We homeschool for many reasons, but one of them is more important than all of the others combined. It’s our desire to pass on a bold Christian faith that finds our children seeking God with all their hearts and sharing Him with others from here to eternity.
While I know it’s God who does the work in my children (Phil. 1:6), I also know He called us to teach my them about Him and His ways (Prov. 22:6.) My husband and I don’t pretend for one minute to have all the answers to training little or big soldiers for God’s army. We have tried, though, to be pretty consistent with a plan of action and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
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The best situation for Bible study would be to have my husband lead it each and every day. He works hard for us, though, and the majority of the school week Bible time falls on me. I take that honor seriously and love this time spent with my children best of all!
During the summer, we mostly just read from the Bible around the breakfast table and have lively discussions. When the school year rolls around, I get more serious and lay out school-like plans for Bible time. Every year finds us doing something different, but the general format is pretty much the same.
Planning Homeschool Bible Time
Step 1: Pray
This one is simple. I try to always pray about what we study. Sometimes topics are more obvious than others – like when we’ve been dealing with a character issue or current events occur that make us run straight into the Word. Even when I don’t have a clear answer about what to study, our time is never void of goodness no matter where we dive into the Word!
Step 2: Plan Bible Studies
While I never hesitate to take a break from “the plan” when situations arise (like current events, for example), I do try to lay out a general plan of study for the school year.
During the elementary years, I like to read through a really good chronological children’s version of the Bible at least once. (It usually takes us two school years to read all the way through.) After that’s been accomplished, I alternate between various types of studies. You might find us using a fill-in-the-answers type of book like Proverbs People or completing a lapbook on Exodus. We might go through an entire survey of the Old Testament using God’s Great Covenant or review the entire New Testament with a Grapevine study. Especially when there are character issues, I will use For Instruction in Righteousness to guide me in teaching a topic.
Sometimes, we replace Bible study with books that teach us about the Word. Some that come to mind are Secrets of the Vine for Kids, The Prayer of Jabez for Kids, The Seven C’s of Creation and Discovering Jesus in Genesis. Rarely do I use devotionals with my children. I just don’t feel like most devotionals encourage anything more than a quick read and superficial prayer.
During the middle and high school years, I like to make sure we read through most of the books of the Bible together at least once. (Many of the New Testament books will be studied two, three or more times.) I don’t necessarily read the books through in order. Often, we’ll just read and discuss, using study resources when necessary. One of my favorite resources to glean understanding through books of the Bible is the Picture Smart Bible – it’s so much more than just coloring pages!
At times, we use guided studies like God’s Not Dead, Christianity, Cults and the Bible, Daniel: Standing Strong in a Hostile World or Experiencing God: Student Edition, among others. I will often borrow these materials from our church to save money.
A newer resource to me is Right Now Media. Our church subscribes to this Christian video streaming service and all the church members get free access. There are several video-based teen studies and I plan to begin dropping some of these into our schedule this year. Caleb will be so motivated by this mode of learning!
Step 3: Plan Memory Work
This is the area in which I’m the biggest failure. However, I’ve made an attempt every year even if that attempt seems to dwindle by Christmas time and time again. The plan every. single. year. has been to commit a new verse to memory each week and practice that verse together during our morning meeting time. I’m not sure why this has been such a struggle, but I do have a new plan in place which I pray we can stick with…
The Scripture Memory System as outlined by my friends at Simply Charlotte Mason is brilliant.
Step 4: Plan Character Studies
Most of the time, character studies happen alongside Bible study. Sometimes, they happen in place of Bible study. All the time, they are meant to encourage understanding of real-life Bible application. (I’ve included sample schedules below to demonstrate how I use character studies concurrently with Bible study.)
I’ve written before about all the resources I’ve used in the past for character studies. You won’t want to miss this giant list of goodies!
In the elementary years, we often read (or listen to) a good character study book after lunch. I usually take off from “regular” Bible study on Friday mornings to read a picture book that offers a good opportunity to discuss Christian character.
In the middle & high school years, my kids are often assigned character building books to read on their own. Sometimes in place of independent reading, we’ll read (or listen to) a good book together in the afternoons. Some of the more recent books include Not a Fan, Crazy Love, Do Hard Things and Before You Meet Your Prince Charming.
Step 5: Plan Service Opportunities
Teaching my children to serve others is very important to me. We try to do a service project at least monthly when possible. I keep a running list of contact information for places that allow our entire family to serve together. We’ve found so much pleasure in these moments!
When people read a big ol’ post like this one and see all the wonderful resources I’m using, they often assume we do school all day every day in order to fit it all in. No way! Know this…there are SIX years in elementary and SIX years in middle/high school. Savor your time together and never rush through resources. You’ll get through enough of them. The point is to help your children learn more about God and learn to draw closer to Him – not to use as many great materials as you can. And, remember, the Bible is the only resource you REALLY need.
Sample Week for My Elementary Son:
Monday: One chapter in our children’s Bible with a peek into Victor’s Journey Through the Bible for reference in the AM | Watch a Torchlighter’s missionary DVD after lunch | (Listen along with big kid’s audio book in the car – see below.)
Tuesday: One chapter in our children’s Bible in the AM | Mom reads two chapters in Charlie’s Choice after lunch
Wednesday: One chapter in our children’s Bible in the AM | Mom reads two chapters in Charlie’s Choice after lunch
Thursday: Read through a few verses as mentioned in For Instruction in Righteousness and discuss (due to a character issue that arose yesterday) in the AM | Mom reads a chapter from Missionaries and the Millers after lunch
Sample Week for High School:
Monday: One chapter of James in the AM | Listen to The Hiding Place in the car in the afternoon
Tuesday: One chapter of James in the AM | Read aloud a chapter of Before You Meet Your Prince Charming in the afternoon
Wednesday: One chapter of James in the AM | Read aloud a chapter of Before You Meet Your Prince Charming in the afternoon
Thursday: One chapter of James in the AM | Read aloud a chapter of Before You Meet Your Prince Charming in the afternoon
Friday: Watch a short sermon clip based on a current event and discuss in the AM | Listen to The Hiding Place in the car in the afternoon
It may very well drive some of you crazy to have so many studies/books going on at one time. That’s perfectly understandable. We don’t always have this much going on! I just wanted to give an example of how you could manage two or three things concurrently. Many times, we’re just reading the Bible in the morning until we finish an entire book, then we take a little time off from the Bible to read a meaningful book together.
Now that you have a peek into my very full and very busy planning mind, does it make you want to run or stick around? I hope you’ll stick around.