Monday, April 19, 2010

Homeschooling Notes

General Curricula

I have been spending a lot of time, recently, at one of my new favorite blogs, evlogia and its sub-site Letters of Grace.

Both are amazing resources. The former has lots of level-headed, humble advice and curricula for raising and educating (Orthodox) Christian kids. The latter is a work in progress: The authors of Letters of Grace are in the process of creating a nearly complete, Orthodox, early education home-schooling curriculum. And it is all offered free of charge. There are some costs involved, of course (printer ink, laminating resources, purchased story books, etc.), but many of the book titles that the curriculum relies upon are available from a local library. Content is being added to this site weekly.


I am still determining what sort of math curriculum to use. Singapore Math and Math-U-See are the two I am considering at the moment. Maybe I will come to a point where I know what my kids need in the math department and can sort of create my own math curriculum from flash cards and various available online resources, but at least for the first year, I'd like a more complete curriculum.


We've also just ordered the first three sets of the Bob Books to use in teaching Maggie (and our subsequent children) to read. Letters of Grace includes Language Lessons to enrich the Bob Books series and encourage actual reading (not just memorization and narration of pictures). Maggie is enjoying using the color-coded manipulative alphabet (which I recently printed, laminated, and cut apart--have I mentioned that I love to laminate?) to spell our names.


We have been working on a Lent and Holy Week Main Lesson Book record of the kids' icon illustrations and a few other things we've been doing during these seasons. (For an idea of what a Main Lesson Book is, click here.) I'm really pleased with how they are turning out--mainly, I like having somewhere to put their artwork that isn't simply the trash. And I could see us pulling these back out to bring to church next Lent and Pascha. Primarily, it's become a nice record of the simple religious lessons we've done over the last few weeks.


I am conflicted about whether to do any more with our old Five in a Row curriculum, what with our excitement over Letters of Grace and our impending Baby. I have one book checked out (and, I think, planned out) that I could do another series of lessons with. And with our faith lessons and the Bob Books on the way, we will have things to keep us busy.

I'm not sure if I'm struggling more with the curriculum in particular, or with time-management in general. The girls are getting so good at playing on their own that I find myself uninterrupted at the computer for long stretches of time--which is great for my sanity, but lousy for getting anything done with the kids and their schooling or with the house (although I have been in a good routine with that recently--more on that later, perhaps). But when I puzzle over these questions for a while, I usually remind myself that in a few weeks, baby #3 will be here, and then most everything will be out the window, schedule-wise, anyway.

Mostly, we have at least been focusing on our religious lessons for Lent and Pascha, as I mentioned above. And when I feel this is inadequate, I remember this passage by St. Theophan the Recluse:

Let instruction be so arranged that it will be evident what is the main point and what is secondary.... Let the study of faith be considered the chief thing. Let the best time be assigned to works of piety and in case of conflict let them take the first place over learning. Let approval be given not only for success in learning, but likewise for faith and good behavior. In general, one must so dispose the mind of pupils that they do not lose the conviction that our chief work is the pleasing of God....

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