Life in Grace and Jessica from Riverside Scholars because they emailed back and forth with me answering lots of questions before I took this leap of faith into homeschooling!
There are all sorts of educational models or philosophies out there. We follow the Classical approach to learning. This model identifies three stages of learning-grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. For us, the biblical equivalents are knowledge, understanding and wisdom. In other words, to learn something new you must memorize the vocabulary and basic rules and patterns associated with a subject (knowledge), process the new information so that you understand it (dialectic), and then do something with it to demonstrate mastery (rhetoric).
We school at home Monday-Thursday each week, and we are part of a wonderful program called Classical Conversations on Fridays.
It is a national program found in most states across America. The program meets once weekly for 24 weeks, and it offers small class sizes with the maximum number of a class being eight students. The program meets for 12 weeks in the Fall and 12 weeks in the Spring taking a break from Thanksgiving to New Years. We continue to school during the breaks so as to meet the required 36 week school year.
The program that we were part of this year is the Foundations Program and it serves k-6th graders. This program meets from 9:00 am-Noon. The students memorize History time lines and sentences, Math and Science facts, Geography, Latin, and English grammar. The program gives the home school family a basic framework of facts to build upon throughout the rest of their week together at home. In addition to the subjects learned above, the Foundations program gives the students complete sections of the bible to memorize and offers a detailed science project each week.
My boys learned the entire timeline from Creation to Modern America this year with 160 events. They also learned 24 History sentences covering the Historical World Empires, Peoples and Countries, 24 Science sentences covering Biology and Earth Science, 24 Latin facts covering Noun endings (declensions), 24 Geography facts covering all of Africa and the world with mapping, 24 grammar facts covering verbs and prepositions. Classical Conversations also offered 24 weeks of fine arts teaching both the great artists of the world and the great composers of the world. In bible, they learned the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.
I can't say enough about how this program has served our family this year. It's helped me to be successful in teaching and training our boys. I feel kind of like a rockstar when it comes to teaching them, and it's because Classical Conversations has given me a beautiful framework. We love the community that it offers with other families.
On top of the subjects that we memorized throughout each week through Classical Conversations, I added Math, History, and Language Arts at home.
Luke (4th grade)
Math- Singapore Math
Grammar-Essentials of the English Language
Writing- Institute for Excellence in Writing
History- Story of the World Volume 1 & 2
Seth (1st grade)
Grammar-First Language Lessons
Writing-Writing with Ease
History-Story of the World Volume 1 & 2
She turned 3 in January, so we've spent this year doing a lot of reading, working on letters and numbers, and most importantly, we've spent time learning how to help clean up our messes, how to help unload the dishwasher without breaking every dish in the house, how to help mommy cut up fruit and veggies, how to cut and paste and color, and how to not pitch the biggest fit when we don't get our way!
I also wanted to let you know that my oldest son, Luke, is part of the afternoon program at Classical Conversations, called the Essentials Program. This is offered to 4th-6th graders, and it offers them their Grammar and Writing and Mental Math. The tutor introduces the material and teaches it in class, but all of the work is completed at home with the parent. He learned things as a 4th grader that I didn't know when I graduated high school. It is the most unbelievable, in-depth program I've ever seen. It is a three year program, so Luke will be fortunate enough to complete the entire program by the time he completes 6th grade. The writing program coincides with what the students learn in history through Classical Conversations, so he was writing each week about the people that he was reading about in our History program giving him a double dose of learning!
The boys do History together which involves me reading a chapter per day and then doing a activity with them that reiterates what we learned in the chapter. ie) We read about the Trojan War and then we made a Trojan Horse out of Popsicle sticks.
They also share Science together. This will change once Luke gets to middle school age, but for these elementary years, we do it together. Apologia has a wonderful website that will explain the different aspects of Science that you can learn each year. It's very easy to teach both boys the same thing.
For reading, I make an extensive list at the beginning of each year for each boy to read alone, and I also make a list of books that we want to read aloud to them throughout the year. A great online source for making a book list by reading/grade level is Ambleside online. It gives you a list of all the classics that every child should have the pleasure of reading. Another set of books that my boys have really enjoyed their dad reading to them are the YWAM (Youth With A Mission) books put out by Janet and Geoff Benge. They are a great way of introducing some of the great world missionaries and their incredible stories to your children.
We also make time for field trips. This year, our favorite field trips were to the Orlando Repertory Theatre. We took full advantage of the fact that it's less than 15 minutes from our house! We were able to see "How I Became a Pirate" and "Charlotte's Web" among others this year.
If you are at all interested in Home Schooling your kids, several great books that have helped me tremendously are The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise, A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille, and 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy.
I'm sure that I've left something out, but this will give those of you who are interested an idea of how we roll over here!