burgess
The Adventures of Buster Bear by Burgess
The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel by Burgess
The Adventures of Grandfather Frog by Burgess
(In addition to LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of others I add to it from our library! We are huge readers at our house!)
Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics 2A and 2B by Winnie Tan/Singapore Math along with Math card, board and computer games as we find them.
A Reason for Handwriting: Kindergarten Student Worktext by Carol Retzer
Reading and Phonics (one of our very favorite subjects!)
Reading Made Easy: A Guide to Teach your Child to Read CD by Valerie Bendt
I just love this and have to share the description of it…It makes things SO easy!
“This all-in-one text contains everything needed to get your little ones reading. Phonics-based, it differentiates between phonetic sounds for ultimate clarity and scripted lessons ensure that nothing gets left out. Original stories and Christian content give your child more than reading, but help to influence his heart and give your child a reason for reading. Hands-on activities, a thorough introduction, phonics lists and more are all included for a hassle-free reading program. This CD contains printable pages of the book and Valerie Bendt lectures with notes.”
We started using the reading program today and it went so well! I am so excited about watching his “ah ha” moments as we go along.
In addition to these resources, Michael is joining his brother in a Music Appreciation class I am doing with them that I will tell you more about when I share the resources I am using with Josh. He LOVES all kinds of music. Michael and his Daddy used to sit in my husband’s office and listen to different varieties of Classical, Jazz, Blues, Country, Spirituals, Hymns, Gospel and so many others. Michael even remembers most of it and can identify many of the genres when he hears them. This makes my heart so happy as I love music too and he has those special memories of time with Daddy while I was homeschooling Josh.
Michael will also be in our church Children’s Choir for the Christmas program this year. I have volunteered to direct it with a sweet lady helping me. We also sing in the car a lot and while doing the dishes and during our Family Bible time.
This year Michael is still working on some of the Physical Therapy exercises he was given after having surgery. In addition I lead different kinds of races and exercise with them in our yard and at the many parks in our area. We also go swimming in the river in season and when it hasn’t flooded.
He also watches educational movies from LeapFrog and shows from PBS kids that are on Netflix. And I am teaching him to use the mouse and functions on my laptop so that he can start playing games on PBSkids with our help when he needs help with reading what is on the screen. Learning to use the mouse is also helping him with fine motor skills. He loves looking at magazines with pictures of animals and learning about their habitats too.
I am learning that learning is just a part of life…using our “curricula” are just tools. It is in living together, talking, listening, going on errands together, teaching him to do chores around the house as he becomes my handy assistant with things. It is in learning to deal with conflict with his brother, work through his memories and helping him learn to name his feelings as he grieves and just lives. Life learning happens as he plays, builds, and discovers things with friends, his brother, me or on his own. And his faith grows as he learns that no matter what we face in life, the joys and the sorrows, God is always with him. God is faithful. And He is loved with grace that he is learning to treat others with in daily life.
I hope through this series you may have found some ideas to try, get to know us better, and most of all realize that we don’t get any of this done perfectly. In homeschooling as in life there is no such thing. But we are learning to live together, work together, learn together and pray together relying on His grace first and foremost.
I will publishing Part three of this series next week in which I share the curricula and resources I am using with Josh for fifth grade this year. And Part four will be filled with some of the ways we learn and serve God as a family, together.
I would love to hear about what you are using with your families!!! Please share with me in the comments below! It gets awfully lonely when no one talks here but me and we have so much to learn from each other…trust me I don’t have this all down and different things work with different families!
Relying on His Grace,
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