There are about as many homeschooling styles and curriculum choices as there are homeschooling families. It can seem a bit overwhelming to a new homeschool mom, but I like that there is so much variety. Isn’t that part of why we choose homeschooling? We don’t want factory model, cookie cutter kids. Variety can be the spice of life.
Regardless of what method/curriculum you follow, I believe some things can and should be a part of your days of home education. There is one part of our day that is most special to me. It is not a pre-packaged curriculum, but rather something that has grown over the years. I find it to be the heartbeat of our home education and I wouldn’t forfeit it for anything. I am speaking of family studies. Some call it Morning Time or Morning Basket. Some even let it evolve from Circle Time when the kiddos are small. It doesn’t matter what you call it; I hope you implement it.
Our family studies are spread out over the course of the day. They anchor often to meal times because, let’s face it, when they are eating they are a bit of a captive audience! The breakfast table affords us our first taste of family studies. We review memory verses using www.simplycharlottemason.com scripture memory box system. We pray for missionaries or read about a people group in a book like Window on the World and pray for them. I then read from a read aloud book. Currently, we are reading our way through the Little House on the Prairie series. Yes, even my teens listen in and love it.
After breakfast and a switch of the laundry, we meet in the family room and this is the part of the day I’ll treasure always. This is what I’ll remember at 90 in the rocking chair. Everyone is comfy and relaxed. No cold whiteboard. No hard chairs all in a row. We bond over books! Usually this time consists of poetry- whether from one poet for a while or topically or seasonally. Then we read something from the history time period we are currently studying. Something everyone can enjoy. Once in a while we even watch an episode of Drive Thru History.
On Mondays we share a little piece of a narrative version of Shakespeare. Tuesdays are Plutarch if I am feeling adventurous. But not always. Wednesdays are composer study- a biography, a living book about the composer or even an episode for Classics for Kids. We often listen to this composer during the mornings on youtube or Spotify. Thursdays are artist study- a biography, a living book, looking at prints of the works, etc… Friday has been for a living geography book and map drills. It’s little bites taken consistently over a period of time. Not a huge long feast each day. All told, we spend about 30-35 minutes together this way each morning.
Of course this is all apt to change around each year or even in a given month, but that is the gist of our morning time together. I don’t follow a rigorous plan and we take our time. I look a www.amblesideonline.org for ideas for composers, artists, and poets, and Shakespeare and Plutarch. But I don’t follow their schedule religiously. This is for our family and we own it. It shouldn’t look the same for you. These are just suggestions via a glimpse into our way of doing it. Make it your own.
After this time together, we move on to the independent part of the day. This means the 3 R’s, foreign language, and other independent readings. The older ones only need me when they have a problem or need some direction, the youngest at 7, still sits with me to do the bulk of her independent work. Which, of course, I love.
I squeeze in a read aloud at lunch and one when we get to have tea time together- which ,sadly, has become rare as the kids get older and have more to do outside of home.
The youngest gets a read aloud all her own most nights before bed. Yes. It’s a lot of reading. But one could do much worse with one’s time than read! Scheduling the read alouds around meal time is a way to get it to happen. No real time has to be found for read alouds. It’s multitasking in a beautiful way.
If you are wondering how to fit in those beautiful extras, here is a way. I hope you’ll give it a try with your own twist and flair to it. Enjoy family studies in your home education. You will find it rich, rewarding, and bonding.