We’ve been homeschooling for a little over six months now. After over a decade working in schools, I am surprised at how totally different homeschooling is! Especially homeschooling in 210 square feet. The parent/child dynamics are so different than the dynamics between student and teacher. I don’t think there’s anything *wrong* with most schools, but my experiences working in schools are exactly why I wanted to homeschool. I wanted a different experience for my family.
Our homeschooling has been growing, changing and adapting over the last six months. I imagine it will always be fluid, changing and taking on a life of its own. Part of the joy of this journey!
We started out following Ambleside Online, using ShillerMath, Handwriting Without Tears and The Good and Beautiful Language Arts. I also had a couple of workbooks from The Thinking Tree. We discovered quickly that my son loves self-directed workbooks. He asked for more workbooks from The Thinking Tree. We’re now using these books every day and transitioning over to using them more often. Currently we spend about 30 minutes a day reading selections from the Ambleside schedule for the week, 20-30 minutes with Math from ShillerMath, 5 minutes in Handwriting Without Tears, 5 minutes of copywork, 30 minutes of The Good and Beautiful Language Arts and then he spends at least 60 minutes working through his Thinking Tree Books. Even when he gets free time he often ends up wanting to work in his Thinking Tree books! We have a couple that we work on together in the evening and he uses one for his morning Bible study.
There are over 300 different books from The Thinking Tree. Called “Funschooling” books, each book has a different theme. Each book features beautiful illustrations and gentle guidance for the child to be able to complete the workbook. They also have a series of books called Dyslexia Games for children with learning disabilities (but they’re great for all children, we’ll be working through them this summer), and an awesome art curriculum called Teach Yourself to Draw.
What We Love
*Self-directed- Most workbooks are entirely self-directed for the student. He loves having independence and I love that he can do school while I’m working in the afternoons.
* Charlotte Mason inspired- Many of these books are based on Charlotte Mason principles. We love copywork pages, Picturing the Past art study book, and focus on classical literature. Miss Mason said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” These books help enforce these priorities in our home.
*Nature study! Another key component of Charlotte Mason education, The Thinking Tree’s Nature Journal is my favorite. I’ve spent so much time flipping through this beautiful book and my son loves using it.
*No fuss. How many kids want to work on their schoolwork during free time?!? Even tasks he didn’t enjoy before, like copywork, he works on joyfully (sometimes without even realizing he’s working on it!) No wonder it’s called funschooling!
*Books for adults too! Mom journals, Dad Time, adult Bible studies, and several books you can work on alongside your child.
*Christ-focused- There are secular books but many are Christ-centered. We all have Bible study workbooks and we LOVE the Bible copywork pages.
*Amazing community. The private Facebook group for people using The Thinking Tree is amazing. I have made many new friends, including several other families recovering from mold poisoning. I talk to several gals daily that I’ve met through the group.
*PreK-Highschool- The Thinking Tree has books all the way through High School!
*Cost effective- These books are SO much less expensive than purchasing curriculum. Especially if you’re able to go to the library to get resources for completing them.
*It works!!! Spelling and handwriting have been weaknesses for my son. Within a couple weeks of starting on these books, we saw huge leaps in his abilities. He’s been using a spelling book for about 2 months now and has learned more words than he did in the previous year with word lists (or at school last year). His handwriting has improved dramatically. I think having a beautiful page and high-quality in the workbook motivates students to do their absolute best.
*Appeals to kids’ interests- The best-selling books are Minecraft based! While we don’t play Minecraft, he LOVES the books that feature building, bugs, nature, and animals. They have workbooks for kids who love horses, princesses, knights and castles, and their new Pixel art book. Igniting a desire and love for learning is easy when you match it to their interests!
Funschooling for the win!
How we use these workbooks
My son has cruised through his math and Language Arts curriculum. He’s in 1st grade and already on 3rd-grade math and about 2 months ahead on Language Arts. He’s reading at a middle school level so these books have been a big blessing because they can be used by a huge age and ability range. Currently here is how we use these books, we’ll be changing it a bit next school year and using them more.
In the morning during Bible Study, he works from his Bible Time Kids book.
At the beginning of each week, we get out the books he’s working through. Currently, he’s working on: Dino Doodles, Nature Journal, Comic Book Math, Math Mysteries, Classical Poetry Collection, 100 Easy Bible Verses, 100 Words to Read Write Spell & Draw, and Picturing the Past. We remove 3-5 pages from each book, punch them with my circa discbound punch, and add the pages into his notebook. We remove the old pages and he has his work for the week.
Every day he chooses a page from the Bible book to complete copywork, and then he gets to decide what he wants to work on from there. We alternate using The Good and Beautiful and using Funschooling books for Language Arts. Two or three days a week he works from his funschooling books for math, doing ShillerMath on the other days. On Fridays we do Funschooling Friday where he exclusively works from his Funschooling books, Usborne books, does Handicrafts, and colors his birds for the week from the Burgess Bird Book. In the evenings, we usually spend time coloring together. Currently, we’re enjoying All the Colors of Spring together and he’s LOVING the Minecraft mazes book (even though I don’t think he has a clue what Minecraft is!) We’re about to add in a few more books and I have a plan to work through several of them this summer as well.
We are so glad we flipped to funschooling. It’s been a huge blessing to our homeschool and family. Follow me on Instagram to see inside more of the books we’ve been using and keep an eye here to learn more about my Mom School with Funschooling books and see my reviews of books.