I’m a newbie when it comes to the world of podcasts. Up until recently, my only experiences listening to podcasts had been a handful of unwilling exposures to my husband’s sports or political commentary subscriptions. But now that I’ve found my own subscriptions, I’m hooked! I have found them to an invaluable source of inspiration, encouragement, and practical help in mothering/teaching my children. I often listen while doing chores or driving in the car, and it is proving to be quite an effective method of “professional development” so to speak!
Read Aloud Revival
The Read Aloud Revival podcast was my introduction to the wonderful world of podcasts — there were probably about 20 episodes already released when I first found it, and I gobbled them all up as fast as I could. It is hosted by Sarah McKenzie of Amongst Lovely Things, one of my favourite blogs. She has had Andrew Pudewa, Jim Weiss, Julie Bogart, Susan Weiss Bauer and so many more great guests! The goal of the podcast? To help you build your family culture around books, which is right up my alley! There is also a membership site, where all kinds of freebies are available as well as live author events and classes and a Facebook Group.
The CIRCE (Consulting and Integrated Resources in Classical Education) Institute produces several great podcasts. Quiddity is their original podcast, and features interviews and ideas of interest to Classical Educators. Guest include Andrew Kern, Andrew Pudewa, Sarah MacKenzie. The content of this podcast is really good, and requires some time for me to digest!
The Mason Jar (CIRCE Institute Podcast Network)
The Mason Jar is CIRCE’s newest podcast, featuring all things Charlotte Mason. This is a great podcast for you whether you are a Charlotte Mason or Classical homeschooler (or a little bit of both!). Hosts are David Kern and Cindy Rollins.
Your Morning Basket
Your Morning Basket is Pam Barnhill’s newest podcast, focusing on the homeschool practice of “morning time” or “circle time”. There is discussion of memorization, reading aloud, and rituals. So far, there have been interviews with Cindy Rollins, Christopher Perrin and Andrew Pudewa. Whether you have been doing some form of Morning Time all along, or are new to the practice, consider this podcast your guide and encouragement as you seek to begin each day with truth, beauty and goodness.
There are so many great homeschooling blogs out there! No matter what your educational style, there is something out there for you — from school-at-home to unschooling. Finding a homeschool blog that matches your style or curriculum choices can be a great help to you as you homeschool. It can offer encouragement, inspiration, practical help, as well as useful resources such as printables and downloadable curriculum. Today I’m sharing the top 5 blogs I follow and utilize for the above mentioned reasons:
Amongst Lovely Things
Sarah Mackenzie is the classically homeschooling mother of six children. She’s also the author of the successful book Teaching From Rest and the host of The Read Aloud Revival podcast. Her blog is full of inspiration and encouragement for your homeschooling journey. If you’d like a taste of what she has to offer, start with one of my favourite posts, You’re More Classical Than You Think.
Classically Homeschooling is the blog of Sarah Denis, a classically (obviously!) homeschooling mother of 6 children. Her blog offers practical information on Classical Education, homeschool organization, and more. She co-hosts the Trivium Tuesday weekly link-up with another great blog, Living and Learning at Home. If you are wondering about Classical Education, check out her series of posts on The Five Different Approaches to Classical Education.
Simply Convivial is Mystie Winkler’s blog. She is a homeschooled homeschooling mother of 5 kids. Her blog is chock full of organization tips (as is her other blog: Simplified Organization) and she offers many free and paid e-courses and seminars to help other homeschoolers. She has amazingly helpful tips and resources for having a Morning Time in your homeschool, which I highly recommend!
This blog will appeal to a wide range of homeschoolers. Heading up the site is Jamie Martin, a homeschooling mother of 3. There are many other contributors to the site (including Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things), which is what makes Simple Homeschool have such a wide appeal — there are so many varying educational philosophies represented. There is so much encouragement offered there! Check out this post on your The Five Love Languages of Homeschooling.
A Holy Experience
Ok, so I admit that this isn’t really a homeschooling blog. But Ann Voskamp is a homeschooling mother of 6 (what is it about that number?!) and her words are so full of grace, her pictures are so beautiful, and she has so much to share of what is true, good, and beautiful — that I just had to add her to my list. Besides, if you look around on her blog, you will see some posts about homeschooling. Have you seen her homeschool room? Drool. And I’m not even a believer in having a homeschool room! Check out her site for so many beautiful printables too!
Well, there you have it! Those are my top 5 favourite homeschooling blogs — what are yours?
This post combines two of my very favourite things: homeschooling and books! Today I’d like to share with you my top 5 recommendations for homeschooling books — especially if you’re after a literature rich, classically leaning, wholesome education for your children. I’ve read a lot of homeschooling books — as many as I could get my hands on through our public libraries, but these all have a permanent home in my own personal library.
I list this book first because it is the single, most used reference book in my homeschooling library. I began by checking this book out regularly from the library, was constantly renewing it, requesting it, etc. until I decided that I just needed my own copy. It provides a good insight as to the why of homeschooling your child, but even better, it explains the how. This book was my first taste of classical education, and it had me hooked from the beginning. It lays out in a simple format the progression of a child’s learning through the various stages of the trivium (which it names grammar, logic, and dialectic), and what and how to teach each level. It is full of practical information, including such things as approximate length of time to spend on each subject, curriculum recommendation and how to organize your child’s notebooks. This book is gold, and I need another copy just to loan out to friends because I recommend it so much!
For the Children’s Sake is a lovely read which introduced me to many of the educational principles of Charlotte Mason. What I really appreciate about this book is that it puts the relationship into education. This is the furthest thing from current textbook, workbook, one-size-fits-all, and checklist education models we see today. I love the focus on building habits, relationship, and appetites in our children as the basis for education. There is so much loveliness in this book!
This book focuses on educating the heart of your child, and educating them with the motive of helping them to become the person God has made them to be. It sets forth home education primarily as discipleship, which I really love. It is quite Charlotte Mason-y in many ways, but refers to books as “wholehearted” instead of “living” as do the Charlotte Mason educators. It’s definitely the same thing though. There are also many examples from the Clarkson’s own experiences home educating their four children as well as inspirational quotes, recommended reference and literature books, and practical forms and helps. This book is a good combination of inspiration and application.
This book is purely practical. It is a great starting point for people who are new to homeschooling as it provides overviews of teaching styles, educational models, and learning styles as well as providing comprehensive curriculum reviews. It is perfect for helping you decide what to use based on your own preferences and the needs of your children.
This is such a lovely book! It is not a homeschooling book per se, but it is an amazing resource as you search for quality books for your children. This book is so helpful in selecting books that will furnish your child’s imagination with beauty, wonder, delight and adventure. It discusses role of reading and books in giving your children a large view of the world, encouraging imagination, and developing good use of language. It has booklists with over a thousand recommendations organized by age and subject including both classics and new books. In my opinion, this book is a must read for parents who want their children’s hearts and minds to be positively influenced by the books they read.
Peace Hill Press is led by the authors (Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer) of The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. This book is among those I consider to be the most influential both in my decision to homeschool and in my overall educational philosophy. PHP’s products follow the methodology set forth in TWTM’s particular flavour of classical education.
Teacher Friendly (Open & Go)
You most definitely can homeschool according to TWTM without using PHP’s programs. There are many other curricula recommended in the book aside from their own, as well as information on how to put together your own course of study. Before I started homeschooling formally, I planned on using relevant passages from our history and literature selections for narration, dictation, and copywork. While I still think this is ideal, as a new, busy, and inexperienced homeschooler I decided to go with their prepared writing curriculum which uses selections from children’s classics. No preparation required. FLL, OPGTTR, WWE, and SOTW are all well scripted and easy to use. Of all their programs, SOTW requires the most prep and even that I find minimal. I request the recommended supplemental books from the library a few weeks in advance and make photocopies of maps, templates, and colouring pages. That’s it! If there is a craft or activity I want to do with the kids, I do have to assemble the materials.
Non Consumable and/or reproducible
As a homeschooling parent with multiple children, I really appreciate this! I can photocopy extra colouring pages for my 4 year old without violating copyright, AND use the whole program again with her when we cycle through history with her later. The WWE & FLL workbooks also allow copying for use within your own family. FLL 1 & 2 and OPGTTR are also completely non consumable. So once you purchase a given level of any of their materials, you’re good to go for the rest of your children!
Peace Hill Press’ products are not costly. For example, OPGTTR can be purchased for less than $20. Compare that to leading phonics programs that requires teacher’s manuals, student worksheets, manipulatives or readers. PHP materials can also be purchased on Amazon, unlike many other homeschool curriculum that must be purchased either directly from the publisher or from homeschool/educational suppliers. This means free shipping and no duty, which for me as a Canadian is definitely a plus! While I do recognize that you may be able to provide your child with a first rate education solely with a library card and an internet connection, the cost of purchasing curriculum from PHP is small compared to the cost of some of the boxed curriculum providers which cost around $1 000/year per child!
High Quality, Simple & Effective!
It is amazing to me how simple, yet effective their programs are. My first daughter learned to read using OPGTTR just a few short years ago and now there is no stopping her! When you are finished with that book, your child is reading at a 4th grade reading level. Which for her was early in the first grade. I love the emphasis on focusing on the basics in the early grades and building skills rather than emphasizing creativity which the child will be better able to express once they have mastered the basic skills required for doing so. I’ve only seen the fruit of two years of writing and grammar instruction, but I am amazed so far!
Some other things about Peace Hill Press that may appeal to you:
Their books are available for PDF download offering both financial savings and ease of use for printing those reproducible work pages.
The have high quality audio companions for many of their products, most notably The Story of the World read by Jim Weiss. He’s so talented and a treat to listen to!
They now offer “School in a Box” with all the recommended curricula including those not published by themselves. They are currently offering Kindergarten through Second Grade packages.
Are you a Peace Hill Press user? What do you like most about their products?
One of my great goals and aims in educating my children is that they develop self discipline and become life long lovers of learning. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? We want to see our children grow in knowledge and develop a passion for some subject or other.
But what do we know above all about how children learn? As the old maxim goes “children learn what they live”, and our children are watching us. What kind of example for learning and self education am I setting? Do my children see me pursuing my interests? Do they see me struggling to learn or master something new, trying again until I get it right?
There have been a few things I have been interested in learning in the last few years. When my oldest was quite young, I wanted to be able to make decent, homemade birthday cakes for family celebrations. This was “pre Pinterest” so I took a few classes and can now whip up a nicely decorated buttercream cake for my girls’ birthdays. Then, I wanted some basic sewing skills. I took a weekly, evening class and can now (usually) correctly thread my sewing machine. I truly hope my children see that adults are still learners as they are!
One area I do believe I have been neglectful both to my own personal development and in setting an example to my children is in keeping my mind fed. Before becoming a mother, I was a voracious reader. I spent HOURS each day reading. I lost track of time reading. If in the middle of a good book, I could read all night without even noticing the passage of time.
As the years have passed, I have been reading less and less. These days it seems I am constantly checking books out of the library only to return them several weeks later unfinished. I still LOVE books. I love booklists. I love book reviews. But actually sitting down and getting through a book has become a real challenge to me. Add to this the desire to be able to read the classics and the great literary works, and I have been feeling pretty defeated. Is it possible that I am no longer able to really READ a book anymore?
It’s time to model that growth mindset, that perseverance, and that love of learning to my family! Surely I can spare 30 minutes a day to build the habit of reading back into my life! Starting today, I commit to reading a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Will you join me? Follow along with me on Facebook, and I’ll post each week what I’m working through! If I don’t, you can give me a nudge!
I had this one out from the library a few months back and returned after having only read the introduction. It had a request on it and couldn’t be renewed. I’m on chapter 5 now, and I’m hoping it will make a better reader out of me. I’m taking notes!
This title came highly recommended to me when I was searching for a way to chose and organize my own art curriculum for our homeschool. My knowledge of art history, art, and artists is really lacking and so far this book is really interesting!
This book is always on my stack! I can remember the first time reading through God’s word when I was about 16-17 years old. I really felt my eyes opening as truth was revealed to me so freshly for the first time. I truly hungered for it! I confess that it hasn’t been so in recent years.
What are you reading? Do you have a hard time fitting reading and self education into your busy days?
Poetry memorization hasn’t been much of a problem for us, and we have really enjoyed working through the selections in Levels 1 & 2 of First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. Less enjoyable, but still easily accomplished were the parts of speech definitions. We have, however, been hitting quite a roadblock with the memorization lists for pronouns, state of being and helping verbs, conjunctions, articles and prepositions. Oh, the prepositions! There is nothing fun about these lists!
I can’t believe we have gotten this far in the program and I am just now taking the plastic off the Audio Companion CD and putting it in the CD player! I bought the older, combined Level 1 &2 edition used for $5 a few years ago, and the lady I bought it from also threw in the CD, and she hadn’t used it either. And it turns out it’s really good! It may be late in the game, but we are going to be using it from now on. Even the 4 year old was starting to recite the prepositions at odd times during the day, and I’ve also caught myself singing “These are the prepositions we sing about!” while I’m puttering away in the kitchen. The guitar and lyrics by Mike Smith are really enjoyable, and surprisingly not annoying!
Here are the memorization lists I prepared for Big Sister’s grammar notebook, to follow along with the chants and songs on the CD:
It’s that time of year again when many homeschoolers are wrapping up their year. Finishing some subjects early (way to go you homeschooling superstars!) and trying to plough through where you may have fallen behind. It’s a great time for evaluating the year; what worked and […]
Are you looking for a visual aide to use with your grammar memory work? I’ve created these lovely prints to co-ordinate with our grammar curriculum, First Language Lessons, that are both practical and lovely. No reason to have hand copied or simple typed cue cards!
Simply right click on the images and save the files to your computer, and upload to your photo finishing website or print at home!
A recent addition to our homeschooling activities has been the introduction of “art class”. For our first few sessions I did some searching online for tutorials and ideas and came up with some simple yet enjoyable projects. The first was crayon etchings, and the second was watercolour pencil drawings. Then I had the realization that I DO have an “art curriculum” sitting unused on my shelf! A few years back I purchased Drawing With Children but was somewhat overwhelmed with the prospect of implementing it and following through with my plans. I loved the premise of the method, and the examples given of children’s work is quite impressive. But life was busy (pregnancy, move, newborn, move) so we just stuck to the basics for the time being and focussed on “The Three Rs”.
So now that we’ve got our own grove going, why not give it a try?
Here are the basics of the book:
The author of the book, Mona Brookes, proposes that drawing (like music, dance and other artistic subjects) should be taught through basic instruction. She refutes the notion that drawing evolves naturally and that you shouldn’t give young children any guided instruction in drawing. She has broken drawing down into it’s basic components which she calls the basic elements of shape. When learned and practiced, these elements make up the basis for the drawing of all subjects. This melds very well, by the way, with the tenets of a classical education’s grammar stage. The Five Basic Elements of Shape make up the “grammar” of drawing. I really appreciate her philosophy that anyone can learn to draw well, that drawing is a learned skill, and not only possible for the few of a us who are gifted with it.
The book contains step by step instructions for 5 lessons. The student begins the program by determining their starting level (1 of 3) which encompass children from approximately age 4 to the adult beginner. Then The 5 Basic Elements of Shape (dot & circle family, straight, curved and angled line family) are taught. There are warm-up exercises and teaching tips, as well as information on selecting good art supplies and preparing your environment (and attitude!). We are very excited to see where our learning takes us! This is really the perfect project for us, because it will feature the teacher learning alongside her little students!
So check back often and follow along with us to see how we are progressing! We are sure to be having fun!
We don’t expect children to play the piano, study dance, or learn a sport without showing them the basic components of these subjects. Why do we expect them to understand the complexities of drawing on their own?
Have you used Drawing with Children? What are you doing with your little learners for art?
This post contains affiliate links.
This post is first in a series about our implementation of Mona Brookes’ Drawing With Children. You can check out the others here:
When we began our first-grade spelling lessons last year, it took me a little while to figure out that what we were doing wasn’t working for my daughter. Did she protest when I brought out her spelling book? No. Did she drag her heels and take forever to complete her work? No. Was she enjoying her lessons? Yes, she was. So what could possibly be the problem? While I want my children to enjoy their learning, a smiling face isn’t always the best indication of a successful learning experience. You see, learning has to actually happen!
When choosing and planning our studies, I always consult my trusty copy of The Well Trained Mind. I’ve already mentioned that I love this book and it has greatly influenced my educational philosophy and material selection. I lean heavily toward the classical camp of homeschooling, but I also appreciate many of the other approaches especially Charlotte Mason. Anyways, I think that the WTM really misses the boat on this one. My copy, the newest edition available, recommends Spelling Workout. The problem we had using Spelling Workout was that there didn’t appear to be much rhyme or reason to how it was teaching spelling. And that it wasn’t really TEACHING anything actually. It seems to be your standard workbook and might work well for some kids who are already good spellers. But it failed to teach my daughter ANY spelling rules and suffice it to say that my daughter had zero retention of any of the material covered. I would hazard a guess that if the WTM is ever revised a fourth time it will recommend All About Spelling.
I must say that I was totally wrong in believing that a child who reads well, loves books and is exposed to quality literature will automatically spell well.
So after our SWO flop last winter, I started looking into other options. There is a lot of buzz in homeschool circles about All About Spelling. Everywhere I looked people were recommending it and All About Learning Press’ reading curriculum All About Reading. I hesitated in purchasing the curriculum though, for two reasons: the first being that I had never seen or handled the curriculum myself; and second that it is a very costly program. Spelling Workout A can be purchased for $18, and each subsequent workbook is approximately the same cost. To get started with AAS in comparison, you need to plunk down $29 for a starter kit and then $38 for Level 1. Subsequent levels are in the ballpark of $50 each! And then you have to factor in shipping from a curriculum supplier as it is not available on Amazon.
So I spent the winter trying to do spelling on my own. I have zero knowledge of spelling rules and am myself not a great speller. There are graded spelling lists available online, and these I taught in the method commonly in use in public schools (according to a friend who is both a parent of young elementary children and a public school teacher). At the start of the week, I would do a pretest. My daughter would get approximately 5-7 out of 10 words correct. On day two she would copy the words. On day three she would alphabetize the list. On day four she would build the words with letter tiles. I was trying to add some multi-sensory experience to our learning a la AAS 😉 I used these tiles. On the final day, I would re-test her. And this is where it got interesting – she would get the same or almost the same score as she had on the first day BUT SHE DIDN’T ALWAYS SPELL THE SAME WORDS WRONG! She was often spelling words incorrectly that she had previously gotten right. And vice versa.
So after several months, we quit spelling altogether and I just kept thinking about AAS.
This fall I had the opportunity to purchase the AAS Basic Interactive Kit (starter kit) and Level 1 used. So I jumped on it and we have been enjoying it. And most importantly, my daughter is LEARNING from it. So am I, and that my friends, is what this learning mama is all about! We have cruised through Level 1 which I think is about a first-grade level, and are one lesson away from being finished. So without further ado, I will show you how we have been using our All About Spelling Level 1:
We begin each lesson by reviewing our Phonogram Cards, Sound Cards, and Key Cards. Then we review 10 spelling words from our cards in the “mastered” section. I try to shuffle them well so there is a good mix of all the recent rules we have learned.
Next, I demonstrate the new teaching using the letter tiles. The letter tiles are really great – read all about why they are so great on the All About Learning Press Blog. Then my daughter practices a few words using the tiles. The instructor’s guide specifies that the student is to spell all 10 words in the list using the tiles before moving on to writing them by hand. Since my daughter is finding the words really easy and doesn’t like using the tiles very much, I allow her to move along quite quickly to writing. She loves the dry erase markers!
The last step in each lesson is dictation. At this point I dictate to her a few of the phrases, she repeats it back to me and then writes them down. This is working really well for her as we have just begun dictation in both our writing and grammar programs. And when we are all done, my daughter enjoys making a picture out of the words! She decorates the board to her heart’s content and then little sister has the fun of erasing the whole thing.And just in time, look what came in the mail this week! Level 2 & 3 which I ordered from The Learning House:Here is the whole Level 2, complete with all the cards I get to separate and assemble into my review box. I didn’t get to do that last time as the previous owner had done it for me. My daughter is curious what the “jail” is for. Is it for words she keeps spelling wrong? Or is for words that break the spelling rules? We will soon find out!
And it is worth noting that this curriculum is quite popular and holds it’s value well so I should be able to resell it when we are done. It is almost completely non-consumable as well, with the exception of the progress charts and certificates, which we don’t use anyway. So the cost of the program will be spread out between my three girls. I would have had to re-purchase SWO workbooks for each child, so in the end, this one might actually be cheaper, and re-sellable!
Update: I’ve now been using AAS for several years and am midway through Level 4 with my oldest (fourth grade) and preparing to start my first grader. It’s an excellent program — and it is now included in the recommended resources for the fourth edition of The Well-Trained Mind.