Back when we began homeschooling there wasn’t much available in the way of curriculum. A Beka was reluctant to provide teacher’s manuals to homeschoolers and Bob Jones was just beginning to extend a friendly hand of welcome to individual families. In our first year I attended an all-day workshop on how to teach a particular method of reading. After several weeks of tears on both the part of teacher and student, I decided that any method of phonics that was so complicated it required a seminar to learn to teach was not for me.
I remember longing for the finances to purchase an entire set of curriculum but alas it was not to be. Actually it was a blessing in disguise because those circumstances forced me to make do and figure out how I wanted to teach my children.
Over the years finances improved but we never did buy an entire curriculum. The kids received an education and those who have graduated–seven at this point–went on to succeed in college and life. Along the way there were certain things that we did consistently, and there are three things that we’ve done for twenty-six years (so far).
Three Things We’ve Done for 26 Years
1) Reading real books. Not textbooks, not summaries, not excerpts. Real, whole books, starting with picture books and eventually ending up with classic novels. We read aloud in the mornings because it’s so important I don’t want to wait till afternoon or evening and risk missing it. Our students are assigned a good amount of personal weekly reading as well.
2) Writing. In the early years this is copywork and dictation. Eventually it becomes essays and reports. Our high schoolers have really enjoyed the One-Year Adventure Novel program and anything from Institute for Excellence in Writing.
3) Chores. Wait a minute, what do dishwashing and vacuuming have to do with academics? I submit that the character and work ethic learned through consistent service and responsibility were just as important a part of their education as learning to read.
There have been other constants but I can’t say that we’ve done them every single year: unit studies, poetry memorization, notebooking, and more. The landscape changes each year with the group of students at home and the circumstances of life.
Never a Perfect Homeschool Year
We’ve never had a perfect homeschool year. Or week. Or day, for that matter. We just keep going and adjusting and moving on. Remember that graduating seven students has a way of providing some perspective.
I will literally be retirement age when I finish homeschooling our youngest. I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and a teacher, so I’ve been living my dream for a long time, and for that I’m grateful. The three things we’ve done for twenty-six years have borne good fruit so we’ll keep doing them.
What have you done consistently in your child(ren)’s education?