How I Teach Non-Priority Subjects

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There are so many subjects that you can cover in your homeschool. So, before you get overwhelmed, let me recommend prioritizing them.

You don’t have to cover every subject every day or even every year. And in the early years, it’s ok to have a less-is-more approach.

Here’s how I handle the non priority subjects in our homeschool.

In the early years (Preschool – grade 3) I focus on phonics, reading, math, spelling, grammar, and writing. The bulk of our homeschooling time is devoted to these subjects. Our other main focus is Bible and character studies.

Everything else in these very early years is just an extra. Yes, we still cover the subjects but I don’t stress about how often they are completed and I don’t spend a lot of time planning for them. I keep it very simple. Imaginative play time is more of a priority in these early years.

As my kids get older we will be spending more time on these subjects to prepare them for higher education or their chosen career field. But for now, we focus on building a foundation through reading, writing, and math so they are ready to tackle more challenging subject matter in the older years.

For my kids in preschool, PreK, or K we cover history and science through reading books together. I have a few series like Let’s Read and Find Out Science or Usborne books (like the beginning science and history readers). At that age we simply enjoy and explore. 

For 1st – 3rd grade here is my plan for the non-priority subjects.

History 
Read 1 volume of Story of the World each year with lots of extra picture books to supplement. We complete the map work, do the coloring pages, and record short narrations about each section. Did you notice that we don’t do any elaborate history projects? It’s the truth!
With Story of the World, we usually cover 1 chapter per week. This will take us from 1st grade all the way through 4th grade. After that, we’ll spend more time focused on history.

Science
I use Nancy Larson Science as our main program and I love it! Everything is planned for you and is included in your giant box. I open the manual and begin teaching each day. It is so easy to get done and my kids love it.

We also read through 1 Apologia science book each year. I read 2-3 sections per day while my kids draw a picture. Then I help them write a short narration on the back of their picture to summarize what they remember.

Poetry
I read a couple poems aloud to my kids every day from a wide variety of sources. We always begin our school time with a poem or two. Sometimes we have a short discussion and other times we simply enjoy the poem and then move forward in our school day.

Poems are also a large part of our memory work. Every month, each child works on a new memory work piece which is either several verses from the Bible or a poem. My kids can now recite quite a few poems from memory.

Geography
I have yet to find a geography resource that I enjoy. We do have some geography built in to our history time but I have not found it to be enough. For now we do the Evan Moor Daily Geography workbooks. I’m still looking for an additional workbook or text that would give us a good introduction to US geography and world geography.

Foreign Language
My younger kids do Song School Spanish (when I remember) and watch the free episodes of Salsa Spanish from Georgia Public broadcasting. Starting in 3rd grade we use Getting Started with Spanish (covering 1 lesson per day) and then will slowly add more resources in to our curriculum to cover some Spanish grammar and vocabulary every year.

Logic
We love doing logic at our house and my kids have found that they especially enjoy the logic workbooks from Prufrock Press. I buy a few for each child every school year and we complete them together. It’s a fun extra in their school day and they look forward to the challenge of the different logic puzzles.

Art
With two toddlers who try to destroy our art projects, this can be one of the most challenging subjects to fit into our day. My kids often do art projects while I read aloud to them in the afternoon. However, art is usually accomplished during the summer. We spend our summer mornings at the pool and then relax in the afternoon with some good books and art projects with Artistic Pursuits or DVD lessons from See the Light Art or Atelier.

Music
I am teaching the kids piano for now but know they will eventually need a teacher as I don’t feel qualified to help them as they reach the higher levels. I try to incorporate listening to different styles of music into our day as well as composer studies but they are usually one of the first things to go when our days are overfilled. For now, we might be spending more time on music studies during the summer.

So, those are the subjects that, while still done on a regular basis, are not the highest priority in our day. I know that as my children are older and able to work on more things independently, we’ll be able to branch out into more subjects and we’ll have more time for hands-on projects and additional subjects in our school day. For now, we focus on the basics…..

For further reading…

Why you should choose yearly priorities in your homeschool

Why I’m the best teacher of my worst subjects

Our morning preschool routine

 

Resources

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas

Home Learning Year by Year

Discovering Great Artists

Preschool Art

Homeschooling the Early Years

2 thoughts on “How I Teach Non-Priority Subjects

  1. Looks good! My child is already past the elementary years, she started 9th grade homeschool this year. We have our core curriculum of Biology, Algebra, English, and World Geography online (we use Time4Learning high school) but the rest of her work is really comprised of things she is interested in or can potentially prepare her to apply to vet school. We are doing Livestock and Companion animals and Equine Management textbooks. She has choir, piano lessons, and art class through co-op. We have always done basic core subjects and then subjects of interest to her. I believe that the “interest” courses just feed her hunger to learn because it is something she cares about. As long as we can keep them interested and engaged, we are preparing them for a lifetime of learning! Happy homeschooling!

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