When Justin and I did our goal planning last spring some of the goals we set for Jonathan were:
- Begin to develop good Bible study habits.
- Work on developing positive character traits.
Our choices for the "Bible" component of his school work are one means we chose to use to work toward these goals.
The first thing he does when he sits down each day is to read a chapter in the Bible that his dad has assigned. I think he is reading though portions of the Old Testament right now. He has a notebook journal where he is supposed to then write three facts from the passage he read. It's not complicated, but we consider it the first step toward being able to understand the language of the Bible and developing a good habit.
Two days each week he works on a lesson in Proverbs People. This book focuses on teaching the character lessons found in the book of Proverbs in a way that keeps children engaged. Justin picked it out at a book fair last year, and we will probably continue to work through the series unless we see that our goals for him change in the coming year.
Because of our approach to "school" in our home, we spend a lot of time simply reading. Jonathan is an avid reader, and I find it a challenge to keep enough books around to keep him reading as much as I would like.
Because we use Classical Conversations as a basic skeleton for all of our study, I find their suggested resource list a huge help for each cycle. This document is available from your community director if you don't already have it. (I haven't sent it out to my families just yet.)
I also like to look through the Sonlight and Veritas Press catalogs when making my list, and Pinterest has become a great resource for finding and keeping track of additional resources to go along with our reading. I pulled many of the books we read this year for cycle 3 from the American History lists from Sonlight. I find that Veritas Press is great for literature choices that are just good books and not necessarily things that go right along with our cycle. Not everything we read has to line up with the history, science, or art.
I will begin preparing for next year by making a list of all the books or resources that I may want to use next year after looking at all the lists mentioned above. Then I will go to my local library's web site and look things up to see what they have available. I usually just highlight them on my list at this point. This way, when I'm shopping for books, I can make decisions based on what I know they have available. I sometimes buy them anyway if I find a good deal.
I usually purchase a lot of books, especially ones that may be harder to find used, at the book fair in May. Then I work on finding others throughout the summer. This year, we were running out of books at home, so I was able to buy more Sonlight books from someone who was done with them. At first, I tried using mostly library books, but there are seasons when it is hard to make it to the library, and the fewer books we check out, the less chance there is that we'll have fines. (Will anyone else admit to this problem?)
My list is also helpful when I get a chance to stop into used bookstores and thrift stores. I can always keep an eye out, and it's helpful to have a running list for all the cycles. I have found a lot of good books this way. I also keep a wishlist on Amazon for when I happen to have a little extra in the budget or a gift card or something. Ebay is great this time of year for finding sets of Sonlight books as well as some others.
I found this year that, after looking at the list so much, I couldn't remember which books I had bought if I didn't have my list with me. I ended up opening an account at librarything.com to keep track of our books. I love that I can add tags to catalog the cycle and subject, and I can quickly look up a book to see if we already have it. If I had a smart phone, I could easily look it up right there in the store. It's also helpful if you want to be able to share books with homeschooling friends. You can share and search each other's libraries. It's free up to a certain number of books, but I think it will totally be worth the lifetime fee.
Although my main goal is to create a collection of good books that will help to flesh out our memory work, I have three specific reading goals for Jonathan:
- Read below grade level for speed and accuracy.
- Read at grade level to work on increasing skills.
- Read above grade level to build vocabulary.
These are discussed in detail in Leigh Bortin's book, The Core, but I fell in love with her explanation because my past classroom experience backs it up. The first goal is where we spend most of our time. This is how we take in most of our information. The second goal is usually best accomplished with a dictionary at hand while reading together with a mentor. The third goal is usually accomplished with read-alouds which also help to develop good listening skills. Never underestimate the value of an audiobook!
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