Education as Communication
As my children grow I am concerned about the mind and how it processes information and how it is developing. A child that has no academic skills can scarcely have a decent conversation or express himself properly. Academic education is essential in the arena of communication. To begin the wonderful process of learning to communicate, I concentrate on awakening the mind with great literature, lots of outside in nature discovery, many conversations, playing nursery rhyme games, learning to read independently, and learning to do simple math. I also use dictation as a pathway to writing. I believe in an easy approach, very gentle, and free to adjust to the needs of the young child. If a child’s life is full of all the things I have written about in this series, I believe this experience is quite enough.
This foundation of reading, writing, and arithmetic continues even as my children get older. I feel that if they are reading good books and having great conversations about the books, learning to communicate with sentences, and if they are progressing in their understanding of arithmetic this is more than enough. The extra classes get swept up in all the conversations of life and left for the child to pursue as their interest leads them. I may introduce science and history and art as we go along, but I try to always keep it organic to what we are experiencing in literature or our daily life.
Here are some my favorite resources for reading:
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading
This phonics based reading program is absolutely my favorite homeschool resource. The pages of this book are worn, stained, written in, and filled with memories and reminders. I have taught three children to read with its simple and straight forward approach. No bells and whistles, just plain old reading instruction. I look forward to using the same book with Elinor, age 3, starting this year.
This is published by the same people who offer the Writing Strands curriculum. I do not use the writing curriculum, but the Reading Strands book is a great resource for the Socratic method of discussing literature. It gives great examples of literature conversations, and it also has wonderful reading lists for all ages. I return to this book all the time.
Caldecott Medal Winners
Nothing is better than building a great picture book library in the home. Even my older girls still love a good picture book. I also have added many Orthodox picture books to my growing collection. Reading aloud to young children is a great privilege and joy. This Caldecott list is a great place to start.
Newberry Medal and Honor Books
Some of the greatest books I have ever read were written for young adults. This list is an invaluable resource for those who want to expose children to life changing literature.
The New Lifetime Reading Plan
I bought this book, I think it is the first edition, for myself when I was twenty years old. I have referred to the concept many times. Over a lifetime I plan to read and read well. I use this persuasion on my children. If you are going to read, read well.
A few writing resources:
In this section I have not bought any resources that I think are any better than dictation and copywork. I use the Bible, a child’s own thoughts, lines from literature, and whatever comes to me to help children begin the awesome journey of sentence writing. All writing requires is one well put together sentence after another. As the child grows in confidence and creativity the sentences become paragraphs, and paragraphs become stories. Essay writing comes afterward when a child has had enough life experience to have an opinion, to stake a claim in the world of ideas and argument. This Rhetoric stage requires more instruction. I am yet to have a resource list for this stage. So far, I have used the five paragraph essay, and basic story writing instruction mostly found on the internet.
A few arithmetic resources:
Blocks, beads, M&Ms, pennies, and other fun things to count. Calendars, tally marks, and counting the inventory in the pantry. Colors, shapes, and seeing them everywhere. All this stuff is free and easy to teach a young child. Why buy a curriculum?
AS the child grows, but is still very young…2nd grade… I like to introduce adding and subtracting. Keeping with my foundation of math in the real world, I like Math-U-See as a spine. It is just what it says, it is math you can see. I use the manipulatives consistently, and I love how it teaches place value. Numbers are abstract and very foreign to the concrete brains of youngsters. This curriculum does a great job of making numbers tangible and fun for young mathematicians.
Key Curriculum Workbooks
My kids have loved these workbooks, and I guess I would pay a lot for them. Fortunately they are very economical. The price is not reflective of the value. Again, the approach is simple and the content is engaging. I have been pleased at how well my oldest daughter learned fractions, decimals, and percents through this curriculum. She even did their Algebra workbooks..can’t complain there either. My second daughter finished fractions and the process was almost painless. I was a little worried with her because she does not like Math all that much. Love these workbooks!