Our 2014 school year is quickly coming to a close. With only a few weeks left of this year, I’ve been compiling materials, planning, scheduling, and reading ahead for all the amazing things we’ll be learning in 2015. The greatest blessing I’ve gleaned this year is the understanding of Sabbath schooling, which has been a lifesaver for us. We just completed a Sabbath week a few days ago and we did nothing for the whole week. It was wonderful. With Sabbath weeks being planned, I don’t have to worry that we won’t cover everything. This coming school year, we will be able to take off all the festivals, several Sabbath weeks, and also have a little extra time off – bringing us to a full 40 weeks of school. The really nice thing about having such a long school year is that we do not have to follow any curriculum guides. We have already started some of our courses, will completely finish some books, get only partially through others, and in a few cases will get through two full levels of coursework during the 40 weeks. This keeps me from box-checking and stressing about fitting everything into a 9 month school year. We simply go through the books at each student’s pace, then pick up the next book and keep going without a beat. Plenty of rest times throughout the year mean that no one (especially me) gets too overwhelmed. I am really looking forward to enjoying our first full year of Sabbath schooling.
Hebron Heights Academy is about to start its fifth year! I’d like to think that I’ve learned quite a bit in those five years, but each year I’m astounded at how much I am learning. I am constantly learning more about the environment each child needs for learning. Jaelah and Selah will be in year 5, so I am getting them to do more and more independent learning. This year will have quite a few more projects as their interests are expanding so much. They have learned to type this past year in preparation for when I can teach them how to do some basic research online like Google and YouTube, reserve library books, and do basic desktop publishing (digital scrapbooking) for their portfolios. I can tell they will outpace me when it comes to working with the technology. Other than random odds and ends, we’ve never taken time to really focus on learning these things before. They are currently compiling a list of topics they want to research, which is hilariously interesting and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.
Chavah, my little mover and shaker, adores grammar and anything music related. I was surprised that she has taken such a liking to Rod & Staff grammar, which I had to put away after many tears over sentence diagramming with the older girls. Not wanting to waste curriculum, I thought I’d bring it out again to see if it would stick with Chimmy. It has. She absolutely loves it. My choice to move ahead with a full Sonlight core for her was the right one. We’ll be in Core B this year for her, the first of two world history cores, combined with some science courses that will require more handwriting, which is another one of her true loves.
The twins are really enjoying their school, but I’m trying to hold back on any formal curriculum just yet other than the Core P read-alouds, which are basically just beautifully-done picture books. Their math, reading, and phonics will be the focal points this year with some handwriting thrown in for fun and fine motor skills. For their vocabulary development, I kept my Wordly Wise early grade vocabulary picture cards, which we use without the twaddle books that are supposed to accompany them.
As a family, we’ll focus more on art appreciation using the Greatest Artists Vol. 1 as we thoroughly enjoyed World’s Greatest Composers during our Fine Arts Fridays this year. In addition to Latin, everyone will also be studying Biblical Hebrew this year. I struggled to find a program that would be very engaging for even the littlest kids in our house, yet simple enough for me to facilitate. A friend of mine mentioned that Psalm 78 Ministries publishes Biblical Hebrew for Kids. Based on her recommendation, I purchased the set. The DVDs and books are very well-done and very reasonably-priced. They play classical music in the background and slowly pronounce the alphabet and words so that even the youngest can understand. Psalm 78 Ministries also publishes a Biblical Greek for Kids, but I think I’ve bitten off enough foreign languages for the year!
Music has taken up much of our time during the school days, and I remain extremely grateful for the amazing opportunity the older girls have had to be a part of an orchestra. Their second concert is coming up in a week or so. We will continue to make strings part of our lives, and it is possible that the twins will be starting up some time in 2015 as well. While I like Alfred’s Basic Piano Prep Course, I have discussed moving away from position-based playing with a few piano teachers. I will keep Noah, Hosannah, and Chavah in the books I already have, but I’m transitioning Jaelah and Selah to a different Alfred’s course this year. It’s the same style of teaching, but focuses more on helping children really know their notes without being locked into a particular position. Being familiar with notes was a great weakness for me when I was a youngster learning to play, so we’ll keep working with the flash cards for memorization.
One thing I’m going to be relying on heavily this year is audio books. We do so much reading aloud in our homeschool that I cannot keep up with the demand for each level of Sonlight literature as well as science and supplemental history. It’s simply too much, so we’re going to be using our Audible account each month as well as listening to the books I’ve been able to buy on CD. It’s so much fun to listen to audio books. I find myself getting totally caught up in the stories as well. The nice thing is that you can do many things while listening to an audio book – coloring, math manipulatives, cutting, knitting, folding laundry, etc. It’s a win for everyone.
There is one big area I’m looking to fill, and that’s physical education. While we have kids’ yoga and exercise DVDs and lots of time running and playing outside, I would really like for the kids to have the experience of playing a team sport of some kind. The unfortunate reality of being Sabbath-keepers is that we would have to miss out on most sporting events as they occur almost exclusively on Saturdays. My prayer for this next year is that God would give direction for how to develop the kids’ understanding and values for healthy, active living. For the time being, however, jogging around the lake right next to our house will have to suffice.
Core History, Literature & Readers
Sonlight Core D
Art & Cursive
PreScripts Cursive Passages & Illuminations
Core, History & Bible
Sonlight Core B
A Reason for Handwriting T Cursive
IEW Bible Heroes Writing Lessons
Art & Cursive
PreScripts Cursive Words & Drawing – Scripture
Hosannah & Noah
Core & Literature
Sonlight Core P
A Reason for Handwriting T Cursive
All things fun, messy, and loud