Back in the days when I was a homeschooling newbie, I spent a lot of time studying online reviews and scouring through stacks of new and used textbooks, all in search of the one great curriculum that would cover absolutely everything I deemed important for my children to learn.
Little did I know that such a curriculum does not exist. Oh, the time and trouble I could have saved myself!
There are just too many things…and people…and places…and events…that I don’t want to see left out of my children’s education. Some of them are very important. Some maybe not so much, but they are nonetheless things I want my children to know. And since I don’t have the money, (and certainly not the SPACE!) for umpteen different books that together cover all the things I hope to see them learn, then it’s up to me to find ways to insert these things into their studies.
The simplest way I’ve found to do that is by using something we call “Of the Week”, and it’s proving to be a great way to introduce things like vocabulary words, the 50 states and their capitals, and even artists and specific works of art.
It started last year, almost by accident. We were working our way through “The Wind in the Willows” in our daily read aloud and though my children’s comprehension was fine, (kids can grasp far more from context than we usually give them credit for,) I also knew we were encountering words they didn’t fully understand and certainly couldn’t use in conversation.
So I started jotting some of these words down as we came across them and then presenting a “Word of the Week” every Monday. I would show them a new vocabulary word, give its definition, and then ask each child to use the word in a sentence. Then we would do the same every day for the rest of the week. On the next Monday we would briefly review the words we had learned and then begin with a new one.
How awesome it was then when my 4-year old told someone he, “disdained school”. (Okay, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way he chose to use the word, but at least he used it correctly!) And when my 6 year old would call his sister’s instructions “vague” and when I’d hear my 12-year old describe a small child as “precocious”, I figured “Word of the Week” was working!
So I’ve added to it this year. In addition to “Word of the Week”, we also do “U.S. State of the Week” where we find the state on a map and review the state capital and some interesting facts about the state. I just use these flashcards I picked up at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 and then throw in any other information I have on my own.
We also do a “Painting of the Week”, using these Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason. We quickly review some basic information about the painting and the artist who painted it.
We’ve also started doing a “Hymn of the Week”, because I love hymns and so many of them have amazing stories behind them. Books like the devotional Amazing Grace, by Kenneth W. Osbeck, offer a lot of information about the writer and sometimes share some of the backstory as well. More details can be found online, of course, and we usually head to YouTube to find the song and then listen to it every day that week.
You can fit it into your day in whatever way works for you, but for us it has worked best to go through our “Of the Week” list before we start into any of our other studies. (With the exception of Bible, which we usually do over breakfast.) The entire list usually takes no more than 5-10 minutes, though it may take somewhat longer on Mondays when we do some review of past “Of the Weeks.”
It’s a quick and easy way to introduce so many interesting things and names and places. Here are a few examples, though there are so many more possibilities:
U. S. Presidents
Nations of the World
Wonders of the World
Native or Exotic birds
Native or Exotic mammals
Native or Exotic trees or flowers
Parts of Speech
The list could go on and on without end. For us, it’s been a simple way to add in some of the “bits and pieces” I consider important, but that aren’t always covered in a textbook. The study doesn’t have to be incredibly in-depth or the lessons long and arduous to drive the information home to my children. And briefly touching on these things now may help them in more comprehensive study later.
So start your “Of the Week” list today! And be sure to share any of your own ideas with me here!
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