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.
Ambleside 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.
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? 😉 )
Another 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!