Our WholeHearted Homeschool: METHODS

Our Wholehearted Homeschool Methods

There are five focused study areas in “Educating the WholeHearted Child” that are a basis for building your ‘wholehearted’ homeschool. Section 3 contains suggested methods under each area for implementing the ‘WholeHearted Learning’ model into your homeschool.  This is a comprehensive section of 78 pages.  Obviously not every part of this section will be relevant to every family, but there’s all the guidance you need to build your ‘how-to’ for your homeschool.

In this post, I will simply lay out some of the methods that we are implementing overall (without breaking them down into the focused study areas).  Note, this is not a summary or re-iteration of the book’s content.  But this is where we have applied the principles and ideas in this section into how our homeschool operates.

  • Our Family Discipleship Approach

I’ve covered our family’s discipleship approach recently in this post.  This year marks a much more intentional approach for us, and being consistent with habits that we’ve wavered in at times.  We’re looking forward to it!

  • English (Language Arts), including Narration, Reading and Writing

The way we approach these essentials is largely through the lens of the Classical and Charlotte Mason methods.  We keep it fairly simple, in that we read aloud every day, so our children learn to hear good writing and learn rich language in their speech and in their writing.  For my eldest daughter (8) I do dictation and narration with her of passages from living books.  She also does copywork every day, and is starting to write longer passages of her own. (You might be interested in this post on Why We Read Together).  Our daughter learns the essentials of writing (eg. punctuation and grammar) through undertaking the writing itself with my guided instruction. However, we do use a spelling program to reinforce this area of learning.  The most important thing though, is reading – reading aloud and, when you have a competent reader, reading alone.

  • Maths

The journey of Maths in our home has had its ups and downs.  We seemed to have found a rhythm now, as we’ve incorporated more maths tools and even art into our learning.  For my naturally artsy-leaning student, it was too bland and too methodical just going through a workbook.  Some of the things we use are charts (including a hundred chart), page-a-day calendar, games, art projects for learning sums, flashcards, and manipulative blocks.

  • History

History is our favourite subject.  We love to follow the story of God on earth, and read living books to understand the chronology of history in all its colour, with mini-studies on people and certain aspects of history.  We are big on learning our family history, and our family tree traces one line back through the early Scottish kings to Ireland in the time of St Patrick and Columba, providing plenty of opportunities for learning.  We utilise a timeline book, and have divided it into eras that ‘Story of the World’ follows in its four volumes.  We’ve also done some biblical history, and love ‘What’s in the Bible’ as a supplement to notebooking pages.

  • Geography

Our geography studies largely fall into other areas, such as map work in history studies, marking our large markable map as places come up in our reading, and learning about other cultures and how people live.

  • Logic and Thinking

For this area, it would be easier just to share what we use (and intend to use) with our children: Developing the Early Learner (4 books) are a wonderful set of books to use for various areas of development for preschoolers; Critical Thinking Activities (K-3) are also a great resource for developing thinking skills.  For preschoolers we also love Mighty Minds and we also love puzzles.

  • Fine Arts

We’ve always had beautiful books of art in our home, so our children have always been drawn to creativity and beauty as expressed in art and music.  We have the ‘Come Look with Me’ series by Gladys Blizzard, and A Child’s Book of Art by Lucy Mickelthwait, as a couple of examples, and look at them together while asking the children what they enjoy in the paintings.  It’s really that simple when they’re young.  We also visit the art gallery every term with our homeschool group, and have some poetry books designed for young children (which, we’ve had varying success with but will keep at it!).

  • Creative Arts

We’ve experimented with different things, including ballet, drama, piano, singing, and art, and a few things have stuck more than others.  Art will always be part of our home, and it’s fun to see what each of my children are naturally drawn to: my eldest loves to sketch, my preschooler loves vibrant pastels and bright paper, and my little guy just loves to get his hands messy at the moment.  We have some ‘how-to’ books, plus our local library is well-stocked on various titles, and we also love Artistic Pursuits as a curriculum that fits our family well.

  • Nature Study

I’m freshly inspired by the Clarkson’s book to get the children out with their sketch books and draw what they see, and also create collections of things they find (and display them). I’d also love to set aside space for a nature library in our home, and simply connect with God in His beautiful creation when we’re out.

  • Creation Science

We are using Apologia Young Explorers series (Zoology 1 at present), which superbly takes an immersion approach to science and intelligently engages students in the wonder and awe of God’s creation.  I believe the notebooking and experiments will heighten the enjoyment factor and help your child retain much more than they otherwise would without these.

  • Home Economics

In this area, we are sticking to the basics: financial stewardship and homemaking skills.  My two eldest are taking increasing responsibility for basic care around our home, including setting the table every evening, preparing food, and helping with the laundry, just to name a few.

  • Out and About – time outside the home

We’ve become very selective about the time we spend outside the home now, as it’s precious learning hours that we want to count.  I’ve already over-filled our schedule in the past and felt exhausted by all the activity, so have learned my lesson!  We don’t have to feel like our children are missing out unless we pack their schedules full.  Just keep it simple:  a couple of trips out a week is plenty for a young family, plus those that you might do every 2 or 3 weeks (eg. library, field trips, homeschool co-ops).  Another way is to bring things into your own home, such as special workshops, children’s book club, afternoon tea teaching etiquette, or project presentation day, just to name a few ideas.

friendsSo there’s a glimpse into how we are covering what we consider the important areas of learning.  It’s not an exhaustive list of every learning experience and every part of what we do.  But I hope it will spur your thinking into how you can apply a simple yet intentional and applied approach to how you homeschool.

Write down your learning goals and refer back to them throughout the year, as you evaluate what’s working and what’s not.  Homeschooing is a journey and will change and grow as your children do.  Nothing needs to be etched in stone, when it comes to methods and curriculum.  That’s the beauty of tailoring your own program.

Enjoy the journey!

Wholehearted homeschool

NB.  These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.

You might also be interested in the other posts in this series:

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4 thoughts on “Our WholeHearted Homeschool: METHODS

  1. Jeanette

    Thank you for this glimpse into what your family is accomplishing with your school year. I find it very helpful to see how others are doing it and what works for them. I completely agree on cutting down on outside activities – they can really take away from the family schooling experience. We get out to our library and usually to at least one other activity during the week, but during co-op season we cut down on outside activities so we don’t get overwhelmed.


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