4 Moms 35 Kids: I, er, uh…

This is part 11 of our 4 Moms 35 Kids series.  Visit 3 other moms of large families to see …

No, I’m not in labor. Even if I were, it would make a pretty lame excuse for not having  my post ready since Smockity managed to post and give birth last Thursday.  I’ll just have to admit that I totally ditched you, the other 3 moms, and their 25 children.  At least I’m here with my children.  That should count for something, right?

So now I’ll pound out a quick and ill-planned post about teaching my older ones, and recommend that you quickly move on to the other 3 moms who obviously plan far better than I do right now.  Oh, quit making excuses for me even if my duedate is tomorrow and I am utterly obsessed by Baby’s impending arrival.  Even if I’m also a little distracted by the fact that we currently have 11 dogs on the premises, 7 of which are 9 week old pups in desperate need of new homes with email inquiries flooding my inbox and several visits by hopeful owners already scheduled, hopefully before I pop this baby out. Even if I did spend 8 hours yesterday running errands with 4 children, arriving home at 10 PM.  At least I’ve managed to knock 4 out of 8 items off my baby prep checklist.

Oh, but wait.  You want to hear about how we homeschool our older children.  You’re probably hoping and expecting to hear that we put far more planning into it than I did into this post.

Quickly now, here’s a summary of what they do.  Stop me if I just told you this 2 or 3 weeks ago, because my pregnant brain can’t remember when I typed this before.

Their school day looks much like that of the younger children about whom I posted last week (do you like my proper school teacher grammar?), but is just a wee bit more structured, with higher expectations.

They begin with private Bible reading, which they then summarize in a composition book.  This is followed by Bible copywork, which aids in memorization.

Math is next, since I like them to tackle this brain-intensive subject while they’re fresh.  Usually, the two oldest correct each other’s work.  Ditto for our 3rd and 4th daughters.  I do let them correct their own if their counterpart isn’t available, but I don’t like to depend upon self-corrected math as a general practice.  While we haven’t had problems with cheating, I do recognize human nature: it’s simply too easy to cut oneself slack.  Believe it or not, I also correct their math for them on occasion.  I’m not a total slacker.  I just prefer to stay on the technical support side when I can, as it leaves me free to wrangle the little ones.

After math, they move on to non-fiction reading.  For a long time they were allowed to choose their own titles and get them approved by hubby and me, but now that we have 4 teens we are moving toward a more structured reading list.  Like Bible reading, non-fiction reading is summarized in a notebook.

These written summaries serve multiple purposes: they help the children to process and retain what they are reading, but they also allow us to evaluate and gently critique comprehension, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, general writing style, etc.  They also present a record of progress, as the children can look back over time and see their writing and thought processes develop and mature.

This is the end of the formal school day unless we have assigned other projects, but this isn’t the end of the learning.  In their free time, our children are expected to occupy their minds.  I’ve beaten this drum before so I won’t do it now.  Let me just say that we have instilled enough of a love for learning that all of our children begged to room together so that one bedroom in our very small house could be converted to a library.  These are the moments that make a bibliophile proud.

Upcoming topics:

  • June 3 – Putting it together. How does it work?

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  1. Thanks for sharing how you home school your older children. I have one question, though. Do you think your style would be different if they were all boys? All of my older ones are boys and though the “relaxed” home schooling is how we do somedays, I do feel a “pressure” that they need to prepare to be providers for their future families. So, I was just wondering about your views in this direction.

  2. Robin,
    We do still work on learning to sing in harmony, but not nearly as diligently as we’d like. It’s so easy to get sidetracked with a hundred other projects!
    I agree about the strong connection between music and math – we were just talking the other day about the math behind octaves and harmonization and the frequencies of musical notes.
    The orderliness of God’s creation is so amazing!

  3. Ruth and Jamie,

    thank you for those answers! I´m ashamed I didn´t think of those kits – I´ve never had one but have friends who did (but never lent them to me, sadly). I have to admit I´m still curious about what Kim´s response would be, but I guess she has way better things to do right now 🙂
    Just, a lot of homeschoolers I´ve met, talked to or read about seem to favour reading and writing above all in the “structured” work they do in a way that seems disproportionate to my experience (which is also wildly different from the american educational experience, I am sure – I live in central, post-communist Europe); I am glad to hear that is apparently not at all the case. I could have more questions on the subject but perhaps I´d better quit taking advantage here and find a homeschooling forum or some such. Thanks again 🙂

    • Micha,
      Our children have had several of those kits over the years and I’m sure they will have more in the future. We have also used thrift store microscopes to examine plants, insects, blood, skin, fabric, paper, etc.
      We spent some time playing with – er, investigating the properties of dry ice. We have dissected a variety of animals, and also butchered a few, examining the various body parts. We have played with batteries, spliced electrical cords, wired our home, installed light fixtures and repaired electrical outlets, repaired computers, disassembled small appliances to see how they work, and more.
      We have several books with instructions for more technical science experiments, and Youtube would be another wonderful resource to see certain science experiments in action.
      However you cut it, our lives are full of science, and if we do want to delve deeper into the hands-on, nearly any supplies we could wish for are available online.

  4. I remember awile ago you posted the children get some music training-is this still apart of the routine? any natural singers or musicians? I ask because music and math are thought to very connected.

  5. Melissa says:

    I’m going to be homeschooling my girls, we are considered a Relaxed Homeschooling family. I know each state is different, but I’m curious about how you “assess” each child? Here in NH an evaluator is required to assess each child, some families go about this by making a portfolio, others make a book or blog. Just thought I’d ask and see what it was like for your family! Peace, Melissa

  6. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Honestly? I took three lab science classes in high school (Biology, Chemistry, Chemistry II) and the only lab I can remember doing is the blown glass ornaments we made the last class before Christmas break in one of the Chemistry classes. I know we did others. But I don’t remember anything about them.

    A former friend of mine, Robert Thompson, has written a book called the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments and also sells chemicals, equipment, etc. suitable for setting up a lab in one’s own home and doing real chemistry. This all started with looking around and bemoaning the lack of kids science kits that there used to be (I had one and can remember more things I did with that kit than in two years of HS chemistry) http://www.makershed.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=9780596514921

  7. There are lots of children’s kits at the stores these days. Children can learn about crystals, rocks, electrical experiments, etc., etc., etc. by using these kits. Make them keep a science journal when they use them so it doesn’t degenerate into a messy play time. These make fun presents.

    Get motors from old fans etc. at garage sales. Old toasters. Have the children learn how to take them apart and know the names of the parts. Google practical every day physics concepts.

    If they come to love physics or math that you can’t cope with they will by then be able to teach themselves via the internet or community college classes that they could perhaps audit first.

    Dr. Jay L. Wile has an excellent science program. We are currently using his Exploring Creation with General Science book and will be using his chemistry, biology, and physics book. Excellent books that use things one already has in the home for the experiments.

    Kim, I hope you are ready for the baby tomorrow because that’s the day I guessed! : )

    I am so encouraged by your words and approach to life and your children and family.

  8. I was wondering about one thing: how do you (or others – if any of your gentle commenters feel like answering this for themselves, please do) handle science, experiment-ladden subjects like chemistry, physics and biology?

    I´m sure it´s included in the reading – and I remember you and others talking about, on multiple occasions, how practical tasks like cooking, cleaning and tending to the house serve as impromptu practical lessons as well, but still. One of my favourite things in school were the experiments we did in those three subjects, and the lab reports we completed afterwards; that was real, experimental science, and I just can´t imagine it being completely made up for with books, videos or house tasks.
    Don´t take me wrong – I´m not knocking down the “hands-on”, practical approach at all – I think it´s a serious handicap of many children whose parents relied only on the education we got at school, children who can measure the speed of light in laboratory settings but do not understand or care to consider the chemistry behind washing a load of laundry. All the same, though, there are subjects no amount of household work will touch. So, do you ever set out to do work like that – growing crystals, experimenting with electrical currents, observing plant tissue under a microscope?

    Sorry I got so long-winded. Congratulations to whoever made it through. I think you can tell the subject is dear to me 🙂

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