Tuesday, 5 September 2017

First day back to school {happy, happy days!}


Today was the first day back to school!!!

I love my breaks, but I hugely love the rhythm of life when we are in "school" mode.

In some ways, I don't like to call it "school" or "not school" time. Really, what I mean is that we are returning to structured, more formal education. They are, after all, learning ALL the time! In reality, our "structured, more formal" is "less structured and less formal" than it used to be. I try to be more fluid in how we learn, and yet we DO have structure.

I thought I would share with you some of the new things we started doing today. I've learned a lot over the summer about philosophies of education and educational styles, which has shaped how I want to do things.

As I shared a while ago, we had started doing what I called "Morning Time".  My desire had been that, no matter what else crowded into our day or interrupted what we were doing, we had certain elements I felt we MUST do.



Operation World.

Reading Aloud.



The first four parts we would do in "Morning Time", the latter afterwards (done independently).

That was going well and was well loved by us all. However, I was introduced to the ideas of doing several other things - all suggested and supported by many highly respected proponents in the field of home education.

Nature Study.

Memory Work. (scripture and poetry)

Hymn Singing/Memorisation.

Art appreciation.

Music Appreciation.

In true "first day back" style, I didn't manage to do EVERYTHING new I had planned.  Oops.  Never mind.  There's always tom... Erm... Thursday (tomorrow is a birthday - so, one day back, and immediately another day "off"!!! HA!)

I intend our routine to look something like this.

Prayer I feel it is always good to start your morning with prayer - acknowledging the One to whom we desire to honour and bless in all that we do. Thanking Him for His goodness and grace.  Asking Him to help us in our day, for wisdom as we learn and to give us strength for all we need to do.

Bible Reading  We are still working our way through the Gospel Story Bible. I wanted to finish that first and then begin Catherine Vos'  Children's Story Bible.

Scripture Memorisation  As much as we have always learnt Bible verses together, I wanted to particularly learn whole passages together, verse by verse.  I also wanted to incorporate copywork - something we had never done before, but felt it was good to begin. The first passage we are learning is the passage from Ephesians 6 about the Christian Armour, as we are learning about WWI for Tapestry of Grace in Unit 1 of Year 4. I will write it on our chalkboard each week.  We simply went over it, taking just a few minutes, by me reciting portions and them copying.  By frequent repetition, it should be committed to memory.

(copywork created at www.worksheetworks.com where you can choose font, size, types of lines etc )

Hymn Singing/Memorisation  We are in a Church where we do sing traditional hymns. I grew up on the same, and learnt many hymns by heart, simply by singing them repeatedly.  I wanted to be more intentional about it, though, and also include it in copywork, to reinforce what we are learning.  I chose "May the mind of Christ my Saviour" - it's one I have always loved.  (If you are on FB or IG you will have seen and heard me play the tune, but it's tricky to put videos on here.) It has 6 verses, and they are in quite a short metre, so simple to learn the tune and memorise the words.  I thought at least my older children would know it, but it seems it's one they haven't sung much, so I am gad I chose it.

Operation World. For us, this is a focus on another country, in order to understand how we should pray for them.  BUT, it is also an excellent way to learn geography, weather, climate, trade, language, demographics, politics, and general cultural studies. We often end up deviating as we find some terminology we don't understand, or some interesting piece of information we can't leave without learning more!  We've learnt everything from what coral islands look like, to how to produce heroin!!! (It came up when we learned about the Opium trade!!! No plans to start production ourselves!) If we only did this ONE thing for school we could absolutely use it as a backbone for most key subjects and still gain an in-depth, all-round education.  It's a book that is truly worth the investment.  Maybe I should do a blog post just on an example of what we learn from one country in this handbook.  I also got a lovely big Readers Digest atlas in a charity shop for only £2, which we used to find the country we were looking at. (Morocco today!) That led me to teach them about topographical maps, thus allowing them to work out the level of the land in Morocco. (Mostly higher elevation, interestingly!)

Prayer Board.  We started a prayer board just before the summer, with specific people and causes we wanted to pray for, as a family.  They range from missionaries, to people in need, to new people coming to the Church, and our coffee morning we have just begun at the Church.  Today we added Texas and Oregon, which also gave me the opportunity to teach the children about hurricanes, flood damage, forest fire causes and results (not always bad, as my daughter remembered from a homeschool co-pop lesson!), and what items we would choose to take with us if we had to evacuate! Today I also did something new.  I asked my oldest child, who knows and loves the Lord as his Saviour, to lead us in prayer.  That was such a wonderful thing to hear him speak - so grown up now - and to bring these things before our Heavenly Father.

We finished our time with reading aloud.  I read from a book we are reading "for pleasure" as well as a read aloud fro Tapestry of Grace.  For pleasure (although all reading aloud is pleasure!), we have been reading through this particular series for a while, and are nearly finished book 2, Race for Freedom.  The series is called "Freedom Seekers", by Lois Walfred Johnson and is a captivating story of a young girl who lives on a steamboat with her father and how they help with the Underground Railroad.  It's brilliant historical fiction and the stories are gripping for both adult and child alike! (The children find my attempt at the accent of the slaves quite amusing... I AM improving!!) If you don't know anything about the Underground Railroad, it will whet your appettite to find out more about the brave people who helped slaves escape to freedom, in 19th century USA. We have two chapters left, after which I need to make the decision as to whether we should read the next book or switch to something else.  Such hard decisions...  Our current Tapestry of Grace read aloud is Pollyanna.  I have never read it, but when I told the children what we were reading they initially groaned. I was puzzled, until they explained we have it on our Audible selection. "We've listened to it LOADS".  I was insistent, as *I* wanted to read it. My persistence paid off. They actually ENJOYED it, and claimed I was more captivating a reader than whoever narrates the version we have (his voice is "boring" I was told... oops) I'm hoping it will be an enjoyable read for us, and this way I can also raise topics that are good to discuss or terminology they don't understand.  That is just one reason why reading aloud is such a good idea.

I will do a blog post next week about our nature study (which we began today) and our other new additions which I am yet to add - music and art appreciation - and explain what we are using and why we are doing it.

Getting back to blogging was on *MY* schedule for our "back to normal routine" life, so I can tick that off my to-do list for today! WHOOT WHOOT!

I hope this post is useful and maybe even inspires others to look into trying something new with their family - whether you home educate or not, many of these things can be woven into your family life VERY easily, but maybe not in one block like we do it.