A couple of weeks ago, our homeschool group had a curriculum/book sale. I was amazed at the number of boxes of books each of us was willing to part with. We filled several tables in 4 rooms of a house each displaying our books. Since not many people showed up for the sale(there was a snow storm and a car pileup on I-25, people I am sure were heading to La Junta for our book sale), we basically bought each other’s books, each of us taking home at least as much as we brought, plus some. Todd Wilson illustrates a great use for our unsold curriculum!
I started writing this article to review All About Spelling by Learning Press and explain why I recommend it. However, as I took a break from writing, and was reading my bible, my daughter, Heidi, joined me. I asked her “Why do we homeschool you?” She proceeded to give me some reasons that were not the right answers. I then asked my son, David, why we homeschool and he also gave me a different set of reasons that were not why we homeschool. I then realized I had lost my perspective. My focus had become curriculum; grades, testing and trying to be sure my children are “smart enough”. Had my worth become based on my children’s academic performance? What a rude awakening!
I realized from this conversation with my children is that spelling, writing, and math are important, but the most important thing is that we have unity in our family. When school becomes a point of frustration and bouncing from one curriculum to another in search of the “perfect for my child” curriculum we might just need to put the books on the shelf for a while and refocus on what is really important. God is not going to ask our children how to spell before they are allowed into heaven. He is not going to reprimand me for not teaching them enough geometry.
On “stressful” days or weeks of school, we will stop and get out the greatest book of all, God’s Word and read together. Refocus on what is truly important. Christ wants us to have deeper, closer, more loving united families. Not stressed out or burned out. Relaxing and enjoying our time together. Then, with a clear, peaceful head, taking down those books and starting again. It might be that our children’s lack of learning was due to a seed of laziness or something else that God’s Word can address so much better than me getting frustrated by it. God teaches us precept upon precept and that is how our children learn. Little by little our children will learn what they need to.
Our training focus needs to be on training God honoring, God glorifying character. I need to relax and let go of my fears that I will turn out a bad speller or bad….._____. A friend often reminds me that if my children know how to work, how to find answers, are honest, trustworthy, God-fearing children, then I have succeeded, even if they aren’t the best scholars. I love to read Todd Wilson’s “The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons” to help me not stress the little things. Let’s remember character is EVERYTHING! That is where our educational focus needs to be.
Now, I will briefly tell you why I like the All About Spelling program. I like it, because we get up from the table and use tactile (our hands) on a magnetic board learning syllable division, phonograms, suffix rules and spelling words. The children get to take turns spelling and dividing words and agree or disagree on the spelling before I give the correct answer. I find they get some team-work going here. After using the spelling letters, blends, phonograms, etc. we have spelled our words and learned the rules and words that are rule breakers. We have a jail card that we take turns writing down the rule-breakers. It’s fun! We laugh. Then we move to paper and I dictate words and sentences for them to write. As they write, I watch their spelling. When they spell something incorrectly, I remind them of the rule we just learned, the light bulb goes on in their head and I see them cross out the incorrect and write the correct word they just learned. When it’s time to stop, we stop for the day. The next day, we finish writing our dictated sentences. No homework, no lists to repetitively memorize. A few sentences dictated daily helps reinforce the rules they have learned and keeps spelling fresh, simple and fun.
If you want more details about why I like this program, please feel free to post a question.