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5 Reasons Why I Use Memoria Press

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I am a second-generation homeschooler.  I started homeschooling as a freshman in high school and eventually graduated with a GED at the age of 17.  During that time, I mostly used ABEKA, because in those days, unless you were unschooling, that’s about all there was (other than BJU and some other homemade types of curriculum).  By the way, as a side note, all of my siblings ended up graduating college, and I have a Master’s Degree, so yes, you can be successful in “real” life after being homeschooled 😉

After deciding to homeschool precious daughter P, I just assumed we would use ABEKA as well, because I didn’t know much about curriculum.  Well, it didn’t take much longer than a few days of their Pre-K4 curriculum to know this was NOT the way to go for her.  She did not the rigidity of the worksheets.  Even coloring was a problem for her.  I will never forget her little four-year-old self telling me, “Well, I’ll color it yellow, but it’s not going to look good.”  If nothing else, she learned how to follow directions that year.

I went to my first homeschool convention last year with no plan in mind.  I had looked into Charlotte Mason, and while I loved the idea of it, I knew for me, I needed a little more structure.  I had also looked into Classical Conversations, which I loved, but I also knew that with my Type-A personality, I would end up putting WAY too much pressure on myself and daughter P and we would probably both end up hating school.

And then I found the Memoria Press display.  I knew in a matter of 5 minutes it was the perfect curriculum for both P and I, and we have loved every minute of our Kindergarten year.  Seriously, I’m sure my homeschooling friends are sick to death of hearing me talk about how much I love this curriculum.  And here’s why:

1. Simplicity of Planning.

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The picture above shows the entire week of lesson plans.  Everything is laid out for you, yet it allows for flexibility with time and ideas.  For Kindergarten, we generally spend 1-2 hours a day on school.  The boxes allow me to check off what we have done, so if we get behind in math or super ahead in reading, it’s still easy to keep track of where we’ve been.  Plus, the guidelines for History and Science are just that, guidelines, so there’s lots of time and space to add additional books, videos and crafts as your days (and desires) allow.

2. The Use of Real Literature.

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The true foundation of Memoria Press is books.  Although there are simple readers used for phonics, the basis is books.  Every week, we read a new book – it teaches vocabulary, comprehension, and context clues.  We also learn about authors and illustrators.  The curriculum then builds upon the fictional book to teach a poem later in the week and incorporates a theme of non-fiction books into history and science on Thursdays and Fridays.  But there are no textbooks, just real books.

3. The Bible is used to teach language instead of worksheets.

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Every week begins with a Bible story.  From there the children begin to memorize a verse.  This verse is also used to teach the rules of English and writing (punctuation, Capitalization, etc).  At the end of the week, they recite the verse and draw a picture (my daughter’s favorite part).

4. The Incorporation of Art and Music.

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This is Daughter P’s absolute favorite part of school.  Each week they learn about a new artist and painting and a new composer and piece of music.  I have created a playlist on my iphone of all the songs and play them while P does her math, as she works better that way.  She asks to listen to the music all throughout the day through.  Sometimes she even plays “symphony” in her room.  How awesome is that?!? Memoria Press has taught my six-year-old to love classical music!

5. The Affordability.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the cost.  For us, Memoria Press was very affordable.  Without a lot of workbooks and Teacher’s Books to buy, the cost naturally comes down.  We did not purchase all of the read aloud books as our library has a great reciprocal system where we can borrow from other libraries and always get what we need.  I spent just over $100 for Kindergarten.  I know Indiana has a PLAC card for about $80 a year where you can borrow from any library in the state, so that may be an option for you if your local library is not very good.

Our convention is at the end of this week, and I cannot wait to buy my Memoria Press for First Grade – we will be starting Latin! Eeek!

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Why MLK Day Meant So Much to Us This Year

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I grew up in Indiana, literally surrounded by cornfields.  It’s a great place to grow up, but not the most culturally diverse play(especially in the 80’s and in the rural areas).  My entire elementary school had 100 kids in it.  I grew up and went to a Christian college that had maybe a total of 10 African-Americans enrolled (and to say “African-American” is probably not accurate, because many of those students were probably foreign students actually from Africa).  I say all of that to point out that although my parents taught us to be accepting of all races, my experience and knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was relegated, like most white American children, to that one day in January when we would do some sort of craft or read one book about him.

Once I graduated with my teaching degree, I began teaching in Florida with a more diverse student population and really began focusing on incorporating more African-American history into my lesson plans and book selections.  I purposefully carried that over once I started homeschooling Daughter P, but since she was only in Pre-K last year, the books on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a little over her head, and I didn’t feel like they made much of an impact.  But I was so wrong.

Last year we decided to go to Atlanta for our family vacation.  Mainly it was because it was only a day’s drive and there were lots of great Groupons available.  We had planned on going to the Aquarium and the Zoo, but Daughter H had recently been bringing home lots of books from the school library on famous African-Americans, so I suggested that we also go to the Martin Luther King Jr. historical sites.

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I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how we would be received – a white family with four kids walking through these historical sites that are so sacred to the African-American community, but everywhere we went, our family was warmly received and we were complimented on how well our children behaved.  But seriously, it was because they were engaged.  Without really lecturing them too much, they just got how very important it was to be where we were.  I will never forget sitting in the empty pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church with just my family and listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preaching over the loudspeakers.  Or how we stood to leave when the sermon was over and the singing began and Daughter P said, “Can we just wait until this song is over?”

It was a scorching hot day, but we walked to each site, ending with the MLK homesite.  We had missed all the tours for the day, but the kids stood on the porch for a picture.  We walked around to the back of the house and were shocked to find the backyard was unfenced and wide open.  My husband and I stood in awe as we watched our four precious young children play in the same backyard that the great Martin Luther King Jr. had once played in as child himself.

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On the way back to the car we talked to the kids and told them maybe someday our home would become a historical site because of something great they do.  What an awesome thought! That visit became their favorite part of the trip, and they are already asking when we can go back to go inside the house.

So, this year for MLK Day, I really want to incorporate some neat activities into Daughter P’s school day.  She’s only in Kindergarten, but I found these great age-appropriate activities online, and they introduced some great discussion (I have included the links when appropriate).

We began the day by watching the “I Have a Dream Speech” on YouTube.  (Yes, Rosie the puppy dog watched too.)

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Next, we read the book “Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport and completed this “I Have a Dream” worksheet.

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Lastly, we used this “I Have a Dream” form to examine two differently colored eggs and make some observations.

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We still live in a mostly Caucasian suburb in Indiana.  And no, I don’t believe for one second that such simple activities mean that racism won’t ever be a part of my children’s thoughts or behaviors.  But it’s a start.  Are the race problems in our country solved? Absolutely not.  But I am proud that we have come so far.  I am proud that my children can’t imagine a time in our country when white children and black children weren’t allowed to go to the same school or site together in a movie theater.  I am glad that they don’t pick friends based on the color of their skin, but based on how much they get along with them.  And I pray that I can teach them how to fight injustice, so they will teach their children, and one day perhaps we will live in such a nation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of.

Dawn

  (p.s. Although MLK day has passed for 2015, these would be great activities to use for Black History Month as well!)