It’s amazing to me how quickly the years have flown by. This is our official fifth year of homeschooling, and I now have a 3rd grader, kindergartener, and “preschooler!” It’s such a perfectly exciting time for our family, and I am very much looking forward to all the learning we will do together. (Kindergarten Curriculum Choices coming soon!)
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We follow a wholehearted approach, based on Educating the WholeHearted Child and the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason. For the Children’s Sake, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and Teaching from Rest, along with these other books, truly helped me define the vision I now have for our homeschool.
It has just taken me quite some time to pull it all together in a way that is manageable for me to actually implement. Living out the simple rhythms and embracing this precious time of childhood are sometimes easier said than done for me. There is so much I want to do with our children, and now that our oldest is 9, I sometimes feel as if I’m “running out of time.”
The problem is that the more I try to “squeeze in,” the more I actually miss, and so, my goal for this year is to keep our days simple but fruitful and create enough margin to breathe and enjoy the journey.
Using a “wholehearted” approach helps me to do just that. Instead of a string of subjects to cover each and every day, I only have to plug in five key areas–or “buckets” as I like to think of them. Each day, my goal is to reach into each of these buckets and choose what works for us in order to address the areas that matter most. Sometimes that will mean we are covering more “history” or “science” or “art,” but in the end, we will be doing exactly what we set out to do, and I am excited to see how it all plays out. Our five buckets include: Discipleship, Disciplined Studies, Discussion Studies, Discovery, and Discretionary.
For my third grader, I’m still not a hundred percent sure what we’ll be using for Discipleship Studies. I purchased Little Hearts for His Glory by Heart of Dakota along with the Family-Time Bible, Devotions for the Children’s Hour, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and music by Steve Green Hide Em In Your Heart for our kindergartener and hope to be able to use this “bucket” of resources for all the children.
Little Hearts for His Glory is recommended for ages 5-7, and it is such a sweet and gentle approach to chronological Bible study. There are songs with motions, kinesthetic activities and music for scripture memory, along with art, drama, and thinking activities to pull it altogether. I’m not sure how much of this will be too “babyish” for him, but I’m hoping that I can go a bit deeper with him in his understanding of the stories through discussion and the creation of a timeline.
UPDATE: I had this Discoverer’s Bible that was a part of our MFW package and have found that reading from this actual Bible text (instead of just the Family-Time Bible) has added the depth we needed for him.
We will also continue memorizing the books of the Bible and The Lord’s Prayer and engage in ministry and prayer opportunities to serve others.
Disciplined studies includes the “3 R’s” as they used to call them: arithmetic, reading, and writing. This is the part that will look the most different from my kindergartener, and it’s something we aim to work on 5 days a week.
After multiple attempts at finding the right math curriculum for our son, we found Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 2.
This curriculum is based on Charlotte Mason’s ideas and includes a story with a real-world math application at the beginning of each week, followed by simple explanations, practices, and reviews. The font is large, and the pages are visually appealing so that they are not too overwhelming for our son. He really enjoys reading about the characters and looks forward to his math studies. We will be continuing with Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 3 this year. Visit Christianbook.com for sample pages!
We will also continue reading our Pathway Readers, along with some readers from Christian Light Publishers. These readers include Light Units or workbook pages that we may or may not do, depending on how things go.
We also have an additional basket of mixed readers for him to explore. More than anything, I just want for him to enjoy and love reading. He’s had such a hard time with his struggles, and this year is our celebration year where he gets to reap the harvest for all of his hard work. My goal is to keep it light and fun so that he truly discovers his own love for reading.
Language arts includes handwriting, copywork, written composition, grammar and mechanics, and spelling and can often seem so much more convoluted than it needs to be. Although we’ll be covering language arts five days a week, our focus will be different for each day. These are the general resources I will use to target each of these key areas:
Handwriting and Copywork
We will use Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Handwriting – Grade 3 and copywork selections from the books we are reading and Draw Write Now, which is a great series with step-by-step drawing practice and accompanying copywork.
I bound some booklets for each child to create a keepsake of their drawings and copywork they’ll be doing over the course of the year. For now, this is something we will do once a week, and they will get to pick what they draw.
Written Composition and Grammar & Mechanics
This is an area where I have struggled the most in finding a resource that I could use consistently to teach both. I used to be a writing teacher and later an educational consultant. For thirteen years, I shared writing strategies and hands-on activities for children across the state. I bundled art, music, grammar and mechanics to give children the tools they needed to write and improve their writing.
I have searched high and low and have yet to find something similar. Some focus on one over the other, and the problem with that is that children don’t often learn to do both well.
I’m hoping to somehow make the time to put all of my ideas in a day-by-day curriculum that we will use throughout the year. We’re starting off with a grammar song to learn the parts of speech, along with art paintings to “paint” our own pieces with words. We’ll also use freewriting to help develop writing fluency along the way. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes. Stay tuned!
Discussion studies involves ideas for discussion, including history, geography, literature, music appreciation, and art study. For us, this year will include lots and lots of read alouds and couch time.
As our spine, we will be following Adventures in U.S. History by My Father’s World. My plan is to work through the 1850’s, which is about halfway through the guide.
We will dive in with plenty of books and activities, including those found in the “deluxe package.”
I bound the State Student Sheets from My Father’s World for both children, and we’ll be using these booklets for the next few years as we explore different states in our country. I want this to be meaningful, so we will only complete them when we read about a particular state, visit one, or if the children show interest. This week, we read the facts about Texas and had fun coloring in our map, state bird, and flower.
We will also be reading many of the recommended books listed in the “Teaching Character through Literature” guide by Beautiful Feet Books, along with the Thornton Burgess books recommended in Little Hearts for His Glory.
We started The Adventures of Reddy Fox during our first week, and it was such a hit with them all!
Unit Studies with FIAR
I also plan to continue using the curriculum Five in a Row at least once per six weeks to dive into a great piece of literature with a range of activities. We loved The Story about Ping, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, and all of the other great books we read this past year and look forward to diving in once again. These are the books we’ll be reading together.
The children LOVE being read to, and it’s amazing to see how much of their play and everyday interactions are affected by the books we read together. As always, my goal is to select books that are centered on truth, goodness, and beauty, and I have found many beautiful book suggestions in Honey for a Child’s Heart and Read for the Heart.
We will also continue to keep a Reader’s Notebook for narrations and literature analysis. I will be changing the cover and binding a lot more sheets for future use as well. Click here for more information and free printables!
We all love poetry, and this past year, it was integrated in our Sonlight morning basket. I have since collected a few more poetry books and hope to engage in a weekly “teatime” in order to focus just on poetry reading. I hope that this will allow us to go deeper in our love and understanding of poetry and give us the opportunity to read a larger variety of poems.
For music discussion, I plan to use SQUILT Music Appreciation for the Modern Era, which should be a fun way to engage with music. We’ll also discuss and learn patriotic songs as found in My Father’s World.
Picture study this year will come from the art work recommended in Exploring Nature with Children, our nature curriculum, along with anything else that comes along.
Discovery studies includes science experimentation, creation studies, and nature exploration, along with arts and crafts, and musical expression. I purchased Exploring Nature with Children as our “spine” to take us through the year with a range of booklists, poetry, and nature walk activities we can use for exploration. The children will also keep nature notebooks throughout the year with drawings and a record of all they have learned.
I also have plenty of Usborne books we’ll be able to use, including Science With Air, First Encyclopedia of Science, Science in the Kitchen, and Birds, Nests & Eggs, along with books on all sorts of science topics, including creation science.
I like to leave this part of our homeschool “open” to the children’s interests and am excited to see what they’ll want to discover and learn more about throughout the year.
For arts and crafts, they will continue art with my mother-in-law, who is using I Can Do All Things: A Beginning Book of Drawing and Painting along with other hands-on projects the kids will enjoy.
Our son also wants to learn to play his electric guitar, so I purchased Alfred’s Kid’s Electric Guitar Course for him to get his basics down. Once he gets past the course, we will look into guitar lessons outside of the home.
Discretionary studies is where I get to individualize the plan for each child and includes extra-curricular activities and handiworks. For our son, I plan to integrate some sensory activities throughout the day from The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun in order to give him the sensory input he may need. Other than that, this is where he will get to explore what is most important to him.
He may continue with Trail Life, USA or choose other extra-curricular activities that come along. He may want to participate in a co-op or join a new group or just PLAY. And that is perfectly okay. This is where he gets to apply what he’s learning to pursue what God places on his heart.
Each of these “buckets” holds a number of ideas and resources I plan to use, but there is no way of telling what the year will bring.
We may get through it all, or in some cases, we may go in another direction entirely. What is most important is that each day, we will continue growing in each of these five areas, instilling a love for God, others, and learning. Everything beyond that is just dessert. May our feast be extra sweet this year. <3
Are you homeschooling a 3rd grader? I’d love to see what works for you. Please share a link or your favorite resources in the “COMMENTS” section below! 🙂