Feb 10, 2015

Now What?

This is my first year directing a community for Classical Conversations. I really love my job!

I got to thinking about those of you newer-to-homeschool moms, I thought this might be a help to you. Yah, I should've written it about 5 months ago, but hey, better late then never!

So after your community day, once a week, what should you do at home?! What do you need to do?

1) Memory Work: We always review the memory work for as many weeks as we can. 30 minutes. Every day. Now, that's an ideal (which in all honesty means that it doesn't actually happen every day), and it's easier now that one of my kids is older. You can buy the app, you can use the CC connected tutorials, or you just sit in your living room, coffee in hand, Foundations Guide on your lap and go. Sometimes we go by weeks. "Let's do all of week 14-18". Sometimes we go by subject, "Let's do all of Science and History today." Play the songs in the background. Or the car. Hey, we've even done memory review during hula-hooping or jumping on the trampoline.

2) Geography: Trace (or draw from memory) those maps! At the end of Challenge A, your child will be able to draw the entire world map, with labels, from memory. A little practice every day makes it a much less daunting task and this is a great way to get a few minutes of memory work review that you don't really need to be involved in (unless you love to learn and want to be able to wow your friends at cocktail parties by drawing the US map from memory complete with tiny little labels for places like Mitchell Peak and the Erie Canal). Littles have an easier time if the tracing paper is taped down over the map. Older kids can try drawing freehand or from memory as they progress. Here's a great resource for learning to draw the US map (learned in 4 parts/regions). I know we can tend to skimp on geography because it takes me 4.7 seconds to go get the map!

3) Reading/Spelling/Phonics: This subject area isn't included within our community day, but reading is kinda important and needs included in your homeschool schedule. There are tons of great resources and curricula out there. Ask a homeschooler you trust what they've used and what they liked and why. I really like Spell to Write and Read - but while it was great for one kiddo, NOT SO MUCH for the other. I've also heard great things about Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Now, please remember there is a mighty age range for learning to read, so go easy on yourself and don't stress out too much. *update 8/15: I have since found out I was skipping some very important steps that my younger learner really needed. Since implementing those, I've decided that Spell to Write and Read is just all around awesome. :)

4) Handwriting: Goes along with 3. Important! With very little kids, tracing letters in the sand or on a dry erase board is plenty! As my kids have gotten older, I assign copywork every day. They copy short sentences (younger) to paragraphs (older) either from our History memory work or from classical literature that I have them read/have read to them. If you need ideas in this area, I know just where to send you - let me know.

5) Literature: This is my personal opinion, and I'm sure you're already reading to your kids. I just want to encourage you to read really good literature with your kids that is above their own reading level! There are TONS of great audiobooks on Librivox.org, and TONS of free classics formatted as e-texts at gutenberg.org. I choose books by looking through the invaluable reading lists at amblesideonline.org by grade level. Here's a thought-provoking article about the trend in required reading lists for middle schoolers over the last 100 years.

6) Mathematics. Lastly, Math. MATH! CC's memory work curriculum is amazing and going to be so handy as our kids progress, but you'll need to choose a math curriculum of some sort. I always hear great things about Saxon (used later when our kids get into Challenge but not required) and Math-U-See, and to tell you the truth I don't know anything about any other curriculum except the one I use. Which is free. K-12.

7) Resources: Here are my favorite homeschool go-to websites.
Classical Conversations - of course!
Old Fashioned Education - her premise? A great education doesn't have to be spendy. Great links to so many free books, resources, classics, old-time curriculum, etc. as well as schedules. This is where I started my homeschool journey, 7 years ago!
AmblesideOnLine - a Charlotte Mason resource - which I think ties in well with CC especially as it relates to reading great literature in all the subjects and providing a smorgasbord of beautiful and amazing ideas, thoughts, and art for your children to interact with.

8) Pray. Pray - no I'm serious, pray. I need to remember daily that this calling is (or can be) really hard and I can NOT do it on my own so no wonder it feels impossible. I need the Lord's help for wisdom in little things like "which reading program should I use" all the way up to "how do i encourage this kid in this when we're already both frustrated and discouraged"! He is our mainstay and cares more for our kids' education than we do. They are made to glorify Him and what a great opportunity we have to grow up future truck drivers, moms, lawyers, uncles, teachers, cashiers, scientists, engineers, aunts, librarians, dancers, dads and administrative assistants who love the Lord with all their hearts and seek to follow Him for a life time. Truck drivers, lawyers, teachers, cashiers, scientists, engineers, librarians, dancers, and administrative assistants who can read Cicero in its original language, espouse thoughts on Shakespeare, and parse a sentence like nobody's business - all for God's glory and to His praise.

9) Compatriots: I list it last but I think it's very important. DON'T GO THIS ALONE! You need a compatriot! At least one person who you can get together with (or text!) during the week so kids can play and you can tell this particular someone, out loud, that some certain other someones are driving you crazy this week. We are all struggling - I guarantee it. So let's not be quiet about it - let's be open, ask for help, be an encouragement and trek down this road together.

I'd love to know what you'd suggest to your just-starting-out-in-CC-self. What would you tell him/her if you could talk to her now?

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