Families who have an older child using a HoW approach seem to find it easier to know what to do with the younger siblings. A few people seem to need further help with instituting a HoW approach with a young family. I wonder if this confusion arises because people are trying to use a HoW unit study without understanding the thoughts that make up the approach. A few other methods have a similar difficulty in that they are foremost a method or an approach. AmblesideOnline is one that I have seen other people struggle with until they understand the *why* of it. Without understanding the principles behind the approach, AO is just another booklist; dry and long. But, when that booklist is combined with the methods espoused by Charlotte Mason, the booklist becomes so much more. It is the method or the principles that are the binding glue. So it is with HoW. The units are great! But, they are only a small part of the greater work. The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach is an approach that is based upon biblical principles- it isn’t simply sprinkling a few key Scriptures throughout the pages of a book nor is it reading only Christian books with no regard to methods used in teaching. It is an entire method or approach that can be used from birth through to adulthood. In my own life, I use a HoW approach!

So, onto the daily practicality of using HoW with a young family.
What could such a day look like? Firstly, a principle of the HoW approach is Bible First- regardless of the ages or number of children in the family. You will study the Bible and use Bible study tools relevant to your children?s ages and development level. Then, you can study thematic unit studies, using living books and the Internet. Through this study is where you will develop the little ones language skills and start to focus on building good habits essential for further study: habits like attentiveness and producing one’s best effort, and the art of narration. You’ll need to do some phonics instruction and maths with your child.

There are many different ways that this could appear in any family. It’s important to seek God for His wisdom in directing your family’s routine or daily rhythm and not copy what works for someone else. I offer this only as a launch pad, hoping that no one would attempt to use it as is, rather to take what may work for them and leave the rest. I have found it helpful to read the day?s lesson the previous day so that I have just a little idea of what is going to be addressed.

Don’t forget to use the 4 mat system :

  1. Step 1 Excite: Use this step to discuss what God shows you about the lesson. Tell the children the basics of what you will be reading that day. Then, read the page or text.
  2. Step 2 Examine: Discuss what you have read…ask the child what ‘grabs’ them and excites them about this study. Point out anything that you find interesting. Look up new words in a Bible handbook and look up places in a Bible atlas. Help the student read a book written at his level about the topic. It might be an illustrated book on Moses or the worksheets from Calvary Chapel. Watch an appropriate video or DVD.
  3. Step 3 Expand: Depending upon the age of the child, ask him to tell you back all that he knows about what you just read aloud. (This is narration) Help the student read a book written at his level about the topic. It might be an illustrated book on Moses or the worksheets from Calvary Chapel. (OT and NT) Trace someone’s journey on a map.Compose a poem or saying. Make a salt-dough map or something out of Paper Mache. (This doubles as a craft activity)Use an idea from the ‘Narration Starters or Prompts’ as ways to have your child expand upon his learning.
  4. Step 4 Excel: This is the fun part! This is where the child has the opportunity to share his learning and anything that he has constructed. Share a drawn narration with the family that night at tea…put on a play…recite your poem…show the Paper Mache craft…share the narration…be creative and have fun!!!

Okay, we’re getting there…on to what a day might look like:

  • Wake up and cuddles.
  • Breakfast. Sometimes we’ve done memory work over breakfast.
  • Chores- remember this is much more than housework. It is instilling a good work ethic, singing praises to God, enjoying work together, training character and attitudes.
  • Early morning – Recite memory work.
    • Do Step One. (Excite) Read aloud Bible passages in the Day to Day Bible. It might only be 1 page or Bible story.
    • Do Step Two (Examine) – discuss the story. This is where you might use resources such as The Amazing Bible Expedition Book or Who’s Who in the Bible.
    • Do Step Three (Expand) – ask child to narrate…draw…or do a colouring in sheet to put in their history binder. Look up in various books for further information. A Children’s Bible Encyclopaedia is a great start to familiarising them with Bible resources. Many families are enjoying the art of Scrapbooking.
  • Then you could go on to Maths. Keep the lessons short- remember that you’re building good study habits as well as learning some maths.
  • Read a book from current read aloud if it is on the same topic. Or have morning tea or a quick play outside. (We used to recite times tables while jumping on the trampoline)
  • Then, have the children come back inside and do a phonics lesson. You could go straight from phonics to copywork. Choose a passage or sentence from that day’s reading in an adults Bible, pointing out any relevant phonograms or blends (for review), paying attention to spelling and grammar. Explain why there is a comma wherever there is or a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence. Often I’ve found it helpful to have the children do their memory work selection as copywork also.
  • Have lunch!
  • Younger children might need to have Nap or rest time. Personally, I’ve kept a quiet time going as I needed a little bit of quiet. The children can spend this time sleeping or reading or doing another quiet activity. I felt this gives them plenty of time in which to ponder and ruminate over the readings for the day…and is builds good habits of individual, quiet play.
  • After lunch and quiet time, you could look at some history or science and/or a foreign language then you could do that too. How about music appreciation? Or a craft activity- maybe you could have the children construct a craft based upon the day’s Bible reading? If you still have time on your hands, you could look at a Foreign Language. (I’m not suggesting that a foreign language is necessary rather that each family is different and unique and some families may have a need for a foreign language,others may have a need for something else.)
  • Then there must be plenty of time for outdoor play! Encourage lots of nature study throughout their play also. Then, after play just before daddy gets home from work, you could have a 15min tidy up of the house, then wash hands and have a silent, independent reading time in the lounge room. Not only does this provide a peaceful and tidy atmosphere for Daddy to come home to, it can also be used to train the children to all be in the one room yet to be quiet and entertain themselves. I did this with my young pre-readers and it helped them to learn how to be quiet in church and other meetings even when there were many distractions around them.
    • Step Four (Excel) can also be done here, if not before, with telling of Daddy all that they learned that day or showing him what they made.
  • After tea, you might like to read a bedtime story or listen to a quiet cd of songs to prepare the children for bed.

Some reading that I’d consider essential is the Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach and What your Child Needs to Know When both by Robin Sampson. The latter is especially good if one is going to devise their own curricula and/or units.A few articles that you might find helpful are:

As you seek the Lord for His wisdom, He will guide you in the ways that you should go and thus you can lead your children.Seek Him!