Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So if you are home schooling, you don't want to take any money from the state and you don't have a whole lot of money to spend, what do you do?

Well, the first and most obvious answer to that is a library card. Now I do know some people who hold similar convictions about libraries as I do about state money and I understand that. I'm thinking we need to kind of work through transition time as a society, on one hand not just going along with the crowd and on the other realizing even the best we can do isn't perfect. I have found a lot of stuff at our church library as well, so that could be a place to look. Maybe as we homeschoolers read and buy more books an out come of that will be more private libraries springing up. That would be really, really neat. Imagine libraries privately own and free of the ALA!

Anyway, if you can get a book and you have internet access, you can get a lot of mileage out of one book. For example last year I checked out "Where Do You Think You're Going Christopher Columbus" by Jean Fritz for my boys and read it aloud to them. I also bought three (because I am teaching three boys at almost the same level) of those brad holder peechee type things at Fred Meyer for .39 apiece. And there we begin. Day one I would read the book until it felt like a natural stopping point (that particular book isn't divided into chapters.)Then I would copy off a picture that goes with the book (in this case a picture of a map of Italy.) then I would have the boys color it and copy a sentence that I had written about the reading. In this case it was "Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy." So we practice handwriting, they learn to recognize the shape of Italy, we talk about how all sentences start with a capital and so do names of people and places because they are proper nouns. Then the next day I read a portion and on that day I have them tell me back a narration about the book. Basically they just tell me the story back and I write it down for them they way they want it. (My 9 year old son is very particular about his narrations.) All my boys are still at the stage where their brains work faster than they can write things down so I write it for them but my girls write their narrations on their own.

So we follow this, each day alternating between them writing a sentence and labeling a map or coloring a picture copied from the book (at least in this case the pictures were black and white and several were good for coloring and writing a caption underneath) and narrating. You can see it's very simple for me and they enjoy it.Other than math, which I still have struggles with getting the boys to sit down and do, they are reasonably willing to come to the table and do the work. I think they are getting a good deal out of it. (Any experienced home schooling mom knows the feeling of "Ugh" when your child is presented with something you KNOW you covered and they cannot remember a thing from it.)

We also read a biography of Sam Colt last year which the boys enjoyed, as I knew they would. But Owen (the 9yr old) really latched onto the fact that what he invented allowed people to make repeated shots out of a gun rather than having to stop and reload between shots. Later when we were reading Laura Ingalls he commented that this was before Sam Colt so if Pa had to shoot a bear he would have to get it in one shot. If he missed the bear would have eaten him before he would have time to reload!

This brings me to another thing that we do which is called "Book Of Centuries". I know some people really like to read all of history in chronological order. Maybe it's because I tend to over think things but I never found that workable for me. I could never seem to decide on when to move from one era to the next and often there were books I wanted to read for a certain time period but it would be over the boys' heads. So I decided to cut myself loose from that expectation and I just read what ever looks interesting and important and then we file it in our book of centuries. If it's a page for a person I will just find a page from a book or a coloring page online from a significant event for a person's life and we'll write a caption and file it in the right time period in our 3 ring binder. For Renoir, for example I found a coloring page online for one of his best known paintings so I printed that off and we labeled it with his name and the date of the painting.  I may point something out like "Look, Renoir painted this painting ten years after Sam Colt died." I don't want it to be complicated which I found time lines to be, trying to figure out how much space to give time periods and such.

Anyway, this is basically what I do for the history portion of our homeschool (geography, handwriting, some grammar get incorporated in as well.) You can see that this is very inexpensive. I generally buy a notebook for a book. (we read several biographies last year.) Then there is paper, printer ink, internet connection, (I use the web a lot for free map outlines.) The book of centuries is in a three ring binder but expect that to last a few years.


  1. This is a great post! Makes me almost excited for the kids to get old enough to do school.

  2. I like your methods.

    I keep trying to comment on your last post but am having some problems. I'll keep it shorter this time. Here in PA the cyber-charter schools are popular, in part because there are lots of goodies with enrollment, including a laptop for each child. I wish I could afford to buy a laptop for each of my kids, but my property taxes are too high.

  3. Great post! I love those elementary years with my children and the key, like you say, is reading good books and letting the kids make their own connections. That is the exciting part of learning!!!

    And I so agree with you about not worrying too much about chronological history. I think moms get hung up on (some I would say obsess on) it because it only really starts clicking in our brains when we hit our 30's and we think we (especially as females) didn't like history in our early years because of the way it was presented to us in school. I think it is more an age/development thing. (Ruth Beechick says this in one of her books, too.)

  4. Marbel, isn't it enough to make you just scream?

  5. Kerri, I do scream, inwardly, a lot.

    Wayside Wanderer - I had to stop reading a classical education board because of a mother who was fretting over her 6-year-old's inability to memorize all the Pharaohs. Seriously. I wonder if she has all the Pharaohs memorized. And not one of the people responding said anything resembling "calm down." They all had helpful tips for her.