#Back2School in #31Days: Day 11 – Planning: Curricula

Have you ever spent a lot of time with someone but looking back on that time it feels like you were with them but not engaged with them?

There’s a big difference.

That’s how I felt about being with my children this past year.

In some ways we had an average year with learning. We finished some of our subjects and totally changed course with others.

We clocked a lot of learning time in our calendars.

But in other ways, our year was unique and came with different challenges.

Before beginning anything new, I like to take a full-stop and think everything through, which is why we are committed to attending the Great Homeschool Convention every year. (This is an affiliate link, but I promise with how much I recommend them – they are not sponsoring me. I’m just eager for free.)

Each year, I’m corrected in my thinking as a woman, wife, parent, teacher, writer, friend – all of it. The sessions always seem to untangle the connections and allows me to understand where each of my roles fit.

I’m coming to anticipate a major shift in my thinking and researching of resources and curricula. It’s stretching for me to trust that God will guide us to the right sessions, booths, and materials for teaching and training our children.

It’s been a huge blessing to trust and commit to the way He shows us. We have made the decision for what we will learn in the fall by April – 3 years in a row now. I have really loved being able to go over the materials during the summer at my leisure – then by August each year I feel not only decided but prepared.

Back2School Logo

So far in the #Back2School journey, we’ve covered the why, envisioning the flow, using Pinterest with caution, creating a book nook, staying in the present while preparing for the future, decluttering before you begin, defining a family culture, and discerning the big picture.

Now for a little more nitty gritty on what we’ve decided to try this year.

I wrote about what I thought we were going to use in the takeaway post from the convention, but we (my husband and I) ended up feeling deeply drawn to reading together as a family. At one point in the exhibit hall, my husband said “I just feel like we need to just read lots and lots of good books together.”

Yes. That.

Let’s read lots and lots of books together.

All you need for a good education is a comfortable couch and a library card. – Steve Lambert of Five in a Row

I wasn’t sure about Steve Lambert’s session – Become Your Child’s Favorite Teacher – for the first 15 minutes. I mean, he was interesting and very funny – his jokes made me laugh out loud and when I repeated one to my husband later, I laughed until I cried.  But I was looking for an “aha!” moment and it never came.

What I did walk away with was a conviction. He emphasized again and again the importance of reading aloud to your children. For me, reading aloud is the easiest thing to put off for later. It’s easier to say, “Go work on a page in your math book” than it is to stop what I’m doing to sit and read together.

By the end of the convention, I knew Steve Lambert had been the most inspiring and helpful speaker for me – and before the convention Five in a Row wasn’t even on my list of curricula to look at.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 3

Long story short, we went with Five in a Row Volume 4 for ages 7-8, which isn’t a well known volume. It comes with the Five in a Row Christian Character and Bible Study content, cookbook, and laminated story disks for a map.

We are really excited to see how unit studies will enhance our home, especially in the 4-corners of our home school puzzle.

The books in the unit study are primarily picture books and at first my 8-year old was apprehensive – and I was too to be perfectly honest. I have leaned on the side of hurrying my eldest to strive for the next levels, the harder challenges, and the deeper materials. So to see “easy” content feels beneath her. But as I was taught in the session “You CAN do unit studies” by Steve Lambert, anyone at any age can do a unit study at their level from great children’s literature. (I wrote an example of how he applied Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel for 4 different age levels in this post.)

Five in a Row unit studies cover all the major subjects: social studies, geography, language arts, art, math, and science – plus Bible and home economics!

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 4

We are really looking forward to the relationship building on the foundation of books, the reading – all of us will take turns reading through these stories, the real discussions that will take place as we dig into these rich stories, and the rest from the busyness of trying to build an education from textbooks and worksheets.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 2

In addition to the unit studies, we chose to add a separate history curriculum. Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books was also speaking at the convention and I was able to attend two of her sessions. My husband is deeply interested in history and the books included in this Early American History: A Literature Approach for Primary Grades are excellent. For us, it wasn’t a decision from wanting to do more packaged curricula but rather a decision to surround our children with more quality books to choose from in our library.

Many of the books in this package are hard to find on their own. We felt like it was a worthy investment.

B2S Day 11 Planning Curricula 1

We plan to try using lapbooks to enhance the units of Five in a Row. We bought Heidi St. John’s eBook Lapbooking Made Simple to help encourage the set up and follow through of this method of learning.

What is a lapbook?

It isn’t a curriculum. It is a method. It’s like taking a large Science Fair poster board and shrinking it to fit in the child’s lap. You use manila file folders – open it flat, then fold both sides to the middle spine – and that’s it. You now have your lapbook ready for pasting any number of things into the folder on the topic of choice.

So that’s it. This next year is going to be another adventure for all of us in learning together. I plan on sprinkling posts about how things are going with these resources this year – more for accountability on my part to keep going than for your benefit – but I do hope seeing a snapshot of our planning helps inspire you to engage in your learning journey along with us. Let me know if you would like that in the comments or ask anything you’d like about what I’ve shared in this post!

This is part 3 in the Curricula: What We Use series. Click the link to read Part 1: Preschool and Kindergarten or Part 2: 1st and 2nd grades.

And it is also Day 11 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

2016-HOMESCHOOL-CONVENTION-DATES

728x90

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

#Back2School in #31Days: Day 8 – What’s a family culture?

A Mother's Day Confession My Family

I hear a lot of talk about building community. We like to make plans for building intentional relationships with people to help, support, and join together. It’s important for us because after all we are human, and we were created to connect.

It’s important to have a culture of connected people – living openly, giving freely, and loving unconditionally.

But a “family culture?” I had to admit to myself the first time I heard that term, I really had not ever thought about anything like that before.

IMG_2622

I wondered to myself: 

How would I define my family in one word – what would that one word be?

Or how about this question: what is one family activity I wouldn’t want to live without? 

What makes our family rhythm unique? What traditions do I want my kids to remember when they are grown?

And why are these questions apart of the #Back2School in #31Days series? 

Back2School Logo

Well, as we get ready for fall activities, school, commitments to our communities, and all the other non-summer busyness – there needs to be one thing that stands as a focal point that defines what it means to be a part of our family.

Or I will find myself exasperated by November trying to do everything and not doing anything very well.

IMG_2588

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts by Sarah McKenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival, and in the intro to her podcast, she says something like:

This will encourage you to build your family culture around books.

I was listening to the one from New Year’s Eve and she was talking all about starting a “reading streak.” Where as a family, they commit to reading aloud everyday for as many days as they can. 100 Days, a year, or maybe more!

This is a great goal and activity that will naturally encourage family bonds, conversations, and memories – all brought about through reading aloud together.

Toddler Turns 2 a

It was also where I first tuned in to her words “build your family culture around books.”

I think it’s worth recommending that we take time to consider what our family culture is. What is it on its own, and what we want it to become (and the steps it will take to get there – like a reading streak.)

Here are my 2 things to consider when building a family culture:

  • List the things you do as a family on a regular monthly basis that are non-negotiable. Like, eating dinner together every night. Talking a family walk every week. Listening to music while baking. Reading either alone or together. Taking a Sunday drive. Playing games together. Or maybe it’s something completely different. Whatever it is, it is yours – it’s one of the best things that makes your family unique.
  • Write your Parenting Purpose Statement (get your free downloadable guide here) and examine who you are and how that distills what is the best focus for your goals and activities.

There are so many good things to be focused on as an individual and as a family, but to truly live a fulfilling life I feel it is important to know how you are each wired. Dr. Kathy Koch has written a great book on the 8 Intelligences which is so practical and helpful in recognizing what makes us tick. I recommend taking time to observe yourself and your children and write out how each member is smart.

Kid-ucation JoeAnna

The next part to creating a family culture is a little tricky: try to pick out one thing that unifies all your smarts and makes your family unique.

I believe that by narrowing down what we are about to one major thing it becomes easier to cross things off our list of options and save space on the list for what’s most important to us.

By looking at each month on the calendar as an opportunity to build our family bonds and enrich the soil of our souls, we all live with more intention, peace, and purpose.

So, today’s challenge is to define what my family is all about.

In our family we: eat dinner every night together and share about our day, play music together, discover new places together, read before bed together, and learn new things together.

My family culture revolves heavily upon an evening routine. Noticing this I can begin to plan ahead by looking at the next 6 months and seeing how to prioritize keeping our first things, first.

On Developing Better Follow Through

I want our family culture to be so rich and meaningful that it impacts those around us. I don’t want the culture of the world in which we live to be so strong that it comes into our home and changes us.

A family culture is worth creating and protecting. It takes planning and prioritizing. It’s one of the biggest blessings of being a family.

Further reading (& listening):

This is Day 8 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

728x90

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.