As most of you know if you are following the blog, I'm using Ambleside Online as my guide through my first year of 'officially' homeschooling my youngest.  He's 5.  We have homeschooled my two oldest children as well but I was not wise to the Charlotte Mason methods at the time of starting and that is unfortunate.  I LOVE this method!

But Ambleside is not necessarily an Orthodox 'curriculum'.  However, there's really not much modification to do.

2015-11-11 12.47.44Ambleside Online suggests a particular bible reading schedule.  As Charlotte Mason believes in using Living Books and not twaddle, they highly recommend using an actual bible for bible reading.  I have elected not to do that at this point.  I find the Children's Bible Reader to be a Living Book and I truly feel that reading it cover to cover a few times before moving on to the Orthodox Study Bible is a better fit for my son.  I want to read through this enough times that he is familiar with most of the key stories that Christians think of when they think of bible stories.  And I want to practice narration with stories that I feel he can fully comprehend. So rather than following Ambleside's suggested reading schedule, each school day we read from the Children's Bible Reader, in order, one to three stories - depending on length and his interest.  And we practice narration.  One thing I have discovered is he actually does a better job of narration later when telling his older brother or father the story than he does with me.  So if you are struggling with narration, this may be something to try!

We started reading from the reader many years ago- and have read through it several times.  I'm guessing we will read through it at least 2 or more times before I start using the actual Orthodox Study Bible consistently, however I have occasionally read the Sunday reading and gospel reading ahead of time to help prepare him for listening to the reading during church the next day.  That, in my opinion, is a fair introduction to the actual bible for a 5 year old.

So what else do I do?  Well, I don't use Trial and Triumph as recommended by Ambleside.  Instead, I use various Orthodox Sources.

2015-11-12 12.43.04


As you can see in the photo above, I use a variety of sources, some of which aren't pictured and I'm constantly adding to the collection.  I keep everything in an antique wooden box that we just refer to as our 'faith basket'.

So what does our 'faith time' look like?

After Morning Prayers and our Bible Stories, we go over a list of habits we are working on which contains a list of  quotes from the bible at the end which correspond to the three main habits we are continuously teaching:  Obedience, Attention, and Truthfulness

Next,  we work on memory work.  At this point in time we are still working on The Creed.  We started working on the Creed back in September.  He was already familiar with it of course, but then I printed it out.  I quickly decided that having it all on one page was too overwhelming for him.  So I divided it into 7 pages and also included visual images to help him associate the images with particular words.  He loved it and was instantly motivated!  He can now recite the whole thing with only one or two word discrepancies. For now, I'm going to just keep practicing it for another week or so - while I determine what our next item for memory will be.

Then we read a 'faith' story.  That's just what I call the books we have in that antique
wooden bucket by the couch.  It's basically a collection of Orthodox Picture books that he gets to choose from.  The short ones we read in one sitting (The Littlest Altar boy gets read once a week- I won't let him pick it more than that! LOL) while longer ones such as Christina Learns The Sacraments   may be divided among 2-3 readings.  He usually gets to pick them at this point.  I want to be sure that I focus on his interests.  Occasionally, I will make a suggestion or give a reason to read a particular selection (we read Sweet Song on October 1st because of the feast day for St. Romonos).

After the faith story, we listen to the song of the day.  I purchased the curriculum titled Garden of the Theotokos over the summer.  I'm not super impressed by it but I have decided to use a few things here and there from the curriculum, one of which is the CD that comes with it. I do like the songs that are sung and each day of the week has a particular song.  My son loves the songs and has even figured out how to play the basic tunes of a few on the piano! (Have I mentioned I think he's a genius?  😉   )

2015-11-12 12.44.39Another source I really like that we use when applicable, is Papa's Clock.  It follows a story of a brother and sister who go camping with their grandfather and end up learning about the 12 feast days.  So about a week before a feast day, I get the book out to read the lesson on the upcoming feast.  This is written at exactly the right level for my son.   The Garden of the Theotokos actually does not contain material for all 12 feast days- which is one reason I don't like it- but may use it in addition to Papa's clock for some of them.


Right now, these are the activities that take up our faith portion of our mornings.  There are other things we do, here and there, and I plan to write about those things another time. But  if I get nothing else done in our homeschool day with my youngest son, this is what we do.  Our faith is the most important aspect of education.  Without it, nothing else really matters.

I would like, at some point in time, to add a page to this blog on Orthodox Homeschool Sources and Activities.  I'll post reviews there and ideas for including Orthodoxy into the homeschool days. I'd love to hear how any of my other Orthodox Readers include Orthodoxy into their homeschool days. Please feel free to drop your comments and suggestions here or email me sometime.  Your ideas are very welcome!



2015-07-16 10.23.53My son is in eleventh grade.


Did I really just say that?  Could that adorable little boy who used to run around the block to watch the garbage truck every Thursday really be a junior in high school? Oh, where has the time gone?

Well at least planning a junior year in high school was easier the second time around.  I've already been through it once with my daughter who is a junior in college this year.  (Don't get me started on those tears again!) I learned from a few more years experience, more research, and yes, from the mistakes I made the first time.

So what exactly are we doing this year in our homeschool for his junior year? Thanks for asking!

In Pennsylvania, the following credits are mandatory for graduation:

  • English -  4 credits
  • Math - 3 credits
  • Science - 3 credits
  • Social Studies -3 credits
  • Arts & Humanities- 2 credits

For English, this year, I decided to focus completely on Literature and a Research Paper.  My son is on the local school district's football team and, as I learned last year, there's a lot of time in his schedule devoted to football so I determined to wait on the research paper until the Spring semester.  He'll be taking an online course - probably here. For the literature aspect, I decided to give him some more of his own leadership this year - which is not easy for me - but I'm thinking it may be beneficial.  Basically, he needs to read about  15-20 books (depending on length; some longer works may count as two books).  I have only made three specific titles mandatory this year:  All Quiet on the Western Front, All Creatures Great and Small and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Yep- that's it. He has to decide the rest for himself - with some guidance of course!  All the books that he chooses must be sound quality literature and NOT considered TWADDLE (he may pick ONE book that I would consider twaddle just for fun if he chooses but one is the limit!).  A minimum of 2 books that he chooses MUST be considered 'classics' by at least one reliable source as deemed by myself. He will be giving both oral and written narrations of all the books he reads (including a few that we will use as read alouds).

For Consumer Math & Finance, we are using a combination of the Abeka Consumer Math curriculum and Dave Ramsey's homeschool curriculum titled Foundations in Personal Finance as well as taking part in the monthly budget meetings held by my husband and myself.

Science this year will be an Anatomy & Physiology class taken with the local homeschool group. I wasn't thrilled about taking part of this since it would take up our Tuesday afternoons and affects my ability to get my youngest son to swimming lessons but as my older son thinks a science major may be in his future, I felt it important enough to find a class with a teacher that knows more about this subject than me!

One credit will also be given for Home Economics.  I have devised the course myself and have a set number of mandatory hours (120+ total) in a variety of subcategories including cooking, home maintenance, automotive, nutrition, sewing and laundry.  Most of the requirements is hands on participation but some will involve reading articles and other reference materials.  I love the fact that we have recently found a new handyman that would be a great resource to use to teach my son a few things that my husband and are not capable of teaching. I just hope that eventually my son will be here when the handyman is! So far the football season has interfered with that quite a bit!

He will also have two half credit courses this year.  One such course is Economics.  He will be using the well known source Whatever Happened to Penny Candy as well as the Bluestocking Guide Economics and The Money Mystery to complete the course.  All of these books are pictured above with Amazon links!

The other half credit course that I created for my son is Introduction to Christianity.  He will be using the book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick as well as The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Bishop Wares book has actually been used in college Introduction to Christianity classes).  We will be using a Charlotte Mason approach with this class in that he will be giving both oral and written narrations for these book selections in addition to related articles that we find through the year.

Finally, my son will be taking a Study Skills course which I have assigned a full credit as he is using several sources to complete the course and give him a firm foundation in skills essential to success in his college career.  For this course, I have selected College Study: The essential ingredients by Sally A. Lipsky, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as the other text used by the same university, How to Study in College by Pauk and Owens.  He will also be watching a very old video course that my husband thrived on, Where There's a Will, There's an A.

So there it is!  The plan for the eleventh grade year.  I think it will work well.  But only time will tell!  I’ll keep you posted in other posts this year as well as my monthly updates!




HOMESCHOOLING IS AWESOME!!! (just in case you were wondering)

There are actually a number of methods to homeschooling.  Each family has its own style they are most comfortable with and choose as the best method for their homeschooler.  As an evaluator for other homeschoolers (Pennsylvania is a state which requires each homeschooler to be evaluated by either a licensed psychologist, school psychologist, certified teacher, or other persons meeting qualifications and approved by the school district in which the student resides), I am able to see the results of all of these methods over time.  They are all wonderful methods.  But not all methods suit all children or all parents for that matter.

I am only offering a simple overview here.  It is by no means an overall account of each one I mention. If you are looking into homeschooling, I suggest you pick a couple that resonate with you and read more about them.  In time, I will try to add a list of sources with each one.

There is always what is sometimes called the 'Public School at Home Method' which just means the parent uses standard textbooks (sometimes even borrowed from the public school) and the child uses these texts and standard paper and pencil tests for evaluation.  Some parents use Cyber Schools (the student has textbooks at home and attends 'class' via computer at home) to incorporate this style.  Most would not call Cyber Schools true homeschooling and I would be inclined to agree, but if your goal is to simply have them at home away from the influence of youngsters in the public schools, then this might work for you.

The ones I heard about the most when starting out were the Classical Method and the Charlotte Mason Method.  The Classical Method is based on a philosophy which is built  on a three-part process to train the mind. This is known as the Trivium.  In the first step, the child learns and memorizes facts.  In the second step, connections are made between those memorized facts .  The third step is when the student forms opinions of his own about those connections he or she has made with the known facts.   The Classical Method generally involves the use of the Socratic method and the classic books of the Western tradition, extensive learning of Latin as well as Grammar, logic and rhetoric. There is a LOT of reading and writing involved with this method.   The homeschooling families that I have witnessed using this system thrive on the structure involved!  So if you don't like structure, this is definitely NOT the method for you.  And if your child is not a strong reader or writer, it may be difficult to manage.

Sources:  The Well Trained Mind

1000 Good Books List

Circe Institute

Classical Homeschooling Curriculum


The Charlotte Mason Method is based on the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived in the late 1800s to early 1900s.  The Charlotte Mason focuses heavy on LIVING BOOKS, books that pull the reader into the subject and touches upon your emotions usually written by one individual (vs. a textbook written by a group of authors) who is obviously passionate about the subject.  This method also heavily uses the tool of narration (verbal and written), short lessons, the study of art, nature and poetry and focuses on the importance of teaching good habits.   Parents who choose this method enjoy being heavily involved in the process of the child's education discussing books, listening and reading narrations, enjoying art, music, and nature together  and does not feel the need to have their child take formal tests.

Sources:  Who Was Charlotte Mason?

Simply Charlotte Mason


The Unit Study Method has the student focus on one specific topic and incorporates as many of the academic areas around it as possible.  For example, a student may be intensely interested in the Civil War.  So besides the obvious readings good historical fiction books and biographies (history, literature) about people of that time period, the student will study the geography(geography) of the areas the battles were fought in.  They may research what scientific discoveries(science) were made at the time and make graphs (math) of death tolls for various battles.  All of this while listening to music (music appreciation)composed or enjoyed at that time and study paintings of the war (art).  A lot of people using these methods love making scale models of various things or some sort of final project to demonstrate what they have learned.  This method really helps parents who are teaching children at various levels and enjoy doing hands-on-projects and do not worry about following the traditional scope and sequence of subjects.

Sources:  Five In A Row

Unit Study Resource List

The Unschooling Method allows the child to lead the way in learning.  The parent will offer resources based on the interests of the child at that time.  This method does not in any way follow the traditional textbook, sit at a desk, formal test method of public schools.  The child determines, based on their motivations and interests, what they want to study at a given time and the parent provides books, materials, possibly even online or local classes on the given subject at hand.  This may mean that the student may be 'behind' in certain areas in comparison to a public school child but may be well advanced in others.  He or she may quickly catch up in those areas of lesser skill as soon as they move on to other interests.  I have seen this method work very well with friends and colleagues who have taken part in it and the knowledge that these children acquire can be astounding but I would strongly advise preparing in advance and understand the method before proceeding with it as I would hope anyone would with any homeschooling.




The Eclectic Home Schooling Method tends to be what I see the most of and what I have used myself in the past and currently with my high schooler (I am researching another method extensively to use with my toddler).  In this method, a variety of home school methods are used depending on the learning style and interests of the child.  Instead of choosing just one method, the parent may use various methods and various sources depending on the subject.  For example, one child may use a classical approach for history, a Charlotte Mason approach for science and literature, a 'school at home' type method for math and other subjects with an occasional unit study thrown in.

Sources?  See all of the above 🙂

There are certainly other approaches as well but these seem to be the most common.  If you are new to homeschooling, I'd advise starting with researching these methods a bit more and see where that takes you.  There's a huge world out there!  I recall being absolutely awestruck at our first CHAP convention in Harrisburg, PA. I had NO idea how big homeschooling was! I had NO idea how many people were involved. I had NO idea how much curriculum was available.  I had NO idea how many options there were and I had NO idea how much support there was or how much I would fall in love with it all!

Feel free to ask me questions about homeschooling if you'd like.  I can't promise to have all the answers and I only know the homeschooling laws of Pennsylvania, but I can share with you what I do know and what my experiences have been.  And if I don't know the answer, I might know of a source to get you the answer.  My FAVORITE homeschooling source is HSLDA, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.  They are more than just lawyers and I always recommend to my clients that they join.  They have been a tremendous wealth of information to me over the years.

I will try to add more sources for the above methods listed as time goes on.  If there is one that interests you, in particular, let me know.  If there is another method I haven't covered here and you think I should, send me a note and I'll try to address it in the future!