I am a huge reader! I love to read. And as a homeschool momma I strive to share that love of books with my children, every one of them from the oldest to the youngest (My children are 10 ,6, 4 and 10 months old). Needless to say I believe very strongly in making sure that what we read matters too. I believe strongly that when we read the right the right things we are having fun and learning! And as my children get older, I hope that they will share in the joy and excitement of a good book too.
When it comes to choosing books though, and using them in our program, it can be a bit overwhelming. I mean, there are so many good books to choose from. And with outsuch a range of ages…How and where should I begin? I admit when it came to starting our literature based studies, I faltered. I started and stopped again and again. I choose too many books; my children’s interests were too varied. I thought for a time we were going to just have to go back to the way we were doing things and then I had the opportunity to review something that really made a difference for our home school.
Train up a Child Publishing, previously Epi Kardia, so generously blessed us with their literature based homeschool curriculum. Their mission is simple (one I think we can all agree with) is to help parents to raise godly and well-educated generations. I love how their materials all seek to provide opportunities to teach to visual, auditory, kinesthetic and other avenues of learning as truly, every child is so very different and learns in a way different from others. As the owner, Dana Wilson says so beautifully, “We want to train up a child in the way he should go; the way God made him or her.”
As it is written in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
This is a program which incorporates every way imaginable for our kids to learn. It is full of projects, timelines, note booking and copywork, lap books, for our kids to learn and have fun and create too. It also includes a great deal of opportunities to enjoy discussion and encourage narration!
The materials I was provided were presented so beautifully! I received a CD full of tools for K-5th grade as well as a binder of Unit Booklets for Teaching Primary Grades K-2. From the moment I began reviewing this material I was excited. I just knew that this was a method that I could use. As I began looking over the materials provided, I absolutely adored how there were numerous tips provided to help us mommas as we use the program with our children. Seeing as I tend to be rather organizational challenged, and even more technologically inept, I was so grateful for the many forms, charts and other organizing tools that were provided for my use. Its so refreshing, and encourages me to continue striving towards greater organization for myself and my homeschool, having tools like this so easily accessible. And so easy to use too!
The program itself uses these units every year, for three years, allowing everyone to go a bit deeper (layering history) in their learning the older they get. This method works great with my to boys especially. At the same time there are recommendations for how to study in chunks, since sometimes, we have to allow our kids to follow where their curiosity leads them. For example, we began with The Ancients (Creation – A.D. 476). Can I say the hardest part for me was choosing which books to read? I finally decided to let the kids choose and so off to the library we went to dig up whatever books we could find and spend the afternoon previewing them together. There was an excellent assortment provided for each unit; a number of books for listening and additional ones for independent reading. The list also separated the books based upon genre so there was a list of historical books, poetry & fine arts and science. Lastly every unit includes an amazing list of projects. Project based learning is something I have been pondering for my oldest son, so this was a great way to give it a bit of a try.
There were so many projects to choose from! My younger son (6) just loved making paper airplanes. I think there was a time we had at least 30 0f them filling up our living room as my son tried out different folds and sizes and papers ~ He loved testing them both inside and outside to see what went the furthest, which one flew fastest. My boys created slingshots (which their sister didn’t really appreciate) but she enjoyed painting a couple pots and then planting some seeds too! As a family we enjoyed going for walks to collect leaves and bits of bark for rubbings! We enjoy plenty of nature walks as a family when we have the chance. Wisconsin weather can make this a bit more challenging at times but thankfully we have had a few days here and there where we were able to get out and about.
For a season in our home school where we were really in need of something more inspiring for all of us, this has been such a huge blessing. This is not just a program that tells you what to do, but one that from the very moment you open the parent manual, inspires and reenergizes the desire for home education. There is much wisdom to be gained from the pages within this book. It has had me regularly revisiting and pondering the environment in which we educate. I ha e also been encouraged to regularly set realistic goals for my children and myself. My oldest son and I share the setting of goals; this is his opportunity to share and show what he is learning and what he is seeking to learn about. At the same time when he has a goal that is not realistic (such as wanting to play a song he sings in church on his guitar) we can together make simpler goals, ultimately leading up to this one big goal he has for himself. Together we can problem solve, think creatively, and explore the many options out there for learning! My younger son has even become a part of this, setting a couple goals himself for things he is eager to learn more about. As we set these goals and check in regularly on our progress, its fun to see what they are learning and how they are working together many times, to share what their learning and help one another in general. It won’t be long either before my daughter (4) will be sitting in her own goal setting session. She certainly loves to see and be a part of all of this learning and in some ways she already has learning goals (lots of ponies and flowers and ballet).
Again and again I am reminded as I read, that there is no right or wrong way to use these materials. This is a great program for those who are completely new to home education; it is also a wonderful material to use when in a season of unrest (with a baby in the house it does change how things are done!). With this program we have been able to ignite a love of learning within our children. We also been able to step away from the formal “work” while at the same time knowing that my children are still being well fed. As a momma of four children who are such blessings yet so very different in every way, this is an excellent reminder that we need to focus on tools of learning. I am really looking forward to our continued use of this program. In fact, as I am in the process of developing a program for a number of fellow homeschoolers in our church I am sure this is going to get so much use there as well! I really do love this one and encourage anyone who is looking for something that will engage our kids, of all ages, while also cultivating a love of learning within them, this is it!