Adventures in Academics

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One of my favorite things about homeschool is the opportunity it provides for families to cater to the specific needs and support the individual interests of each student.

Because no one knows your child better than you do – no one is better qualified to make those decisions than you. That’s not to say it doesn’t take some hard work and research to find what you need. Today we are fortunate to have the world at our fingertips and a never ending list of options.

When I first began our homeschool journey – I was a bit overwhelmed at the variety of choices. I was afraid I wouldn’t make the right ones. Fortunately, I had a couple of friendly homeschool moms who took me under their wings and encouraged me to take my time and enjoy the ride.

It was a great way to begin our adventure. I had one little boy to teach and we were having a ball together. As time marched on, I found myself with a bit more of a challenge. Suddenly, there were three little boys, and one I was certain I’d never be able to homeschool.

I can worry over which curriculum is best for each child, how in the world I’m supposed to teach all three of them, worry if my “active” child will co-operate enough for me to finish the days lessons and so much more. But, what I’ve found, whether it comes to choosing curriculum or dealing with the day to day, ins and outs of teaching my children – is that when I lean on the Lord and trust His guidance – I don’t have to worry at all.

God has been faithful to our family in so many ways. Our homeschool is no different. He has both guided me as I’ve made choices (I share that with my husband, but he has a job, mine is to gather the information we need and teach our children) – and He has supported and strengthened me when I thought I couldn’t make it. God is ever faithful.

pic1 parker bible

Early on, I began using the Bible as our foundation. Outside of the usual Bible stories, we use it to memorize scripture, and practice handwriting. It’s simple to use the Word (or our weekly verses) to pull out spelling, vocabulary and learn punctuation. We use it as the foundation of our Science – as we believe that all of Creation points toward the Master Creator. We love exploring God’s creation, and using His Word to give Him the glory as we do. It’s the foundation in our history studies as it’s an incredible record of both ancient history as well as a guide to understanding today’s current events. Whether we are learning about faraway lands, or reading about the founding of our county.

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We do a lot of reading out loud in our homeschool studies. Big brother will practice reading and helping the younger ones or I will read to all of them. With little boys for students, I find a lot of hands on (kinesthetic) learning is what works best for our crew. Often even when we are enjoying our read-alouds I will allow them to draw or play with clay to keep their hands busy while they listen. As long as they are respectful and responding to my questions as I read with them, I believe it is helpful and not harmful to their learning. I encourage you in making these decisions, to think about how your children learn best and taylor the homeschool rules and curriculum choices to fit.

We love our literature based curriculum from Geography Matters – The Trail Guide to Learning series. With plenty of activities to support learning, and real books instead of text books, my boys are flourishing! Although it is a comprehensive curriculum that only needs Math to be a complete school plan, I also choose to use Apologia for our science studies – and the boys love it! We are currently using the Swimming Creatures from their Zoology 2 text. We spend a lot of time at the beach – so it is perfect for us.

manateecollage

A visit to the Florida Aquarium this summer confirmed that they are both learning and retaining the information. Even the 6 year old was answering questions and providing information about the creatures of the sea well beyond his “level” of schooling. I love that teaching multiple ages together facilitates that kind of an opportunity to excel.

Interacting with nature as we explore God’s creation has been a mainstay in our homeschool life from the beginning. I am so thankful for the homeschool moms who told me at the start to “go play”. Because they encouraged me no to worry about which curriculum I chose at first and to get out and find what interests my children and gets them excited about learning. I’ve learned to relax a bit more and enjoy the journey with my kids. We love our adventures – and they foster a love of learning in my children that excites me!

navy field trip

We have a child who loves fishing – LOVES fishing. We use that to motivate him and encourage him to learn. Some days that may mean a trip to the beach to actually fish. Or, it may mean that I stamp fish onto card stock to make special flash cards for his phonics.

One of the boys loves the computer, he enjoys the building and creative games. Although we don’t want him to spend all of his time there, I do use a computer based learning program to supplement his studies. (It also helps with the fact that his math is now surpassing my own abilities). Earning “game time” is a real motivator for him. In a world that is more dependent on computer technology daily – he is passionate about the field and learning (while supervised) more about it.

Our middle son, who is 7, can tell you all about the tanks used in World War II. His interest has led us to seek out museums and information from books, interviews with veterans, and exciting field trips. He didn’t have the slightest interest in learning to read. It was painful for both of us, until I purchased him a book about the weapons and battles of World War II. Suddenly, he was excited about learning to read and write, because there was an applicable reason for him – he was motivated and engaged in learning.

When it comes to education – providing stimulating academics is critical to develop a love of learning in your students. As parents, we have the ability to guide, train, and provide what is right for each child in our home. I hope this will encourage you to do just that, and be confident in the process.

The world is your oyster – and thanks to stimulating curriculum – my boys can tell you that oysters are “filter feeders” which clean the world’s oceans to provide a fresh healthy environment for the rest of the swimming creatures which live there. Thanks Apologia!

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