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?


  1. The rhyming words game makes me think of a game we used to play when learning sign language. It's called the hand shape game. You begin by picking a hand shape and then see how many signs you can make with that shape.

  2. That sounds like a fun way to help learn signing. It must've worked b/c you are really good at it.

  3. Today's rhyming word was gird since we read about it in John 13. So we talked about the different meanings and then tried to find rhymes. Student was so excited to find all the different spellings for that same sound as we found gird, bird, word, herd, heard, nerd, and purred. He found purred by himself.

  4. Great blog post, Sherry. Found your blog from your comment on The Old Schoolhouse on FB. Thanks for sharing.