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    School: What’s New This Year {Part I}

    August 20, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    School is pretty much all I will be thinking about for a while, so I thought I’d share a bit of what we are doing. Perhaps in a few months I will share what we are still doing, revealing what was delayed until later, modified, or banned completely from our home for all eternity.

    Please take note that I won’t be discussing curriculum if by curriculum one means textbook. I, personally, don’t find textbooks all that interesting, and I don’t plan on making them a core part of our early learning process, though I’m sure we will integrate them into our system as we have need later on.

    English Language Notebook

    I suppose I never really associated homeschooling with binders. I thought binders were for kids who went to school. I thought they were for keeping things together in a backpack, and backpacks, likewise, were for kids who went to school. Well, I am learning that a backpack is helpful because sometimes we go places. And binders are for keeping things together. It doesn’t matter if one it taking them to a school building or just down the hall.

    Binders, I am learning, can keep us organized.

    Most of the major additions or changes we made to the concept of school is due to our reading of Teaching the Trivium. The new binder excitement is no exception.

    E. is the proud owner of a brand new English Language Notebook. This is where he gets to record what he already knows, since we were not doing this along the way. For kids who are just learning to read in kindergarten, it would probably be even more helpful.


    The notebook has five dividers: alphabet, basic sounds, digraphs, diphthongs, and blends. The alphabet section includes {obviously} the alphabet, and also the alphabet divided into consonants and vowels. I never taught him the difference between vowels and consonants before, so this will be a new idea. Basic sounds include simple {short} vowel sounds and the simple consonant sounds {which would not include x}. Digraphs are two letters which come together to make a single sound {ph saying f would be an example}, while diphthongs are two vowels which make a complex, gliding sound within a single syllable {like ai}. The blends section will include everything else, like rules and various letter combinations.

    How We Do It

    We start with a colorful piece of construction paper. I have typed out all the things we will need. Little E. will get to cut and paste and maybe even decorate the pages as we go. He is five. Why not make it fun? When one is five, scissors and paste are fun. We punch holes in the paper, reinforce them with stickers designed for the job, and put each page in its special category in the binder. This will take some weeks for us to complete, and then we will add things as we learn more.

    The Future

    This notebook will be his lifetime notebook, we think, though it may be moved to a bigger binder as time goes on. When he is older, we will add formal grammar, making sections for parts of speech, rules for writing, and how to diagram a sentence. When he “graduates” he will have a whole notebook he can use to teach his own children.

    Also, this binder will be a model that we will recreate when we begin Latin and Greek at later ages. What he has done for English he will do for the other languages in an already familiar format.

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  • Reply Brandy August 21, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Yes, I do believe we were given primary level work in high school.

    All I ever really learned about economics I learned from my father…and every Hayek book he ever gave us.

  • Reply rebecca August 20, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Do you remember our Economics Notebooks? What is fun when you are five (decorating= fun)was not so much at 18! Sounds like you are getting a good start.

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