Today I am going to talk about our plan to read through the Gospels by Christmas, right now we are reading through Matthew in the month of September. We're already a week in to September so I hesitated to write and publish this post but if you desire, this can still be implemented. I was blessed by my daughter this morning through our bible reading (keep reading for the story). Ultimately I want you, sweet reader, to share in the blessing that comes from reading the bible with your family.
I struggled with the idea of homeschool at first. There were many obstacles but ultimately I asked myself this one question, "Why homeschool our children?" There were many answers. More pros on my list than cons. One of them being I could better nurture a heart for Jesus from home. I think the first 7 years of a child's life are important. I attended a homeschool conference this summer that stressed the first seven to eight years of a child's life are major character building years. According to the book Birth Order by Linda Blair, she states that a person's character is usually planted by the age 7 (I'm paraphrasing from memory). It struck me that I had two years to really lay a good foundation for my daughter's future. I wanted to do the best that I could and we decided I couldn't necessarily do that if she went to school. This was our family's decision for this year. Homeschool works best for us now. This is not a post about why you should homeschool - each family is different and I applaud each and every one of you supporting your child's education through public school or private school or alternative methods. This blog post is one reason why and how we are homeschooling. My ultimate goal for homeschooling this year is to lay a strong foundation that points back to our creator, that draws everyone in our family closer to Jesus and to each other. A foundation from which a healthy, nurtured character and destiny can grow. To do that, I had to change my perspective. I'm not just teaching a pupil, I'm discipling a priestess and a warrior princess (1 Peter 2:9). I started to view my children as new Christians. And interestingly enough, I remembered that a new Christian should start reading with the Gospels. Embarrassingly, I've never read the gospels in entirety from beginning to end, let alone the bible. To quote a famous motivational phrase, there is no better time to start than now. And what better people to read it with but my own two children?
For more character building resources, check out my blog post Character Trait Study Resources.
Reading the Gospels has become a part of our homeschool routine. To read the gospels by Christmas, we are reading a chapter a day. All of Matthew in September. Mark in October. Luke in November. And John in December. This gives a few days for make-up (especially in October since there are only 16 chapters in Mark).
The Charlotte Mason Method with oral (then written narration) inspired my idea on how we would accomplish reading a chapter with my toddler and kindergartner (without much fuss or interruption) and yet seek learning opportunities. You could say I'm using it as a curriculum (here is where I'd insert a winky face if I was texting this to you). I bought primary composition journals (similar to these ones). My plan is for my daughter to create something inspired by the chapter of the day (I usually challenge her with something). For example, the other day, she drew food and salt to put on her food as we read Matthew 5 (inspired by Matthew 5:13). Another example, when we read Matthew 1, the lineage of Jesus, I asked my daughter to draw her family. After she draws (more options later on in post) I ask her to describe her picture. I write down her oral narration and we read it together (then I have her write one to three of the words in her notebook and eventually my plan is for her to write whole sentences). Originally, I started having her write whole sentences but didn't feel that worked for us - the time was consumed with practicing writing and less conversing/understanding. We will continue to work up to the point of writing whole sentences but for now, we are focusing on writing a couple different words. We sound them out and we practice proper writing skills.
Instead of drawing challenges, sculpting with playdough and building with tegu can be alternative ways for the kids to listen quietly (don't try legos while you read if you want to keep your sanity). They can still create something that coincides with the chapter that day. Afterwards, there is still an opportunity for oral narration. Doing something with their hands can help create a time for children to listen, especially with toddlers.
This is not our homeschool plan in entirety. If there is an interest in that, I'd be willing to expound our whole plan. However, this has given me ideas. When we read Matthew 5 (about salt), we reviewed how salt makes our body thirsty (science) and led to a greater conversation about living water. She also drew letters and numbers in a salt tray (salt poured in shallow tupperware). We talked about where salt comes from (geography) and different kinds of salt. When we talked about treasure (Matthew 7), she asked if there were still pirates (history). We called up relatives who had been in the navy and coast guard and asked if they had met any pirates... Do you get the idea?
A word of encouragement and advice (preaching to myself here), there is no need to race. I have found that God provides each day with learning opportunities (as evidenced above). It's amazing how they coincide with our passage reading (almost as if I planned it, thank you Jesus!). Look for those opportunities. Don't race through to finish. Be open to conversation and moments of pause. God will bless those moments with understanding.
And now for the story of my daughter's blessing...
Today, we read Matthew 7. We chose playdough instead of drawing and unfortunately, we were experiencing a hard time sharing between the toddler and kindergartner so verse 12 about the Golden Rule was perfect timing. It become an opportunity to stop and discuss it together. Would we prefer others would share their playdough? Would we prefer to be treated with respect and not take the playdough that is already in their hands? Then we moved on. Reading vs 15-20 about trees was also fitting because we are using the month of September to learn about trees. We discussed that people are like trees (Psalm 1:3). Good fruits are like good actions and good words. Inwardly, I was thinking to myself does my "fruit" point back to my maker? Is it good? Am I truly bearing good fruit?
My daughter turned to me and said, "Like this morning, when you helped me share, Mom. That was a good fruit."
I was a little startled. There may have been tears (tears of joy, of course). Bless her heart for saying that! I know my words sometimes appear like unripe apples and my actions like bite-y lemons but it was nice to hear from my own daughter that she sees her momma's fruit and it is good! What an opportunity reading the gospels for us to grow together!
May your fruit be good, sweet reader! And may you be encouraged!
*I'd love for anyone to join us! Let me know below!!!