Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Homeschooling Update

You might remember that I started lightly homeschooling in August. It was so, so, so much fun. But, I wasn't working with a curriculum at all and just didn't have the time to keep up the pace that I started out with. I was just doing fun things revolving around the alphabet, but it took WAY too much time to prepare...way more time than I had to give to it. It sure was fun though. After I had already decided to do something different, my Aunt Jessica (ha ha ha, Jessica...doesn't that sound weird) told me about this curriculum...seriously AWESOME!! If you are looking for free pre-K curriculums online, look at that site. I really love it and even made out schedules and such already for if/when I do use it. But, like I said...I had already decided on and bought another actual curriculum. Anyway, so here's what we are doing...

I've always LOVED the concept of the Sonlight curriculum. Love their method, love that you get everything you need in one box, love that the work of planning is already done for you, LOVE the books that they use to teach our children, love their approach to worldview, basically love everything about it...and esp. since we have no access to libraries or other resources needed to use some homeschool curriculums, Sonlight it was. We are so excited about the huge library we are building for our kids (and us...hee hee hee). Well, let me just paste a quote from their website:

We founded Sonlight Curriculum on the principle that great books make great libraries, and great libraries are the core of great education. You won’t just get the books you need for one school year, you’ll begin a legacy by passing on a love for truly great books that inspire your kids—AND you— to be life-long learners.

And, even though it's a bit expensive on the front side, since the base of the curriculum is good books that we will use over and over throughout our lifetime (not 'textbooks'), there are 2 great things we are excited about...1) we'll only have to pay the big bucks once and then with all our other children we only buy the consumables (workbooks and such) and 2) as said before, we are building a GREAT library. So fun!! And completely worth every penny for us. This year we are using the Pre-K curriculum - P4/5. LOVE it!

We are also using the Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, Pre-K. We really enjoy it. It focuses on things like colors, shapes, seasons, opposites, sequencing, etc. the first part of the curriculum and then teaches the alphabet at the end, along with numbers 1-10. It's so age-appropriate and the kids really get a kick out of it.

Another thing we will be starting up in January is the Math-U-See Primer. It's so overwhelming, this homeschooling thing. For some people, one curriculum works and for others another works...and some do better with no curriculum at all. As we go along, we will figure out more and more what works for our family and the different learning styles within our family. We haven't started this yet, so we'll just have to wait and see how this curriculum works for our family. It looks really cool and I love it so far by just looking at it. But, we shall see. I'll let you know what I think after we use it.

One other thing that we will be doing this year is the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book. I plan to do it with Grady, but probably not Hadley this year. I'll wait and do it with her next year. That is the plan. We'll see if that changes. Even if I don't wait until next year to do it with Hadley, I will most likely at least go through it completely with Grady first before I even start with Hadley. Like I said, everyone is different. I've heard of some kids who this book just didn't work with...they hated it. So, again...we shall see how it works with us. I'll let you know. But, I am excited about teaching my kids to, so fun! Talk about a very tangible and forever practical reward. So cool.

We "do school" every day while the little girls are sleeping. Usually we start around 2 and end around 4. The kids love it and so do I. Our schedule everyday:

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write work
Pledge of Allegiance
America the Beautiful
Memory Verses
Sonlight Read-Alouds
Sonlight Workbook work (with the P4/5 curriculum, these are the only workbooks for the year)

We'll add the Math-U-See in January, finish up the Sing, Spell, Read, and Write in February/March, and start the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We'll be done with everything sometime in October, just in time to get ready for our scheduled furlough.

The Sonlight includes Bible, but after we get back from this unexpected trip to the U.S. at the end of this February and things settle back down a bit, I definitely plan to pull out the Betty Lukens set too that has been put away since we moved from the seminary house into the apartment. Right now we are just surviving in the mornings, but I normally really like to do that with the kids in the morning...that way Eissa gets in on it too.

I have to say that one of the best things I could've heard came out of Grady's mouth a while back. It was at the end of September I believe. The school where they went to "Portuguese class" had been back in session since the beginning of August. We'd been homeschooling since then also. Some neighbors had brought the kids' things back from the school that they hadn't gotten at the end of the spring semester. Things like pencil holders, etc. Grady's hadn't been brought to him, so Joel and Grady went one day after lunch to get it. I wondered what would happen. Would Grady see his friends and wish he was back there every day? I didn't say a word though...and just asked him nonchalantly, but a bit excitedly when he got back, "Grady, was it so great to see your friends again?" He said calmly, "Yeah. It was." Me: "Oh, good." Grady: "I like it there, but I want to be here with you and Daddy."

I hadn't even asked him anything about that. And me and Joel hadn't even talked about it. If we had, we wouldn't have done it in front of them. Anyway, it was just real confirmation for us that we'd done the right thing. Not that it will always be the right thing for him to remain home with us whenever he wants to instead of going somewhere...that's not the point. But, it had been a bit of a struggle to really come to the final decision of homeschooling being the best thing for our family at this time. So, was just like God prompted him to say it so that we'd have this confirmation. It was so great to hear. And we continue to LOVE homeschooling. So thankful I get to spend time with my kids and teach them myself. What a great time we have together!!

Anyhoo, there you go...what we are doing these days. Should be it for the 'updates.' Now, some pics and video footage. Enjoy. (again, with the captions problem...sorry)

Grady LOVES to draw. He's become quite the artist with very interesting detail. It's so fun to see the things he draws. And I am truly a fan...I think he's really good. He could seriously get a job as a children's book illustrator right now. I think his stuff looks like the things in Dr. Suess books or something.'s one of the first things he did. I'll have to just post pictures the kids have drawn on here one day. They're so cool.
Close-up of Grady's art.
I love homeschooling because our kids are always home with us and they model what we do...Hadley with an example of that (although she's never seen me use a, there's nothing wrong with a bottle...just pointing that funny thing out).
Grady's castle.
Hadley's art.
Close-up of Hadley's art.
Doing some worksheets.

This day we read "Old King Cole" in the Nursery Rhymes book we have. I just happen to have an Old King Cole blanket (where did that come from, Mama?), so I got it out and showed it to the kids. Then they covered up with it and looked some more at the book. Fun.
Then after school, the girls are usually up and everyone enjoys a snack.

So, the story is that my homeschooling, missionary friend went home on furlough and they were at this baseball game or something. They said the Pledge of Allegiance there and her little Brazilian/American kiddos didn't know it. Her family was mortified. :) It wasn't in the homeschooling curriculum guide/checklist, so she didn't even think about it. I thought that story was so funny...and remembered it. My kids, after about 5 days of repetition, have now mastered the Pledge. :) Whew...checked off the list in my head.

And some of their memory verses...they learn one a week. You can also see some of our MAJOR silliness shining through here. Don't worry...we're not like that all the time.


Tori Pace said...

I loved reading about your homeschooling! I was amazed that most of the curriculum you use we use at my kids' classical school. LOVE Sonlight (timeline based and literature based). Along with Math U See, younger elem use ACSI Purposeful Design Math series. One other thing: for Phonics our younger elem use Spell to Write and Read. It is wonderful! I was amazed when our 5 year old could read words or spell them because she knew the rules. It is a very simple method (I think Susan Wise Bauer has a book). I love hearing about other homeschool journeys because right now the school is great for our kids, but w/4 kids not a likely long term plan. Thanks for the update! Tori Pace

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Michawn! That blanket was a gift in your baby shower I think. It is really OLD!!!! Old for blankets anyway. Was never the softest blanket.

Luke said...


I'm so glad to hear that Sonlight has been a great fit for you and your family. May it continue to be a blessing to your family!

Keep up the great work [smile].


Us said...

Hey! I am using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons. My Matthew is such a perfectionist he doesn;t like to try new that book is awesome. It laysout nice and slow and easy. We are taking it slower, though...b/c we're also doing a Christian preschool 2 days a week. Plus, like I said he's a perfectionist and he likes to KNOW he can do it before he lets us see it. I am actually using it with Sara, too (she's 4). I figure she'll get something out of it and then I can repeat it next year for her (If I need to). We're not committed to homeschooling. we're send Matthew to public K next yr (we held him back b/c I wasn't ready ;-) ). Anyway...we may homeschool for real in few yrs. Thanks for sharing all your info!

Duncan Forbes said...

Hi Michawn & Joel! Hope you guys are well. Im excited to read your homeschool posts as we are a Sonlight family too! Jayda, age 5, is doing Sonlight K this year. We are also using math u see primer as well. Homeschooling is a marvellous challenge isnt it!? God Bless You! Shay Forbes (

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