Firstly, Ellie goes to preschool for three hours, 3 days a week because she’s an extrovert and thrives off other kids energy. That’s how I see it.
Secondly, I follow the classical education approach using The Well-trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. It’s a solid framework for any kind of curriculum or homeschool setup. The classical approach is based on reading, reading, reading.
We are a reading family, I’m sure you can tell from what I write about on this blog. In addition to phonics, and math we carry out our reading mandate using the FIAR or the Five in a Row curriculum. It’s a great fit for us presently. Especially since I can read and teach them both at the same time from the same literature, even though they are different ages.
It’s a beautifully simple system really, but of course, it’s not enough. I customize it by adding the African heritage element to the mix and my goal is to show how and when I do this in future posts about our homeschool journey.
Here’s how FIAR works. You pick a book from their list, your read it five days in a row, and each day you bring the lessons alive by extrapolating or expanding the book into geography, social studies, art, math, and literature lessons.
Daddy gets in on the craft action. Ironically, his paper lion was the best looking one. Lion craft for Madeline via Pinterest.
To the lion in the zoo, Madeline said “pooh, pooh.”
-Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
So in Ludwig Bemelman’s classic Madeline, for example, we read it (She loves it!), we talk about where Paris and France is on the map (we put a sticker on France, perhaps make a French flag or French food for dinner), we talked about French culture, Paris as a city, what cities are…and I even showed her some pictures of me in France. The next day we do art by examining the illustration, perhaps trying to draw using that technique. In math we began the concept of division using how the 12 children in Madeline were divided in 2 straight lines…and Ellie got it. For some of the books early science are subjects of study and there is always room for field trips, and hands on crafts.
It’s really simple and you can make it as involved or light-hearted as you want. It’s great because the kids get it, and you can adapt all the lessons from 2 years old to 8 years old.
There’s a simple manual that spoon feeds you all the lessons, so it isn’t that hard. And I’ve found the book selection to be pretty global and culturally inclusive. They are all classics and can be found in the library.
As recommended by the well-trained mind, I use Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud handbook to fill in the gaps, so I check out more good literature along with whatever I’m rowing that week.
Library haul, includes suggestions from the read aloud handbook and classic, culturally and esthetically relevant kids literature.
Besides western literature, I include African-centered books for our FIAR-style method too. The first book we “rowed” is Dokono the Donkey by Franka-Maria Andoh. This was a special signed copy from my mom to Ellie when Ellie was born. My mom is friends with the author. This story is set in Ghana, so it was a perfect start for us!
How could I allow you to grow up reading Greek classics, and watch you devour The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet, yet be ignorant of the lyrical, the romantic, and the tragic that have shaped us as Africans?
We rowed it. We talked about Ghana, and where it is on the map and studied the Ghanaian flag, red for the blood of our forefathers, yellow for Ghana’s gold and wealth, green for our vegetation and the lone black star for the independence of our people. BAM!
We looked at our pictures from our trip to Ghana. We talked about family and discussed a bit about our family tree. For science we talked about donkeys and watched a cute video of a baby donkey being born. We started a discussion on mammals from there. We talked about kindness, and friendship for social studies…and that was that. Although she wasn’t too keen on reading that book 5 days in a row, the writing is a bit cumbersome, she does love pointing out Ghana on the map.
I use Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. We are on lesson 50 and Ellie can read each little story at the end of each short lesson by herself. The goal is to get your child reading as early as possible, with a solid phonics foundation. Sight words are cool, until they can’t figure out how to sound out weird hard words. The lessons in this book are quick and easy, however the diacritical marks are a bit of a crutch. Yes, Ellie knows what a macron and a breve is and what they signify. It will come in handy when she looks up a word in the dictionary, but I feel like she needs to know how to read without them as guides. So I may be switching over to phonics pathways, another solid phonics workbook.
My goal is to get her comfortable counting to 100 using the Kumon My book of numbers 1-120 workbook. Math is not my strong point, but Ev has a minor in it. We are blessed. lol. After I reach this goal, we will move on to Math You See.
Ollie? Besides, FIAR which she loves very much, she’s on a Montessori curriculum. Meaning, she does whatever the hell she wants to do. Hahah! Here she is “driving” her crying baby she’s wrapped up in her dress, off somewhere in her “car.”
I hope this post helps someone out there. Let me know what you think, any suggestions? If you are a homeschooling mama, what are some of your favorite things to do? I’m new to this so every bit helps! Let’s share!