Blessing our home: week one

Well I’m late with a recap because I have been pretty ill with a respiratory thing. Here’s what we did last week in our unit on homekeeping.

We defined keeping home. We looked up scriptures and discussed things needed to keep home–diligence, organization, etc. We discussed what it means to “bless” your home. 

We learned about the history of cleaning through the ages with Cleaning the House by John Mala and 300 Years of Housekeeping Collectibles by Linda Franklin.

We drew our unhappy (messy home). We will finish the unit with drawing a happy (clean home).

We read several cleaning books: Five Little Monkeys with Nothing to Do, In a Minute!, Spring Cleaning, Boo and Baa on a Cleaning Spree and Home Tools among them.

We are coloring a picture each day from Doorposts’ coloring book on Psalm 31.

We memorized Psalm 31:10.

We made a kid-safe cleaning solution with baking soda, Borax and water. Now they have a special spray they like to use.

They did worksheets for math. 

And more…

It was a fun week. We learned a lot about cleaning and God’s idea of home keeping and blessing. This week we will continue, but my health has put things on a bit of a hold so far. We will start to work on a schedule and lots more that I will post next week.

Coming home

In my last post I talked about the latest turn in my journey. I am venturing into unit studies and already I am more at home than I have ever been as a home educator. I have come home in more ways than one.

You may be surprised to learn about the topic of my first unit study. It is home keeping. You read right. (It is called home education, right?) That may seem a strange place to start, but you haven’t been to my house. It is a struggle for all of us to stay organized and orderly and it stops here. Now. Here is a snapshot of how this will work at our house.

We will begin with God’s design for women, using a concordance and Webster’s 1828 dictionary. We will also see how God intends for us to live, as children of God. We will note principles, such as God’s orderly nature, God’s Principle of Individuality and Christian self-government. These principles will be the over-arching themes throughout this study. They will reason from God’s Word for themselves what their unique roles as children and as young women are, liberating them to be what God intended.

Once the foundation has been laid and they know why we need to keep a neat home, we will move to the how. This will be things like the history of cleaning around the world, lots of children’s books (fiction and non-fiction) about the topic, samples from literature like Little House on the Prairie. We will mix our own kid-safe cleaning solutions, sew aprons, create charts, estimate task times, and by the end of the month we will have created a chart to keep a neat home together.

After this month is done, we will continue this training. Each Monday will be a sort of “Home Economics” day. We will learn all the things it takes to manage a home well, and do it with Joy. This will include meal preparation and food safety, sewing, cleaning skills, budgeting, shopping and making menus and time management. The other four days will fall into our usual lesson routine. As my son grows older we will teach him these things as well, along with some “manly things” that he will need to know.

It seems strange to say, but I am so excited to realize that it’s okay to teach my kids what I think they should know in this area, and that it can be a part of learning, just as math or history. So I feel the liberty to learn along with them as we start this new life–at home. I hope you will follow along and offer any insight you may have.

Realizing a dream

In this post I said that as a home educator I hope you are always evaluating what works. To me this is one of the best things about what we do. We are free to try new things and evaluate what works–and what doesn’t. For us a struggle has been the whole idea of separate subjects. I understand that the BPA philosophy keeps the subjects separate so they retain their distinctiveness. They have a reason for the traditional “school” model and I have no problem with that, in general. However it has not ever worked so great in my home. (see Dee’s post on BPA unit studies)

So I was at my local used homeschool bookstore the other day when I came across a book that describes how to create your own unit studies. A bell went off. I have wanted to do unit studies since my oldest was in K (we even used FIAR before moving to BPA). My heart leapt. Could I really do unit studies with BPA? I never really thought I could, so I kept on with what I knew. It was great and things were pretty good, but something was missing.

Now that I have added my 5dd, I really want our lessons to be interesting and educational and engaging. I want them both (and my ds as well) to love learning. (see this post) The best times we have had were little types of unit studies, with Benjamin West and other topics that I sort of tied together.

But the rest of the time has been “regular”. It was not making me happy as a teacher. I do not want to focus on academics per se, but on the rudiments, the first things to know. What we have been doing is not really engaging, at least for us. Everything is disjointed and unrelated. So I took the unit study book home and looked at it. I was so glad I did!

As I read through it a light bulb came on, I realized that BPA and unit studies are very compatible. Here are some reasons why:

  • unity with diversity: subjects flow together naturally, nurturing a love of learning, but still distinctive.
  • As the child grows, they are able to see the 4-R’s process more clearly, so they are able to move to independent study naturally.
  • You are able to relate a principle to the whole topic, as well as to individual subject, so it will flow well.
  • It is easy to include multiple grades and tailor learning to each individual’s level.
  • It provides opportunity for family to learn together, strengthening relationships and providing an environment for each person to learn from one another.

Personally, I believe that this method is more like real life. They can master the subjects as they relate to one another, as opposed to disconnected “boxes” of subjects.

These were my two dreams in educating my children: BPA and to use unit studies to do that. Now I can do both. Praise to God for the journey I am on. Each step I have taken has led me to the next. I don’t regret anything I have done to this point because each was a necessary step to get me here.

In my next post I will go into detail about our first unit study, which may surprise you!

Our little garden

In art time I had my girls paint a picture. It could be about anything they wanted, so long as it fit the artistic criteria we were studying. What she did made my day.

g garden

The picture is a garden, with her family as the flowers. Jesus is watering us with His Word and God is shining down on us with rays of hope. When I asked her to write details about it so we can remember what it was about, I should have specified to write it on the back!

I am so glad to see that she is understanding what we are doing. She is “getting it,” and it is coming out of her even in her free time. Thank you Lord!

BTW, the drawing is in black crayon, the background is in cool colors and the flowers in warm colors. the crayon will keep the colors separate, unless you really go crazy with it. I think it’s lovely.

Rooted in love

Last week in botany we talked about roots. We discussed two reasons for roots–nutrition and support. To see what God has to say about roots, we went to Ephesians 3:17-19 “...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be also able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–“

God says we are to be rooted in love. Princess G reasoned what it means to be rooted in love–that you will feel secure, peaceful, loving, etc. She also reasoned that these amount to the Fruit of the Spirit. We eat of the fruit of the Spirit when we are rooted in God’s love. As we take it in we are nourished by this Heavenly fruit.
Then, as she was a tree with her branches out wide and her leaf fingers wriggling in the wind, she also reasoned that as she takes in the Fruit of the Spirit through her roots, her branches will also produce that same fruit. She will then be able to offer to others that same fruit, changing her world with peace, love, joy, etc (and, of course, self-control!). What a wonderful picture! She drew it for her notebook, with herself as a tree, rooted in a heart with branches that offer the nine fruits of the Spirit. (see Psalm 1, revelation 22:2.)
It is these moments that remind me why I do this. I am teaching her to reason from the Word of God and to apply it to her life. God, help me to be rooted in Your love. Help me to feast on the Love that only You can give, and help me to be so full of that love that it changes everyone I meet.

Turbo lesson planning, etc.

In our break this week I have been a busy bee, trying to prepare lessons for the next 12 weeks so that I can focus on the principles and not spend all my time preparing on the weekends. You may know that we educate year-round, with a month off in April, August and December. This works very well for us.

So my plans are in overdrive. With God’s grace I was already able to plan for things that are sort of easy to plan–math (Ray’s), science (Dr. Hooker), art and English (McGuffey). Because I follow the recommendations for these subjects, that was not complicated. I find the principle and go from there.

History/geography and literature will be combined this quarter, with a majority of the study on Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin. I love literature studies and know that this will be a lot of fun. However I must do a lot more preparation for this, so the majority of my remaining time will be on this.

Do you wonder where my Bible plans are? Well, like Miiko, I use that as my own spiritual study, so I do that as we go. It is so enjoyable and rewarding. Spanish always seems to be the subject that gets left behind, so I’m not sure if we will work that in or not.

As I always do, I’ll share what resources I’m using and what I discover along the way. And I’m planning on sharing an interesting post on food very soon, so stay tuned for that. Oh, and if you are a member of the bibleprinciples group then watch your inbox for a post on an exciting study coming up in May that Lisa H. and I are working on. Good stuff!

What my kids really need to know

In all my planning sometimes I have to remind myself of the important things. While the math and the grammar are important, they are not the end, but a means to an end. I made this list so I can always remember that these things are what really matter.

  • Love of God and His Word
  • Their reason for being here
  • Reasoning from God’s Word and its application to everyday life
  • The pleasure of independent study
  • The power of self-government
  • Care and compassion for God’s creation
  • Life skills
  • That life is precious
  • The value of the past
  • Love of learning

If I can provide an environment where they can absorb all of these, then I think my job will have been a resounding success.

The way I study and educate my children is the root from which these 10 things spring. The fruit comes when they incorporate these things into their lives. And what sweet fruit that is!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth.

3 John4

Last week’s lessons Nov 14-18

As I said a couple of posts back, I’m back to creating my own plans, which I really enjoy. Here’s what went on at our house in the way of lessons.

Bible

Principle: Law of Love

Leading idea: theme from JBC in Ex. 20:1-2

We read the account of giving the Ten Commandments. That was interesting, and we painted “word pictures” to really set the tone. We talked about how the Children of Israel must have felt, knowing God was physically coming to the mountain in three days. How would that make us feel? How are things different now that we have the Holy Spirit and Jesus living in our hearts? How does that affect our “law”? (law moved from the outward ten commandments to the inward Christian self-government). She did a great job reasoning these things and we talked quite informally over the week about it. Then we read the commandments and talked about what each of them meant. We will continue next week.

History

Principle: America’s Heritage of Christian Character

Leading idea: Pilgrims had a strong work ethic

We read from “Of Plimoth Plantation,” reading some and paraphrasing some. We talked about the leading idea and gave examples from the story. I love reading the account from William Bradford. I recommend using primary sources as much a possible. Don’t take a writer’s word that something happened the way they say. Find out for yourself. So the more we read from it each year the more familiar we will become. I highlight different things each year. We rehearse the basic account and then I focus on one particular trait of the Pilgrims. This year it is diligence and hard work. Nothing for the notebook, just reading and discussing. Notebook will be next week. Geography has been with history this week, looking at Holland, England and Cape Cod.

Science

Principle: God’s creation communicates His Truth and love to man.

Leading idea: God made flowers for us to enjoy

I cannot believe how much I love our science text, The Child’s Book of Nature, by Dr. Worthington Hooker. If you are struggling with this subject and you have kids in the elementary ages, you should at least get a copy and see it for yourself. He’s a Christian scientist who wrote these books in the late 1800’s and they are gentle, godly and terribly educational. I will write more about this in another post. The chapter we read this week was the first chapter on why we love flowers. We created a botany cover page and we also made a violet with tissue paper for our notebooks. They had fun with the paper and glue. She reasoned several things: why nature can teach us about God, how flowers teach us and how she would feel about a plant that taught her things.

Mathematics

Principle: God uses the concept of measurement to express His plans for man. (Jer. 33:22, Gen 14:16)

Leading idea: measurement is an expression of the mathematics language

We are still working on her multiplication tables to 12. She’s doing great. Also we are talking about how math is a language and that we must express it precisely or we will communicate the wrong idea (answer).

Economics

Principle: God is the source of all good work

Leading idea: work is good and we need to do it

Now my 7dd is interested in money and how the economy works, so each Wednesday we take time in math to discuss economic principles. This week was work. If you have Mr. Rose’s Guide, I took it straight from there. We discussed the importance or work, defined it, and discussed “producing”. We are all producers, even if we don’t work outside the home. We also read the poem “Work” by Angela Morgan(we printed the first and last stanzas and she drew pictures of tools around it). I include a paragraph about John Smith and Jamestown because it ties in so beautifully (from this web page).

When Captain John Smith was made the leader of the colonialists at Jamestown, Virginia, he discouraged the get rich quick seekers of gold by announcing flatly “He who will not work shall not eat”. This rule made Jamestown the first permanent English settlement in the new world, but work does more than lead to success; it gives an outlet from sorrow, restrains wild desires, ripens and refines character, enables human beings to cooperate with God, and when well done, brings to life it’s consummate satisfaction. Every man is a prince of possibilities, but by work alone can he become into his kingship.

Work! Thank God for the might of it,

The ardor, the urge, the delight of it.

Work that springs from the heart’s desire,

Setting the brain and the soul on fire,

Oh what is so good as the heat of it,

And what is so glad as the beat of it!

And what is so kind as the stern command,

Challenging brain and heart and hand.

Work!Thank God for the pride of it,

For the beautiful conquering tide of it,

Sweeping the life in it’s furious flood,

Thrilling the arteries, cleansing the blood,

Mastering stupor and dull despair,

Moving the dreamer to do and dare,

Oh, what is so good as the urge of it,

And what is so glad as the surge of it,

And what is so strong as the summons deep,

Rousing the torpid soul from sleep!

Work!Thank God for the pace of it,

For the terrible, keen, swift race of it;

Fiery steeds in full control,

Nostrils a-quiver to greet the goal.

Work, the power that drives behind,

Guiding the purposes, taming the mind,

Holding the runaway wishes back,

Reining the will to one steady track.

Speeding the energies faster, faster,

Triumphing over disaster.

Oh, what is so good as the pain of it,

And what is so great as the gain of it?

And what is so kind as the cruel goad,

Forcing us on through the rugged road?

Work! Thank God for the swing of it,

For the clamoring, hammering ring of it,

Passion and labor daily hurled,

On the mighty anvils of the world.

Oh, what is so fierce as the flame of it?

And what is so huge as the aim of it?

Thundering on through dearth and doubt,

Calling the plan of the maker out.

Work, the Titan; work, the friend,

Shaping the earth to a glorious end,

Draining the swamps and blasting the hills,

Doing whatever the spirit wills-

Rending a continent apart,

To answer the dream of the master heart.

Thank God for a world where none may shirk.

Thank God for the splendor of work!

Princess G enjoyed the poem and drawing the tools. She reasoned that the tool is dictated by the job. And that the right tool makes the work easier. That’s a good thing to know!


Literature

Principle: America’s Heritage of Christian Character

Leading idea: God prepared people in America to help the settlers

We read the D’Aulaire’s Pocahontas. Their illustrations are great and the story is nice. (They don’t tell the kids that she dies in England.) We were impressed by her story and how she conducted herself in England, being a girl raised in America in the woods and not in a palace. In England they were all very impressed by her. We were too. Princess G reasoned the leading idea and we discussed the principle from that.

English was thrown in among the other lessons, with definitions, Daily Grams, and review of the basic parts of speech using text we were reading.

If you are still reading this, I’m impressed. I can’t believe how I’ve gone on and on and on… God is good and we are learning so much. I cannot wait to tell you about Dr. Hooker’s book…and the importance of original sources…and more Thanksgiving fun stuff…so much to blog, so little time!

About the stars

Princess G (7 yo) is doing a great job of reasoning from the scriptures. She was reading the story in McGuffey’s second reader about the stars. It goes into detail about their beauty and how they point to God. We know that because we reasoned from scripture that all of creation reveals God’s character and nature.

She then looked up the scripture that she remembered a part of:

Phi 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Phi 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
 

She reasoned she, like the stars, was a light. She then said according to this scripture she should be obedient and do things without complaining so she can be like a piece of glass and not a piece of cardboard, letting God’s light shine. She said the light is God revealing His character to her. Wow! I don’t think I would see that. God is so good!

BPA does talk about more than just American history

In T&L, Rosalie Slater discusses every link on the chain of Christianity (beginning on p. 158) and she goes into detail about civilizations all along the Chain of Christianity. The CoC demonstrates God’s Providential history through the lives of men on Earth’s stage. That means as you plan your studies each year you find things along that Chain to highlight. My kids learn something from every era, in different cultures and countries, in history every year. Yes, we appreciate and study the Pilgrims and Founding Fathers, but we also view the whole of history as “Christ, His Story,” which began long before the idea of America was ever planted by God in the hearts of His children.

And you can’t talk about America without discussing what’s going on outside our borders. Every country in the world has touched our shores. Immigrants came here for a better life and we have to recognize their contributions as well. And life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You must discuss what’s happening at a certain time in history all over the world to get a complete picture. Look at different cultures along with your history studies. No need to feel isolationist. It’s not exclusively American history. It’s America’s Christian History. And we must again make ourselves aware of the sacrifices made and the reason for America being here in the first place. We must emphasize it because our parents and grandparents have fallen asleep and our true history has been taken away from us. It is with humility and a contrite heart that we ask God’s forgiveness for our ignorance and that we take up the cause to restore America’s true heritage. How do we know our full purpose if we don’t know where we came from? You don’t have to be born here to claim it. Being American is in your heart, not in your bloodline.

Some people struggle with the idea of American Christian history. What about other countries? That seems arrogant or slighting to other countries. I have to say I don’t see it that way at all. God set this nation here for a purpose, to be an example of the fullest expression of a nation founded on Biblical Principles. We are here to be a beacon to to the nations, to shine God’s light and take His principles to a dark world. I don’t see anything to get offended about. Take this example to the world. Show them that Hid Word really is true, that His principles work because you have seen them at work here. Tell them about Providence and how He used geography to keep a nation until it’s proper time. Tell them how God is using you, the 10th link on the Chain of Christianity, to further the Gospel and if there were no America you would not be here to tell them the Good News.And it’s your curriculum. Do what you like and what you think God is telling you to do. Focus any country any time. It’s the Principles that are important.

The more my children see God’s Providence in the whole of history, from creation to them as individuals, the more faith they will have that God is also performing His Providential care over them. He isn’t just a God of the Bible or a God of antiquity. He moves through the lives of fallible men and women throughout time to further the Gospel and He will use them too. In my opinion it doesn’t get any more missions-minded and world-focused than that. Glory be to God!