Aya Academy of Excellence

It’s All Greek to Me

When deciding how my daughters and I would approach homeschooling, we had to chisel through heaps of different approaches and materials.  Pinterest has become our best friend as we have found a slew of activities and techniques.  Honestly, I was impressed by the creativity and commitment of families who have elected to educate their children at home.  Their pins and blogs illustrate that they have found the secret  to children’s academic success: focus on learning and keep teaching engaging.

Without the fetters of excessive paperwork and other common constraints of public school, children flourish.  So with all this said, the first month has been a whirlwind and a joyous success as the girls and I delved into our first unit study- ancient Greece.

Here is some of what we do did…and why we chose to go in that direction.

1. We have opted for a unit study approach.  The girls and I, through unit studies, have a chance to explore a topic, especially world cultures.  Although our days are spent at home, or at the library, we can connect to people and concepts far away from us.  We started with Ancient Greece and have scoured our local library for books connected with the topic.  A favorite mentor text was The Librarian Who Measure the Earth. It blended science, math and culture seamlessly. The girls were able to connect to the concept of cultures, in this case Greece and Egypt, co-existing at the same time.

2. Lap books – the marriage between foldables and a manilla folder – helps chronicle, in a structured way, our learning.  We used a free resource on-line.  It was OK but I know that my creativity is leading me to create customized lap books for future units.  The one we used was a great start but I’m excited about mixing up elements to extend their learning in a more interactive format.

Ava’s Lapbook with Cover of the Parthenon

3. Co-op – one week before beginning our homeschool journey my eldest said she was concerned about it being ‘just us.’ That threw me for a loop since she’s often felt isolated at school.  Her concern caused me to join a local co-op so the girls had weekly contact  with other kids on a consistent basis.  Thus far, the girls have met up with the co-op at local parks, participated in river explorations and joined in a storytelling event.

4. YMCA – thank goodness for this Godsend!  The pool is our PE place of choice.  The girls found it more fun when the outdoor pool was open, but I’m grateful we have a facility close by to change up our PE routine.  Aside from the Y, local parks and YouTube have been great.  Ava is our Yoga guru, and with the help of YouTube, we are perfecting our ‘downward dog’ on at home.

Growing Avid Readers – Courtesy of Riordan’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians

5. Literature studies – I love reading…and so does my eldest, Eden…but my youngest finds it boring.  To spice up reading, we are careful to select books that are interesting due to relevance and to the author’s ability to create a vibrant picture with words.  Within the past few weeks, we’ve read biographies Wilma Unlimited about the Olympian Wilma Rudolph! Eleanor: Quiet No More about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Ray about the music great Ray Charles.  These stories tie into our studies and our character development creed.  The first few weeks we studied the principle of endurance and the challenges  each biographical figure had to overcome served as inspiration.  Our core book, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, has been PHENOMENAL.   It’s great for  vocabulary acquisition – love Riordan’s word choices; vocab such as cackled, sauntered and glumly are presented.  And of course, it ties in with our unit studies on Ancient Greece.

6. Expeditionary Learning- we are out and about almost every day.  We take trips to utilize our local community resources including the library and park but have also made a commitment to take ‘big trips’ on Fridays every few weeks.  Our first was to Nashville to visit the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park.  The girls were blown away at the enormity of the Athena statue on the upper  level.  When we returned home, they had a heightened (no pun intended) interest in Greek mythology.  I whipped out a copy of  DK’s Illustrated Book of Myths that I’ve had for about fifteen years. Our quick trip to Nashville lead to their interest in hearing about Persephone, Orpheus and Icarus.

7. Pop Culture – the girls have watched Disney’s Hercules a million times.  Full disclosure, Meg’s signature song, is my favorite Disney tune.  So watching Hercules for a millionth and one time seemed appropriate.  And since we watched it after making paper mâché bowls, not the best rendition of Greek art, we had a nice frame of reference to talk about city-states,  muses and trade.  Once we finish reading The Lightening Thief  – we read one to two chapters a day – then we will also watch that movie too.  The girls are intrigued that various scenes and characters are not in the film.

8. I love art.  Its messy.  It’s colorful.  It’s expressive.  Several times a week, we create water-color canvases, shadow puppet theaters and paper mâché objects.  Again, Pinterest is amazing.  I’ve curated a ton of projects the girls and I will create throughout the next year.

9. Math – I’m certified in three core subjects…but math is not one of them.  While the girls were in public school, their school provided each student a subscription to IXL.  It’s been perfect for reinforcement.  I love that it is organized to follow the state standards and that the girls can go at their own pace.

10. Morning Ministry – We open each morning with prayer.  This establishes a warm tone to our day.  We follow with either a scripture study, prayer bucket activity or hands-on craft.  It’s also an opportune time for us to discuss how to work out our issues using the Word of God as our touchstone.

Overall, homeschooling has been an amazing experience for us and I am looking forward to watching the growth of our family as a result of this connection.


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