How I Am Pre-reading AmblesideOnline Year 3

As much as I am tempted to give an apology for not blogging more often and list reasons why it has been hard, I am just going to forego all that and jump right into the topic at hand. In January we started our third year using AmblesideOnline as our homeschool curriculum. This year is the first year that I had not previously read all or most of the books we are studying. The reading is getting a little bit more demanding, but my son is also such a proficient reader that he is ready to take on more independent work. As such, I knew that prereading would become an important part of my planning so as to not overload our schedule on some days of the week. Since my daughter will eventually be coming along behind, I also decided it would be helpful for me to have a written record of my pre-reading notes to reuse when it is her turn.

My intention was to get a month ahead during our long Christmas break, but life happened, and the time slipped away without me getting ahead by more than a week. It even got to the point last weekend that I was cramming a bunch of reading in on Sunday afternoon to prepare for the next school day! Needless to say, this week it is my goal to spend a little time every day on reading for Year 3 so that I can keep a little farther ahead of schedule.

One thing that I decided to do in organizing my pre-reading and notes is to read chapters week by week according to the 36-week schedule. I could have just read through a big chunk of each book at a time, but by reading each chapter as scheduled, I am able to make connections in the same way my student is likely to make them. It also makes it easy for me to find notes on a specific reading easily since they are organized by term, week and subject type. The same advantage will be true in a few years when I need to use these notes again as reference for my daughter.

The other thing I decided would be good for me as a pre-read is to actually write out narrations of each section I read. These narrations form the bulk of my notes, along with a few lists of key names, dates and places. This process of writing a narration for each reading does significantly slow down the process, but I am reaping the benefits of the practice of written narration. Plus, when it is my son’s turn to start writing his narrations instead of saying them out loud, hopefully, I will have more empathy with him because this is not easy! The truth is, handwriting these narrations is really helping me solidify the information in my mind, so I am glad I decided to do this, even though it is a good bit of extra work I would not have to do.

So if you are wondering why I am not writing blog posts as often this year, even though I have said many times I want to be here more regularly, it might just be that I am busy reading and trying to be a better teacher! Because, after all, my roles as a wife and a mother definitely come first, which means that the online world, as much as I enjoy being part of it, has to take a pretty low priority. But I hope you will stick around and be part of the conversation when I do get a chance to visit you here at Tuning Hearts!

Until next time,

February 2019 Memory Work Plans

Hi there, friends! It is coooold in 80 percent of the continental US at the moment, and Tennessee is no different! But the end of winter is coming, albeit slowly. February marks that time of year in our lives when we are weary of winter and waiting for spring. It also frequently marks that tired time of the year for homeschool families when everyone just wants to quit. So I offer you some brand new memory work to liven things up a little bit!

If you have been following our memory work plans for a while, you may notice that this month’s Scripture memory portion is a lot shorter than usual. That is because we have started using the Scripture Memory System recommended by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. I wanted to have time to be reviewing the passages we had already memorized without making that portion of our morning time together seem like a burden. As a result, we are probably going to keep our passages in the 1-3 verse range for a while.

February Memory Work

Prayer: God Be in My Head from The Sarum Primer

Hymn: Crown Him with Many Crowns

Catechism: Review Questions 11 and 12 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: Family Way #7 from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson

Scripture: Ephesians 4:29

Poetry: The Wild Flower’s Song by William Blake

Folksongs: Walk That Lonesome Valley, I Love You a Bushel and a Peck

Free Printable Plans

I am including a free printable version of these memory work plans for you all! I went back to the landscape layout for the smaller binder pages this month, as well as changing up fonts and doing a little embellishing. Let me know if you are using these memory work plans, and if you have any questions or suggestions. Until next time, have a happy homeschool day!

The Reading Report, Vol. 18: New Reading Goals for 2019

With January quickly coming to a close, it is definitely time for another installment of The Reading Report. I have so many bookish thoughts swirling around right now that I think I am going to need multiple posts for all of them. I want to tell you about what I am reading currently, as well as how I am trying to better organize my reading life, but those topics will need to be covered another time. For today, I am going to briefly review my reading goals from last year and tell you what my new goals are for 2019.

2018 Reading Recap-

Last year I set a goal to read 30 books, and I participated in the Back to the Classics Challenge in an effort to read some books I might otherwise not pick up. I ended the year having read 62 books, according to my Goodreads records, an accomplishment which frankly amazed me! I think that I made much better use of audio books to fit in extra reading time than I have in previous years. I also spent a lot more time reading a less time on the internet ding other things this year, which helped. I read mostly classic novels, with a decent number of those being kid lit, but there was a handful of nonfiction titles in the mix. Some of the books that most impacted me in 2018 were as follows, in no particular order:

Watership Down

Howards End

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

The Power and the Glory

Crossing to Safety

Reading Goals for 2019-

Now that I know I have a greater capacity for fitting in time for reading than I thought I did, I have set my goal at 50 complete books for 2019. I am pretty optimistic that I can beat that goal again this year, especially since I am not only doing a good amount of personal reading but am also pre-reading all my son’s school books this year. I decided not to do the Back to the Classic Challenge again this year because I have so many other book goals this year.

First, I like to keep up with the Close Reads podcast selections, as well as whatever the current Shakespeare play is being discussed on The Play’s the Thing. Another book discussion outlet I want to make better use of is the AmblesideOnline forum. This year, the parents on the forum are discussing books from AO’s Year 12 selections, which will all be a good challenge for me and excellent for my own educational improvement. In addition to these, I have been feeling the pull to read more of what is on my personal bookshelves, so I have compiled an ambitious TBR list just by perusing the bookcase here at home!

Finally, I have a goal of reading much more nonfiction this year, especially to actually read the nonfiction titles I started last year but didn’t finish. I am keeping myself accountable in this area using my habit tracker, marking off those days that I read at least one chapter of a non-fiction book. And pre-reading my son’s school books doesn’t count. So far, this habit is working well, and I am honestly enjoying and finishing the books in this category so much more than I have before!

I think it is helping that I am following a vein of interest, rather than reading the personal development or self-help books that seem popular among my friends. For example, I am currently on something of a brain research and the development of modern thought kick. The books Switch On Your Brain, Deep Work, The Shallows, and 10 Books That Screwed Up the World are all nonfiction titles I have been reading somewhat simultaneously. Even though these books are not exactly on the same topic, I am fascinated by all the connections I am making as I read about how our brains work, how we think and work best, and how society has changed with technology and the written word.

Read with Me!

Now it’s your turn! What are your reading goals for this year? I would love to hear what your hopes and plans are and what kinds of books you are going to be reading in 2019. Comment below and tell me all about them! Also, we can connect on Goodreads! I enjoy seeing what other folks are reading, and I often add to my own to be read list that way. Let’s read together, shall we?

What I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Homeschool Mom Self

Recently I have had a few conversations with younger mothers who are eager to embark on their homeschool journey. These chats have reminded me of all the things I wish someone had told me when I was considering homeschool in those preschool years. Since this is on my mind, I thought I would share here on the blog in the hopes this advice helps out some other mom who wants to make the most of the early childhood years! Before you go out and buy some expensive preschool curriculum or fill your child’s days with endless workbook pages, read on…

Tip Number 1:

My number one tip to you as you consider learning at home in the early years (up to age 6), is this:

RELAX!

Seriously. Just take a deep breath. It is easy to get caught up in the current cultural ideas of early academics. But the research does not back up the push to get kids reading, writing and doing math drills at a young age. The best thing you can do with your young children is to enjoy them being little and not worry about skills that will be easier to teach/learn later when they are more developmentally and behaviorally ready. Instead of stressing about curriculum, why don’t you spend some time researching different homeschool styles and philosophies. Take the opportunity to educate yourself and consider what sort of educational philosophy most resonates with you.

Tip Number 2:

But, you may ask, what can I do to add some intentional learning and structure to our days without going overboard? My first advice is to read aloud. A lot. Every day, multiple times a day, sit down and read a picture book to your child. Read the best books you can get your hands on. Get a library card and go as often as you can. Borrow audio books off Hoopla or Overdrive, and listen to them in the car. Look at AmblesideOnline Year 0 book lists for some great suggestions. Sign up for the free book lists from Read Aloud Revival for seasonal picture book ideas and family read alouds (not all for preschoolers, but still a good resource.) Or get your hands on a copy of the book Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, which has a great book list, as well as inspiration for reading with your children!

Tip Number 3:

Other than reading all the time, go outside as much as possible. Take advantage of the good weather whenever you can and get outside. If it is cold, bundle up and go for a nature walk to see if you can spot migrating birds or find interesting seed pods or look at beautiful frost flowers. If it is hot, turn on the sprinkler or fill up the kiddy pool and get wet. If it is rainy, put on your boots and go splash in the puddles. Go to any scenic parks and nature centers you can find locally, not just playgrounds. Notice animals, birds, leaves, rocks, sticks, bugs, clouds, flowers, etc. Get dirty.

Tip Number 5:

For indoor play, look up sensory activities to experience together. Sand, water beads, “clean mud,” plain old water, pouring beans/rice, play dough, cloud dough, etc. (Google and Pinterest are your friend here!) Listen to beautiful music. Sing children’s songs (I have a list of good ones here —> 100 Songs to Sing with Children.) Look at beautiful art. Your library should have some books with collections of art prints to flip through. Let them paint, draw, color, stamp, and paint some more. Teach basic household chores like folding washcloths, matching socks, wiping the table, sweeping the floor with a little broom and dustpan, setting the table, and washing produce.

I’ll say it again…

Most importantly, I want to reiterate my first point. Relax. Enjoy this precious time with your young child. Embrace the wonder and curiosity that he or she naturally has right now. Don’t sweat the academics. There will be time for that later. Slow down. Don’t rush. They will grow up so fast, even though I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. Trust me…you won’t regret holding off on those workbooks and curricula, momma. Just love on your kiddos. It will be okay.

Further Reading and Resources:

The Homegrown Preschooler is a book that comes highly recommended and has lots of ideas for learning in the early years.

A helpful blog post by one of my favorite homeschool mentors, Brandy Vencel: Looking Back: What I Wish I’d Know About Homeschooling in the Early Years

Another of my virtual homeschool mentors, Mystie Winkler, also wrote on the topic of the classical kindergarten: Dear Mom who wants to give her 5-year-old a classical education

Sarah MacKenzie of Read Aloud Revival’s blog post on the early years: 6 Ways to Early Years You Won’t Regret

Wellness Wednesday: Resting and Reflecting


Thanks so much for stopping by for another Wellness Wednesday! This week’s post is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. In the spirit of keeping the holiday season simple and family-centered, I’m going to be taking a break from doing this link-up until the new year. After Jan. 1, I am seriously considering changing Wellness Wednesdays to a once a month rotation instead of once a week. Even though hosting weekly does get me writing here at least that often, there are a lot of other topics I would like to explore outside of the holistic health arena. I don’t always have the bandwidth to write more than once a week, I want to use that time to the fullest and write on the things that are most on my mind and heart.

All that to say, Wellness Wednesday will continue in 2019, but possibly not as frequently. Please do go ahead and add your post to the link-up this time around! I will be leaving it open through Christmas and New Years for those that find this post a bit later in December.

Until next time, have a happy, healthy holiday!
Kiel
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