Monday, January 28, 2008

My "Homeschool" day

Robin, at Heart of Wisdom, asked if I had a post on what my homeschool day looks like- either a schedule/routine or typical day.

First off, I just want to throw a little "disclaimer" ,I guess, out there. I probably don't fit the suggested definition of homeschooler. Or maybe I do at this point in time, but if things go as my husband plans, I won't fit that description by next fall. Let me explain.

My husband and I have two sons ages almost 5 (April 1st) and just turned 3. Last fall the subject of homeschooling got brought up by my husband, to my surprise. He, as far as I was concerned, would never have even considered homeschooling. And I, though I admired others who homeschooled and secretly wished I could do that well, never thought in a million years I would homeschool. But after my husband brought it up and we began discussing it I started seriously entertaining the idea. Then as I prayed about it I really felt God "breaking the mold" with me on this subject. He challenged me to learn from the official homeschoolers the rich resources and opportunity He'd given me as a mother to be my kids' primary teacher. As though for the first time I saw what was surely someone else's job as one God called me to, I excitedly began learning how God would have me do this. I started researching online and reading other homeschooling bloggers' posts to get ideas. When I started purposefully spending time with them in "teaching" them I began to realize that life presents all kinds of opportunity to teach our kids and if I will take on the role of teacher as a gift and responsibility from God I'll be blessed to see my kids learn under my care.

At about the same time my 4 year old was being evaluated by the public school system for some concerns I had about his speech. He did show some deficits and so he began taking a 1 1/2 hour, 4 day a week, speech therapy class at the local grade school. The class and program was great. We saw immediate improvements in my son's speech but more than that I began learning more about what I could do as my boys' primary teacher at home. That really lit my fire for taking on the homeschooling challenge. (Whereas many people I know get motivated to homeschool because of the terrible experiences they see in the public school, I got motivated because of the effectiveness I saw.) Right about that time my husband dropped a bomb on me, or as I see it, God took me out of my newly forming, nice little box. I was rambling on about my thoughts about what I was and wasn't going to do in homeschooling and my husband said, "I really think we ought to try kindergarten at the public school first and see what happens." Ok! Back to square one! "What's going on LORD? I thought You wanted me to homeschool. Now this?" I prayed.

As I sought heavenly wisdom He met me with His way. I since have great peace about seeing my role as my kids' primary teacher and more importantly, mother in the Lord, the way God sees it. He wants me to walk in the confidence that His word and the prayers of faith I pray because of His Spirit which lives in me are greater than any influence I fear may pollute my kids' hearts in public school. I face that fear in my own home with my kids' father as it is on a daily basis, and the Lord is teaching me to fear no one but Him. He's teaching me that He will be faithful to keep that which I commit to Him in my kids.

So though my role as homeschooling mom may be quite unorthodox (if there is such a thing as a homeschooler :-), I do see myself as the responsible party for teaching my kids God's word above all, and other things too, which I can and must use to always bring my kids back to the Lord- for the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it is His (Psalm 24:1) I see all other teachers in my kids' lives, whether at church or at public school, as people who serve me in my role as mother and teacher. In any of those situations, there may come times where I have to intervene or change venue or even pull out if I see that what is being required of my kids opposes what God requires, but until then, I will trust the Lord and see where He leads.

OK, I guess that was my full disclaimer on being a "homeschooling" mom. If you still care to see what my homeschooling day looks like your welcome to keep reading :-)

Our "schedule" is really the Biblical one I guess. "...when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Deut.6:7) Maybe in part because my boys are so young and in part because they're very active we don't do much of any sitting at desks with open books. I do plan and try to carry out the plan of having them sit to go through the alphabet with me, listen to scripture, draw pictures, read them a story, play with clay or other hands on activities, but other than that our "schooling" goes on all day. I think the most important thing I want them to get out of our sit down "school" times is the discipline of quietly listening. For now, that only lasts up to 5 minutes or at the most 15 if I allow them to quietly fidget with something while they "sit and listen."

Ok, on to the typical day:

When we rise up: I try to start the day speaking or singing scripture to my kids. I usually sing Deuteronomy 6:4-5, "Hear, O Israel (I substitute Israel with their names- Connor and Ryland): The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength." (And then I add in "And you shall love your neighbor as your self.") Some days I'll say, "Good morning Connor or Ryland! You are created in the image of God and God has great plans for you son!"

Then at breakfast time I try to read a portion of scripture straight from the Bible. I've recently begun using the Day by Day Kid's Bible to take us through the Bible together this year together. I've also used the NLT version to just read to them.

When you sit in your house, when you walk by the way: This is where praying and planning in advance comes in.

I've used, and continue to use, great material from the Voice of the Martyrs, Answers in Genesis, and other ideas from blogs like Higher up and Further In and other great homeschooling bloggers. (I haven't used many of the resources from homeschooling bloggers since my kids are so young. I'm really just beginning to learn what works for us and am always open to new ideas.)

But recently I've started approaching teaching the boys in a more thematic way. In October I used the Halloween holiday (though we don't celebrate Halloween as is usual, rather I just used it as an opportunity to teach my boys God's word and ways) as a source of the subject matter of fear and death and how Jesus defeated all that for us at the cross. Through the month I had a specific question I would ask the boys, "What do we celebrate at Halloween boys?" Their answer: Life. That would lead to my further talking with them about what other people may do and what we do everyday because of what Jesus did for us. It was great. My boys learned a lot.

We used the month to learn about Christian martyrs who gave their lives to further Christ's kingdom but though they died are alive because of Christ. They dressed up as Jim Elliot and Daniel from the Bible with t-shirts that told their stories in short.

That teaching by theme idea just continued through November: Thanksgiving, and December: Christ's Birth. Each month I prayerfully select a memory verse and some kind of project or outing or daily activity to keep us going with the theme throughout the month. Then through the day, as we sit or stand or run or ride or whatever in our house or car or backyard, I ask them or recite with them, the memory verse and talk over the theme for the month with them.

Of course I'm always praying for insight as to what God would have me talking with them about and eyes to see the things in the day that would be memorable teaching points for them. I so enjoyed the holiday months (and the kids did too) that I'm looking into holidays, Biblical or ones from which we can discuss God's word, to begin implementing in the months ahead.

During the day we also work on the alphabet and phonics. I use a three ring binder I put together of printed and laminated pages which have the upper and lower case letters in our alphabet along with an image of something that starts with that letter. I have them go through that once a day and announce the names of the letters and their sounds along with tracing the letters with dry-erase markers. Sometimes, if I'm thinking of it, I'll try to speak a scripture to them which starts with the phonetic sound of that letter. Higher Up and Further In has a great list of ABC memory verses.

I've also been seeking to do things that will cause my boys to ask questions. You can read more about that here.

When you lie down: In the evening I'm reviewing the day with the boys: What did you do today? What was your favorite part of the day? What did you learn? What was the worst part of the day for you? I'm reminding them of things they don't remember, like the memory verse or what we read in the Bible or saw or did that reminded us of something God has told us. I'm also finishing the reading for the day from the Bible that we began in the morning. And probably my boys' favorite part, if you asked them, would be the songs I sing to them when they lie down.

My boys, I'm sure are the only people on earth who honestly enjoy my voice (other than my gracious Lord who loves my heart in worship). They always ask for the same songs, though I've tried many a time to introduce new songs at night-time. They insist that we sing Blessed Be the Name and The Lord Bless You (Numbers 6:24-26).

So that's our homeschooling schedule. I'm sure all of you have much more info and resources and ideas. I'll be gleaning a lot from you all. :-)

*image from


Captivated said...

wow! i love the way you incorporated the Shema. i'm going to need to read this post 2 or 3 more times b/c i am thinking okay, i wanna do that and that and that and i wanna do that, definitely wanna do that. such good, simple stuff, stuff that's not overwhelming at all! and my kids are your kids' ages, so i know this can happen in our home, too.

thanks for sharing!

Q&Q said...

This is really nice. I like how you reinforce God's Word all day.

We try to do the same. My Peanut is 2 going on three. I have the Little Hands to Heaven but we just kind of use it as a guide right now. I read the scriptures at breakfast and we go over the letter of the week and the number of the week all day long. We just stay in 1 to 10 (over and over and over again). She knows her alphabet and numbers but I'm working to enforce how the fit into words and daily life.

We sing a lot of hymns and Sunday School songs since I'm the church pianist. The music is a big part of her learning. I have fillers of computer software and DVDs but she mostly wants to do what mom is doing.

Nice post. Thank you for sharing.

Michele said...

Hi...I don't think I could tell you how I came across your blog, except through a link from other homeschool blogs. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old and I really enjoyed reading about your day and strategy. I've book marked some of you links. I just wanted to say thank you for posting about your day and your ideas. It encourages me that even though I have tiny little ones, I can still do things throughout the day to teach her about God. Thanks!

Proverbs31Woman said...

I absolutely love it! G-d has definitely used you to talk to me I have a 4 and 3 year old and 2 month old baby and I want G-d to be the centre of our attention but once 'school' starts I couldn't think of how to incorporate G-d into it. You've pretty much answered the question for me! This takes a little more time and patience but it is worth it!
Thank you for sharing