This post was written in 2012, before we started writing curriculum for all sorts of subjects over at HomeschoolingTorah and here at Foundations Press.
You know what would be awesome? Awesome would be a camera crew going into a variety of homes on an average Tuesday morning and filming what their homeschool actually looks like.We could see how their kitchens were set up, how they handled the toddlers at breakfast, how they got the knots out of all the girls’ hair, and how they all found their pencils at school time.
We’d see that every home does things a little bit different — and that’s okay! But oh, the great ideas we’d get!
My house is really, really normal, but I thought you might enjoy “seeing” what school looked like at our house this week.
Minus the camera crews. 🙂 (My camera is on the blink anyway… whew… off the hook!)
Our homeschooling day usually starts right after breakfast. Dad is still home, so we clear the dishes off the table and get our Bibles out. We start by reading a chapter from the Bible. At the moment, we go around the table, each person reading one verse, because we are wanting some of our children to get more practice reading aloud.
I heard a trick this week to take a 3×5-index card and draw an arrow on the top. My first-grade daughter uses the card to help her follow along as her siblings read from the Bible, so she doesn’t lose her place as easily. When it’s her turn to read aloud, the arrow can help her sound out words. (She wants to read as fast as the “big kids,” so she tries to guess the words rather than sound them out phonetically, by syllable.)
As we read, sometimes we stop to discuss something, and at other times, Dad asks questions at the end. He loves to come up with his own questions, but he also uses our Bible curriculum as a starting point. I often point out grammar, language usage, or vocabulary, because those are things my weird brain notices. Sometimes, if a grammar discussion would take away from the spiritual discussions we’re having, I’ll make a note to myself to discuss it later.
This morning, I saw a verse that had a strange subject-verb order, mixed in with a pile of prepositional phrases. I wondered if the kids could diagram it, but I didn’t want to interrupt the discussion. I decided to write the verse on a white board. My first-grader, who sits next to me, was trying to sound out all the words I was writing, and then she helped me carefully put the white board up on the shelf to show the rest of them later. Only — later never came! I completely forgot about it. It’s still up on that shelf at this moment… 🙂
We often have a Bible drill. The kids love these. Even the little ones, who can’t read at all, love to flip open their Bibles and immediately yell, “Found it!” The big kids love to try to race Dad. It’s just fun.
Next we work on our memory verses. Dad reviews a passage of Scripture we’re currently working on, saying a little bit, then we all repeat it back. Then he talks for a minute about the verse we’re going to work on today. We have some pretty lively discussions as we check to be sure we all understand the verse. He then quizzes everyone. Even our two-year-old Little Guy who can’t talk much enjoys trying to say a bit of the verse.
It’s amazing to me how quickly children memorize, especially compared to how s-l-o-w-l-y Daddy and I memorize. Ug…
Next he asks the children to share some of their “homework” from the day before. Almost daily, they choose a “favorite” verse from their day’s work. They write the verse, then they write a bit about why it was so meaningful to them. Of course, we can see a vast difference in writing skill from the younger children who might draw a picture and write a word or two as a caption, and the teenagers whose insights often make me want to cry.
Recently, Lee Binz from the Home Scholar interviewed Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, asking what skills students needed to be able to succeed on SAT or ACT exams. Without a question, essay-writing skills were most important. What better way is there to learn to write effectively than to share what God is teaching us each day in His Word?
Sometimes they share a writing assignment or research project from history or science. For instance, some of them had to research the Tin Islands, while others looked up all the references to Tin and the merchants of Tarshish in the Bible. It sounds a little dull, but it was very interesting when they shared with all of us.
Funny thing was, my oldest son also studied tin, quite by “accident,” in his chemistry reading this week. It’s always “funny” to me how God orchestrates things like that in a way that no curriculum ever could.
Dad finishes up his participation in our school day by doing history. (We’re using our own history curriculum.) I love that he loves history and enjoys teaching this, because I use this time to go in my office and read little Bible stories to the youngest two children, or maybe we start a load of laundry or make a bed or two, or we might just go have some fun together for a few minutes (ie. play in soap bubbles in the sink). These two, currently ages two and four, have been playing quietly for almost an hour now (the little guy likes to play under the table), but I look forward to this special time with just the two of them. Meanwhile, Dad is getting into deep discussions about the Gauls defeating the Romans…
Dad needs to start on his studying for church, or maybe he needs to go visit some people — and we still haven’t done dishes! We take a break now, and the older kids do their house chores and get started on math. I take turns working with the kids, one at a time, on anything they might need in their schoolwork.
- We use A Beka for math, except for our high-school-er who is starting Life of Fred.
- We are using Bible copywork for phonics, handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, and dictation. It works! Having said that, I have been homeschooling for many years now, and I’m more comfortable not having a set curriculum. I have A Beka phonics, All About Spelling, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, the Writing Road to Reading, and Ruth Beechick’s books on my shelf, plus gadzooks of little readers, flashcards, letter tiles, and other gadgets and gizmos. I put them all to good use. “Funny,” though, how well my four-year-old is learning her consonant letter sounds by trying to read the first few verses of Genesis 1. It makes me wonder what I’ll be writing here on my blog in a few more years.
- Each child writes something every day, almost always from the Bible, as I explained above. As they are writing, and before they put it away, I check over it for obvious mistakes that should be corrected.
- Once they’re back at the table, we often have a grammar lesson together.
- They have independent reading assignments, in the Bible, in chapter books (fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and biography), and in science.
- If they have projects to do in science, I might give a little help, but they do a lot of it on their own. (Except for high school, they all use Jeannie Fulbright’s wonderful science books that are based on the six days of creation.)
- They finish up with more interest-based subjects, such as foreign language, computers, interior design, or crafts. They usually do these on their own.
That pretty well describes our school day at the moment. Oh, sometimes we read aloud from a chapter book at lunch. Not always. When I have the energy.
We are really loving school. It’s simple, and God’s amazing Word is at center stage.
“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13, KJV).
Thank you for this post!
What time do you finish school? What do your kids do in the afternoons?
Eszter, it just depends on the day. Some days we’re done by lunch (around 1 pm for us), and other days, everyone is just tired or daydreaming or what-have-you, and school drags on. Ug…
In the afternoon, the little ones nap, the big ones like to do stuff on the computer, or after the public schools get out, they enjoy playing with a few neighborhood friends. They love Legos. The girls love playing with Littlest Pet Shops. They play or do things they’re interested in.
Jennifer Culp says
I wish our homeschooling day looked like this! Daddy gone to much an to many activities. Daddy not home till late. Means no dinners together and no breakfast for sure! I know you didn’t mean it, but this post made me feel very inadequate! It has been a huge struggle lately!
Don’t compare. Anne didn’t share this to make you feel less than, but to encourage us all to seek ye first the Kingdom of God. Do what works for your family, trust God to guide you, glen wisdom from Anne and any other Christian sisters you have to share life with. I understand being overwhelmed and unsure, I too go there. As the mother of 12, and several of them small ones, I feel like I will never find balalnce at times. Pray for your husband all day everyday. Encourage your kids to pray for him. He needs to feel your support, and he needs to know that God wants him to lead his family. Like you my husband is gone all the time at work. But, as I encourage him in his work and listen to him, I realize he wants to find the balance too. But he too is overwhelmed by the pull from work and home. So, rather than put more pressure on him and me, I have went to the word and to the Lord with the request to know His will for us, and His way for OUR family.
Be of courage my sister, God is good and faithful, and he will not Fail.
Love in Christ Jesus Our Lord, Katie
Missy Steiger says
You are in a tough season of life right now, but you are also very blessed! I thank God that you’re able to be home with your children, that your husband works so hard so you are able to be there. There are so many who would love to be home and can’t for one reason or another. I know it can be hard to carry the homeschool load. My school day could definitely use some changes, too! Sometimes I feel stretched beyond what I can handle. So often I just try to get through one day at a time. I’ll be praying for your family. God knows your circumstances. Lean on Him. He will strengthen you to do what you can not do on your own.
Anne, thanks for this, it helps as Jeremy and I are still praying and seeking God for how to teach daily the Word of God. We want to he a God fearing, Bible centered, Kingdom minded home. This is really helpful in our search.
Hey Jennifer…it made me feel quite inadequate too, but we have to realize that we have our good days and our not so great days. My husband also has to work a lot, so we usually are lucky to even have 3 meals a WEEK together…lol! That was why we chose to homeschool in the first place, so we could teach about the Lord, and see each other more. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us and our families. Just keep trucking along with what you know is good for your family. I know for sure that my attitude and feelings towards things is what sets the mood around my house, and although I may feel inadequate, I know I must not be because the Lord has called me to be here. Have a great day…
Jennifer, I’m so sorry that the post came across the way it did. The last thing I’d want to do is discourage you! I’ve been married for almost 19 years, but my husband has only been working at home for a few months. He is a pastor now, and we live in cold Minnesota, so it’s just cheaper for our little church if he studies here and doesn’t need to heat his office at church. While I do enjoy having him here (and probably distract him a bit), he hasn’t been home for most of our married life. In fact, before he became a pastor, he worked in public education, then he’d go to his “second job” of football coaching after school, and during some seasons of the year, we hardly saw him at all. So I completely understand your frustration! Back when all my children were little (and a lot more work LOL), that’s when I was home alone with them. I’d get really tired, and by the time he came home in the late evening, I was crabby and ready to escape.
I was hoping to show in this post how to use the Bible for many subjects, not to say that the husband must be home in order for a homeschool to be “good.” God has a different plan and purpose for every family, and sometimes for different seasons for the same family. But Dad and Mom are “one” in God’s eyes, so while it may be the man’s ultimate responsibility to oversee his children’s education, he is welcome to “delegate” much of that to you, just for practical reasons — so he can work! 🙂 As long as you have your husband’s blessing, you can enjoy these Bible times with your children, even if he’s not home. In fact, you’ll have many, many special memories with your kids. So be encouraged! You are exactly where God wants you, and He must want *you* to have some special, alone time with your kids. Just enjoy your husband when he’s able to be home, and don’t add guilt or “our house isn’t like someone else’s house” to the stress that life already has.
(((hugs))) — and I’ll work at being more encouraging next time!
Kimberly Aufderheide says
Absolutely, just keep God front and center. My husband works a lot, out of necessity to support us. Keep looking to God.
Missy Steiger says
I struggle to incorporate Bible into our daily school. We use Abeka for all but math but it’s not the same thing. I tend to worry about meeting the state requirements for our children if I don’ use a curriculum. This is our second year of homeschooling and I have twin daughters in 8th, a daughter in 6th, and a daughter in 4th. I also have a two year old son. My husband doesn’t school except to occasionally help if we have trouble with math. My children are frustrated by what they say is time wasted on useless math that they feel they will never need. They would rather spend the time reading, cooking, learning to sew, knit, and crochet. Me too!!! I pray that at some time we can find a balance. Right now we just take it one day at a time with me often learning with the girls. Not even a step ahead, especially the 8th grade math! Even with all the frustrations I am SO blessed to be home with my children! I’m thankful for a husband who thinks it’s important even though we struggle with finances. Thank you, Anne, for another great post!!
Love your articles, I’m new at homeschooling and these are very helpful! Thank you.