Well, we officially started school last Monday, on John's 38th birthday. How old!!!! :) Everything has been going wonderfully! This year, we're doing handwriting, reading/phonics, very simply math, telling time, Spanish, geography, computer skills, and sign language. And the usual nature studies in science, along with Bible study and scripture memorization. I know it sounds like a lot, but we don't do everything (except Bible studies and scripture, and nature) every day.
Spanish consists of me getting out the Spanish book, pointing to things, and teaching the kids what the object is in Spanish. Geography is sitting in front of our two huge maps upstairs (US and world) and just learning the names of states and countries. Sam has already memorized the states that border Texas, along with five or six others!
For reading, sign language, and telling time, we have a set curriculum we follow; for everything else, we just wing it. Some people call it 'unschooling,' but I call it 'who wants to help me cook?'
Kids pick up things at an amazing rate. They are always learning, whether I think I'm actively teaching them or not! A lot of the math that they know has been picked up in my kitchen, at the grocery store, and at the farmer's market. They know that a tablespoon is bigger than a teaspoon, and that two sticks of butter equals one cup. We always try to have 8 frozen pizzas in the freezer when we get home from the store, so if we have one left, we only need to buy 7 for that trip. $.50 is two quarters, and if I give them a five-dollar bill to buy two treats, they will get $3 back, because each cookie or brownie costs a dollar and they each got a treat.
We read a chapter from Proverbs over breakfast, and a chapter from Psalms at most lunches. We memorize one verse each week, and review the verses monthly. Nature and science comes from cooking ('Evie, where does flour come from?' 'Wheat.' 'And who gave us wheat?' 'God did!') ('What happens when we open an egg? When we scramble and cook it? When we boil it?') and just being outside ('What kind of flower is that? What kind of tree is that? Where are the seeds on that tree? Why do tomatoes and green beans and pepper have flowers? What do bees do?) ('Let's catch that bug and feed him to the spider. What is the spider doing? Why?).
We decided to get chickens because, among other reasons, it is a wonderful learning experience for the kids. They have seen the chickens grow from chicks to little chickens, and they should start laying in the next 2-3 months. What a wonderful way to learn about where your food come from! Also, the kids are responsible for the chickens, so they're learning how to take care of their pets.
Computer skills involves opening Word, setting the letter size to about16, and letting the kids type. They're already getting pretty good with knowing where the letters are and using the mouse. I usually let one kid type while I play with the other two in the loft; they are never left alone with the computer, even for me to grab something out of the other room. This is something that will not change, even as they get older.
At night, we read at least one chapter out of whatever book we're reading right before bed, so they are learning several things (how to be still, how to exercise self control and be quiet, reading comprehension, vocabulary, sentence structure, etc ...). I think some parents don't realize just how valuable it is to read out loud to their kids!!
It's all a lot of fun. As I write this, it sounds like we do a lot; we really don't! We spend maybe an hour at the table each day, and the rest of 'school' is just going about everyday life and making the kids are not just included, but an active part of everything I do. Makes for a much better day, all the way around. Their attitudes are better, I'm happier, they aren't arguing and fighting (they don't have time, between school and chores, lol!), and they're learning in the process. I love doing school at home, because we acknowledge God in every aspect of what we do. Without Him, we would have no books, no words, no chickens, spiders, or bugs, no flowers or food, no math or art ... we wouldn't have anything!!