I have been asked multiple times this last week for curriculum suggestions, how we homeschool or ideas for beginners. I have prayerfully considered what to write each person and finally decided that I would just share here on the blog. This post is quite long since I was trying to answer everyone’s question. Please understand that raising our children for the Glory of God is a personal and incredible responsibility. I love to share with you and trust you will keep in mind that you don’t have to do what I do to have success. Just do what God directs you to do!! With that said, let me share my testimony with you and yes… I promise to also tell you what we use for homeschooling too.
It was1988 when I had a baby in a sling as I sat on the bookstore floor reading a ‘radical’ book called, Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax. I love to read and use to cruise bookstore aisles, so I have no idea except that it was God who led me to this specific book (I don’t believe I had even heard the term homeschooling before that). I read without the notice of time. I was overwhelmed with a confidence that this “homeschooling” was exactly what God’s plan was for our family. Time went on and my baby grew. At four years old he faced a mother who had read too many books to count on all the “how’s” and “why’s” of homeschooling. I had attended two homeschool conventions, listening to a variety of speakers on multiple topics. I subscribed to a handful of home educating publications, joined HSLDA, and joined our local support group. I had went to college, I was smart, determined, and committed to my son’s education. I had goals, charts, and all the best curriculum that money could buy. According to my “plan” he should be in the best colleges in no time! It wasn’t but a few months later when everything finally came to a halt. My son hated homeschooling and so did I! He dreaded learning and I dreaded giving him another lesson! Nothing was going as planned! I had wanted to give my child a love for learning. I wanted him to gain a fascination with life as our relationship was cultivated by our journey together. That was my blissful idea; the reality wasn’t even remotely close to that! At this time my son was four and half years old. I also had a active, smart and bouncing 16 month old little girl, AND I was unknowingly about to deliver my third child prematurely. Most days both my son and I were in tears by the end of the day. I couldn’t wait till nap time much less bed time. My laundry was piling up, my teaching notes were far behind. I was losing any peace I had and my home was showing it! This is when my husband and I finally had a good heart to heart chat with the Lord. We started asking ourselves the questions of, why are we homeschooling? What’s God to say about homeschooling? What would HE want them taught? There were literally a hundred more questions from our hearts that started to pour forth in our prayers. We put the curriculum we had paid way too much money for aside. We went to our son and apologized for the stress and for trusting a lesson plan to tell me what to require each day instead of God. We made a commitment 17 years ago that we have been faithful to keep, that each day we would go before God and ask for the “lesson plan”. We were confident that God, the One that knit each of my children in the womb, knew them! He would never require too much or too little! Like I mentioned earlier, my third son was born at 25 weeks and soon our daily life as we knew it changed. We decided to not do any formal education until our oldest was six. In this time I found a book called, Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. I also learned of a company called, Konos. As I read through each of these resources I knew this was the direction that we wanted to go for our family.
Over the next several years, children were added to the home and multiple moves took place. Life never seemed to stay the same yet, each year our home thrived as we lived out our obedience and discovered more and more about God through the daily life activities. The relationships in the home were fruitful, school lessons were accomplished, children were learning, and yet I still felt like something needed to change. I went for a walk in the woods and just talked with God. Once again I found myself asking, “what do I teach?” I know it wasn’t an audible voice none the less, I felt I had a clear direction. God was telling me to teach the children what they need to know should He return tomorrow. I remember stopping right where I was and pondering what that would look like. That was four years ago and I’m still working out what it looks like on a daily basis. I’ve been very happy with the fruit of my labor thus far. I trust God will continue being faithful to bless the works of my hands as long as it is for His Glory and His will! Here’s what a homeschool day looks like for the Wood family:
Bible study always happens as a family this is on top of their personal Bible time. We read through the Bible from cover to cover. We use the KJV or the New Geneva. No curriculum needed. We discuss what we read, look up words they may not have been familiar with in our 1828 Noah Webster's Dictionary (my favorite dictionary). Look up key words in our Strongs Dictionary, and read notes by Matthew Henry, in our commentary, if desired. All the children take turns using the references which are great language art skills and will are quite useful in their personal study time. We talk about studying His Word.. not just reading it. “2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The children also stand up in front of the family and recite passages of the Bible that they are working on in their free time. Each memorize their “birthday proverbs” (A 'birthday proverbs’ is the chapter of Proverbs that goes with the day they were born. For example a child born on the third day of the month would have Proverbs 3 as their ‘birthday proverbs’). After that is committed to memory they memorize any book of the Bible they desire. This not only helps them hide His Word “Psa 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” in their hearts but also helps them learn public speaking skills and encourages their memory work and recitation.
For handwriting, the Wood family writes out the Bible (starting in Genesis and working through it till they get to the end someday). Each child has a notebook and with some instruction on how to hold their pencil and properly form their letters I let them start their copy work. They give careful attention to how hard they’re holding their pencil, to their spacing, no ‘floating’ letters, or letters misplaced on the line. They make sure this is in their best hand writing. No curriculum, just my instruction and a note book.
For writing, we have used a variety of resources over the years. I have my children currently taking Mrs. Morecrafts class online through a webinar. As a family we enjoy it!! You can learn more about that by visiting: HERE The current course is found HERE
For mathematics, I use Horizons Math. It’s just the program that has worked best for my children when they were PK-6th. After that, I’ve used a variety of resources depending on each child’s interest. Recently the Lord led a Christian woman to us that tutors higher math classes and science classes. I have one of my boys utilizing that resource as God has provided.
For younger children we learn science beyond any requirements a curriculum would require just by living on a farm. My children do all the activity of the farm. They know how to test soil, milk goats, create feed recipes with proper protein content, treat infections, care for ill animals, help deliver newborn animals, they keep records for expenses on the farm as well as the production of milk or eggs collected. They calculate how much our meat cost us, the dangers of GMO, the benefits of pasture raised animals and how to build a pasture that will provide health. As they get older, they are asked to research and put into practice a new skill or project on the farm. My youngest children have learned how to identify native plants, harvest them and how to use them. My nine year old might build a moveable chicken coop, research what chickens we are needing and then help me order them. My girls make cheese, butter, bread and other home made goodies as soon as they like. Typically by the time they are 10 they are able to do these things and love doing them! Where my 13 and 17 year old are currently designing a year around greenhouse that could sustain plants year around in KS in the most earth friendly manner. I told someone the other day, “My children learned in 15 minutes what took me an entire semester at college to learn!” Besides this real life science activity I have read them an assortment of biographies of Christian scientist. They also LOVE to listen to Jonathan Park and have learned an incredible amount through those CD’s.
For History, we have watched and listened to countless resources from Vision Forum. I would encourage you to look there and find treasures that no only tell you the history but create a hunger in your children to want to act it out and learn even more!
For Geography we read missionary stories. We love to use our globe to see where they traveled. As the children got older they would want to do more and more research on some of the places we were reading about. They love to learn! At 16 they are blessed to go with grandma and grandpa to a state of their choice for a two week tour where they learn a great deal. Grandma requires them to answer 100 questions about the information they learned and provide a variety of reports and projects.
For music, we have loved the people God has brought into our live to teach our children different instruments. We love to hear them play so they love to play for us. They practice on their own motivation and delight in bringing the family music. I also read from the Classical Music collection as a story time after our lunch. The children love to hear the stories and listen to the songs included.
Throughout our day, no matter what happens, the peace is present! I guard the peace of this home with all vigilance. I say no to outside activities that would draw our hearts away from home or each other. I deny my selfish desires that would take my attention away from the needs of my family and home. We work on communication and daily strive to live out our lives for the glory of God… right here in our home! We each strive to glorify God, show one another forgiveness and love unconditionally as He loves us.
It’s been 17 years that I’ve been homeschooling, two children have graduated so far and another one getting ready to graduate. I was asked how much we spend on homeschooling. To answer that I would say, I use to keep it under 500 but the last few years we’ve been going over that. I would say we typically spend between 500-1000.00 a year for ALL the children combined for the year. This includes all our tutor classes, Vision Forum resources, books, and other goodies for the year. I was also asked for helpful tips. I guess my only real helpful tip after saying to do all you do with much prayer, would be to encourage you to join the Home School Legal Defense Association! You can learn more about them HERE
I hope this helped. I am always learning. I am confident that as God transforms me, he transforms our home school design as well!
With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood