The following post is based on, and heavily excerpted from, an e-mail I wrote to a friend at church a few weeks ago. She encouraged me then to “blog it”, but I’ve not done so until now. Thanks, Lisa, for your encouragement!
If you’ve read my article about building our Heritage Library, you understand that we’ve accumulated quite a few books in the last few years. As the books began filling my shelves, I wondered when my children would have the time to read them all. I wanted them to read ALL of our books, but their days were filled with homeschool assignments and chores. It has only been about a year or so ago that the scales were finally removed from my eyes to see that the library I was building WAS our homeschool. I’d love to say that it was a light bulb moment, but it left me feeling more like “well, DUH”.
I immediately caught the vision of using well written, living books to educate my children through high school. My adult daughters frequently wonder why I wasn’t enlightened sooner! Our Heritage Library was filled with incredible biographies of all the folks I could ever want them to know about. The shelves were filling with great living books about wonderful places in the world that were far more interesting than a dull geography textbook. The first time I gave my now 12 year old a living book on science and suggested that he read just one chapter a day, he came to me begging to read more!!!
And so, for now, our homeschool days are structured like this. The boys start with math. The 12 year old does as much math as he can in 90 minutes, and the 7 year old in an hour. If they finish a lesson before that time is up, I correct it. They correct any missed problems and then start the next lesson. Sometimes more than one lesson is finished in a day. Sometimess less. Usually, though, they average about a lesson a day.
After math, the boys write. The 7 year old is still perfecting his handwriting skills, and does some copywork as well; the 12 year old does a combination of copywork, dictation and original writing. I may do a follow-up post on what we do for writing/grammar/spelling another time.
And then for the remainder of our school day (we school for about five hours each day), they read. Every term (our terms are roughly 3 – 4 months each, year round) I fill their baskets with a very large selection of books. They are allowed to read one book through from start to finish, or read a chapter from one book and then move onto something else in their basket. Once a book is finished, I record it and it’s reshelved. Their goal is to finish all the books in their basket by the end of our term, but I am always needing to put in extra books! They read more than I expect them to every time!!
And one of my all-time favorite things, is the first day of a new term, when they spend quite a bit of time perusing the selections in their baskets. One lovingly looks at all the covers. Another pulls them out, one by one, choosing to read the table of contents of some, checking out chapter titles of others. It’s such a treat for me to see them so excited about all the things they are going to be reading in the months ahead.
(to be continued…..)