Friday, August 5, 2011

Natural Learning

No one has to tell a new mom how to cuddle and sing lullabies to her newborn baby. No one has to tell a toddler's dad how to get in the floor and build towers with his son. Teaching your child to read and write and cypher can be just as natural. And what you don't know, you can learn together. Then they  will also learn HOW to learn!

"If God is going to be first in our lives, He must be first in our schools." We begin our school day with the student reading a section of a chapter from the book of John in NKJV on the NOOK. While he is reading, I take note of any words he struggles with. When he's through reading, I get a white board and marker and write one of the words and talk about how to sound it out, the syllables, the spelling, and the meaning of the word. The next day I will show him the words again and he most always remembers them. 

Prayer time is next as we get out our prayer list and choose who we feel led to pray for that day, or we may add a new person to the list, and then we pray together. The prayers of a child are so precious and honest. Recently, we have learned a lesson in how faithful God is to answer our prayers as we prayed for our newborn cousin and she was healed. This really helped him see that God takes a personal interest in our lives.

Bible stories or accounts from Rod & Staff's Bible Nurture and Reader Series help aid in his fluency and comprehension since it is well below his reading level. Plus we get to cuddle!

After Bible, I put all the stuff we want to do that day out on the table, math, writing, etc and let him choose what he wants to do first. I put each one up when we are through with it, so we are done with school when it is all put away.

Usually for math, I get out the Math*U*See blocks I have collected through the years and I set a MUS Alpha (now Gamma) book in a chair where I can see it. We play math with the blocks while I incorporate what I am looking at on the pages working out the problems in the lesson. We also play 'war' some days with a deck of cards that has the face cards taken out. We each lay down 2 cards and say what they add up to (that's the number of soldiers we have on the field). Whoever has the largest number gets to keep those cards (capture the opponents). If we have the same amount then we battle by laying down 3 cards each face down, then 2 more cards face up to decide who wins the battle. The person with the most prisoners at the end of the deck wins the war. If we play through the double deck twice, he has done 40 addition problems which is much more that he would've done on a math sheet. Oh and there are many websites with math games on them. We like and some drill pages at and Some days we will work in Horizon's Math, talking about the lessons and stopping to write some answers on the page whenever he wants. He will breeze through anywhere from 3 to 6 lessons at the time, often not wanting to stop.

This student also likes to write something in his journal every day and draw a picture to go with it. A  sentence or two now, but we started with just a few letters of the alphabet.

He has a game he made up that I love because it teaches so much. He calls it "Rhyming Words." We get out a small white board and one of us will think of an ending sound to work with that day. For example, I might write 'at' on the board. Then he will write 'rat.' I write 'spat' or 'chat' to bring in a consonant blend. He writes 'bat' and then I try to find another word that ends in 'at' but has more to it that just CVC, at least a consonant blend, but more if I can think of it. I save the simplest words for his turns. I think he learns so much from this game, phonics, spelling, and even vocabulary when we discover new words and meanings. And he made this up himself so he loves to play it, asks for it most days. We've done at, am, an, ack, it, in, ick, ock, to name a few. I took 'in' all the way to 'beginning' and 'spinning' even though they didn't still rhyme but that's okay especially if it gets him to notice my mistake. It's hard to find a word he can't spell by himself when building on word families like this. Who needs a curriculum when you can learn so much by playing a game?

I have 2 huge boxes of children's picture books, story books etc. that he can choose from each day. He reads at least one each day and tells me about it. The rest of his reading is aloud with me but I thought it was time for him to start reading a little bit to himself too. He finished all those books last year and then I put them all back in this year for him to read again. Then I will probably swap those boxes out for the giant box of early chapter books I have collected.

That's pretty much it because I really believe in sticking with the 3 R's for this age and having as much fun as we can while doing it. We do read some books about science and some about history or geography, but don't do them as a separate subject. I especially cover some of those when I read aloud to him. We just finished The Boxcar Children and Mr. Popper's Penguins and now we are starting on Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling. And his dad teaches him about health and fitness and also reads the Bible and Apologia science books with him before they go to bed at night.

So to recap that's:
math and math games,
language lessons through play,
some writing,
more reading,
lots of read alouds,
and lots of fun had by all!  What could be more natural?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


If we are going to put God first in our lives, then He certainly must be first in our schools. If we are to teach our children to put God first in their lives, then He must be first in their schools. Every subject they study reflects the glory of God.

In math we see order. We can see the intricacy in the pattern of a pinecone or a seashell. We see the simplicity and the complexity of creation.

Science is the study of everything God created. Astronomy studies the sun, moon, stars, planets. Botany, the plant life. Biology, the animal life. Chemistry, the minuscule makeup of matter. Physics, the whys and hows of all creation.

In history, we learn HIS story. And if we learn it well enough, we will hope to prevent repeating many of those awful mistakes our forefathers made. We also learn how God has loved us and blessed us throughout the ages which grows our faith and knowledge that He will always love us and bless us.

Language, ah in language, we learn how to communicate with other people. How to read God's word and how to share the Good News of the Gospel with others. We learn that nouns are the words that name everything that God created. Verbs are the things we can do to honor God, or dishonor, if we are not careful. All our speech, and parts of speech, can glorify God, or not.

 All the subject areas are connected just as creation is connected. When we see the relationships of everything around us, the relationships among the sciences, the history of discovering, the math used to understand, and the language used to share, then we can't help but see God's Hand in everything and His amazing gifts to us.

Our job, then, is not to connect the dots, but to teach the students to connect those dots for themselves. To see the big picture. To see how all creation points to the Creator, the One True God! And who wouldn't love school when presented this way? When they draw closer to the Lord every day?

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Friday, June 3, 2011


Finished my first full book on my Nook. The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone. It was the free Friday book last week and I still haven't gotten B&N to take off the charges for it, but I digress.

I really enjoyed this book, the author is very talented. The heroine is very realistic, in fact, the whole book is quite realistic. I could imagine this as a movie playing the entire time I was reading it. I actually felt it was written with a movie in mind. There is a good bit of interesting symbolism beginning at the title and continuing throughout the storyline and tying up nicely at the end. I will definitely go see the movie when this comes out.

The cons: I am always saddened when I see such gifts not being used for God's glory. While this was a great story, it would have been nicer if not for some unnecessary references and language. Still a nice story.