Two years ago, I posted a Screwtape Letter for a Homechool Mom. Well, guess what? He’s baaack! Nasty ol’ Screwtape has another letter of advice for his protegé Bitterwench, the devil assigned to a homeschooling mom.
This year we are once again delving into the Middle Ages. This is my favorite time period in history because we witness the blossoming of Christendom despite barbarian invasions, the spread of heresies, the Crusades, a devastating plague, and division in the Church. Indeed, we can see the hand of God guiding the Church through all of this turmoil, raising up great saints to spread the Gospel. I just looove the Middle Ages.
When my oldest was a kindergartener, I wrote some super short stories to help her learn to read. I then used them to teach all my other kids to read, along with a variety of other phonics books. Variety is the spice of life, so it is good to give your emerging readers a mixture of books with which they can learn to read.
Are any of your kids memorizing the States and Capitals this year? If so, we have a great resource for you!
Having a repertoire of memorized poetry is something my kids secretly enjoy… although some would never admit it. Sometimes when the younger ones are reciting their poetry, the older ones jump right in, remembering the same poems they had learned in earlier years.
There are many good reasons for copying and memorizing poetry: The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is catchy and fun. As they get older, the kids learn to appreciate the imagery and the way poets play with words, rhyme, and meter. More importantly, it is an excellent way to fill our children’s minds with beautiful imagery and rich vocabulary. In a world so devoid of culture and beauty, memorizing poetry is one way to help our children appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.
It is usually about this time of year when the homeschooling catalogs start coming in the mail. I gather them into a big pile and, like a kid in a candy shop, I pore over the pages. I love browsing homeschooling curricula. There is so much promise and potential in new school books.
But I have learned that beyond glossy pages and full-color pictures, there are certain things that make for effective curricula. There are good books, and then there are great books. Here are ten criteria to think about when shopping for next year’s school books:
Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:
George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.
A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State. We have been great friends for such a long time. God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool. We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year. The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!
A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing. We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together. What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.
That’s a question a friend asked me last spring. I think I gave her a most unsatisfactory answer, something along the lines of: Well, it depends on the day.
It seems to me that more and more parents feel as if they have no choice but to home school. Some parents feel compelled to homeschool in order to provide religious and moral instruction. Others are concerned about the safety of school environments or the quality of education their children would otherwise be receiving. In any case, the number of homeschooled children has been increasing. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that about 1, 096,000 children were homeschooled. By 2013, that number increased by over 60% to approximately 1,770,000, which is 3.4% of school-aged children. So we know that many parents feel obliged to homeschool, but do they love homeschooling?
If you read last week’s post, Christmas Gift Ideas, I promised a list of homeschooling curriculum that could easily pass as gifts under your Christmas tree. Mary and I talked again on Friday and came up with some ideas. These are the nice-to-haves, the supplemental things, the stuff I often pass on in July when I am ordering all of the core subjects. (A few disclaimers – Most of the links go to Amazon. My advice would be to shop around for the best prices. Secondly, I only gave one example from the series in the interest of space and time. If you have a specific item you are looking for from something I mentioned, drop me a comment and I will do my best to get you a link.)