It’s going to sound cliche, but this book changed my life. Seriously. It was the reading of The Well-Trained Mind (and I’ll be honest, I didn’t even finish it before I had to return it to the library!) that really pushed us over the edge into homeschooling. It was my husband even more than myself that this book really impressed, and it made us look at the public school system in a new, and frankly rather unflattering, way.
This book was written by the mother-daughter duo of Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Between the two of them, they have experience teaching in public schools, colleges and homeschools, as well as advanced degrees and have even authored a history curriculum written in the classical method and geared toward early elementary school students.
The Well-Trained Mind focuses on providing children with a classical education in the home. The basis of this method of instruction is the trivium–three sequential learning stages which are grammar, logic and rhetoric. What makes this book so fantastic are the extensive suggestions for resources for every part of the curriculum–from history and handwriting to Language Arts and Latin; from math and music to Social Studies and science, and everything in between. It is split up into stages of learning, and from there split into subjects. An enterprising parent could put together an entire curriculum based on the recommendations given! While I’m not that ambitious, I have noticed that Sonlight uses and/or offers many of the books listed in The Well-Trained Mind, and I also plan to supplement the curriculum we’ll be purchasing from that company with a few additional recommendations from this book.
The end of the book is also extremely helpful. The authors cover things such as making schedules (daily, as well as how to structure the school year, with a focus on year-round schooling in three different models), keeping records, standardized tests, tutoring and preparing for college. Basically, there are over 700 pages of awesome contained in this book. It was recommended to me by other homeschoolers when I was just considering homeschooling, and I will concur that anyone who thinks they might want to try homeschool should read this book, because it is a valuable resource.
This book deserves more than five stars as far as I’m concerned. I will be ordering a copy for my personal use from Amazon as soon as possible, and I can’t wait to sit down with it and a highlighter, and mark all the books we definitely will be reading, as well as others I would like to add to our studies. I think this will become one of my most useful homeschooling resources, and I plan on using the suggestions in it to help me educate my children for many years to come!
Grocery shopping *was* one of my favorite activities, but everything is too spendy, and I’m just getting depressed. Cheap meal ideas please
Farmer’s Market that is. I was on the way home from getting Turkey’s hair cut, and he and Bunny begged to stop by the Farmer’s Market. We didn’t really have anything else to do, and even though this is usually an outing I save for a morning when Daddy is home to accompany us, it was a pretty morning, so I acquiesced. Unloading the double stroller and all four children from the van is always interesting, but if we didn’t get out of the house once in a while, I’d go crazy (or crazier, depending on who you ask!)
I didn’t buy anything this week, partly because we didn’t get there until 11:30, so it was kind of picked over, (usually we try to go before 9:00), and partly because I accidentally left my wallet in the car, and I wasn’t going to go back for it, but I was impressed with the selection. This is the first week that I saw lots of stuff I normally would buy, even with the late hour. There was an abundance of zucchini and yellow squash, quite a few cucumbers, radishes, red and white potatoes, and even some onions, with a few other items mixed in. I wouldn’t have minded getting some of those zucchini and squashes–a few of my favorite summer recipes involve those vegetables, and the children love zucchini bread (hey, any attempt to get them eat vegetables counts, right?).
There’s just nothing like fresh, locally grown produce–I can’t wait until all the varieties of onions and tomatoes are in, along with fresh corn, melons, peaches and (please let it be soon!) garlic. Going to the farmer’s market every Saturday was one of our favorite weekly outings last summer, and I can tell that this summer will be no different!
A Relaxing Soak in the Tub–I picked this one up at Hallmark at least 10 years ago, and I still love it. A nice collection of classical music, perfect for falling asleep to.
Boys Night Out–The Rat Pack–I feel like I’m in a swanky nightclub whenever I listen to this (or at least what my imagination has created a swanky nightclub to be!)
This One’s From the Heart–James Darren (aka Vic Fontaine)–All I have to do is listen to this CD, and I’m instantly transported to my happy place.
A Splash of Pops–Boston Pops–Every year around the end of June, I have an uncontrollable urge to listen to this. It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without the Boston Pops!
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Soundtrack–I love the songs (even the corny test copies) that never made it to the movie. So much fun!
O Lord Open My Lips, And My Mouth Will Declare Your Praise, and With High Delight–St. Paul Lutheran Church Children’s Choir–Rumor has it that there is a fourth CD, Sing With All the Saints, but someone (*cough* Ryan *cough*) hasn’t gone down to the bookstore to check out the price for me!
Hymns for All Saints series–CPH–I love the groupings of music on these CDs, and I also love that I got at least one of them free from good ol’ Thrivent.
Road Trip–Not a music CD, but a compilation of old time radio shows dealing with travel. So, my secret is out–I love old time radio. I’m weird, I know it, and I’ve come to accept it. I blame my father, I really do. My favorites are Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, and the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show. Oh, and My Favorite Husband, the precursor to television’s I Love Lucy. So mostly comedy. But I love all the selections on this set, and I got to listen to some shows I normally wouldn’t have otherwise.
The 60 Greatest Old Time Radio Christmas Shows: Selected by Andy Williams–I don’t technically own this on CD–I got the audio tapes (does anybody still listen to those?) on clearance. I love this set because: 1.) it’s Christmas; B.) it has a lot of my favorite shows; and, 3.) it has some shows I wouldn’t have normally listened to, and discovered that I actually enjoy (Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, anyone? “On you huskies!”)
The Best of Fibber McGee and Molly–More old time radio–the McGee’s are the first show I fell in love with, and still my number one favorite–there are days I wish I could live in Wistful Vista!
Back Home–Caedmon’s Call–This CD will always remind me of my first pregnancy, so how could it not be one of my favorites?
Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years–Frank Sinatra
Anything by Andrew Peterson (but Carried Along will always be my favorite!)–He’s my favorite Christian singer.
WOW 2006–I think this was the first in the WOW series, and in my estimation, it will always be the best.
Christmas with the Rat Pack–The Rat Pack–This is my most-listened to CD every year at Christmastime.
The Nutcracker/Symphony #4–Tchaikovsky–Ryan got me the complete recordings for Christmas one year, and I love them! If I’m really lucky, I can convince him they’re not technically Christmas music, and get my Christmas fix in July.
A Charlie Brown Christmas–Traditionally, this is the first Christmas CD we listen to every year. Possibly because I cheat with it sometime after we watch the Great Pumpkin in October–hey, it’s Charlie Brown music, not Christmas music! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!
The Christmas Song–Nat King Cole–This CD has no less than three different recordings of The Christmas Song, aka Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and also a really cool Toys for Tots promo recording.
White Christmas–Bing Crosby–Classic. What more do I need to say?
Any Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CDs (especially Christmas–love the version of Stille Nacht at the end!)–I know they’re considered “New Age” or whatever, but I can’t find anything objectionable about their Christmas recordings.
The Christmas Trilogy–Trans-Siberian Orchestra–I admit, there are some things on this set I don’t really care for. But there are also some really awesome recordings–especially Christmas Canon.
Holiday Pops–Boston Pops–It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without hearing the Pops perform Sleigh Ride.
Huh, I have an awful lot of Christmas CDs on here. What can I say? I love Christmas music, and listen to it almost exclusively through November and December, and on into Epiphany. And the worst part is, I know there must be a least a CD or two that I’m leaving off this list!
Hoosiers Soundtrack–OK, I never actually actually owned this on CD, because it doesn’t exist, but I wore out the tape in high school, because it was my favorite thing to listen to when falling asleep.
Anything Veggie Tales–I know they’re children’s CDs, but I can’t help but love the dialogue in between tracks, and some of the songs are really funny! And the Junior’s Bedtimes Songs CD is really sweet. I can’t help but tear up at a few of the tracks (One in a Million gets me every time!).
Mad About You Soundtrack–I like this one so much, I’ve owned two copies of it, because my first one mysteriously disappeared!
The Very Best of Sheryl Crow–Can’t stand her politically, but this CD always makes me feel happy.
So, after spending the last several weeks going through homeschooling catalogs and websites of all kinds, as well as talking to people online, I think I have a plan for this year!
We’re going to start with Sonlight K, but not the newcomer package, because I decided to use A Reason for Handwriting instead of Handwriting Without Tears, which is what comes with the newcomer set. (And how much does all this agonizing I’ve done over handwriting curriculum even matter? Everybody is typing nowadays. But they still need to learn to write properly!) I realize that most people who have tried Handwriting Without Tears have loved it, but I really prefer the more traditional look that is taught in A Reason for Handwriting, and I also like that the practice is done with Bible verses (even it is selections from the Living Bible. *sigh* I’ll have to see how the lessons are presented, and how easy it would be to substitute with the ESV). So, my big challenge is going to be making sure I order everything else that would have come in the newcomer package, just switching out the handwriting materials, and also adding Ready, Set, Go for the Code for additional learning to read help.
I know some people would probably recommend starting with the P 4/5 curriculum, since I’m going to be working with a four and five year old. But I’ve been over both the K and the P 4/5 materials many times, and I really think they would both be bored with the 4/5 stuff. I don’t want to sound like the typical bragging parent, but both of my older children are pretty advanced, which was partly the reason we decided to homeschool, so they could be more challenged, and I think they know most of the stuff from the 4/5 curriculum. I guess at worst we end up stretching out or repeating the K curriculum, but I really don’t think it’s going to be an issue.
As long as homeschooling goes well this year, and I feel comfortable with what I’m doing, I may look into switching out other parts of the curriculum. Not the core, obviously, because that’s the best part of Sonlight–all of the reading, and the natural learning method as far as history, geography, etc., goes. In the future, though, especially if I actually get to a curriculum fair, I think I may want to try Apologia for science (maybe starting at grade two, so I can do the astronomy, botany, and three zoology texts before general science hits in seventh grade), because I always loved science in grade school (and high school and college for that matter, except for physics, but that’s a whole other story!) and the Apologia curriculum looks really cool!
I’m also hoping to get a chance to compare Saxon math to the Horizons curriculum that Sonlight recommends, because I know it’s a tried and true method, and a lot of homeschoolers use it, so I figure I should at least check it out. Hopefully I can make that decision before we start grade one next year–that way I won’t end up doubling up on manipulatives sets (I know I could put together my own, but that idea is still intimidating to a new homeschooler like me!).
Eventually I know I’m going to want to move away from the religion that Sonlight provides, as well. I’m already adding the Lutheran Children’s ESV to our materials for this year, to beef up the Bible curriculum that they provide, and maybe some Arch books, too. I’m OK with Sonlight’s offerings (supplemented by CPH material) up through about grade two or three, but then they A.) start using Bible translations I’m not fond of, and 2.) start teaching some stuff that could be contradictory to Lutheran theology, at least from what I can tell so far. I can always fall back on CPH’s dayschool religion curriculum or *gasp* prepare my own–I was a DCE before children, after all, so if there’s anything I should be able to create on my own, that would be it!
The reading, read-alouds and Language Arts all look good to me, so no worries about replacing those. The electives look pretty good, too–certainly more about music and art appreciation than I ever learned in the early elementary years. And while I’m not using Sonlight’s number one recommendation for handwriting, and I may decide on different math and science, all of those materials are still available to order through Sonlight (and I think still eligible for the member discount), so except for the religion materials, it appears I can keep all of my business in one place. Very convenient!
I’m most excited about Sonlight’s core, though–I can’t believe how much we’ll be reading! I think I’ve looked at the book lists for almost every grade, and there are so many familiar books from my childhood that I can’t wait to share with my children. And I love the way they use “real” books to teach history, instead of just dry textbooks. I know I remember much more from the stories I read as a child, whether they were true, or just entertaining fiction, than I do from any textbook I read. I know this isn’t the only way of learning, but it is the one that makes the most sense to me, so I’m especially happy Sonlight has put together such a nice curriculum for me–I wouldn’t even know where to start doing this on my own!
I can’t believe we’ve actually made the decision to homeschool. I certainly never saw myself as a homeschooling parent. Then again, our family has always been a little unorthodox, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that this seems to be such a good fit for us–we’re good at going against the grain! I’m especially grateful to my husband, because he was obviously listening to me, (at times when I didn’t even realize I was talking!), and was open minded enough not only to consider this, but to actually do a complete 180 on his opinions on homeschooling. I never even would have seriously considered homeschooling without his support, but I feel that with God calling me to do this, and Ryan’s encouragement, I’ve been set free to do something I always wanted to do, without even really knowing it at the time.
There are so many big trucks outside, I think Caleb is going to explode with joy!
Someone take this Sonlight catalog away from me so I can get my laundry folded, please!
There are so many big trucks outside right now, I think Caleb may explode with joy!
I don’t want to alarm anybody, but my children are playing with koosh balls and calling them tribbles. The level of nerdiness in our house!