As soon as I read Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Trained Mind, I felt a resonance with the classical approach. I love the idea of laying a foundation in these early years for teaching my children the tools of logic and rhetoric. I know that I want my children to know what principles guide their lives, why these principles should be followed and finally I want them to be able to communicate clearly about these principles. I know that their lives will not revolve around academics. I want them to have the tools to live successfully and fully, as Christ wants us all to live.
So TWTM is a guide for me. I also love the suggestions given in that book and the way I have the freedom to select what will work for us. I know that the selections I've made so far will not immediately all be the best, but you gotta start somewhere.
The one thing about beginning this homeschooling journey that has blessed me with joy and confirmation that we are doing the right thing is that God has provided exactly the resources we've needed. Exactly. Not just people giving us things they don't need that we'll try to use. So many times I've thought I wish I could get this book and then it would be given to me! God is so amazing. He gave me things before I even asked Him for them! What follows is a lot of info about what we'll be using. It is probably just a first draft of what we'll eventually end up with.
Bible time will be a focus, beginning our day with a short bible lesson presented at their level, and including reviewing memory verses and Biblical principles throughout the school day. The short Bible lesson will include character development, Old Testament study and discussions applying Biblical ideas to real life. Bible Lessons: virtues and values from Rainbow Publishers will be used as well as an Old Testament timeline resource written by Debbie King and Character First studies by the Character Training Institute.
Math instruction will be done on individual levels, focusing on teaching relationship between math concepts. National and state standards will be referenced. Workbooks, manipulatives and real world math problems will enhance one-on-one math instruction. Math applications will be seen in various situations including but not limited to: shopping, budgeting, money, time management, cooking and building wood-working projects. Math resources include Spectrum Math, Harcourt Math Advantage, and Abeka Math.
Language Arts will also be done on individual levels. Developing proficient reading skills will be one focus, as well as an understanding grammar, spelling and punctuation. The elementary years will be seen as laying a foundation for future writing and communication skills. Language Arts resources include: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise , MCP, and The Education Center.
Handwriting will also be on individual levels, using scripture as copywork for practicing handwriting. (Handwriting Without Tears by Jan Z. Olsen ) Letter writing, dictation, summarizing what is read will also be developed at this time.
Reading will take place many times during the day as leveled reading and as family reading time. At least 30 min a day will be available for books the children choose to read. Individual leveled reading will take place every day as well and reading notebooks will serve to compile narrations and summaries of what is read. These will also serve as a record of reading comprehension. Various books from our personal library and from the public library will be used as well as some online texts.
History will be studied four times a week in 30-45 min sessions. Story Of The World, by Susan Wise Bauer will be the main resource. Additional reading resources will be correlated with SOTW from the public and our personal library. Although both children will do this at the same time, the expectations for Charles will be higher, due to his higher grade level (grade 3). The narrations, summaries and other assignments that are given to him will be more difficult than for Kaitlyn’s 1st grade work. Volume one of SOTW begins with early history and continues through a study of ancient Rome.
Science will also be studied by both children (also 4 x a week) at the same time, with higher expectations for Charles. Harcourt Science as well as Exploring God’s World from Abeka will be used. We will begin by studying Meteorology, moving on to Marine Biology, Botany, General Biology, Astronomy, Physics and Chemistry. Science and History notebooks will chronicle our discoveries and any worksheet or narration pages that are completed.
Fine Arts will be studied by exploring works of art and artists in correlation with our history studies, as well as listening to correlating musical compositions. There will also be ample time given for the creation of art projects, of the kids’ design and some that I suggest. Music will also include instrument studies of each child’s choice (my husband plays percussion and guitar and I have experience playing woodwind and brass instruments) and basic music theory concepts.
Life Skills will be part of everyday life as the children help with household chores and meal planning, are taught about personal hygiene and physical fitness on a daily basis. They will also observe budgeting, time management and volunteering in the community. They will learn about citizenship, the responsibility of each person to the community, about the process of law making, voting for elected officials and other government issues.