We are seven and a half-ish years into this journey. It has been full of ups and downs...good days, awesome days, hard days, awful days...and everything in between. I want to start blogging more about what we've learned along the way, because more times than not a break through came when one mom was brave enough and generous enough to share their struggle and what (eventually) worked for them.
I wish someone had told me starting off (& in all fairness, maybe they did & I just didn't pay attention) but I wish I had known that in order to get the beauty you have to have lots and lots of mundane days stacked upon each other. What I mean by that is that in order to get to the beauty of being able to curl up with a good book and get lost in a world completely different than our own, we'd have to have days and days and days of working of phonograms or sight words etc; Now I know that there are many great readers who just seem to be born with the ability to pick up reading, it's as if they go from learning their ABC's to reading full sentences overnight. I have friends whose kids have done this, that's just not been our experience. And mundane isn't all bad, look at all of the mundane chores we do each day to keep our life running (somewhat) smoothly.
Today I will start off in a History. We use three things that have made all the difference in the world to us. The first is The Story of the World, the second is The Atlas of World History, and the third is a homemade anchor chart coupled with a review day.
We stumbled around for a few years before we settled on the four book series called The Story of The World by Susan Wise Bauer. Then last year, I think it was last year, I saw a post on Simple Homeschool talking about a book called the Kingfisher Atlas of World History. This book has been awesome for our history classes. Last year we started the history cycle again and I added the last step. I make an anchor chart (if you don't know what anchor charts are, I will be doing a post on them next time...love, love, love these. For now just google or check Pinterest, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of awesome ideas out there for every single subject) but I make an anchor chart using cloud mapping and we start tracking important dates, names etc; around each central theme that we cover. For example our first central theme was the fall of Rome/ the rise of the Byzantine Empire. About once a week or week and a half we will spend most of our history class reviewing what we've already learned and tying it all together.
These three simple things have helped us tremendously, my kids are excited and engaged in learning about history and they remember it. I don't have to test them to see that, I hear them in their play, building and renovating the Hagia Sophia. I see it in the excitement in their eyes and hear the depth of understanding in the questions they ask. I do have them keep notebooks for each subject. They are supposed to notebook pages after we read, but sometimes we get wrapped up in the story, lose track of time, and when that happens we just make the notebook pages on our review days.
* one small note! I have my older kids also use The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia to supplement and they make their own outlines as they go. I got this idea from The Well Trained Mind (another awesome homeschool book).