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Why do I use a secular homeschool approach when I believe in God?

Warning: This is MY opinion! You have your own beliefs about religion, and it may or may not agree with mine. I respect your choice, and I hope you respect mine. Although I won’t elaborate here, unless you are atheist, I probably believe in the same God(s) you do, we just know them by different names.

I am spiritual. I believe in God. I can’t honestly say I’m Catholic (although I was raised as one, even confirmed!) but I AM spiritual. I believe there is a higher being or beings, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the proof is everywhere from the entire universe to the smallest grain of sand. I truly believe God is a part of every molecule in this universe.

So why don’t I teach my little Peanut about my beliefs as part of his schooling? The easy answer is because he learns about God in everything he does, everything he sees, and eventually it will be his decision as to how he embraces it.

The more difficult answer is because, in my opinion, the most pervasive religion for homeschooling is Christianity, and it seems to concentrate more on religious dogma rather than proven facts. I personally find it more than just a minor annoyance.

A good example is Science. When we discuss the creation of the universe, and the creation of the earth itself, there is a huge contradictions in terms of how old it is. I accept the big bang theory, but I also accept that God created the big bang! I accept that the universe is at least 10 to 20 billion years old, an the earth itself is about 4.5 billion years old. If I were to use a christian curriculum, I would be telling Peanut that the universe is only 6000 years old, and the earth is just over 4000 years old. Oh, and let’s not even get into dinosaurs, the theories from “they are just a myth” to “they were alive when man walked the earth, and they were on Noah’s ark” just make my head want to explode…  I even stumbled across a very popular free online christian new-earth curriculum that, under it’s history tab, had a coloring page of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and Adam was riding a dinosaur! Ugh! No.

Plus Peanut has Autism. He has difficulty sometimes recognizing fact, fiction, fantasy, and reality. He sometimes takes things as how they are said, but not as they are meant. In his education, I want him to have a firm, established foundation of all the basics that a non-religious education brings with it. I want him to know about the big bang, evolution, science, math, social studies, and history without any kind of religious bias.

When he’s ready, we will begin with religion. But it won’t be integrated completely into our subjects as many christian curriculum does. Instead, we will explore as many different religions as possible. Yes, we will be doing a subject called Religious Studies. We will delve into the various branches of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and as many others as we can. I hope he’ll see religion the same way I do, but that is for him to decide when he’s older, and that is his personal decision to make. Each and every person on earth has made their own religious journey, some have found their path, and others still are searching. Our Peanut will join into this journey when he’s ready.

 

 

 

 

 

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Homeschooling sometimes means we still learn even if we’re sick with pneumonia…

On the last Friday of our week off Peanut was sick. It wasn’t a good week to begin with. We had started it by attending his Godmother’s funeral. She was only 38 years old. Leukemia sucks.

Somewhere in that day, probably in church, Peanut came in contact with the nasty virus that’s going around. By Wednesday he was sneezing and coughing. By late Friday night (or early Saturday morning) we were in the hospital emergency. After getting a couple of masks for his asthma, we went to X-Ray for a chest film. Poor little guy had the start of pneumonia. We caught it before it got serious, but we still had to take it easy for a week or so.

Now our dilemma. Do we take another week off? Do we continue with our lessons? Do we just do bare minimum? Plus I started to feel sick too! Rather than lose a week, we chose to do bare minimum. 

Our book was “We’re going on a Leaf Hunt”. We sorted and counted leaves that we made from construction paper since a nature walk was out of the question. We planted some seeds to watch them grow. We watched an episode of magic school bus to see how trees help the ecosystem. We made a map of the places the kids in the book went to, ending with a stinky skunk! We didn’t do many arts or crafts, but we can do them in our unit on apple trees later this year. We also did some math, handwriting practice, and learned the sight word “go”. Not too bad for a sick week. 
By Saturday Peanut was feeling much better. His mama, not so much. I could barely get out of bed. Advil cold and sinus finally kicked in by Sunday, and I’m also feeling a lot better.

This week is all about insects – but that post is coming this weekend, or maybe even early next week.

Till then…

How do we schedule our homeschool year?

We’ve chosen to homeschool all year round. We do this for so many reasons, but the main ones are:

  • to eliminate the need for 6 weeks of review thanks to a 2 month vacation in the summer
  • to prepare Peanut for real life! When we get a job/career, we don’t just work September – June
  • homeschooling all year gives us much more flexibility when we need a day or a week off
  • there is no burn-out since we take more frequent breaks. We don’t have to slog it out from September to December before we get a holiday

When I figure out our schedule, I start by printing out a yearly calendar that runs from July to June the next year. I then grab my highlighters and start blocking off all our set in stone days off – every Saturday and Sunday.

Next, I decide how many weeks holiday we want for Christmas. This year we’re going for three weeks off, so December 18 – January 5 is blocked off. Birthdays too. Those are holidays.

Now I’m left with 245 days to schedule in 150 days of school.

Since we value a slower lifestyle, I decide to take every Friday (except one!) off. This now leaves us with 198 days.

Since each MBTP unit this year is 5 days long, we can do 4 units per “chunk” before taking a break. So now I mark off every 6th week as our “holiday” week. This now gives us 174 days to work with, but then school would end mid May. So now the tweaking comes in. I need to add about 4 weeks of holidays. I choose one more week in September and one more week in March to take off, and add a week block at the end of the year for our assessment. The assessment is only for our own interest, it isn’t necessary, but I like to know how much Peanut has accomplished.

So now I have a schedule that runs all year, lots of time off, but lots of learning too. No burnout. This is our tentative schedule, the shaded boxes are the days we take off. It still may need a tweak here and there, but it allows for any illness, emergencies, or even snow days!

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Now I go ahead and do our monthly plans and print them out. I love the planner from One Stop Teacher Shop and I’m so glad I bought it! I would also be using the included weekly planner, but since MBTP already has laid out my days, I don’t feel the need to spend a few hours cutting and pasting into it.

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For our day to day schedule, I don’t actually plan it out. Moving Beyond the Page already has a plan laid out for each and every day. I don’t see any reason to copy and paste it into a planner. Instead, I use a blank planner and take notes about our day. I write what we did, how we liked it, what worked and what didn’t, and any other things I want to remember. For this I use the floral planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It’s so beautiful, has 8 subject boxes, and is perpetual. The only drawback is that the weekly layout only goes from Monday to Friday.

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So this is how I decide on our schedule. And being the obsessive person I am, I also banged out a second schedule that runs 5 days a week and has more scheduled time off, but to me it seems a bit too much time off for us. Who knows, I may end up using it instead of our 4 day week plan if things get too hard. Last year we took the last week of each month off, so we may need the added flexibility a 5 day schedule gives us…

Time for my second coffee… Hope your day is filled with sunshine!

My desk: A list a day for Dec 7

What’s on my desk today/this week?

  • Coffee! (that’s a no brainer, always there, bwahaha!)
  • Planners, lots of planners. One for Peanut’s homeschooling, one for his completed work so far this year, one for me, one for our house, and one for upcoming events.
  • Some of Peanut’s curricula. Math, science, phonics, and reading. These things can’t be scheduled since some days he may do two pages, other days he may do 8. So I have them at hand in case he flies through them quickly.
  • A basket for Peanut’s finished schoolwork. It also holds my pens, markers, highlighters, rulers, etc. and his flashcards for his phonics.
  • Peanut’s Lego

As for what is on my agenda today/this week, it’s:

  • The usual stuff – make and bake fresh bread, sweep, clean, keep the house running.
  • Peanut’s homeschooling: fine motor skills, handwriting, phonics, coloring, thinking skills games, teaching him to read, a puzzle or two, math, science, geography, a couple of sticker books, some STEM using either Lego, Morphun blocks, or some other construction toys, and a read aloud book (this week is Magic Tree House #1 and Danny and the Dinosaur).
  • Do some sewing. Peanut is growing like a bad weed, and he is in desperate need of some t-shirts and pajamas.
  • Doing some crochet for gifts
  • Get to the craft shop for some much needed supplies
  • Binging on Netflix in the evenings!

Things I learned about myself this year…

A list a day’s topic for today is Things I learned about myself this year:

  • I love homeschooling our son
  • I don’t need anyone’s approval to be ME!
  • I have an anxiety disorder that I probably will never “grow out of”, it’s been a part of me since I was a child, and may be connected to an underlying undiagnosed ASD. And I’m okay with that!
  • I’m not immune to getting sick (haha) and getting the Zika virus has caused me to step out of my independent ways and ask for help when I need it. I’m still feeling the effects of this 4 months later, it has affected my fine motor muscles in my wrists, fingers, ankles, and feet. I’ve learned that it’s okay to lean on others when I need to!

Going back to basics in Math!

So we tried out Math U see, it was pretty good until we came to a roadblock. More than a roadblock. It was a boulder on top of a mountain of stones, surrounded by a lava moat! A steaming pile of impassible destruction. Well, a steaming pile… Can’t get through that one for a while!

Next, we tried Math Mammoth, and I really love it. It is so crisp, clean, colorful, and a joy to use. BUT… it’s meant for grade 1, not Kindergarten. Peanut isn’t ready for it yet. We WILL use this as our math curriculum next year, and maybe even for years to come. I’ll even start looking for an abacus so we are prepared for it!

So now what? I need something simple. Something basic. Peanut needs to learn to count to 20. Why oh why is it so hard for him to remember the numbers 13-17? Some days I think its so adorable, some days I want to bang my head against a wall in frustration.

As I was looking at the various math books, one stood out. MCP Kindergarten Mathematics! Could this be my answer?

MCP Kindergarten is all about the numbers 1-20. Counting to 20, adding to 20, subtracting from 20, and even deals with telling time by the hour, and simple fractions!

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It starts gently, counting to 5, counting to 10, then counting to 12. Peanut flew through 8 pages per day, and his confidence is at an all time high in math now.

After counting to 12, it goes to telling time, then begins counting to 20. Then order and place.

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Addition is next

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then subtraction

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eventually leading to a total comprehension of the numbers from 1-20 and a bit beyond. This math text may take Peanut a couple of months to do, or may take the rest of the year, but the visuals, the simplicity, and the lack of blocks as a distraction (hahaha, no need to “irish” up my coffee!) makes this a total joy to use. I’m pretty confident that when we’re done this book, that steaming pile of rubble will have cooled down, and we can follow the path the Math Mammoth has laid out for us!

What Curriculum do we Use?

Over the next little while, I want to review what we’ve used and what we are using for curriculum. The good, the bad, and the ugly! Maybe even what we plan to use next year. Yep, We are in week 11 of 36 weeks, and I’m already thinking about next year. That’s homeschooling!


I’ll start this off with one of the three “R’s” – reading! Last year we began using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and we made it to lesson 21 before we actually threw it in the trash.

At first it was doing what it said it would, teaching Peanut how to sound out letters phonetically, but it was a struggle. The pages were cluttered with teacher’s instructions, scripts of what to say, and it was all very distracting.   117-lessons

Peanut absolutely hated this book, and to be honest, I did too. We dreaded our learning to read time. The pictures were creepy, the stories were all about people and things being mad, sad, and bad. Very depressing. Instead of struggling through any more pages, I tossed the book into the garbage. Reading is supposed to be fun, and this was definitely up there with visiting the dentist. Ugh!

What do I personally recommend to teach reading?

At the start of our Kindergarten year in August, we began using The Reading Lesson and what a difference! The pages are clean, the letters are crisp. Even the pictures are colorful and cute!. We actually enjoy this book. We made it to lesson 3, but we are going back to the end of lesson 1 to reinforce what Peanut has learned, and to give him greater confidence.

I mean seriously, how cute are these pictures? Just adorable! Even stories about being mad, sad, or bad are very well illustrated and Peanut can figure out easily why the cat was bad (muddy footprints) or why dad was mad (Tom colored on the wall). Not only is this helping my son read, it also works well with Bob Books too, so we can alternate between learning something new and reinforcing what Peanut has mastered already!

And did I mention the pictures are so darned cute? It makes you feel cheery just opening the book, and that is a huge plus when it comes to homeschooling! I want cute, I want fun, I want to hear Peanut laugh at those silly stories!

It recommends that a child under 5 should do about 1 page a day, a 5-6 year old should do 2 pages a day, and over six years old should do 3 or more pages a day. Peanut is 5 1/2, and we do between 1 and 2 pages a day, but we tend to do 4 new pages then 4 pages we’ve already done. Yes, it’s two steps forward and one step back, but this seems to work best for Peanut.

I’ve also been using Progressive Phonics in conjunction with The Reading Lesson, but I’ll review that in my next post, but right now my coffee mug is screaming for a refill, and Peanut just woke up and is begging for some Youtube time to watch Super Why. Mommy duty has begun… hahaha!